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Datanews 2/12/2011: « Helft van Belgische bedrijven wil iPad – La moitié des entreprises belges veulent utiliser l’iPad »

Datanews’ yearly survey amongst 300 telecom- and IT-responsibles of Belgian companies (http://t.co/gnsy0DNF) is very clear : around half of the companies plan to use an iPad or another tablet for mobile data services (up from 21% last year). Impressive is that 41% of the companies mentioned that employees could use their own smartphone. Priority for the surveyed companies was : 1. Mobile Data, 2. Security and 3. Standardization. This survey confirms that the evolution to consumer devices entering the network (“Consumerization”) and people bringing in their own devices (“BYOD – Bring Your Own device”) is really breaking through.

More then 1 year ago, Cisco IT moved from an environment where all devices were corporate-owned and controlled, towards an environment allowing end users to choose from a broad catalog of devices as well as use their own devices. One year later, the result is spectacular: in 1 year mobile device count grew 59% up to more then 43.000 devices. iPhones take up 40% of those devices, BlackBerry 32% and Cisco IT now sees a rapidly growing community of Tablet users (15%), as well as Android device users (10%).

Can you block/ignore this evolution ?

No, difficult, as many customers mentioned us their upper management were the first to bring in the iPhone, iPad and other devices. Difficult to say “no” to them, although they might carry the most sensitive data and therefore carry the greatest potential security risk. So, how as an IT department can you accept and guide this evolution, taking into account the security risks ?

What happens when you say “yes” ?

First of all, it answers a real demand from the end users and leads to a more satisfied and productive end user community. As IT, you are addressing what Peter Hinssen mentions : “Work being that moment in time when you use old technology” (see Peter Hinssen : “The New Normal”). As mentioned above, at Cisco it led to an enormous growth in mobile devices, and a broad spectrum of new operating systems accessing the network. The times of the desktop with the single operating system are clearly behind us. Often, this evolution will also go hand in hand with enabling new ways of working : allowing the employees to work from home, on the road or in the office (behind a desk, virtual desk, flex desk, in meeting rooms or meeting corners – (wired or wireless).

How will mobile data usage evolve ?

An additional measurement of Cisco IT showed that the increased capabilities of the new generations of smartphones and tablets make data- and application access seamless, leading to a 40x increased data usage versus previous BlackBerry data usage. Therefore, it will be important to offload the devices wherever possible from 3G to a corporate wireless network for higher bandwidth and lower costs.

In fact, we need to move beyond looking at the access methods as such, and create an environment that allows the end user to connect seamlessly and transparently from anywhere to enable him to work in new ways : home working, working on the road, working behind one’s office desk, working in flexible desk environments, going wireless in meeting rooms and meeting corners, … This will require a going together of LAN, WLAN and VPN technologies into a seamless solution.

So, how can I start the journey ? How can Cisco help ?

First of all, as users access with new types of devices, you need to have the capability to discover which device they are using. Cisco’s Identity Services Engine with its unique profiling capability will give IT visibility on which devices access the network.

Secondly, you need to provide a strong standardized infrastructure to allow access from wherever needed : Cisco Virtual Office at home, mobile data services while on the road, a full wired and wireless LAN deployment in the corporate buildings.

Thirdly, as the end user wants access from different environments (without needing to be an IT expert), you need to provide him a uniform way of  access. Here, Cisco has unique capabilities to gradually evolve your LAN and WLAN environment towards a secure 802.1x environment. Cisco’s AnyConnect end device client can then incorporate VPN and 802.1x connectivity to deliver a seamless Access Experience, whether at home, on the road or in the office.

Finally, an adequate Security Policy environment is needed. As people can and will access the network with multiple devices – some controlled, some private – an evolution is required towards Context-Aware Security with Cisco’s Identity Services Engine as policy engine. This will allow IT to define the right security policies dependent on who accesses, as well as with what device, from where, at what time, …

In upcoming blogs, we will go deeper on each of the different above mentioned elements of the total solution.

Let’s start the journey !

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