Seven billion. That’s the number of mobile-connected devices that will be trying to get on networks this year. Now you’re probably not going to be hosting all 7 billion of them, so let’s try this number – 4. As in, “the average number of devices that enterprise users have” is roughly 4 devices*. Go ahead – do the math with your own employees. For Cisco, that’s around 250,000+ devices or so attempting to connect to our network. As a company, you may have more, you may have less…but the one thing you definitely have are employees who are eager to access your network with more of their own personal devices than ever before.
Great for employees, right? Absolutely. However, this, generally, gives enterprises two major dilemmas:
1) They lack any visibility into or context around who and what is getting on the network – Is it a smartphone? Is it a smartphone with the latest OS? Is it a smartphone supported by the enterprise?
2) They’ve lost the stringent control they used to have over what’s getting onto the networks. Sure – rules are defined for users, but maybe they’re not really being enforced. Or maybe “shadow IT” is just going around the rules to get someone’s new cracked Android tablet online.
This, generally, also gives network administrators heartburn…and for good reason. They’re stuck walking that fine line between security and productivity. How can they secure the enterprise and network access without making life miserable for their users…and themselves?
In our experiences here at Cisco, we’ve discovered that tackling these challenges requires a few things:
1) Find a way to accurately identify who and what is getting on the network
2) Centrally manage user access policy and use the identity to assign everyone the right network access
3) Make it easy for users to actually get onto the network – however they connect
4) Keep an eye on the network for threats and then quickly neutralize those threats.
If you can find a way to do each one of those things, you’ve taken a big first step in addressing these dilemmas.
Dynamic Control with Context
At Cisco, we’re helping organizations tackle these challenges every day with the Cisco Identity Services Engine (or “ISE”). Cisco ISE is an access policy platform that unifies and automates secure access control to network resources.
1) Accurate Identification – Cisco ISE grabs contextual data from a wide variety of sources (e.g., Active Directories, sensors, NetFlow) across the network to offer clear visibility into every connected device. It also offers advanced profiling technology as well as a curated profiling update service to ensure that all these connected devices are accurately identified and classified.
2) Centralized Access Policy – Cisco ISE gives enterprises the power to centrally define and manage the right types of access for users and devices. ISE can take written, granular business policy and make it real secure access policy, enforced across the network.
3) Easy Onboarding – New simplified onboarding experiences provide intuitive user access on branded portals, without sacrificing security, for a wide variety of enterprise deployments – from guest hotspot to “BYOD” projects.
4) Rapid Mitigation and Remediation – Cisco ISE can take all that collected contextual data and share it with integrated partner solutions. By delivering a deeper level of context, ISE makes it easier and faster to identify, mitigate, and take action to remediate non-compliant mobile devices, compromised endpoints, or other network threats.
Cisco ISE provides enterprises with greater visibility into who and what is on the network. This leads to more accurate identification, which, in turn, allows enterprises to assign the right access control to an end-user and device…easily and securely.
So, when that day comes where some of those 7 billion devices end up on YOUR network, you know you’ll be ready to tackle those challenges with Cisco ISE.
*Citrix, “Workplace of the Future: a global market research report”, September 2012 http://www.citrix.com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/products-solutions/workplace-of-the-future-a-global-market-research-report.pdf