I’m giving a presentation next week at a technology conference for higher education technology leaders entitled “Redesigning Wireless Networks for the Proliferation of Multimedia Enabled Mobile Devices”. What will be valuable about my presentation won’t be details about wireless network technology, although some details will be used to seed the conversation. No, the value will be the open discussion about what we are doing with our wireless networks and why we feel we need to do it. A discussion that invariably takes us to how we will deal with the influx of BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, to our campuses.
The BYOD buzz is helpful to the vendors and consultants to generate concern about this proliferation of wireless personal computing devices on our campuses. We may just deal with this as a policy decision of (Not Allowed) hoping to maintain control of our network. But we will eventually need to deal with this. However, our infrastructure may not be ideally designed for the challenge. The solution is now pointing to a new version of Network Access Control, NAC. Not the NAC of virus quarantine days but a NAC for designed for wireless network management.
I believe that our wireless network has become the primary network access. This means we can’t wait to negotiate authentication and provisioning back at the network core, we need to make those decisions at the point of access. There may be wireless devices that we do not want on our network and there is enough information to make that decision before any access is granted. Our user classes are no longer just employees and guests, we need to offer role based policy management. Wireless service is now about seamless handoffs as one moves across campus and bandwidth allocation from multiple access points with multiple antennas. Responding to these wireless networking requirements is not just about a financial investment. The correct strategic decisions are more critical then ever as we try to position ourselves for the next wave of innovation destined for our campuses.