The next big thing

Opinion by Steven Malone

Remember when a firewall was a firewall? IPS was IPS? A proxy was a proxy?

Remember when a firewall was a firewall? IPS was IPS? A proxy was a proxy?

Ah, the good old days. Rack after rack of colourful appliances, their little green LEDs lighting up the server room making the techies feel like they were commanding the USS Enterprise and keeping those electricity bills nice and high.

Sadly, those days are gone. With the arrival of unified threat management (UTM), the days of the fully stocked server room were pretty much over. UTM replaced those single-function appliances with one box capable of doing firewall, IPS, web filtering, email filtering, remote access, etc. The list goes on and on.

The problem with UTM was that as soon as it arrived, pretty much every vendor decided they were going to clamber on the consolidation bandwagon. A search for UTM brought up an endless list of products from vendors in completely different market spaces, all purporting to offer the new holy grail of UTM.

A few years down the line and UTM is now an established security proposition. The major players have honed their portfolios, the innovators have gained market share and the bandwagoners have mostly disappeared.

All of which means that that we're ready for the next big thing, and that is bring your own device (BYOD). The new bandwagon has arrived and a quick Google for BYOD confirms that pretty much everyone is getting on board.

Wireless vendors? Yep, they do BYOD. Firewall vendors? BYOD! Network companies? Check! UTM providers? Well, of course they can do BYOD! Oh and of course, the new BYOD companies can do BYOD too. BYOD is everywhere.

So herein lies the problem. Just because everyone says they can do BYOD, doesn't mean that they actually have a good solution. We're seeing BYOD demand being driven from the top level in our customers. As BYOD usage filters out to the wider business, so employees will come to expect it as part of their job.

Ten years ago, internet access on the desktop was only given to people who really needed it. Now, a lack of web access on a user's workstation means they probably need to call PC support. As BYOD becomes more widespread, users will come to accept it as a standard way of working. BYOD is coming to your office.

Steven Malone is CTO of Metadigm


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