The datacenter: Foundation of BYOD

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Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs have given rise to all sorts of solutions and consultants striving to protect the corporate enterprise and data ownership while providing the best possible user experience. However, too often, the corporate datacenter is overlooked in BYOD planning. This is unfortunate, because the datacenter is truly is the foundation of a successful BYOD program, just like it is for other corporate IT systems.

Perhaps I’ve taken the role of the datacenter for granted. Because up until recent discussions I had with Kent Christenson, senior director, Data Center Transformation at Datalink, I hadn’t thought too deeply about the role of the datacenter in BYOD.

In particular, Christenson addressed the potential challenges of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), especially scalability, network bandwidth, and the relative costs that might be forgotten or glossed over as part of a BYOD plan. VDI is commonly found in healthcare and some financial institutions where compliance demands high security, but scaling it to accommodate additional users requires careful network and infrastructure planning. If you aren’t already embarking on a VDI implementation, it’s safe to say your other corporate resources are going to need to scale to accommodate BYOD.

During our two discussions, Christenson also raised some good points around the forgotten elements of datacenter connectivity, capacity, and enterprise storage. Examples of additional design work for a BYOD program include storage planning to accommodate a VDI implementation and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). This work needs to be accounted for as part of an overall BYOD rollout, or IT risks overtaxing the organization’s technology infrastructure and compromising the user experience.

It takes datacenter representation on a BYOD team to advocate for these additional requirements in the BYOD plan so they don’t get lost in the hype and real or imagined savings dancing through corporate executives’ eyes.

I also got some perspective on the datacenter’s role in BYOD from Eric Troyer, director of global networks and content at Equinix, via email.

Troyer wrote:

A key issue for enabling mobile enterprise users is application performance. Enterprises put significant effort into developing and rolling out corporate applications with the end goal of creating an efficient on-the-go workforce. This development often takes place in test and development environments where connectivity is homogenous and less complex than what is seen in production environments. Under such circumstances these applications perform very well. Their latency parameters are within acceptable ranges and the projected user experience seems appropriate. In such an application development environment, network connectivity is often viewed as a black box where plugging in a IP connection means the application will simply work for everyone.

Troyer further explained that good connectivity can make or break a mobile application, where low-latency connectivity and a highly responsive service are expected and imperative to adoption and productivity. Users in the real world will be connecting across vastly different and varied networks, where the data path between user and application may have multiple intermediary network hops, and long geographic routing. This can lead to high round-trip latency and poor application performance.

Christenson and Troyer both bring up some strong points that show datacenter management should be a key player in your BYOD efforts to build and maintain a high-performance infrastructure to ensure a secure and productive BYOD-enabled workforce.

What role is your datacenter management playing in your BYOD planning and operations?

This post originally appeared on The Mobility Hub on May 2, 2013.

Image by user: pzado

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.

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