Author Archives: westconcto

BYOD, Management and Security

This week’s Economist has a short article on mobile device security. Rightfully so, they recognize the security threat is data loss as opposed to malware. As discussed in previous posts, the BYOD challenge is about management of devices.  Data loss prevention is most effective when it is aware the device exists and is accessing, sitting or transmitting certain information when it should not be.

We have been asked recently about the potential growth in the BYOD space.  It won’t come from malware.  It will come from a proliferation of devices, from the common smartphone to the latest wearable, that is retaining and transmitting information the enterprise simply does not want transmitted. And please remember, data is not just spreadsheet attachments in an email,  more importantly it is video, taken innocently or not in the office, that poses data loss problems.

That is the threat of BYOD.

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SDN and the Cloud – quick thought

If SDN, and it’s “sister” NFV, actually achieve the hype that has been circulating could we actually have a day where infrastructure cloud providers are really no longer “independently” purchased by the data center manager (or CMO, or COO, or whatever flavor of “business driven cloud consumer” you choose).  Instead, could we see a day where there are ecosystems in place such that the SDN management software has a direct link with specific cloud providers (e.g. one for compute, another for storage, etc.).  some have called that “real time infrastructure”.  My question though is – could, concurrently, each SDN ecosystem have an optimized set of API’s such that the SDN management software can dynamically provision and de-provision pre-determined, contractually bound, specific cloud sourced resources real-time, from a pre-selected cloud provider in that eco-system.

At that point, the data center manager really doesn’t care who the specific cloud provider is, assuming that the ecosystem has properly vetted that cloud provider.  If that is possible, then is it possible that one of the very large global infrastructure providers would own both ends (the SDN Management environment AND the cloud infrastructure services)?  Do IaaS cloud providers really then focus their attention on SDN developers, rather than data center managers?

OCP and the Channel

As the Open Compute Project (OCP) matures, we are being asked from all corners of the channel – “what does it mean”.  (as a side note, why does the channel get so nervous with every technological evolution?  The channel is here to stay, whether it is cloud, or OCP.)

The OCP is about huge data centers buying commodity compute, storage, and network components that are built to a standard spec,and then the data center firm optimizing the integration and configuration for their own business.  

What this does to the channel is only upside.  Since these large data center players were bypassing the channel and going direct to the traditional server vendors in the past, the fact that the data center player is configuring their own data center does not hurt the channel since the business wasn’t going via the channel to begin with.

What this does for the vendors of servers, storage and compute, companies such as Dell, IBM, Cisco, EMC, Netapp, is perhaps a bit more eye-opening.  We would assume that these vendors will replace the lost opportunity for sales to these data center players with more activity within traditional enterprise and SMB customers.  And, these customers are serviced via the channel.  

At this point, we believe OCP will be good for the channel.  Strengthening and reinvigorating server, storage and networking vendor relationships to obtain the reach and revenue that is being lost as OCP takes hold in the large data center player markets.

The channel is about relationships, services, financing, go-to-market, tech expertise, logistics and enablement. The compute, storage and network vendors will, arguably, need more of these capabilities as their customer base evolves.

SDN Sizzle

It’s funny. It seems there are two sets of conversations around SDN, and perhaps around every new technology.

First, there are the business entities (vendors, disti’s, VAR’s, SP’s, end-users) who dismiss the general hype and then take their existing product set and re-position themselves within their general definition of the technology, basically pulling SDN (or VDI, or whatever) back in its evolutionary progression, and highlighting existing capabilities they have that “already do SDN, and have been for years”.
Second, there are the business entities that embrace the hype, define it in their own way (“spin”), and talk about how their new products will fit into their definition of the SDN hype.

It feels like those firms that are not marketing oriented, who are really engineering oriented, will fall into the first camp. These firms come across as defensive and there is a whiff of a threat that they cannot quite get their heads around. Conversely, the firms who understand the value of the hype and are trying to ride the wave in order to sell their products, fall into the second camp. Their threat is the risk of being exposed as a “fake” by the engineers of the first camp who dissect the second camp’s solutions such as they are, in the here and now, dismissing the marketing opportunity, all for the sake of truth in engineering.

I wonder if the first camp is going to lose. If not outright, might they lose a step or two?

Sizzle sells, whether it is perfume or routers.

BYOD: Powering the “Shield”

Regular followers of this blog know that BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a hot button issue of mine.  In recent posts, I’ve explored some of the challenges faced by the never-ending flood of personal devices in the workplace – security, compliance and management key among them.  But hopefully, I’ve also conveyed an enthusiasm for all BYOD has to offer.  More than a powerful enabler of productivity, it also helps employees be more responsive to customers.  When you think of it, this is every company’s goal. 

There are many strong opinions about BYOD, and I can take up more than a few blogs on the topic.  But the truth is – whether you love it or hate it – BYOD is here to stay and companies must be prepared to handle all it brings.

As a first step, companies must devise a strategy that specifically addresses security, compliance, and management.  It’s more than securing the individual device – but ensuring the actual network stays safe.  Going beyond security is addressing such things as mobile application management, or how enterprises ensure access to apps that improve employee productivity.  It’s also about application enablement – determining which apps to include in the mobile device toolkit — and then limiting those that pose a threat.  The biggest challenge is delivering all this functionality under one umbrella – in a cohesive package.

That’s why I’m so pleased to introduce BYODShield.

Today, Westcon announced our teaming with BlueCat and Fiberlink to provide an industry first – a subscription-based service delivering a multi-layered “shield” that specifically addresses security, compliance, and management issues created by personal devices in the workplace.  We’re tightly integrating formerly disparate network security and enterprise mobility offerings — packaging them alongside our deep GOLDShield technology pre- and post-sales support model – and creating an all-in-one solution.  It’s a service that virtually eliminates current and future headaches associated with provisioning, servicing, securing, and managing thousands of personal devices. 

But it’s much more than a simple partnership.  Really, any distributor can do that.  We’ve successfully brought together BlueCat and Fiberlink to jointly write code exclusively for Westcon.  The functionality delivered by this deep collaboration can’t be found anywhere else.  We’re really proud of the result – integrating award-winning technology with our unsurpassed expertise in security and unified communications. 

When it comes down to it, BYODShield is about demystifying the complexities of managing and securing personal devices in the workplace.  Instead of trying to contain BYOD, we help you embrace it.  And it’s something you’ll see us do even more down the road.  Because the real future of distribution comes through offering resellers a consistent, unified, and integrated approach to solve their most complex technology challenges.  And a good distributor will tackle the integration and do the legwork for you – backing it with all services necessary to make it work.

Like anything new, BYOD is a scary proposition that can cause nightmares for any CIO… But before losing any sleep, take a step back and see what’s possible when leveraging the right tools.  And be sure to check out more about BYODShield at http://us.westcon.com/byodshield

 

BYOD 2.0

Westcon and Comstor continue to work with customers around the world in delivering BYOD solutions to the end-user community.  With any nascent technology, there are doubters as to the true need of securing the device, the network, and the enterprise via technologies such as MDM, NAC, and IPAM.

My point here is that the work done today by resellers and end-users in securing the environment against the onslaught of phones and tablets is a necessary rehearsal for what comes next.  Think Google Glass.  If an organization is not ready to secure itself against the current tablet/smartphone wave, how will it be ready for the more complex set of security challenges inherent in new devices such as Google Glass, that consume and generate significantly more information and pose new complications in terms of security and privacy.

Just like everything else, practice makes perfect – if you have an active, exercised  framework of policies and guidelines that can support the current BYOD phenomena, you will be that much more ready for the next wave of IP-enabled devices.  Wearable technologies such as Google Glass are coming.  Corporations currently relying on security frameworks from 5 years ago is like hoping your moat will keep away a Reaper Drone.

MAM, MDM & BYOD

I read an interesting article the other day from an analyst I greatly respect, but have to disagree with regarding MAM and MDM. At the risk of oversimplifying the technologies involved, MAM – Mobile Application Management – is a piece of software that allows an organization to present a customized appstore to their employees or customers.  MDM – Mobile Device Management – is a technology that allows an enterprise to manage the hardware, software, network access, and security profile of an employee/visitor’s mobile device (MDM is a big part of the BYOD security play).  Some MDM solutions have a MAM component.  In other words, within the MDM solution, there is the ability to present a customized appstore.

What I think is important to clarify is that though some MDM’s have MAM capabilities, MAM alone is not a way to secure an employee/visitor device.  MAM does not secure the hardware, software and network access within the mobile device.  MDM does.  

Don’t get me wrong.  You need both functionality.  My concern is that people acquiring a MAM solution should never think that they are actually securing the Mobile Device.