As more employees look to access corporate networks with their personal mobile devices, vendors are looking to help companies allow such access in secure, efficient ways.
Officials at Unisys
started to sense the change about three years ago. It began when employees
wanted to pare down the multiple mobile devices-from pagers to business
handsets to laptops-that they carried with them for their jobs.
That desire morphed a couple
of years ago-first with the rapid ascension of smartphones (particularly the
launch of Apple's iPhone), and then with the release of Apple's iPad-into
wanting to bring their personal devices to work in order to get onto the
corporate network and gain access to business data and applications.
"We found that our employees
wanted to use different products
[than] what we were buying," said
Patricia Titus, chief information security officer at Unisys. "It was a huge
paradigm shift. ... They wanted to buy
the devices they were most
That shift-commonly referred to as BYOD, or Bring Your Own
Device-is hitting businesses worldwide. With the widespread adoption of myriad
consumer mobile devices-including all flavors of smartphones and
tablets-combined with a growing number of employees who are accustomed to using
them, companies must figure out ways to accommodate them.
Businesses can save money by
letting employees buy their own devices, but they must then find secure,
efficient ways to let employees, contractors and guests gain access to the
corporate network, while protecting data and applications.
"Companies have to deal
[with employees] with all these devices walking in and wanting to connect to
the corporate networks," said Chris DePuy, an analyst with The Dell'Oro Group,
who added that BYOD is a key trend affecting the wireless LAN market. "I don't
think the problem is going to go away. ... It's going to be a pain point for
years to come because the devices are always changing."
15 Billion Network 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.
That will translate into
rapid growth in the wireless LAN (WLAN) and access-point markets. Dell'Oro
predicts overall WLAN market revenues will exceed $8 billion in 2015, a 49
percent increase over 2010 revenues. At the same time, DePuy said units of
enterprise 802.11n access points will show a 39 percent compound annual growth
rate within the next five years, and that doesn't take the
small-office/home-office space into account.
"IT is living up to the
challenge, and, in some ways, it has no choice because of the proliferation of devices," IDC analyst Rohit Merha said.