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

I’m not sure what happened to the IT mindset this year but it seems BYOD has gone from something that most IT departments are trying to avoid to something that tops most IT priority list. Perhaps it’s the result of better MDM tools, pressure from the business leaders, or maybe just a willingness to admit that it’s the way things are now.

Whatever the case, a switch flipped, and ZK Research shows that fewer than 20% of companies actually oppose BYOD. That means for every five companies out there, four are embracing it.

So what happens after BYOD is put in place? Now companies have, what, 3, 4 or 5 times as many devices to manage? That means with an employee growth number of zero, IT departments have to manage up to 500% more devices. Now, think of the impact that has on the network. DHCP servers get slammed, DNS requests go through the room, the number of IP addresses jumps an order of magnitude, devices have to be assigned to VLANs and then reassigned as that worker moves through the company. Then all of that information needs to be updated and kept in sync.

I know some companies have the tools, process and discipline to manage this, but I think those companies are the minority and are certainly far from the norm. I think back to my own IT days when I had this big, complex spreadsheet made up of multiple tabs and freeze bars to simply track PCs, printers and a handful of laptops. Now toss in tablets, mobile phones, IP phones, IP-enabled printers and copiers, netbooks, Chrome books, Ultrabooks. What’s a network manager to do?

One tool (or set of tools) that can help with the proliferation of IP-enabled devices is DDI. For those who aren’t familiar with that acronym, it stands for DNS, DHCP and IP Address Management. It’s actually an acronym for three other acronyms. Don’t you love tech? Regardless, these are three core network services that every network has and everyone needs. I have to admit that DDI is one of the least sexy IT tools out there, but sometimes the un-sexy becomes sexy, and BYOD has certainly raised the bar on the importance of DDI.

Now, there’s a distinction between the “free” DDI tools available in Microsoft Server and the ones from the leading vendors such as Blue Cat, Alcatel Lucent and market leader, Infoblox. The range of features, scalability and usability isn’t even comparable.

The first and most obvious way that DDI can help is that it beefs up the DNS and DHCP infrastructure. The “free” ones simply can’t handle the scale and robustness needed to handle the incoming wave of IP addresses. Additionally, IP Address Management is inherently unscaleable the way it’s done today. Throw in IPv6 and there’s no way spreadsheets and homegrown tools will work. IT managers of any reasonable-size networks should do themselves a favor and get a real DDI application suite since, with DDI, you get what you pay for (or don’t get what you don’t pay for, in this case).

DDI also helps with the auditing and tracking of IP-enabled devices. Think of how hard this is to do without consumer devices. Long gone are the days when you can simply telnet to a device and if you can log in you can figure out it’s a print server, router, switch etc. Tracking devices was hard to do when IT owned all the devices. It’s near impossible to do when consumers are free to bring their own devices on the network. “Pinging” or “telnetting” to it just doesn’t work anymore. This is an important task for most companies, but is critical for heavily regulated organizations where security and compliance are not just nice to have, but have together become a must have.

One other area DDI can help IT manage BYOD is with automating network change management. With BYOD, devices are continually changing locations and users come and go, meaning network changes need to be done near real time. Assigning addresses, reassigning them, VLAN configuration, etc., all need to be done faster and more often. Doing this manually adds to the risk of human error and creates security risk. Automating those changes protects the company, the user and the network manager.

IT leaders certainly shouldn’t shy away from BYOD. The wave is here and resistance is futile. Just make sure the right tools are in place to ensure that IT and the network can handle the explosion of devices.

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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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