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BYOx: new challenges and opportunities

A few years ago, BYOD was causing headaches among CIOs around the world. Now that the BYOD battle has been largely fought and won, a new trend is emerging within the enterprise – Bring Your Own App, says BRENT LEES.

This new dimension in the Bring Your Own Everything (BYOx) environment can be seen as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, employees seeking out and using applications they are comfortable with can enhance productivity. On the other, the uncontrolled use of consumer apps raises governance and security issues. But with employees already proving that BYOD and BYO operating system can be beneficial for the business, the next logical step is for them to start using readily-available productivity tools that work, and that they are comfortable with.

Already, social media is widely in use for corporate communications purposes, people readily collaborate for work-related purposes using Yammer and Dropbox, and they conference using applications like Skype. As the next generation of employees enters the workplace, they will expect access to the best of breed devices and applications they use in their personal life too. The IT function must provide an environment where users can access applications, data, and the underlying infrastructure located on-premises in data centres and private clouds and consumed as services from public clouds. This environment, the hybrid enterprise, must contend with both where the apps are hosted and how they’re delivered.

Clearly, much like BYOD, BYOx will become a standard practice in the workplace, and addressing the potential pitfalls opens opportunities for the channel. Critical to mitigating the risk in a BYOx environment is an application management platform that gives visibility and control over what apps are being utilized where within the organization. Enterprises must be enabled to identify how many people are using a particular app, what types of documents are being sent through it, and what volumes of traffic are going through it. A level of granularity is needed to determine what is allowed through and what is blocked. User experience has to be tracked, with response times gauged and early alarms sent to allow for problems to be addressed before productivity issues arise.

As with BYOD, BYOx creates a need for effective governance and security at the data level, with cloud and network security and efficiency of prime importance. While responsibility for how data is secured, encrypted and accessed will rest with the CIO, users too will have to take some level of responsibility for governance. Concerns about lost productivity through personal use – or misuse – of consumer apps during working hours will abate over time, much like they did when enterprises first moved to unblock access to internet and social media in the workplace. As was the case with BYOD, BYOx heightens the need for comprehensive and clear rules for governance, covering privacy, security and personal liability.

While the BYOx choices are consumer driven, the IT department will remain the first point of call if problems arise, so IT will have to embrace this change and be in a position to manage a broad range of operating software, devices, applications and even network connections. While this may raise new challenges for IT, the benefits for the business include greater freedom for employees, increased productivity and cost savings for the organisation.

In this age of ubiquitous computing, a new approach to the underlying IT services that holds it all altogether and makes it work smoothly is required to make the hybrid enterprise perform at its peak and meet the responsiveness, cost, and flexibility needs of the business.

* Brent Lees, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Riverbed Technology.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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