Traditional network architecture isn't equipped to deal with the needs of today's companies and their employees' mobility. The always-on, mobile work environment has disrupted the old ways of working.
The two main changes affecting old-style networks are bring-you-own-device (BYOD) policies (employees using their own equipment, such as mobile phones) and the increase in network devices associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). This new way of working requires collaborative working environments, tools to support nontraditional work schedules and the ability to work from anywhere at any time.
A new study has shown a measurable link between mobile-optimized work environments and increased job satisfaction and productivity. Companies with forward-thinking mobile networking strategies have seen a 16 percent increase in employee productivity, a 21 percent increase in employee loyalty and a 23 percent increase in employee satisfaction.
Mobile devices and IoT connected devices disrupt traditional, wired network architectures and make it more challenging to optimize network resources. IT administrators can't simply add new wireless devices to existing wired networks and expect a high level of performance. To accommodate personal and IoT devices, administrators must think more about how users work and how they access the resources they need.
BYOD: Managing Personal Devices
To deal effectively with personal devices, the network architecture must be designed with mobile in mind. And the best way to do this is for network administrators to focus on users — their behavior, how they access the network and what they need to accomplish with the network resources they use. Administrators also need to create security policies based on users, not devices or other network assets, as in the old days.
In the traditional model, IT organizations bought, controlled and secured all devices connected to the network. Today, administrators have to account for personal devices that often contain both personal and work data. To securely onboard each new device and maintain a secure network, it's necessary to understand the types of applications each employee uses and the device behavior.
IoT: Integrating Connected Devices
Key to managing IoT devices is designing the network architecture to route IoT data and analytics to the network edge. IoT devices, such as sensors or wireless cameras, can use a tremendous amount of bandwidth and expand network assets exponentially. Routing traffic through the corporate data center slows the process of making decisions based on the data and can be a drain on the entire network.
Network infrastructure needs to take into account the different types of IoT devices and understand how to identify them, classify them and route the data. Security policy must be granular enough to automatically authenticate and secure devices as they join the network.
Focusing on Context
As employees are ever more dependent on their mobile devices and the number of devices connecting to networks continues to expand, forward-thinking companies must find a way to contend with the disruption. The key is to focus on context: location, user, device, applications. By understanding these attributes and working with mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) platforms, IT organizations can optimize performance and create a more secure network.
Ultimately, supporting the new always-on, mobile work environment requires companies to ask this question: Are we satisfied with our traditional network architecture, or do we want to see measurable gains in productivity and employee loyalty and satisfaction? How you answer that question will determine how prepared your company is to meet the future head on.