Tech Thursday…BYOD and Wireless, a match made in IT…

When you think about adding a BYOD program to your organization, you have to think about what devices are going to be coming in, and how they are going to connect. This brings me to my next segment of Tech Thursday… BYOD and Wireless. It is either a match made in IT dreams or nightmares depending on how prepared you are. 20120308-201100.jpg

One of the first devices that come into the corporate network, before the iPad or other tablet, or before the laptop, is the cell phone, well smart phone, but there are not that many phones out there now that don’t connect to the internet through WiFi.

20120308-201234.jpg So for a moment think about the number of people in your company, 95% of them are going to have an Android device, an iOS device, a Blackberry. So this means if 95 of 100 people are now using 2 IP addresses, putting the IP pool at 195, add in the 25 IP addresses reserved for servers, printers, and other devices, you are now at 220 IP addresses used. Now what if half of the staff brings in or receives a tablet, the count is now at 270 devices in a 100 person organization. You are now needing to use multiple DHCP scopes, vlans, subnets, possibly multiple internet connections. Your simple router and two switch network has just morphed into a multi-connection conglomerate of physical and wireless connections.

This additional layer of network complexity, adds another layer of security concerns to go along with the BYOD concerns. Just having wireless, is a security concern depending on your encryption, place in the network, etc. I have been in some places that feel that WEP encryption is good enough for the network. Lets face it, if you have ever used a WEP key, they are long and ridiculous and only in Hex. So we all know what happens in the organization, this is written down on a post-it and passed around and shared, to the point that no one knows who all has the key now. So to prevent this we started using a harder to break WPA/WPA2 Pre-shared key, this too gets passed around and is not always the best to use in an enterprise. A way to help with this is either controlling the wireless with an iron fist, or push the information out with policies to user devices, or go with higher security and RADIUS, login authentication.

Most of the BYOD devices that come into an organization are going to be tablets, these are not going to connect to the traditional wired network. There is no way for them to. Even some newer “ultra-portable/ultrabook” laptops, do not have a built-in ethernet port. If you want to embrace BYOD, you must embrace Wi-Fi with open arms. And the wireless network has to be designed correctly, we no longer have the opportunity to just throw up a couple access point and be OK. Networks are no longer designed to just cover areas, they are designed to facilitate a large number of connects. The only way to know if your coverage is good enough is going to be a series of stress tests and a full wireless survey that will show any interference in the area, that will cause signal issues.

So the first steps of BYOD:
1. The Assessment: What are your needs, how can you do it, can you handle it, will your network handle it?
2. The test: Get some trial users and devices within the company. Get some test devices into their hands and see if they are able to go on business as usual, or if they have some major hinderances to getting their job done.

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Today’s Geek Post… Bring your own device: Love it or hate it, its coming.

In today’s IT world, we are surround by all of these buzz words; BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), Cloud, Virtualization, Telepresence, and the list goes on and on. With the push by so many in the workforce now being accustomed to instant-on, instant-gratification, instant-noodles they are looking to use what they want when they want it. I’m not going to lie, my laptop stays on my desk unless I’m going out for a survey or to do some CLI programming. I do all my remote work from my iPad. I have always on connectivity with my mobile hotspot, I have 2 cell phones, and an iPad, I don’t really need to carry around another 6+ pound device. If I could have my multiple displays connected to my iPad, I would use it at my main device. That being said I do have my laptop setup with a few remote access clients so that I can get to if from multiple ways and use it from my iPad, make calls from my iPad, and anything else that I need to do.

This brings us to the true push for virtual desktops and anywhere computing. This technology isn’t new, the interfaces are but not the underlying concept. I want to get to a Windows system that is on the other side of the country from my desk here in KY, what would I have used a few years ago…. RDP, netmeeting, gotomypc, or even VNC. Now we have teamviewer, logmein, and a plethora of other remote access tools that get you right into your system or the system you need in a matter of seconds. This honestly is putting an end to the “corporate standard” for hardware in the workplace. I know people that have worked at other companies that IT has said “here is a stipend buy whatever you want.” In some cases this isn’t even really necessary anymore; for example, including my work laptop, I have 3 laptops and one old tank of a desktop. Most people that use a laptop at work have some sort of computer at home. In surveys and in one that I did myself on linkedin, the most popular thing that people say makes them happier on the job, is the ability to work from home. Give people that opportunity, have accountibilty guidelines, and see the morale and productivity benefits.

With all of today’s technology, we can be in a meeting across the country while sitting on a couch, or even at a Starbucks, and have it seem as though we are right there in the room. I can do router and switch configs in California from my iPhone sitting in line at McDonalds. So why can’t we design true border less networks so that if I leave my desk no one ever really knows it.

The answer is, we can. As IT admins we have a lot to do to get there, but day in and day out we make this a reality.

Keep watching for more updates, I plan to make a multi post guide book on BYOD and wifi networks here in the coming weeks.