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Analysis / Enterprise

BYOD Brilliance: Optimising Applications For End-User Devices

BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are the norm for many enterprise organisations today. The familiarity that comes with allowing employees to work using their preferred device and operating system can offer significant benefits for productivity – not to mention the financial savings that can be made by removing the need for an organisation to purchase expensive hardware.

But despite the clear benefits for users, BYOD can pose a significant challenge to IT departments in terms of providing a quality user experience across company networks – IT is tasked with offering an excellent mobile user experience on a device it doesn’t own. The good news is, this challenge is far from insurmountable. It is possible to provide excellent application performance for users even when they are accessing business apps on their own phones or tablets, through effective application instrumentation.

Viewing Applications From A User’s Perspective

In order to make improvements to BYOD performance, IT must first be able to establish clear visibility over how applications are accessed by users and how they function across the network as a whole. For a corporate IT department managing company-issued laptops or PCs, it is simple to use an agent-based approach for end-user experience monitoring. IT owns the device, so the Desktop Services team can install a monitoring agent, just like they install corporate-owned productivity apps, VPN clients, etc.

However, implementing a BYOD policy means that tracking the end-user experience becomes much more complex, which is compounded by the diversity of manufacturers, devices, OSs, and carriers, making it more challenging to manage. And this is even before factoring in the privacy concerns that users have about monitoring what runs on their own personal devices.

Many employees have serious reservations about allowing IT to put a piece of monitoring software on their personal device. These concerns vary in nature, but are often focused around privacy issues. People understandably do not want companies tracking their location, or seeing what they do on their devices in their own time. Furthermore, some applications such as mobile banking applications, for instance, may contain extremely personal information.

Instrument The App, Not The Device

The way around this limitation is to not instrument the user’s device, but to instrument your company’s mobile apps themselves. For apps that have been developed in-house, and utilising the right technology, your development team can build in instrumentation. You can also instrument an app without tagging the code. Non-developers can also apply monitoring software to either third-party apps or those you build in-house and still get the same level of monitoring. Instrumented apps can then be distributed via your enterprise app store.

What Are You Instrumenting For?

Most application performance management vendors can also instrument apps to get insights into, for instance, whether the app is experiencing excessive crashes, errors, or slow response times. However, what the best-in-class solutions also deliver over and above this is business activity analytics.

For example, imagine an insurance agent out in the field in a disaster-struck region, processing insurance claims on a tablet. The agent relies on her corporate-issued claims management app to look up customers details, fill out damage assessment forms, and send data to corporate HQ. It is crucial that IT would be able to find out, not only if that app crashes, but also whether it is taking too long to process a claim, or to look up a record, or issue a payment. Effective end-user experience monitoring involves establishing the response time of these business activities relative to performance expectations, and tracking the key business steps that the mobile workforce is using mobile apps for.

This kind of monitoring allows IT to obtain unique insights into the user experience on BYOD devices, such as how long it takes for business activities to be executed, whether SLA targets for business activities are being met, and how variations in geography, OS, device vendor or model affect performance. Based on this insight, it is possible to make the relevant adjustments to network and applications, to ensure that people are able to work in the most convenient and efficient way possible.

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Mark Robinson is Director of Solutions Engineering in EMEA at Riverbed Technology.