Home Looking at BYOD As a Complete Protocol Stack

Looking at BYOD As a Complete Protocol Stack

As I wrote about last week in my story about why BYOD isn’t a trend, I came across something that Nick Mehta, the CEO of LiveOffice, put together. If you are going to allow users to bring their own devices and use them at work, you have to start thinking about the entire software and management stack to manage these devices.

Remember how IBM’s System Network Architecture (SNA) managed our enterprise infrastructure? That was what it was good at, but only if the device was a mainframe terminal. Now we need more tools that can do the equivalent of SNA for smartphones, tablets, and whatever else the average corporate citizen wants to cart into his or her cubicle.

Mehta has divvied up the stack into four major pieces, and I like his model. There are mobile device management frameworks, enterprise social media policy management vendors, endpoint security solutions and enterprise federated identity management vendors. Unlike the traditional seven-layer protocol stack, there isn’t a lot of connective tissue between each layer, and I am not sure that any of these vendors, or anyone else, is really thinking about BYOD universe in this fashion. But the time to start is now.

  • MDM vendors include MobileIron, AirWatch and ZenPrise are securing corporate mobile devices, whether they were purchased by the company or by the user. Employees can choose the device they want, and change it as often as they want. But now IT can ensure that users also change their passwords from time to time, and make sure that they’re not “1234” or “password.” And they can zap all corporate data from these devices if employees leave or their devices are lost. That is a tall order, and we’ll see many more MDMs over time that are going to try to deliver bits and pieces of the whole story.
  • Enterprise social media policy management companies include SocialWare, HearsaySocial and Actiance. They are ensuring compliance and policy management for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As financial representatives and real estate agents use social networks of their choice to communicate with customers and prospects, their firms can ensure that all reps are adhering to policies – whether driven by brand-consciousness or regulatory compliance.
  • Endpoint security solutions from companies such as Symantec, Trend Micro, Checkpoint and others are going to have to evolve to cover the new kinds of endpoints besides the traditional Windows/Mac/Linux desktops.
  • Finally, enterprise federated identity management vendors such as Okta, Ping Identity and Symplified are helping IT departments enable users to deploy DropBox, Box.net, Google Apps and other applications of their choice without having to manage a myriad of passwords and security policies. These technologies essentially allow enterprises to implement their internal authentication and authorization policies (namely who can see what) for their cloud-based apps. .

“Companies are optimizing more for RFP submission than for usability,” Mehta said. “Simplicity is more important than meeting a bunch of items on an IT checklist.” That may be a tall order indeed.

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