(Blog): Alessandro Porro, vice president of International Sales at Ipswitch, comments on what businesses should do to prepare the network for the much anticipated launch of the Apple Watch and other wearable technology launches this year.
Anyone who knows me can tell you I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the progress of all things wearable in the last year or so. Not just because I like gadgets, but mostly because I spend my day job concerned with all things network-related. Keeping networks up and running is my business and so anything new that will connect to them piques my interest.
Last year, I have to say that the majority of wearable tech I came across was personally owned or simply being tested. However, according to a recent survey (see below) we conducted among IT professionals in Europe, this is all about to change. The findings demonstrate that a third of businesses plan to start to use some sort of wearable technology this year.
If you combine this with the number of businesses expecting an influx of personally-owned wearable technology coming into the workplace (36%) then this means that 2015 really is the year that wearable technology is about to go mainstream.
However, going back to my point at the start about keeping networks up and running being my business, I can’t help but think about the impact that this is going to have on network security, infrastructure and performance.
It makes sense. The more devices connecting to a network, the more complex the network management and monitoring become. Especially when these devices are so small, often invisible to the IT department. However, this doesn’t seem to have dawned on many yet. Only 13% of the IT professionals we spoke to have given consideration to how this will affect their IT policies.
So, in the spirit of sharing, there are a few steps that anyone responsible for running IT infrastructure should be giving serious thought to just now …
1) Review your infrastructure
An increase in wearables connecting to an organisation’s network is going to have a negative impact on the wireless bandwidth available. This in turn will slow down applications that could be critical to your business performance. However, this can be helped by checking your network monitoring tool capabilities and making sure that you have the settings optimised to offer transparency of who is connected to the network, what they can access and what bandwidth they are able to consume. By carefully monitoring this, issues can be identified before they become a real headache for you.
2) Benchmark for wireless access
By developing a benchmark of which users connect via which devices, how many devices you expect them to use and what they are accessing you’ll get a good picture of the impact wearables could have on bandwidth. This will help you identify design changes needed.
Key questions are:
– What are the most common applications and websites that employees are accessing via wireless devices, including wearables? Are they primarily for business or personal use?
– Who or what are the top consumers of wireless bandwidth in terms of individuals, devices and applications?
– How are wearables moving through the corporate wireless network, and how does this impact access point availability and performance, even security?
3) Update policies to be data driven
Regardless of whether you are investing in wearables for corporate use or just expecting employees to be connecting their gadgets to your network, review network usage, security and BYOD policies.
Establish BYOD/WYOD (Bring Your Own Device/Wear Your Own Device) usage policies that enable you to support users with multiple devices, while maintaining acceptable wireless availability and performance.
An up to date BYOD policy should address:
Who: BYOD usage should be limited to those who actually need extra devices to do their job
Devices: Define the acceptable number and type of devices by job function and recognise WYOD
Bandwidth: Also define authorised applications and acceptable bandwidth consumption by user and device. Your network monitoring tools should be able to be configured to automatically reject access to sites or services that have nothing to do with work.
Wearable technology has the potential to transform many tasks in the workplace and improve productivity. However, businesses need to check their readiness now, or they could be caught on the back foot.