Broadcom Takes on BYOD: It Starts in the Network

Gartner has called the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend the “single most radical shift” in business computing since the PC invaded the workplace – and Broadcom is gearing up for even greater momentum around BYOD in 2013 with technologies that will address the challenges head-on.

For office workers, BYOD means more flexibility for the work environment, which makes them more productive while also allowing them to have a better work-life balance. But for IT departments, BYOD can be a real headache as they find themselves managing a flood of different devices, apps and platforms that each come with their own risks and benefits.

IT managers are facing the monumental task of provisioning appropriate gear and protecting the company’s proprietary information while also ensuring the privacy of the employee. The BYOD conundrum has only intensified as employees bring their own devices — such as tablet PCs — into the workplace, tap into the company’s network and still maintain access to consumer cloud software and productivity apps, such as GoToMeeting, Evernote or DropBox.

It’s also important to note that BYOD is about more than just managing potentially risky online activities and keeping information separate and secure. Perhaps the biggest BYOD challenge for network managers is the problem of “more”: More devices, more network traffic, more apps and more bandwidth requirements — all driven by the rapid uptake of data-rich smartphones and tablets by consumers and companies alike.woman talking on the phone at work

The influx of mobile devices — smartphones and tablets, notably — are being carried into the workplace and tapping into the company’s network to enable Web surfing, streaming, applications and other bandwidth-hogging online activities.

While this challenge can be dealt with on some level with new company policies and procedures, Broadcom is tackling it at its core: the network.

In a press release issued today, Broadcom introduced four new switch system-on-a-chip families that address the BYOD networking needs of different-sized companies, from mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies. The BCM5333x Series and BCM5334x Series are targeted at small businesses, while the BCM56150 Series is designed for mid-sized enterprises and the BCM56340 Series is for large-scale enterprises. From the release:

All are geared towards providing the intelligence and capabilities that network managers need to provision, secure and control company-issued or employee-proffered devices and information access. Based on Broadcom’s proven StrataXGS® architecture, these new devices were designed from the ground up to address these challenges, delivering unprecedented performance, advanced security intelligence and seamless connectivity to the Enterprise data center and cloud – all in a single chip.

Companies aren’t blind to the challenges of BYOD. Information Week found that 90 percent of IT professionals feel that mobile devices pose a significant threat to security. Despite the high number, just as many — 89 percent of IT workers — continue to enable BYOD, according to a Cisco survey (PDF). To help bridge this gap, Broadcom is pointing customers toward a technology called App-IQ, which enables application-level intelligence on a chip. App-IQ, based on the BCM56545, involves authentication of a particular application on the chip, keeping company data separate from everything else on the device while also implementing permissions and policies — without the need for an expensive, specialized appliance at the data center level.

Crafting IT policies that start to recognize and deal with BYOD concerns will certainly bring a new set of challenges for companies — but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. As companies recognize their options for addressing their concerns, the shift could actually end up being a positive for both the worker, the IT department and maybe, one day, the bottom line.


About the Author

Nicholas (Nick) Ilyadis is VP and Chief Technical Officer of the Infrastructure and Networking Group at Broadcom. He oversees product strategy for a broad portfolio of Ethernet chip products including… More