BYOD Trend Addressed By Alcatel-Lucent And AirTight Networks


The two vendors are offering capabilities to identify employee-owned mobile devices on corporate networks

Alcatel-Lucent and AirTight Networks are rolling out offerings designed to address the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend that is putting increasing pressure on corporate networks.

With the rapid growth in the use of smartphones and now tablets – particularly Apple’s popular iPad – employees and C-level executives are increasingly demanding access to corporate networks and data through their personal mobile devices.

Broad implications

While it has proved to be a productivity boon for employees, the BYOD trend has forced IT and data centre administrators to reconsider everything from network security to bandwidth capacity.

In particular, they have to figure out how to enable employees to get onto the network without opening up security holes and without slowing down network speeds with bandwidth-siphoning applications. Networking vendors are coming out with products aimed at helping businesses handle the trend. Most recently, on 7 March Extreme Networks introduced its Intelligent Mobile Edge product.

Alcatel-Lucent is adding what company officials are calling an application fluency capability to its Converged Network Solution offering. Essentially the feature enables the network to identify not only which device is on the network, but also who is using it and what applications are being run. The network also can recognise whether the application being run is critical to the business – and requires a high quality of service and a lot of bandwidth – and which applications are less critical and can be given what officials are calling “best effort” treatment.

“Our solution helps enterprises keep their employees satisfied and productive, while reducing the capacity-sapping impact of personal services and devices on their networks,” Stephane Robineau, vice president and general manager of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Network Business, said in a statement. “As importantly, by building application fluency capabilities into the network, we are also making it possible for enterprises to ensure that employees who need guaranteed service quality for bandwidth-heavy applications, like video conferencing, can get it when they need it.”

At the same time, the new feature also makes it easier for corporate networks to accommodate new services from the outside, such as those coming in from cloud computing environments, Robineau said.

Alcatel-Lucent jumped into the network fabric fray last year, joining such rivals as Cisco Systems, Avaya and Juniper Networks. Alcatel-Lucent’s Converged Network Solution includes everything from high-bandwidth wire-rate core switches to support for 40 gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 100GbE and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

As part of its solution, the company also is adding the OmniSwitch 6450 Ethernet LAN switch, a 1GbE device that offers network access and can include 10GbE uplinks. The switch will be available in the second quarter.

Airtight approach

For its part, AirTight has introduced device fingerprinting capabilities in its SpectraGuard Enterprise Wireless Intrusion Prevention Services (WIPS) and AirTight Cloud Services offerings. The new features are designed to make it easier to identify devices that are coming onto the network and ensure that they comply with corporate policies, according to Jatin Parekh, vice president of product management for AirTight.

“AirTight uses correlation of information from over-the-air and on-the-wire packets,” Parekh said in a statement. “This method produces accurate information about all smart devices (including iPhones, iPads, Androids and BlackBerrys) connected to the network to enable automatic classification and policy enforcement of ‘approved’ versus ‘unapproved’ devices.”

The new capabilities also include a patent-pending workflow to simplify BYOD management, a method to quarantine unapproved mobile devices and authorised mobile WiFi hotspots, automatic pinpointing of the physical location of any WiFi device on premise, a BYOD management API that can integrate with any mobile device management (MDM) system, and BYOD reports that are sent the manager’s inbox.

Industry observers have talked about the pressure the BYOD trend is putting on corporate IT departments, and the pushback from some businesses to employees wanting to use their personal devices on the network. However, a study by Avanade in January found that most companies are embracing the BYOD trend, rather than fighting it.

According to the study, about 60 percent of businesses are adapting their IT infrastructures to accommodate employees who want to use their smartphones and tablets, and that 65 percent of C-level executives consider the BYOD trend a top priority for their businesses.

“Despite the notion that business leaders are resisting the shift, we found that companies are investing in staff and resources to enable the consumerisation of IT and have many of the resources that are needed today,” Avanade Global CTO Tyson Hartman said.

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