Is your IT Resource Management ready for BYOD?

Before overloading a campus with people using individual devices, everyone knows they need to make sure they have “enough” WIFI. They also know they have to have enough bandwidth.  These points are usually the center point of discussion, but really before BYOD can occur the IT resources need to be in-line with a simple three step policy:

  1. People should not be living in server rooms.
  2. Everything should be remotely managed or it should be removed.
  3. Managing things remotely means data and reporting not just IP ADDRESS configuration.

These three core concepts are key because non-IT administrators can ensure they are being followed through normal testing and observation. The following is guide for people who are not in IT, but need to make sure their school is meeting the IT requirements for the 21st Century Learner.

Step 1 : The Server Room

IT people tend to hide in the server room. They will have no motivation to create a better IT management system if they are allowed to do so. Most schools tend to be under staffed. This means IT needs to be mixing amongst various groups of people on a regular basis.

With BYOD this is critical as the number of users is too great to manage without some scheduled contact away from the server room and email.

The first thing to do is to make sure the entrance to the server room is visible and that the door is transparent. The simple thing to do is cut a 1 meter long piece from the center and insert glass, or just get a door with glass in it.

Next, clear the server room of all furniture. The server RACK should have a build-in tray that slides out to reveal a keyboard, mouse, and screen for working on the machines. Anything else needs to go, especially personal items and food. I also suggest making sure it is not carpeted for heat and dust management.

Finally, take all server room keys from everyone and change the locks. Get 3 copies for keys made that must be signed-out from administrative offices and security. This is allows for 24/7 access but forces the IT people to record when they enter and leave.

If IT personelle do not have an office, then they will need one , and it cannot be a closest. IT work is demanding and having natural light, and some good ergonomics makes a world of difference. Improving your success in BYOD means changing more than WIFI and LAPTOPS it means changing your environment.

Step 2: The Network Diagram Request

Give the IT team one week to get all their servers, printers, and wifi access points mapped out onto paper. Tell them you want to see a diagram of what the network looks like. Tell them that: WIFI, LAN, Printers, SERVERS, all need to be on separate VLANS.  Just tell them you were informed this is the most efficient way and you require a plan of how it will look if they are not already organized in this manner.  Tell them the plan will be vetted by IT networking professionals to confirm it has been done well.

The goal is to force them to take stock of the network and find the flaws. They cannot manage things remotely without a good network segmentation plan.

You do need to find a 3rd Party to consult. Usually the school will be affiliated with people who can do this. It is essential the plan gets feedback. During this time the server room needs to be inhospitable, and it is important that IT has done this planning in another space.

Step 3: Implementing the VLANS and/or Changes

Once the 3rd party network consultant has given feedback. Have them list all the required changes in bullet points.

Above their list of changes include the following:

IT personelle are required to create remote access for all devices on all VLANS. Any device should be able to be managed from anywhere on-campus. Access to the server room should be restricted. This includes developing a comprehensive plan to backup data remotely and manage the power. The initial changes and VLAN devices that must be managed are listed here: INSERT BULLET LIST. 

The optimal design of the network should get underway following the policy. As an administrator make sure the 3rd party is available to confirm the plan was executed properly.

Step 4: The TEST

Once the implementation is finished, ask IT to meet with you in your office or neutral location. Require they bring their laptops.

Once in your office look back at the diagram. You will see the VLANS listed as LAN, WIFI, etc.  Have them demonstrate how they can access various things. You want to ask specifically to see:

1. Printer and Access Point Control Panels.

2. Webpages that show the STATUS of the network, printers, etc. Basically any and all reports they can share with you. You need data to make decisions in the future.

3. Servers running applications. Ask them to login to the server and you will see the desktop etc.

4. A computer owned by the school in a common area.

Doing this in a non-IT space will demonstrate how well they have accomplished their goals, and what is left to do. It will also be clear that even though you are not an IT engineer, you can plan and follow-up on complex IT changes.

Do not be afraid to set deadlines and push for results. All of this is not only possible but good IT management that should be part of the core architecture you have purchased. Most of the time people have just not taken time to turn things on and set them up properly.

If you find you are missing functionality, then you will need to get it. There is not chance of BYOD success if you cannot manage your network properly.

Tony DePrato

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