BYOD - It Started One Christmas
December 23, 2013

Jim Swepson

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It started one Christmas! Executive's wives in droves worldwide purchased the latest gadget, the IPAD, for their husbands. These happy guys spent time going online and realizing quickly that they could do more on this nifty tablet than just surf the web. In fact they could pretty much do what they were doing on their laptops. It wasn't long before they took these devices into their offices – not just showing off the latest toy but a new way to make their working lives easier and it wasn't long before they were badgering their IT departments for access to company applications on these new devices.

IT departments enabled the execs and other users of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and with increasing confidence BYOD gained momentum as it became pervasive among many of us. But complications ensued as the users wanted this capability everywhere, so what started in the confines of the office (relatively safe LAN) now had to contend with delivering these business applications in coffee houses, on trains, transport, and home territory across WiFi, 2g, 3G home network (ISP)etc.

When enabling BYOD there are 3 main areas to focus on:

- Security, e.g lost information, updating problems and there’s a growing number of protocols being developed around this issue.

- Availability, with questions such as can I use the app? will it work on my device? for example; certain Adobe apps no longer work on the apple iOS mobile devices - this may be a problem for companies who heavily use Adobe.

- Now the first two are obvious, but the third is as important - Is it any good? Are the users getting a good experience in the confines of the office and outside in a WiFi network. Two kinds of networks are available to BYOD: WiFi (which is generally provided by the company itself) and Mobile (3G/2G etc which is completely out of the corporations control).

It's emerged recently that there is a hidden cost in BYOD: the cost of unhappy users. When looking at BYOD, it's essential to not only understand the network usage but also to understand how an organization's application is being experienced and how it is performing.

Wireless networks are not the same as your corporate LAN or MPLS network. You need to know what is required to enable your applications to work well in wireless networks. If your users are receiving a lousy response to a business app, it won't be long before they will find ways around it and that might impact policies around security i.e. storing data on their devices rather than going to a central repository.

Yes, it's obvious that for BYOD to work the application must be available for the device and secured from a corporate perspective. What's often overlooked is poor performance which ultimately will render the applications just as unusable as if they weren't available. So performance factors need to be attended too and as a large amount of these hinge on the unpredictability of the wireless and mobile networks, BYOD devices inevitably are forced to operate and applications perform within these networks.

Many organizations recognize that they must test properly in these types of networks. Network emulators are often the answer. Now, with BYOD this falls to everyone to do and this technology is not just available, but it's a sensible and cost effective solution in understanding how BYOD will work in your environment.

Network emulation covers all the characteristics and conditions of a wireless network, showing in real time how network and wireless conditions impact applications. Some emulators also offer the ability to profile an organization's own networked environment. This is really useful for an accurate view of how bespoke applications will be experienced by the BYOD device users.

BYOD offers benefits for company and users alike but make sure the business understands the limitations and build key applications to suit these challenging network conditions as there is no point in being secure if no one will use it!

Jim Swepson is Pre-sales Technologist at Itrinegy.

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