This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

Consumerization and BYOD are all the rage today. It’s tough to discuss anything with an IT leader without this topic rearing its ugly head.

To combat the issues that stem from BYOD, many IT departments have turned to mobile device management or some sort of solution that goes on the end point. While this solves some of the BYOD challenges, it doesn’t solve all of them, nor does it scale easily since it requires touching every device that comes into the company. In my opinion, the most scalable way to address BOYD is through the network, as it sees all and touches all.

This was the basis of Extreme’s “Intelligent Mobile Edge” launch, which includes wired switches, wireless infrastructure and identity management software – all core components of supporting BYOD. Extreme’s solution is designed to help companies with the challenges of allowing workers to bring their own devices into the work place.

I’ve seen a significant increase in interest in supporting BYOD over the past 12 months. Going into 2011 only about one out of every four or five IT leaders I spoke to were planning to support it. Today, it’s almost everyone I interview.  There are lots of BYOD solutions on the market today, but Extreme’s is one of the few that is a network-based solution.

I won’t go into detail on the product highlights – if you’re interested in those you can just read the press release – but I will go through the parts of the release that I think are meaningful and why.

  • Extreme announced its Ridgeline identity management software that functions across traditional LANs, WLANs and cellular networks. Extreme’s identity software allows companies to authenticate users and consumer devices via network access using Active Directory, LDAP and RADIUS. Understanding that BYOD isn’t just a WLAN issue, Extreme’s ability to authenticate across any network is a significant differentiator.
  • Extreme is also rolling out an 802.11n WLAN portfolio based on Motorola’s WiNG 5 framework. Of note, the portfolio includes longer-range access points. The long-range APs have a strong value proposition since many consumer devices have surprisingly weak WLAN radios. The long-range APs will let more workers connect more devices and have a better experience.  
  • The company also announced a number of new 1RU Ethernet switches that range for 8 to 48 ports. These switches extend Extreme’s XOS operating system to the wired edge, enabling features like QoS and the identity management application. While the majority of consumers devices are wireless, it’s important that companies do not forget about the wired devices as well. 

BYOD is a trend that’s here to stay for the foreseeable future and many of the wireless LAN vendors have developed their own solutions to address it. Extreme’s Intelligent Mobile Edge solution is a reminder that, despite the popularity of wireless networking, the wired edge isn’t going away any time soon.

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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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