BYOD and the Cloud Can Get Along

in BYOD, Mobile Cloud, Mobile Computing

byod By Timothy Wightman

Recent developments in the business world such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) office policies and cloud computing applications have dramatically altered workplaces all over the world. Each of these new developments makes it easier to accomplish business tasks, but using cloud computing and BYOD concurrently is a cause for concern in the IT community, raising questions about whether BYOD and the cloud can get along. BYOD and the cloud bring new challenges to the IT scene, but with some tweaking and insightful IT work, using these two advances together can provide significant benefits to companies everywhere.

Network Infrastructure

Many IT professionals are concerned that the combination of BYOD and the cloud in the workplace raises issues of security and excessive stress on bandwidth and network infrastructure as the number of employees using multiple personal devices at work grows.
Security concerns associated with the combination of BYOD and the cloud include several different scenarios.

First, if a device that can access business applications via the cloud is stolen, the security of an office network can be compromised with a stranger gaining access to sensitive company information and applications. Additionally, access to the company network can be compromised when an employee sells a device without preventing future access to cloud-based company apps. Also, BYOD allows employees to access company apps and sensitive information at any time and at any location. This increases the possibility that cybercriminals may hack into sensitive information.

Smartphones And Tablets

Many smartphones and tablets use apps that run automatically and connect with a server. The stress caused by these multiple devices accessing a network could potentially result in a drastic slowdown in network operations or, at worst, a network crash. Also, companies with a BYOD policy can have trouble controlling who is accessing their network because cloud apps make it difficult to know how many devices are accessing the network at any given moment, making network administration complicated and unpredictable.

Yet in both cases, taking a deep look at whether or not BYOD and the cloud can get along reveals that these problems are not only surmountable but are also not really any more significant than similar security and access problems of the past. In reality, the same security concerns exist with each device a company gives to an employee to accomplish work tasks. For example, an employee can lose his or her company device, which can then fall into the hands of a stranger. Company-owned devices can typically be disabled, but employee-owned devices can be disabled as well. The best way to deal with the security concerns of BYOD and the cloud is to have employees sign a policy and take responsibility for disabling access to company apps if the device becomes lost or stolen.

Bandwidth Challenges

The problem of network bandwidth when BYOD and the cloud are used in tandem poses more complex and challenging technical issues. One possible solution is the use of network access controls that give IT personnel some oversight over who is accessing the network and when. Access can be limited to selected individuals and determined by employee needs and standing in the company. Simply spreading the word about network issues among employees using BYOD devices, however, can go a long way in preventing network overloads. If employees understand the potential dangers of excessive use, they will cut back on connecting and app usage. Education is key to preventing the network overload problem.

While posing some new challenges for IT departments, BYOD and the cloud can certainly get along and bring dramatic improvements to the workplace.

About the author: Timothy Wightman is CEO/President of Effective Data in Schaumburg, IL. Effective Data is a worldwide leading provider of EDI solutions, consulting and data integration. Connect with Effective Data on Facebook and LinkedIn.  This post first appeared in my Web2 and More blog.

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