This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

Instead of fearing consumer devices, IT can become heroes by embracing it. Focusing on total BYOD solutions, as Aruba has, can bring happy days back to IT.

Early last year my lovely wife, then fiancee (Christine White for those that don’t know her) and I went to Aruba to escape the Massachusetts cold and enjoy some nice time in the sun. When you go through passport control, the Aruban authorities stamp your passport “Bon Bini” which means “Happy Day” in the local language. It’s fitting given the relaxing, almost perfect days you enjoy there.

Now juxtapose this with today’s IT environment where technology leaders face the daunting task of finding ways of managing and securing a massive influx of consumer devices. It’s anything but happy days for corporate IT departments as they try to navigate the many challenges associated with BYOD. This has always been a problem for IT but it is significantly more acute today that it was even a year ago. A year ago at this time, I would say only about one out of four or five CIOs were embracing BYOD.

Today, it’s almost everyone I interview. In fact, two weeks ago I was at a CIO summit in London and no matter how any conversation started, within 15 minutes we were talking about the challenges of BYOD. Additionally, BYOD is being driven by not just tech savvy geeky workers like when I was in corporate IT, but instead by CEOs and the like. One IT leader I recently spoke to works for a company where, because of great corporate performance, the CEO gave several thousand iPads to the majority of employees as a thank-you gift. Boom, BYOD where none existed before.

It’s for this reason I like the announcements made by Aruba Networks today (see, there was a tie-in to Aruba, the company). Aruba announced a BYOD solution (ClearPass Access Management) that can on-board iOS, Android, MacOS and Windows devices to any network, be it wired, wireless or remote. They also unveiled a Professional Certification program (ACSP) for implementing a network-based solution for BYOD.

Now, when most people are looking to solve the BYOD challenge, they seek out a mobile device management (MDM) solution, and while MDM is important, it’s only part of the solution. MDM solves device-related issues such as provisioning, patch management, device wipe and application push. Aruba’s ClearPass performs many of the MDM tasks but can also restrict usage and bandwidth, user (not device) identification, guest access and network protection.

Aruba’s solution is similar to Cisco ISE/Trustsec with a few exceptions. Cisco’s solution is designed to work on a Cisco network (obviously), where Aruba’s is multivendor and is the only network-based multivendor solution that I know of. Additionally, Aruba can take on some of the non-device-specific MDM functions such as provisioning and revoking credentials.

The other thing that I like about ClearPass is that it’s a fully automated solution that allows employees to self-on-board the device. From discussions with IT managers, the process of configuring core “consumerization” services such as WiFi access, VPN, e-mail and pushing the certs can take in the range of 60 to 90 minutes of IT time per device. On the surface, that may not seem like much on a per-device basis, but take a few hundred or a few thousand devices, and an automated solution is the only scalable way to manage a BYOD strategy. A manual solution is prone to errors and doesn’t allow users to switch devices on the fly, as consumers are apt to do.

The certification program that accompanies the ClearPass release was well thought out by Aruba as well. The Aruba Certified Solutions Professional (ASCP) certification combines RF engineering, wired and wireless network security and mobile device management. Now, there are other WiFi and security certifications in the industry today, but ASCP appears to be aimed at the most significant challenges of BYOD. If executed properly, certification programs can be a huge differentiator for technology vendors. Cisco and Microsoft have made a killing on providing engineers with robust certification programs that have made them the de facto standards in their respective markets. Now, I’m certainly not saying that ASCP is going to make Aruba the next Cisco or Microsoft, but they had to start somewhere, and given their historical leadership in wireless and security, BYOD is a logical place for them to start.

So the era of BYOD is here and here to stay. Instead of fearing consumer devices, IT can become heroes by embracing it and finding ways to enable it. Focusing on total BYOD solutions, such as Aruba has, can hopefully bring happy days back to IT. Bon Bini!

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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