Keep your wireless devices in line
Gaskin puts it bluntly: the plethora of mobile devices latching onto enterprise WANs is "a giant pain in the ass." But with wireless usage increasing every year, companies will have to keep track of where all these devices are and what they are doing, both to keep the corporate WAN secure and to save money.
"Mobility can be either big problem or a value ad," Boznich says. "One of the ways to enhance productivity is to make sure employees have proper access to corporate data at home on the broadband connection, or if they are traveling and are staying in hotel or at an airport... but it can also throw a wrench into how the WAN operates because more mobility can also mean less accountability."
Verizon's Brown says companies have to keep very close tabs on all wireless devices on their networks to make sure that they have the most recent antispyware and antivirus updates pushed directly onto their systems. But she also notes that security is only one component in managing mobile devices, as companies need to make sure that their devices have the proper applications loaded onto them to let users take full advantage of wireless communications. Among other things, she says companies should look into getting simultaneous ringing capabilities that will ring up all of a user's devices when their work number is dialed, as well as conferencing applications that make joining company meetings as easy as clicking a button.
"One of the things Verizon pushes is making work an activity and not a location," she says. "One of the best features we're pushing is the ability to set up a point-and-click application on BlackBerry devices to set up quick mobile conferencing."
If all this sounds like a headache for IT departments to deal with, that's because it is, Gaskin says. Rather than having one laptop or personal computer to manage from remote locations, the modern IT department has to juggle a wide assortment of PDAs and smartphones that all must be kept up to date with the latest security and business applications.
"If it was my company, I would not allow any wireless network access to the company VPN," he says. "If you're setting up someone to work at home, it's not too much to ask someone to work from their desk on a wireline network that you've set up for them."