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In most cases, the move towards BYOD typically begins at the mobile phone. But, as devices become increasingly cross functional, the line between the mobile phone and a laptop or tablet becomes increasingly blurred.
"Everybody who has a phone wants to connect it to their e-mail," observed Turkey Systems' Stull. "We work with a number of different vendors through which we can offer mobile support. Right now, I'm mostly offering management and monitoring."
According to Stull, the BYOD trend is not a major issue at the C-level of organizations. "Upper management just selects the device they want, and the company will typically pay for it," he said. But, BYOD gets to be an issue when you get down to middle management and below, where employees are sometimes begging and pleading to get the kinds of systems with which they want to work. Some employers pay a specific amount for the employee to procure and manage their own [system] and equipment. This way the employee does not have to be stuck with dinosaur hardware."
Very often, he provides employees with a list of preferred hardware, based on familiarity and the availability of ready-made images to streamline the provisioning process. Security is also an important issue, and a number of managed security offerings provide an effective response.
"I sit down with the manager [and] bring up my concerns around security, as well as personal and company data," Stull said. "Typically we work out where are the boundaries going to be? It seems to be best if the employee owns the hardware but the employer owns the software. For the most part, employers are looking for advice from the channel in terms of how to manage all this. Really it's up to each and every business to decide exactly how to go through that."
One of the hidden aspects of BYOD involves the degree to which all the extra devices increase the load on the network, particularly in environments where wireless LANs are in use.
"What you have is an explosion of devices, especially as the devices becomes cheaper," he said. "But you can very quickly end up with a saturation of the wireless network. Employees are not going to be too eager to use their data plans for downloads, so they are going to be leaning on the company wireless. This needs to be taken into account when figuring out the needs for network capacity. So in many cases, it's advisable to install a secure guest network that your employees can use, preferably with some sort of monitoring and management."
But, the onslaught of privately owned devices clearly stimulates the market for managed services as a means of securing data, protecting the privacy of employees and making BYOD into a business-class phenomenon.
"Everything is moving to a hosted model and BYOD is actually a reaction to this," SynchroNet's Nicholson said.