BYOD Challenges: A Potential Boon for the ChannelBy Gina Roos | Print
The bring-your-own-device phenomenon poses infrastructure and security challenges that distributors and resellers can leverage into opportunities.
Companies adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies must offer the necessary upgrades to handle additional bandwidth requirements and continuously cope with security risks. Yet from these challenges spring opportunities for distributors and resellers to sell hardware and services geared for the security and infrastructure upgrades needed to handle these mobile devices.
Any person who works in an enterprise has tripled the number of devices brought into work as opposed to two or three years ago, said Bill Hurley, CTO and CIO for Westcon Group, a value-added distributor that specializes in unified communications, voice and data communications, network infrastructure, data center and security products. "Instead of having a desktop, an employee may have a desktop and a laptop but also a smartphone, and chances are he'll also have a tablet."
More than half of North American and European companies are creating BYOD programs, according to a report from Forrester, which finds that 18 percent of tablet purchases will be made by enterprises in 2017.
BYOD programs offer companies a revenue bump from increased IT and help desk productivity, improved line-of-business process efficiencies, a reduction in expenses for corporate devices and data services, and improved collaboration and customer support, according to the Forrester report.
Along with this expansion, "we're seeing significant growth in wireless access points and the bandwidth required to be managed or provided in wireless environments, and that starts to trickle back to 'do you have enough wireless access ports, do you have enough bandwidth coming through on your wireless network and do you have enough ports on your firewall', where it becomes a security issue," Hurley said.
Upgrading the IT and wireless infrastructure—including the routing, switching and wireless access points—provides a big opportunity for resellers and distributors, Hurley said. "As people bring in these tablets, unfortunately or fortunately, the amount of bandwidth [required] goes up exponentially because they aren't just doing email on it," he said.
The channel can capitalize on these infrastructure requirements as well as the growing need for security services, which typically deliver higher profitability, compared with hardware sales, Hurley said. Westcon typically recommends that resellers call their customers to discuss BYOD security issues because "they are being inundated with these devices, and they need to check their security policies because they probably haven't been dusted off since they set-up guest log-ins a couple of years ago," said Hurley.
New devices will require more robust security measures than the traditional endpoint security used with laptops in the past, Hurley said. However, with a wealth of software and services available from traditional security vendors and new vendors entering the space, resellers need to spend the time with end users to help them select the right vendors and products, Hurley said. He spends a lot of time advising Westcon's resellers on the right vendors and products to consider in a particular set of circumstances.
However, the mobile market is not static. New types of devices will pose new security and infrastructure challenges—and potential opportunities for the channel.
"In terms of BYOD as a phenomenon, it's only going to grow so the other challenge is to help the reseller and end user think about more than just tablets and smartphones," Hurley said. "They have to create a strategy for mobile device management for Internet-enabled devices that they haven't even dreamed of that will be entering the enterprise in the next year."
Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributing writer, specializes in technology and the channel.