The bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon isn't just media hype anymore, it's a reality. A new Cisco study of 600 IT professionals found that 95 percent of organizations now permit employee owned devices in their environments.
BYOD adding complexity but upside wins out
While BYOD may add some additional complexity to a network in terms of security policy, 76 percent of the respondents said that BYOD is a positive move for their enterprises. The ability for employees to choose their own devices leads to improved productivity and greater job satisfaction, according to Cisco.
Cisco is also attaching a dollar figure to what BYOD can deliver. In Cisco's estimates, the positive annual impact of BYOD is anywhere from $300 to $1,300 per employee.
In a webcast discussing the survey results, Cisco's CIO Rebecca Jacoby `noted that Cisco itself is very welcoming to BYOD.
"Many in the industry think that the concept of BYOD is counter to business, due to risks, costs and operating complexity," Jacoby said. "But we've proven that you give users an experience their way, that doesn't compromise the business at all."
BYOD is all about mobility
Jacoby stressed that BYOD is about mobility. Not device portability but employee mobility the experience they have while accessing services.
"Traditionally, IT has focused on the device," Jacoby said. "However, Cisco is focusing on the connected-experience, which includes the entire architecture from the network to the device, delivering a personalized view based on role and location."
The idea behind BYOD is to enable choice, while IT's role is to ensure that everything stays secure. In Cisco's case, not all devices get the same level of support IT. Cisco only pays for employee devices if they are required by the employee to do their job, for example.
"As a trade-off, employees can use the devices they want and they can change their devices more often than a typical IT department can accommodate," Jacoby said.
BYOD and security
In terms of how Cisco enables BYOD, they ask employees to install Cisco's security client to get access to the network. Cisco's BYOD offerings include the Identity Services Engine (ISE), which was recently updated to better support mobile devices. The general idea with ISE is to enable easy access or on-boarding of new devices to a network in a self-service approach that is governed by an enterprise security policy.
Other major networking vendors including Juniper have been pushing their own solutions to help solve the BYOD challenge. Fundamentally, it comes down to enabling and enforcing security policies for wired and wireless clients regardless of whether the device is employee or corporate owned.