Preparing Your Network for BYOD: Tips from Two IT Pros

Planning for density on the network, managing mobile applications and creating a BYOD policy are key. By ChannelPro

The BYOD movement is continuing to gain popularity. According to a 2012 Cisco ISBG Horizons study, 78 percent of U.S white-collar workers use some sort of mobile device for work purposes. This number will only continue to increase as mobile devices like tablets, smartphones and even laptops become more affordable. BYOD is here to stay and for the unprepared IT manager that can mean slower network speed and clogged resources, but it doesn't have to be that way.

"From the IT side, what they're starting to realize is 'I need to embrace BYOD, but I don't need to embrace chaos," says Perry Correll, senior technologist and director of product marketing for Xirrus, a wireless network company.

IT managers can prepare to allow for BYOD, by planning for density on the network by having a user policy and mobile device management strategy in place and by monitoring applications on the network.

Density

Density refers to the number of Wi-Fi devices on the network. "Historically, Wi-Fi networks kind of grew ad hoc on their own," says Correll. "You would throw up an access point here and throw up an access point there and eventually you'd grow into a real network. It was really designed for coverage."

As the number of devices on a given network continues to grow, the traditional solution is to upgrade the radios inside the access points. The term radio in wireless technology refers to the radio waves an access point emits. Correll says simply upgrading the radios inside an access point doesn't solve the issue of density.

"You need to have more radios. Traditional access points usually have two radios inside and so all of the devices in the area connect to one of those two radios and you get what you get."

Adding more radios allows IT managers to separate out devices and choose which devices connect to which radio. This is important because not all Wi-Fi devices are created equal.

"If I have a tablet, a smartphone and laptop sitting on my table all connected to the exact same Wi-Fi access point, every one of those devices is going to connect at a different data rate," says Correll. "Putting everything on the same radio degrades the network."

By separating out the devices and providing more radios for connection, IT managers can put higher performing devices on one radio and slower consumer products on another, ensuring optimum speed for everyone.

IT should also consider multi-state radios that can support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. According to Correll, 2.4GHz is more of a legacy band and newer Wi-Fi products are beginning to support the 5Ghz band. Traditional access points have one radio for each type of band inside, but once the majority of devices on the network support 5GHz, the access point will need to be replaced. Using a multi-state device allows you to simply convert the radio inside to support the 5GHz band.

Mobile Device Management

After addressing density, IT managers should think about mobile device management. This

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