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March 29, 2012

Stepping into the Social Enterprise With BYOD

By Dave Courbanou

Believe it or not, the social enterprise isn’t exactly a checkbox feature.

To fully implement the dream of a hyper-connected world, social enterprise will require a few stepping stones, the most important of which may be mobility.

Are you ready for the bring-your-own-device revolution?

The BYOD concept isn’t new and, better yet, it’s easily understood. You, me and everybody on the planet has a mobile phone or tablet they love (or love to hate) and use it daily for e-mail, social networking, work, play and everything in-between. Naturally, employees want to leverage a magic-glowing-fun-box of their choosing, and why shouldn’t they? It’s a device they know and love, which should translate to a happy and productive employee.

Enterprises looking to submerge themselves deep into the social enterprise world will find that mobile devices are also often the hub of many social activities. With webcams, widgets and web browsing, mobile devices are surprisingly powerful endpoints, allowing for super-quick collaboration. But they need to be brought into the enterprise with care due to their mobile nature. So before implementing a BYOD policy, there needs to be two key areas an enterprise has thoroughly covered: security and data.

The first is obvious — you don’t want just any tablet or phone connected to the corporate wireless networks. There’s a plethora of access point and data center technologies that ensure mobile devices are not just authenticated, but controlled via user access policies. For example, it’s not important that my iPad can access file shares from accounting if I’m in the IT department. Managed access points and rack-mounted network appliances can also offer a one-two-punch to ensure a healthy level of control over your wireless edge, without seeming despotic.

The second and equally important factor is data loss prevention. The social enterprise could leak over into a non-approved social networks, and that’s no good. You don’t want users e-mailing out massive amounts of confidential information, even accidentally. To ensure this information doesn’t grow legs, data loss prevention appliances should live in the data center. These boxes churn through all outbound data, automatically detecting, flagging and blocking everything from Tweets, Facebook posts or e-mails if it has the markers for sensitive information, or features specified files that may not leave the corporate network.

For ultimate protection, DLP and security capabilities can be combined, allowing IT admins to prevent sensitive information from being locally stored on a user’s device, so even disgruntled employees can’t wreak havoc. By planning ahead (an ongoing theme for the social enterprise), any enterprise can happily link employee devices to the rest of the company’s network, bringing corporations one step closer to the utopia of the social, mobile and cloud-bas

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