How to Build the Perfect BYOD Solution: 5 Must-Have Components

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | June 16, 2016 | Read Time: 5 mins

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For the last two to three years we’ve talked about BYOD to the point of obsession. Whether it was about strategies, myths, benefits, mistakes to avoid, or why you need a BYOD security policy, we’ve understood that supporting BYOD has been a growing priority for every business or organization.

As I’ve continued to think about BYOD and how it impacts every industry, I realized we haven’t covered specifically what components make up a successful BYOD solution. We might have talked about pieces individually but never one clear, systemic approach.

For IT managers and IT staff throughout every industry, properly planning for and supporting BYOD is no longer an option but a requirement.

A good BYOD strategy will not only help to increase your users’ satisfaction rates and their productivity, but will also help to keep your network safe and you in control.

Here is a list of the five components that every BYOD solution must have to properly support BYOD on any wireless network.

Network Access

There are three different ways your users can access your network:

  • Wireless
  • Wired
  • VPN

With the majority of employees, guests, students etc. using smartphones, tablets and wearables to connect to your network, it only makes sense to start with the wireless infrastructure you need and working backwards to the wired side of things.

Wireless Networking

BYOD starts with your wireless networking needs and this means having the right wireless network design in place. There are three main areas of focus when it comes to getting it right:

  • Coverage
  • Capacity
  • Performance

Ask yourself, are you covering all of the areas where your users will require wireless connectivity, do you have enough throughput in any given area to support your users’ needs, are your access points spaced out properly to provide optimal support for all of the different devices and applications running on your network?

By answering these questions, you’ll be well on your way to the right wireless network design to support your BYOD strategy.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you have the right hardware and software in place. We’ve learned over the years that there is a big difference between what should work and what actually does.

You’ll want to make sure you have features like, Layer 7 visibility, centralized management, an integrated firewall and real-time wireless visibility to name a few.

Wired Infrastructure Matters

While wireless seems to be more relevant today, the wired side of things can’t be overlooked; it’s still the backbone for every BYOD strategy and can make or break your network.

Your biggest concern when it comes to your wired infrastructure is to make that it’s not creating bottlenecks due to lack of throughput.

If you have a lot of users accessing your network, specifically 1000 or more than you’ll want to make sure your wired infrastructure supports 1 Gigabit edge switching and 10 Gigabit core switching among other requirements.

Network security

Security is the foundation and most important part of successfully supporting BYOD on your network; it simply doesn’t work without it.

There are two core things to think about when it comes to BYOD security:

  • Identity-based security
  • Next-Gen Firewall

Identity-based security is part of what makes up role-based access control and it allows you to use logic to identify your users, validate devices, control access (per user), and classify types of traffic and applications.

In other words it helps you answer the who, what, where, when, and how.

In addition to identity-based security you also have next-generation firewalls. Unlike traditional port-based firewalls next-gen firewalls have application visibility, so instead of lumping web traffic into one group you can actually see everything that is being used on your network, this includes:

  • Peer to peer
  • Social sharing
  • Business apps

Once we have visibility we can secure it, and a next-gen firewall can go far beyond simple URL filtering. For example, you can allow or block different types of applications based on user role, i.e. a company owned laptop might restrict access to YouTube, but a BYOD device might have access.

Network Access Control

Network access control is the piece of this system that helps you make the process of supporting BYOD a more manageable, more streamlined process.

NAC has six different features that make it perfect for enabling BYOD, which include:

  • Centralized policy management

  • Dashboard device profile views

  • Self-registration of BYOD devices

  • Secure guest registration and access

  • Remote registration and auto-provisioning of devices

  • Device health checks

Want to learn more? Check out this article for more in-depth info about network access control 

Network Management

It’s pretty obvious that today’s users are mobile; in fact Gartner predicts that by 2018 nearly 70% of all professionals will do their work using their personal smart devices.

While the number of devise connecting to your network is an issue, the challenge is that a lot of our networking tools were never designed to manage anything else expect wired switch ports.

Fortunately, there are a number of different network management tools available to help you manage your mobile users. Here’s what you should make sure you have:

  • Real-time wireless visibility
  • Proactive Alerting
  • Usage reporting
  • Real-time system health
  • Troubleshooting

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

We’ve talked about mobile device management many times before and as we’ve stated before when it comes to supporting BYOD including an MDM solution is must.

For anyone who needs a quick refresher on what MDM is and how it can benefit your BYOD strategy, take a look at our blog post, “Mobile Device Management (MDM): A Key Piece of the BYOD Puzzle”.

Okay so here’s the issue, there are literally hundreds of MDM options out there to choose from, so we recommend that you focus on what you’re actually trying to do with MDM and bring your own device. From there it’s much easier to decide which solution actually fits your needs best. However, no matter what, your MDM solution has to have the following capabilities:

  • Segmentation between personal and employee data
  • Mobile security (encryption and passcode protected)
  • Application management
  • Application delivery
  • Application control

BYOD is only continuing to evolve and expand; Gartner again predicts that by the year’s end, over 50% of employers will actually require their employees to bring their own devices to work.

BYOD can be tricky to support properly but with these 5 components in place we believe you’ll be on your way to success.

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