What the Network Can Do in the Face of the Consumerization of IT

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The consumerization of IT is a trend that is blowing the minds of enterprise decision-makers and IT professionals, spurred on by the bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, developments and the growing mobile workforce. While BYOD increases productivity and responsiveness in employees, it compromises the security of a business’ network.

Some of the challenges, from a network perspective, and what networks can do surrounding the consumerization of IT were highlighted by Shehzad Merchant, VP of Technology for Extreme Networks, today at the NetEvents Americas conference in Miami, FL. He began by noting that the trend of Ethernet going everywhere, beyond what it has been in the past, coincides with the increasing trend of moving to the cloud.

While the move to the cloud is changing the game for the enterprise in terms of IT infrastructure, it also allows for change in cost structure. It allows businesses to add in and take away capacity on-demand, but how can networks be optimized for such change as well as the new world of application mobility? How can IT departments adjust to the expectation that they now respond to this inclusion of tons of devices operating on their networks in a secure way?

Merchant explored these questions by starting with two other basic questions: What does the user want? What does the IT department want? Users want to be onboarded immediately without IT dependency and to have a seamless experience. IT departments want complete visibility into their networks and control over devices across the networks.

This element of control is what is missing today, according to Merchant. The key to this solution is automation, simply because doing this in a manual approach does not work. The approach needs to be centralized.

The network today needs to be “smarter,” said Merchant. As the network is static right now, functioning in a reactive way instead of a proactive way, the network needs to move to a participatory role to improve device and application awareness. Through transparent authentication, such as performing awareness when a user logs in, the network can then determine how much and what kind of access that user should be given depending on whether he or she is an employee, a contractor, or a guest.

“The specification of policies needs to be in a human language,” said Merchant. “We need a centralized mechanism. We need a central policy framework based on user, device, location, and time of day.” The capacity for this type of action exists in the network right now, but the network has yet to employ it.




Edited by Brooke Neuman
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TechZone360 Managing Editor

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