Is the latest Sony SmartWatch or Samsung's Galaxy Gear on your Christmas list? Chances are they, or at least some type of wearable gadget, will be sought after by a large number of consumers.
ABI Research has claimed that sales of wearable computing devices will exceed 485 million shipments worldwide by 2018. Certainly Google, Apple, LG and others are preparing to enter the fray.
The future is also looking promising for wearable devices, in particular industry sectors where there is an obvious benefit in using gestural technology or accessing a device hands-free.
Surgery, manufacturing and surveying are just three examples, but there are many more. The reselling opportunities here are fairly clear, and it's not my job to teach you how to suck eggs.
The much bigger question is how resellers should be helping enterprises cope with consumer-driven wearable gadgets. If these gadgets become as ubiquitous as smartphones are nowadays, the impact on corporate IT will be huge.
Smart glasses, shoes, jewellery and many other accessories will further multiply the number of devices accessing the network.
Whereas many organisations find that they have one to three devices accessing the network per employee, in a matter of years this could rocket to 15 to 20 per employee. For those who found BYOD a challenge, expect the wearable technology revolution to be like BYOD times 100.
It may at first seem like the stuff of a spy thriller, but Google Glass and similar gadgets will enable the wearer to record everything that he or she sees, effectively enabling the almost inconspicuous transfer of sensitive, classified information to a device outside the network. Corporate espionage could become child's play.
The channel community needs to be prepared. Helping clients understand the scale of the challenge is the first step. Next, we need to appreciate how wearables will bring pain to company networks.
As corporations see the benefits and embrace wearable technology, there will be an opportunity to sell or upgrade application firewalls in order to secure companies from malicious attacks. Corporations will need confidence that their application firewalls are both up to the task of stopping unauthorised access and of allowing authorised transactions.
The two main ways are in the areas of access and end-point security. Enterprises need to prepare for the main modes of access being WiFi or Bluetooth. In the case of WiFi, careful attention needs to be paid to the infrastructure's ability to cope with the influx.
From a security standpoint, gaining oversight and managing the data that goes through the network will be the biggest challenge. Firstly, determining that devices accessing the network or the information being transmitted are legitimate.
Secondly, the wave of different devices seeking access will leave networks vulnerable to malicious attacks in the form of viruses and other cyberthreats.
Finally, the flow of data through networks will become more complex. While many of the gadgets will access networks via WiFi or Bluetooth, they will typically require connection to a laptop, computer or tablet for the purposes of syncing data, which could further slow down the network.
So what solutions should resellers pursue? There are two main approaches to coping with wearables in the workplace: scale out or scale up. Both represent a significant opportunity for VARs. Both are likely to be triggered by a network slowdown or security breach caused by wearables.
Scaling out involves preparing for the influx of devices by extrapolating the number of access points and accompanying intrusion detection systems.
For end users, there will be additional investment and network monitoring. For many, this will be enough to avert the capacity issues, slowdown or security breach, but the organisation might outgrow the solution quicker than if it scaled up.
Scaling up involves upgrading the end user's infrastructure to better cope with the expected influx. Buying bigger is always a more significant investment and will require alignment in strategy and policy terms too.
It is important to stress the role of ongoing network vigilance in keeping abreast of the situation. If anything, network monitoring will take on a more three-dimensional role from its current form of device monitoring (where tablets, laptops, phones and so on are accessing the system) to take into account what other devices or information may be connecting to each other.
The bottom line, however, is whether wearable technology affects your clients this year or next and, whether they plan to scale up or out, the one area that cannot be ignored is ensuring that it is accounted for within a solid BYOD policy. As you know, with network management, keeping one step ahead is a good idea.
Stephen Demianyk is UK channel manager at Ipswitch
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