Logicalis executive offers tips on managing BYOD

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The bring-your-own-device explosion seems inevitable at most companies. In some cases,  BYOD is a matter of policy--if an employee wants a laptop or smartphone, the company will support it. Sometimes this means that the employee gets to buy the device, sometimes it means the company buys it for the employee and sometimes it means that the employee just shows up with a device and wants to add it to the corporate network on their own.

There's plenty of discussion about the BYOD trend, but in many cases the discussion centers around ways to get a handle on the trend. What should you do first? Logicalis, a managed services provider, is trying to help IT managers with a new list of tips that should help get organizations started.

Jim Dossias, Cisco practice director for Logicalis, says that the process starts with how you handle your wireless infrastructure. "If you look at where the network was in the past," Dossias said, "wireless is kind of a basic thing to have." He said that Logicalis recently did a survey of its customers to find out how prepared they were for dealing with a BYOD environment and to find out what kind of wireless coverage they had to support BYOD. "Now that BYOD is coming out, more and more corporations are allowing people to bring their own devices to work," he said. "It's whatever the device of the day happens to be."

Dossias said that means the companies need to examine how their wireless networks are configured, they need to look at the security and they need to create what he calls a "wireless-friendly" infrastructure. "Basically with that happening corporate IT has to accommodate that in lieu of fighting it."

To accomplish that, Logicalis offers four tips:

1. Implement security architecture and policies. This means that organizations have to establish rules for how personal devices will be used in the workplace. Unfortunately, many companies don't have a policy in place, so that's the first thing they must do.

2. Prepare your network. If your organization is going to be seeing an influx of wireless devices, you probably need more support from your infrastructure and to move to a higher density for your access points.

3. Monitor and manage activity. You'll need to implement mobile device management that works with both Wi-Fi and mobile wireless devices, and the MDM needs to be able to provide provisioning, configuration, monitoring and reporting.

4. Make your infrastructure BYOD-friendly. You need to make sure your network is robust enough to support the devices that will be added to your network while avoiding the frustrations of an overloaded network.

Dossias also noted that it's critical to make sure security is properly handled on your network, something that should already be in place. "Profile the user and build appropriate security policy around it," he said. "You have to find a way to secure it from the policy perspective," he said. "You have to understand what device is connecting and what type of device it is. You need a smart dynamic policy. What device are you on, where are you, what time of day, what type of access," he said.

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