Bring your own device (BYOD) is no longer a new concept. As employees continue to combine personal and work life into a single device, enterprises are making the shift from adapting to security concerns that come with BYOD to focusing on performance. There has been a lot of talk about getting these devices into the enterprise, but what happens when they’re in?
Xirrus, a provider of high-performance wireless networks, has released a new set of capabilities to make enterprise networks BYOD-ready. The new solutions couple significant enhancements in wireless performance with fine-grained application control. Technology improvements are happening every day, causing the lifespan of today’s smartphones and tablets to be extremely short. Enterprises and organizations have to be prepared to accommodate these ever-changing technologies and optimize their performance.
Given the massive increase in wireless devices on enterprise networks, the combination of performance and policy enforcement puts IT back in control and ensures the wireless network responds predictably under heavy load. The No. 1 issue with BYOD today is the sheer numbers of devices proliferating on the network and the strain this puts on the Wi-Fi infrastructure. IT departments are scrambling to re-architect their networks to be BYOD-ready.
In today’s workforce, people are showing up with more devices. The device-per-user rate is going through the roof. Those devices are all connecting to the Internet, and it becomes a question of whether they are connecting through the cellular network or Wi-Fi. More than 91 percent of data traffic on an iPad takes place over Wi-Fi.
I had the chance to speak with Bruce Miller (News - Alert), VP of product marketing, Xirrus, and Steven Wastie, CMO, Xirrus, to talk about BYOD today, where it’s headed and how Xirrus can help enterprises adjust.
“BYOD is very much mainstream right now; it’s gone beyond just security,” said Wastie. “It’s driven by tablets and different devices that are showing up, and then we’re also seeing this explosion of traffic. The amount of data being consumed over these wireless devices now is exploding, and in a year or so we’ll exceed the data traffic over the wired network.”
The amount of traffic networks can handle is only being pushed to the limit with the popularity of BYOD. Enterprises are faced with a lot of unpredictability; they don’t know exactly how many devices are going to connect to their network, what devices those are, what applications are on those devices and how often they will all be used. According to Wastie, the big takeaway now is that BYOD has gone beyond just a mobile device management (MDM) discussion.
“There are lots more users, lots more devices and lots more traffic that are forcing a re-architecture of the network, policies and applications. BYOD is rapidly becoming not just about the devices but also becoming about the applications,” explained Wastie.
To face issues that enterprises face when it comes to BYOD, Xirrus has announced a comprehensive set of BYOD solutions designed to put IT back in control. The solution components include Xirrus Access Manager, which provides access control of guest and BYOD users and devices, Application Control, which provides application-level visibility and policy enforcement at the network edge, BYOD Device Optimizations, which optimizes performance for tablets, smartphones and other devices, Bonjour Director, which enables Apple (News - Alert) device support across enterprise networks, and AirWatch, a technology partner for mobile device and application management.
“The biggest BYOD issue has moved from being a security issue to a performance issue,” explained Wastie. “Once you’ve got people connected, if the network can’t provide the application performance they need, then it doesn’t really matter that they’re connected.”
Benefits of the new solution and its components include delivery of wired-like performance over wireless with optimized, high-capacity infrastructure, increased wireless infrastructure ROI with adaptable, upgradable solutions with long lifespan and increased user productivity by enabling business-critical applications over wireless.
“The issue with a wireless network is it’s a shared medium, and you don’t know how many people are going to show up,” said Wastie.
The proliferation of devices and the sheer volume of data traffic is resulting in poor user experience and increased IT burden. In order to face and improve on these challenges, enterprises require flexible access control and optimized wireless networks to, and that’s what Xirrus offers.
“There are a couple of things that are unique to us, one of which is application control. We’re able to control what applications are being used and accessed by a particular device and do that at the edge of the network where it really counts. That is really important for BYOD because you don’t want to flood the network with personal applications.”
Miller emphasized the importance of acting at the edge of the network as opposed to in the gateway or the core and center of the network, where there is a single point of failure or chokepoint where all of the traffic has to go to before it’s actually touched or blocked. Operating at the edge of the network allows Xirrus to touch the data before it enters the core.
Xirrus’ BYOD services are all catered to the different aspects of BYOD: the user, the applications, the device and the network. Just as all technology continues to evolve over time, the BYOD movement is certain to expand and affect the workforce in the upcoming years.
“It’s a little bit like predicting the weather – really, nobody has any idea about the number of devices that are going to show up on the network and what those devices are doing once they’re there,” said Wastie. “People have to plan for unpredictability.”
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo