Mobile device management tools can issue such credentials on iOS devices, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server does so for BlackBerrys. However, these tools are typically triggered by requests for email access through mail servers that support the Exchange ActveSync (EAS) protocol, so many devices remain uncredentialed.
A unified network that assumes multiple, heterogenous devices
Those are the circumstances that network engineers at its client companies were describing to Aruba. From these reports, Aruba developed the notion of a single network, one that doesn't act differently for wired and wireless connections and doesn't assume only one type of device. Also, any device accessing the network should be issued a credential and tracked, whether for security or resource management purposes.
Aruba announced today a set of wired switches, wireless access points, iPad/iPhone self-registration, VPN, and other network management tools under the Mobile Virtual Enterprise moniker to address this notion. If deployed, the system gives you a universal network fabric across wired, Wi-Fi, and outside-the-building Internet and 3G connections that can tell what specific devices are on the network, without traffic and management tools having to jump on and off different network systems.
If your concern is security, you can quarantine new devices until they pass whatever verification you set up, then associate them to a user profile and manage their network access accordingly. If your concern is network resource management, you can track the now-identified devices' usage and location patterns, then provision resources on the fly as needed. For example, if 12 users bring their iPads to a conference room and their usage histories show they consume a lot of streaming media (aha! a marketing meeting), you can have the network increase the bandwdith to that room or direct surrounding users' traffic elsewhere.
The focus of the new tools is mainly on iPads and iPhones, Melkote notes, for two reasons: First, those are primarily what users are bringing in to the workplace. Second, iOS supports credentials and has the other supporting technologies needed for Aruba to deliver its management capabilities. Melkote expects Android support later, as that platform's security and management capabilities improve and as users start to bring them to work in significant numbers. Given the rise of people taking their own MacBooks to the office, Melokite says Mac OS X support is also in the works for credential delivery; Mac VPN support is now available.
What Aruba has done makes a lot of sense. In the post-PC world, the devices people use will vary considerably. They will work with multiple devices, and the device mix will change over time. The application picture will remain heterogeneous. Your network should be designed for this post-PC world -- after all, the network is what connects your company, your information, and your people. It needs to be as smart and flexible as they are.
This article, "In the smartphone era, why is your LAN still dumb?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.