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Managing a Business in the Age of BYOD

George Gosselin is Chief Technology Officer of Computer Design & Integration LLC

Enterprises are struggling to keep up with device overloads on their networks. According to a recent Nielsen study, in 2012, 50 percent of Americans cell phones users owned a smartphone and one-fourth of these users also owned a tablet. With help from the BYOD phenomenon, laptops, smartphones and tablets are all connecting to work networks, overwhelming them. This problem is causing some handwringing by execs who want to ensure that their networks have the bandwidth to accommodate these new devices.

The much discussed BYOD Trend, while a seemingly simple premise, is creating complex problems for companies trying to conduct business in a wireless world. In fact, wireless usage in the U.S. currently exceeds its population. With 327.6 million wireless devices connected last year, we have surpassed our population by almost four percent. The magnitude of the statistics is especially powerful when you discount those under the age of 11 and over 60 (historically demographics with a very low wireless usage representation).

In the corporate world, personal devicesby themselves will have little impact on the corporate network. What will have a large impact is the evolving world of communications, specifically the adoption of video in all aspects of our lives. Why read a complicated direction manual when you can watch a 30 Second video that shows you how to do the same thing? Why read a long report when a short video with slides can give you the whole story? How about live-video chatting and video conferencing? These are all examples of high bandwidth applications that can be run on personal devices such as smart phones.

Whether the smart device is running on the internal corporate network or on a guest-access network the bandwidth utilization is going to affect somebody. We also cannot dismiss the impact of 4G. The service plans for 4G Data are expensive and with the proliferation of “Free” WiFi most people are favoring this option for their data needs while using 4G as a last resort on their personal devices.

Big changes are on the horizon though, as the next evolution of WiFi will increase speeds to match wired networks. These new high-speed networks will be adopted over time, starting with laptop then tablets and smart phones. With Gigabit wireless speeds and the proliferation of video, the corporate Internet connections will likely need to be upgraded to handle the added load. This would be a requirement regardless of the device connecting to the network, as it is the application that is driving the increased bandwidth.

Smartphones simply make the application more accessible, and instantly in most cases, which will cause utilization spikes as new information is made available and is accessed in real-time. Corporate networks will need to be scaled to handle the new applications both in terms of bandwidth and security. The ability for a corporation to control the use of its bandwidth will become critical both internally as well as to the Internet. While in the past security was reserved for keeping the bad guys out and meeting HR requirements, new requirements will be needed to classify and protect the traffic running across the corporate network to ensure that all corporate traffic is prioritized above other usages, such as social media.

While BYOD is a great concept on the surface (and probably here to stay), it is a victim of its own success. Quite simply, a demand for tomorrow’s technology today has every level of provider from a corner coffee shop to a fortune 500 company scrambling to catch up.

While previously a technological anomaly, the capability of devices exceeding network capability has become a common challenge. Technologies such as Network Access Control, Identity and Authentication verification, real-time Posture analysis, Traffic Classification and Quality of Service, Load Balancing, Application aware firewalls, and Granular Application performance monitoring will all become critical for most corporate networks. Those who fail to utilize the most up-to-date network infrastructure will not only experience internal network problems, but likely unhappy employees who expect bandwidth to no longer be a problem anywhere they bring their devices.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.

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