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Is BYOD an Opportunity or Threat?

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Sometimes, it seems like every man and his dog is talking about the relentless march towards mobile and BYOD.  But what kind of opportunities and threats does BYOD present for Cloud Service Providers?

I can’t help feeling that BYOD is a massive opportunity for CSPs generally.  Since the BYOD trend seems to centre mostly around the use of phones and tablets – rather than BYO laptops (barring the odd MacBook addict) – I’m thinking that one way or another most of the data is off-device and – for business systems – the compute aspect will be too in most cases.  Even if there exists the capacity to store data or run apps locally, this really isn’t desirable.

As such, this has to be a massive opportunity for CSPs, whose strengths lie exactly in providing a scalable on-demand service that creates a cost-effective way of supporting the remote compute of these BYOD.

BYOD as a threat to BYOS
CSPs have benefitted greatly from the Bring Your Own Software (BYOS) trend.  However, as IT departments implement (largely) reactive policies to control the BYOD phenomenon (whether BYOD is sanctioned or not), measures such as EAS, MDM, MAM, and VDI could restrict the use of the largely cloud-based applications brought into the organisation on user-owned devices.

Measures such as EAS, MDM, MAM, and VDI could restrict the use of the largely cloud-based applications brought into the organisation on user-owned devices.

Opportunities

  • Some SaaS providers will no doubt make it on to the ‘company approved’ lists (if they’re not there already).
  • Cloud-based App Stores.

Tools to manage BYOD
Many of the tools used to manage BYOD activities could be a potential threat to the existing SaaS trend (especially BYOS) in a business context, depending how they are implemented.  However, not without provoking end-user resistance.

Opportunities

  • Some forward-thinking Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors are already offering cloud-based solutions of their own management applications.
  • Could this pave the way for new, more agile entrants to the MDM market? Particularly those who can not only provide mobile device monitoring but also offer creative solutions for mobile application management?
  • VDIs and virtualised apps offload compute to the data centre and there is a strong argument for choosing cloud services to support that, especially where there can be large fluctuations in service demand or a rapid requirement for provisioning.
  • Vendors, such as Citrix, already offer a hosted VDI offering.
  • Ultimately, is the answer to BYOD to be found in  the Workspace as a Service (WaaS) model?

Some forward-thinking Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors are already offering cloud-based solutions of their own management applications.

Rethinking the network infrastructure
The segregated guest network is one approach; or perhaps multiple layers, each offering their own capabilities.  The guest layer might be effectively a wireless hotspot, then another mobile network might offer some low-risk business applications, then the standard secure office and corporate network.  I’m not sure that this evolution particularly helps CSPs but it does offer an opportunity in terms of positioning and marketing messages.

Opportunities

  • Perhaps CSPs can exploit this requirement with clear marketing messages: we understand the need for the different layers in your network and we can provide services which match or enhance this model.
  • Reposition offerings: either highly secure, leveraging all our expert security and encryption expertise vs. open and scalable as required, or both.

Surely there is an opportunity for CSPs to cannily target the smaller/ medium sized businesses that may not otherwise have the in-house technical knowledge or infrastructure to deliver their BYOD management strategies?  Particularly in terms of their ability to deliver applications across a highly diverse mobile device landscape?