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Securing the borderless network: It's time to embrace mobile devices

The importance of securing the borderless network when mobile devices are taking over both business and personal use is key for partners to recognize when talking with customers.

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Mike O’Brien, Channel Chat blogger

As a society, we’ve come to rely on our mobile devices—whether they be BlackBerrys smartphones, iPhones, Androids, iPads, or most recently, the RIM Playbook. This consumerizaton of technology and mobile devices is blurring the lines of business and personal use, forcing businesses of all sizes into securing the borderless network. Embracing, managing and securing these devices have become a vital part of the network infrastructure.  

Being a Gen X’er in the workforce, I have relied heavily on technology to make my life easier, and I cringe if I have to actually put pen to paper to do anything. 

My BlackBerry, my corporate device at the moment, is never more than 4 feet away from me, which I’ve come to realize has contributed greatly to the impatient, real-time world that we all live in.

So how do techs get a handle on all this mobility and securing the borderless network?

My first piece of advice is to get a handle on what’s needed to meet customers’ goals. Setting a sound strategy that can be executed throughout the organization should be the first concern.

As business-minded technicians, we must train ourselves to think globally about our organizations and move beyond the office walls. We have to embrace those technologies that will enable greater productivity, access and communication for our companies, and help people achieve the work/life balance that’s best for them. With the rise of mobile devices and the desire to use them interchangeably between business and personal use, the legacy move of locking down the network so no one can get in or out isn’t an option.

One of the more obvious resolutions would be around virtualization. By utilizing VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), users gain access to their corporate desktop, but they aren’t opening the network up to vulnerabilities and threats.  The desktop access is mobile, but the data remains in a protected, virtual and secure environment, housed in the corporate data center.

Key points to cover when communicating with customers on borderless networking

Here are some thoughts for partners around the impact of IT consumerization and mobile security:

  • Users are going to demand device choice—give them what they want, but draw a clear line when it comes to managing and securing these devices.
  • Set ground rules upfront. Discuss access, security and to what extent the devices will be supported. Then stick to your guns. As a trusted advisor, you can help set policies and use technologies such as asset management, remote monitoring and management platforms to keep the organization in check.
  • Ensure customers and employees are trained on how to use technologies such as virtualized desktop correctly, so you maximize the ROI, performance and overall user satisfaction. The last thing you want is for your help desk to be buried in user errors. 
  • Last, but not least, be sure the provider you choose supports the network demands of the users. We all know some providers are more up to speed on these demands than others. Some are stuck in the technology past; others are more future-oriented. 

About the Author: Mike O’Brien is a technology solutions engineer focused on Cisco borderless networks architecture for Ingram Micro Inc., the world’s largest technology distributor. Michael.OBrien@IngramMicro.com, www.ingrammicro.com

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