BYOD calls for a shift to a user-centric IT mindset

September 9, 2011

In an eWeek article earlier this week, Jeffrey Burt highlighted the increasing pressure that the BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, trend is placing on enterprise IT teams. In a departure from the days of a single, uniform PC on every employee’s desk, Cisco Systems research cited by Burt points to a world where by 2015 the average U.S. citizen will have a whopping seven network-connected devices:

The ongoing consumerization of IT has been a focal point for several years of analysts and vendors alike, who say the adoption of personal mobile devices will continue to grow. According to Cisco Systems’ annual Visual Networking Index Forecast released in June, by 2015, there will be almost 15 billion network-connected devices—including smartphones, notebooks, tablets and other smart machines—more than two for every person on the planet. By 2015, the average U.S. citizen will have seven connected devices.

The scary part for IT is that devices are only one part of the equation. New devices and methods of computing bring more applications, many of which also blur the lines between work and personal life. Under traditional thinking, each combination of user, device, and applications forms another unique configuration that IT needs to manage and secure. As the number of devices and applications explode, this device-centric management mindset becomes untenable.

Don’t get me wrong; there will always be a need to provide some degree of device-level patching and security. However, a better way to contend with the BYOD wave is to shift IT management and policy focus to users rather than devices. If IT can ensure a responsive, personalized experience and define context-adaptive configuration and security policies at the user level, they can worry less about which devices or deployment methods users are making use of.

With a user-centric approach, IT can offer freedom of choice rather than roadblocks to end-users without sacrificing operational efficiency and sound IT governance.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing