The Blackberry certainly started the “smart mobile device” revolution and there are some that still use them, but most would agree that it was Steve Jobs and Apple that really changed the world. With the advent of the iPhone, iPad, and then fast-following Android OS devices, employees and more importantly their executives enthusiastically brought the “new hotness” in mobility into the workplace regardless of whether their IT organizations were ready or not. We industry folks like to call this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for lack of a better term, but I think this implies a formal “hey, come watch the game at my house and BYOB” invitation that most IT organizations don’t remember sending out. A lot of IT folks are now left lying awake at night wondering whether all these new devices comply with their security policies and what happens when the first mobile-to-PC virus hits.
BYOD CAUSES MOBILE DEVICE MANAGEMENT (MDM) FERVOR?
I recently attended a MDM webinar and it seems most of the attendees were still trying to figure out what to do. A paltry 18% of those polled claimed to have rolled out an MDM program. So, let’s say you’re in the majority and still in the process of developing a program. Where do you start? Should you begin gathering requirements and evaluating MDM solutions immediately? In the immortal words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friends…
ROGUE AND UNINVITED DEVICES ON YOUR NETWORK
Here’s the thing. The concept of rogue or uninvited devices on the network isn’t a new concept for IT organizations. Anyone had a hub take out a switch on their network before? Or problems with rogue access points or servers? So, the issue is more fundamental than just mobile devices. This is a general problem that requires beginning with a comprehensive assessment of your network. And as the owner of network ops (and thus the network ports), you have a lot more solutions at your disposal than you might think.
1. Start by assessing what devices are on your network and where they’re connecting. Consider leveraging user device tracking and/or switch port monitoring software to track which devices and users are connecting to which switch ports (both wired and wireless) on your network over time and alert you to switch port capacity issues. Think of it as a switch port mapper on steroids.
2. Understand the performance impacts that rogue or uninvited devices are having on your network. Use your network management system and enable netflow analyzer to understand where you have network utilization issues and who and what is consuming your bandwidth based on the network bandwidth monitoring tool. Mobile devices may be consuming more than you think or it may turn out there are bigger fish to fry with bandwidth hogs running on “approved” devices.
3. In parallel, start gathering requirements from the various departments you support. Determine how they’re using their mobile devices today and how they’d like to use them in the future and reconcile this with your own security policies.
Once you understand the impact of BYOD on your network and have determined the right balance between user desire and your own corporate policies, I think the next steps will be much clearer. I'll discuss what comes after assessment more in a subsequent post, but for now...good luck!