September 20, 2012

Are you building a separate BYOD network?

I was at a CIO roundtable last week in Boston. It was a great event with a very engaged audience, which is always nice. I’ve been to some events like this where it seems people are more interested in starting at their plates than actually talking about IT.

One item that came up though was BYOD and consumerization of IT. One of the members mentioned that they were building a completely separate network infrastructure for their BYOD initiatives and this struck me as both a bad customer experience and costly.

Why bad for customers, i.e. users? Well two reasons. One it’s confusing to have to remember that for my personal device I connect this way, but for my corporate device I do something differently.  It may be a minor difference to an IT person, but even something as minor as remembering a different SSID can be a challenge if you are less technical and just want things to work.

But then does the BYOD network cover the same locations? Or does it only work in certain offices? Even worse, is BYOD only for wireless devices, or can I use my home laptop on the wired network? If it includes wired too, do I need to remember to use the red cable for my personal device, but the blue one for corporate access? What happens if I mix them up? It’s starting to sound confusing to me and I run networks for a living….

Now the costly piece is pretty obvious. It’s expensive to have one network infrastructure, but another one for personal devices is even more expensive. Which means I probably only do a subset of the corporate network which then just makes it confusing for users, see my first point…

What people really want is a network that reacts properly to an authorized user, with a non-trusted device. Users should be able to work just like they normally do, using the same network ports, cables and access points that they are used to using. Devices that are not managed by the enterprise can be scanned either with or without a client, and given a reduced permission set to the network (or not).

The key to a successful BYOD roll-out is making the easy way be the right way and making sure that security is there, just not a burden for the users or administrators.

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