August 15, 2013

The Multiple Threats of BYOD and BYOA

(Sponsor-Contributed Paper)

Recent research from Gartner has suggested that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) are the new ways to consume IT. By 2015, the number of employees using mobile apps in the workplace will double. By 2017, Gartner argues, half of employers will require employees to supply their own devices. Along with this increase, BYOA has become increasingly common. 

Both BYOD and BYOA can be dangerous. To start with, you have the common security concerns associated with a technical device: spyware, malware, viruses, and so forth. These are all exasperated by the fact that BYOD involves foreign devices coming into the office in an uncontrollable way. Employees are bringing their own computers and tablets. Suddenly things like applications and virus software become variable.

Yet common concerns like security are not the only issues that come with BYOD and BYOA. BYOA is becoming a growing issue in terms of complexity and management. Troubleshooting can be a problem in an environment where users are bringing a multitude of different technologies. With BYOA, business units and employees decide about the use of their own apps, and they can do this without involving the IT departments,  strongly increasing the complexity of the traffic mix and putting business-critical solutions at risk. Gartner notes that 70% of employees using their own device have sourced their own apps to do their job. Additional devices running numerous applications could crash the networks themselves by putting too much stress on the available bandwidth.

IT solutions and innovations are embedded into everyday business functions, and companies must be prepared to handle these challenges before they rush after BYOD and allow BYOA.  Desktop virtualization, cloud applications, BYOD, social media and unified communications are just a few examples of IT functions which companies rely upon on an everyday basis. All of these apps or services are offered to the user via private or public networks, and it's the network therefore which needs to bear the brunt of the strain.  

Networks face an uphill battle if they do not adapt. We have increasing thirst for bigger and faster networks, ones which will support bigger file sizes, but without a wait. Looking at web pages, we can see the average page size has grown from 750KB (2011) to 1100KB (2012) and 1500KB (2013). Year over year, web page size growth is above 30%. Unified Communications is another service rapidly penetrating the enterprise market, and standard networks will be challenged by the demands in places upon them. A single, medium quality desktop video stream requires five times the average bandwidth each user gets on an enterprise network (400 kbps versus 80 kbps). And that's before users have upgraded to HD!

Users' IT habits are changing too. They are using a greater breadth of applications and services such as Office 365, Salesforce and GoogleApps, and they expect them to be delivered seamlessly, with no delay. A video call with jitter and delay will only frustrate, and slow download times for files will never be considered acceptable. The role of the CIO can sometimes be a thankless one; they're expected to manage the flow of data across the networks efficiently, and ensure smooth running of business critical applications. When this goes well, the user notices nothing. When this goes wrong, fingers are quick to be pointed.

Increasingly, businesses need to do more than simply prioritize certain applications over others. There comes a point when a business decides that ALL of its applications are "business critical," and therefore cannot be ranked over or under another. The CIO needs to guarantee the performance and success of the entire application portfolio. After all, who wants to ensure good video quality at the price of a shaky SAP experience? Choosing is not an option. ERP, unified communications, cloud applications, virtual desktops, social media, video, telepresence, big data, mobility and BYOD: all contribute to business efficiency.

This is where Application Performance Guarantee comes into play.  It allows businesses to guarantee each application's performance at any time, and directly align the network with the enterprise's business goals. When we talk with customers we stress four key reasons to consider an application performance guarantee approach:

1. Increase business efficiency and therefore the experience employees receive by suppressing application performance "brownouts"

2. Ensure the success of strategic IT projects thanks to the dynamic (self-learning and self-adapting) behavior of a system that adapts automatically to all traffic changes that occur

3. Improve IT productivity by dramatically reducing application performance incident handling, lowering the "Mean Time To Innocence"(MTTI) by drilling down into performance data to quickly identify the root cause of problems.(The MTTI, a term coined by Jim Metzler) is how long it takes for the networking organization to prove it is not the network causing the degradation.

4. Reduce IT infrastructure costs by tripling the potential of the current network without needing bandwidth upgrades, whilst reducing the amount of network governance undertaken by IT staff themselves.

WAN optimization tools are limited to simply increasing the efficiency of the data network and are unable to handle the increasingly sophisticated demands of hybrid networks, video traffic flows and cloud applications.  Companies need tools to manage applications on behalf of multiple users and protect business apps against recreational ones. They must understand how employees are using their networks, and prioritize business-critical applications above others. They need application performance guarantee solutions. The time has come to think differently; the time has come to go beyond WAN optimization to guaranteed application performance.


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