Just when school IT administrators thought they were on level ground after wading through the murky waters of BYOD (bring-your-own-device), a new challenge has emerged.

BYOD has led to the burgeoning popularity of BYOA (bring-your-own-application). Students and teachers alike are now using their own apps, on their own devices, for their own educational purposes. Video streaming, word processing, and other online learning tools are all apps, and they’re increasingly being used to both supplement and even replace traditional forms of learning in all grades and education levels.

BYOA presents a number of IT challenges. In addition to the strain that applications and data usage can put on school networks, users will undoubtedly be using unauthorized apps that may compromise network security. School administrators will need to do double-duty. They must make sure that their networks are running seamlessly, while locking them down to ensure unerring security, all without compromising the user experience.

The BYOD Foundation

Fortunately, schools that have already weathered the initial BYOD phase will find themselves well-positioned for BYOA. IT professionals who already have a good BYOD plan in place can take solace in the fact that they have established a solid foundation for BYOA.

Most likely, these teams are already using network monitoring tools and techniques to see how these devices are being used on their networks. They are automatically checking for “rogue,” unauthorized devices to ensure better network security, and monitoring usage patterns to make sure devices are not impeding overall network performance.

These same techniques and strategies can be applied to mobile applications monitoring. For example, IT can use network monitoring to help ensure that network performance remains consistent, even in the face of heavy data and application use. That’s important, especially if teachers are using bandwidth-hogging video applications in their learning environments.

Monitoring and bandwidth analysis tools can help IT professionals pinpoint where bottlenecks are occurring. They can analyze network traffic and discover which applications are creating the most concern. They can then act accordingly, limiting the use of suspect applications, or taking other actions to resolve bandwidth issues and enhance performance.

These tools can also be helpful in detecting potential security issues. They have the ability to alert teams if an unauthorized application is being used, or if an intrusion occurs. Specifically, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems are effective at monitoring application activity and providing valuable, 24/7 insight and alerts into potential security threats. IT professionals can respond quickly to these alerts and address the threat before any significant damage occurs or data is compromised.

(Next page: Building on the BYOD foundation and producing the BYOA-Game)


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