Cisco has launched new tools to help network administrators deal with the flood of devices in the enterprise
Cisco Systems is to give hard-pressed network administrators the necessary tools to manage the flood of personal mobile devices that staff are using to access corporate networks and data.
Cisco officials said that the new offerings, announced 20 March, are designed to create a comprehensive approach to the growing trend of bring your own device (BYOD), which the rapid adoption of such mobile devices as smartphones and tablets – and staff desire to use them at work – is fuelling.
The BYOD trend puts greater management and security pressures on network administrators, and it’s not going to slow. However, how much corporations are embracing the trend varies. In a recent survey, Cisco found that 75 percent of IT managers in the United States say there need to be new rules and policies around security and device use. However, many also seem to be ignoring the issue: 48 percent of respondents said their companies would never authorize employees to bring their own devices, while 57 percent admitted that some employees use personal devices without consent.
Cisco officials said their new tools offer a more wide-ranging approach to the problem.
“The BYOD trend is here to stay, but companies must move beyond the basic act of connecting user-owned devices to a comprehensive BYOD strategy to meet employee demands,” Sujai Hajela, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Wireless Networking Business Unit, said in a statement. “Unlike competitors, Cisco is approaching BYOD holistically.”
The networking vendor’s new tools are based on its Borderless Network initiative, with Cisco’s Identify Services Engine (ISE) offering some key enhancements. Among those is ISE 1.1MR, which makes it easier for employees to self-provision their own devices and lift some of that burden from the IT department. In addition, Cisco officials are looking to integrate mobile device management (MDM) solutions from the likes of AirWatch, Good, MobileIron and Zenprise into ISE, which would give IT administrators greater control over device access and policies, such as requiring the devices to have a pin lock, not allowing jailbroken devices onto the network, and being able to remotely wipe data on lost or stolen devices.
The importance of such policies was highlighted in Cisco’s “Connected World Technology Report,” which said that 70 percent of employees worldwide admit to breaking IT policies.
In addition, Cisco is upgrading its wireless LAN offerings with its new United Wireless Network Software 7.2, which offers users a better video experience though its VideoStream technology, and with the ability to enable a single controller to support up to 3,000 access points and 30,000 clients. That addresses the growing trend of people having more than one or two mobile devices. The new software also offers optimised Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) support, a key feature, given that 71 percent of smartphones and tablets – 1.6 billion – will be IPv6-capable by 2016, according to Cisco.
Cisco also is rolling out enhancements to its Cisco Prime management portfolio, including Prime Assurance Manager 1.1, a new management platform designed to give IT administrators greater visibility into application performance on both wired and wireless networks, as well as end-user devices. In addition, Prime Infrastructure 1.1 offers more complete lifecycle management across wired and wireless networks, as well as specific offerings for branch environments.
“BYOD is not just about connecting user-owned devices and allowing guest access,” Cisco Senior Vice President and CIO Rebecca Jacoby said in a statement. “ It’s about what you do after that – that’s when things get interesting. Cisco goes beyond that first step to provide companies with a complete solution to tackle the BYOD phenomenon today and tomorrow.”
Unified Network Software Release 7.2, Prime Assurance Manager 1.1 and Prime Infrastructure 1.1 are available now. ISE 1.1MR will be available this summer, while its integration with MDM features will come by the end of 2012, according to Cisco.
How much do you know about smartphones? Take our quiz.