by Curt Finch

How Users are Changing IT Architecture (and How You Can Stay Ahead of the Curve)

Feb 03, 20124 mins
CIOCloud ComputingConsumer Electronics

Due to the proliferation of consumer devices being used in the workplace, the users that IT departments serve are completely different than in years past. The game has totally changed in terms of security, loss of control and support. Employees have multiple devices and expect accessibility to essential apps and company data whenever they want.  To successfully deal with these changes, IT departments have to move away from a device-centric approach but still maintain efficiency.

It’s the User, Not the Device

Years ago, workers would sit at one computer, work for 8 hours and go home.  Now, employees can access company data anywhere: on their way to work through their iPad, on a laptop at their desk, through their smartphones after hours.  Employees are constantly connected and working from different platforms.  IT has to maintain control over the what, when and where of data being accessed.  It’s not about limited BYOD, but rather about being aware of the different devices, different platforms, and different applications one user will consume in just one day.  To achieve this, your IT department must find ways to automate processes in order to keep up with efficiency.

One company that is working to help companies automate processes in the face of BYOD is ForeScout Technologies, which provides automated security control platform software and hardware that allows customers to increase infrastructure accessibility while remaining highly secure. According to Forrester, the company is the top ranked network access control vendor by product offering and execution.

“Network access control basically allows companies to in real-time apply policies to all IP devices that are attempting to attach to corporate network, whether it be servers, desktops, notebooks, phones, videophones or printers,” according to Scott Gordon, vice president of worldwide marketing, in this article from MSP News. “Administrators can activate policies that allows the user or device immediate and full access, or if there is an issue, would potentially deny users access, limit their access or attempt to fix or resolve some of the security issues resolved with that device in a highly automated fashion.”


There are many different ways to deliver technology to employees, from local servers, to the cloud, to virtualized desktops.  But each method is not a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, a centrally-hosted virtual desktop would be problematic for a mobile worker.  If IT departments move to an “IT-as-a-Service” model, they can provide the necessary applications at the request of employees, with delivery of these applications being automated.  IT-as-a-Service requires a deep awareness of how technology is consumed among different employees.  It serves both the needs of the employee and the needs of IT, allowing employees to get what they want when they want it while allowing IT to keep track of how technology is being used.

Users Changing Network Technology

An example of a company at the forefront of changing network technology due to new user behavior is Enterasys and its solution OneFabric Edge.  OneFabric Edge is a purpose-built architecture for edge networking to support mobile application delivery.  It incorporates both wired and wireless networks, allowing enterprises to deliver high quality applications to mobile users at any scale.  OneFabric Edge provides both a detailed and holistic view of a company’s entire network.  It gives insight into the who, what, where, and which into the technology being used in the company.  With this complete overview, it’s much easier to create unified policies across the network while at the same time be able to differentiate users and give each user the necessary access they need.  OneFabric Edge allows IT personal to troubleshoot much faster if a problem should occur, allowing a much more pleasant user experience. 

This product was born due to the increase of BYOD programs in the enterprise.  As Enterasys VP of Market Ram Appalaraju said, this is the product that customers demanded.  It’s a way to manage the multiple devices that are infiltrating the workplace, while still addressing security concerns and creating unified policies important to the IT department.

How has the consumerization of IT changed the architecture of your IT department?