Aligning market trends of BYOD, mobile apps, the emergence of Wi-Fi as the primary access layer and the efficiencies of cloud services have forced enterprises to re-evaluate networking strategies. Making effective and strategic decisions on enterprise mobility for the long term though can be tough when carving through BYOD, MDM, MAM and Cloud acronyms and information. A simpler way to look at it is from the perspective of performance.

Mobility (played right) has the power to enable even the most demanding of users, IT and the business as a whole to perform at their best. This is the goal of most IT directors we speak too today – making IT a real business enabler again. The truth is that this consumerisation of IT is not a single technology problem in need of a solution, it’s a cultural shift in the way people work. It’s the perfect storm for increasing user productivity & business performance, except perhaps for one thing – the network.

Be User-Centric

Regardless of the device brought in, IT departments need to deliver an on-demand network service that wraps around the specific requirements of an individual user, at that time, for the access they need.

The network, and the security and management that goes with it, needs to adapt to each situation. Today’s mobile-first enterprise is looking to focus on the user rather than the network or port they’re connected to. Gone are the days of simply planning “3 ports per cubical” and hoping that will cover all connected devices. Users are working from anywhere, on any device, and expect wireless connectivity to help them enable that.

Getting mobile and BYO devices onto the network is now table stakes. Having a way to enable applications and securely connect and monitor managed and unmanaged devices should be one of the very first requirements for a network administrator evaluating a solution.

What features/functionality are needed in order to ensure that once users are allowed to connect their devices, that you can still ensure security, privacy, and productivity? The real drain on IT resources was never getting devices onto the network – it’s what to do with them once they’re there.

Reporting on security and compliance, ensuring the devices can use available services and assets and are restricted from those which they should not access, and making sure the devices don’t overwhelm available network resources are the real game changers for a successful mobility implementation today.

Add Visibility & Control

Application visibility and control is the key step in ensuring the network is optimised for mobility. With lots of new devices on the network, it is important for a network manager to understand exactly how their valuable resources are being used – whether concerned about radio availability, WAN bandwidth, or simply just understanding how the network is performing – you need to be able to see it, and then manage it.

Lets take capacity as an example. A recent study indicated that by 2016, the average mobile user will be browsing six times as many web pages and downloading 14 times as many megabytes of applications on their handset as in 2011. When that statistic is translated into the enterprise Wi-Fi realm, it can spell trouble. If networks need to cope with 833% increase in data rates over Wi-Fi (since 2003) that is a real challenge to support.

First you need to be able to see this increase on the network, and analyse the changes from the right perspective. Administrators need to be able to gather detailed analytics about exactly who, what, when, and where users are connected to the network and only then can they then focus on optimising the user experience based on that.

From seeing it to enforcing it, using application visibility and control allows organisations to optimise the user experience based on what’s important to that individual user – applying robust Quality of Service (QoS) and stateful firewall functionality at a granular level for example – truly placing the focus on the mobile user rather than the network.

The problem is, having a view into just the wireless devices means you have to coordinate trends, capacity planning, and network usage across multiple systems. Many forward looking organisations are now demanding one mobility-optimised access layer; one unified view into exactly what is connected to the network, who is using it, and if the user connection is optimized based on what they are doing. That needs intelligent networking.

Get Some Power

Fighting rising traffic demands, multiple devices, mobile app access and the complex security and control requirements that come with it, traditional network infrastructures are struggling to keep pace. Capacity needs will only increase, and network speed and performance is largely considered the last barrier to enabling mobility. Until now that is.

Often referred to as 5G, – the latest wireless standard – offers up to three times the wireless speed of the existing Wireless-N (802.11n). This technology has the power to blow BYOD wide open, boost the most demanding of your applications and make wireless the primary access to make mobility a reality.

As enterprises now start to embark on the journey to gigabit Wi-Fi, performance will finally be at the heart of networking. These latest innovations in intelligent network architectures are exciting and can provide IT with the missing link to enabling real enterprise performance in a mobile world – transforming the network, empowering users and making IT that business enabler once and for all.