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Bring Your Own Device: Hype or Reality

For the last years BYOD is a hot and trending topic, many many articles are writing about it. Actually if you search for my chosen title many article can be found, in which the answer to the question about BYOD will be there for a long(er) time.

As this is a 100% opinion article I will start with writing down the pros and cons of BYOD trough my eyes. Followed I will write down (again through my eyes) reasons why BYOD can be sees as a hype or a reality. Finally I will write down my vision of BYOD.

 




With the start of BYOD it was actually labeled as BYOP (Bring Your Own PC). The concept started that users would like to have different hardware models or manufacturers. It actually started with the MacBook’s became popular. As those devices were much better looking and were pretty powerful they were much better appreciated than the old styles laptops offered out of the company. It became BYOD when some company introduces a device that start with an “I” where you also could phone with, followed by a tablet with the same start letter. With my pros and cons I will take both of BYO types into account.

Pros BYOD

Increased User Satisfaction

As users can work on their own device, they know exactly how the device works and they can configure it in such a way they are happy working with it. As users are not irritated by the working of the local device, they could be more productive. Also satisfied users are working harder and longer if that is needed doing the job.

 

Flexible workspace / Easier to work at other locations

With BYOD users are less dependent of available workspaces in the offices. If there is free desk/free spot where they can use the device comfortable they can do their daily activities. Especially in organization with more location this can be an advantage (without providing everyone). Also those devices are useful for meeting, conferences and similar where you have everything in place without difficulties.

New Type Generation

A new type of generation is entering the working fields. That generation is grown up with smart phones, tablets and all other devices for doing all kind of activities, so they know how they can do their work with such devices and they would like to have information available all the times.

 

Private/Business more combined

This one is both an advantage as a disadvantage through my eyes. If the business related data/applications are on your own device, it’s just a small task to do some small work after the business hours. Good example is reading the e-mail and act on e-mails that really need quick actions or attention.

 

Cons BYOD

Private/Business more combined

As mentioned this can be advantage, but can also be disadvantage. As all kind of personal applications/data is available, the user could be busy to use that kind of applications while they should execute business tasks. Also persons that cannot stop working could work all day, without taking any free time.

Difficult to support

Probably the nr 1 question when you start talking about BYOD with the IT department. All kind of device/models/manufacturers will be part of the infrastructure in the company and how on earth should IT support that. I have seen companies that say that the user responsibility, but it that causes that a user cannot work because his device cannot connect anymore this becomes a difficult story. At the end IT personal should help the user out and I think that’s making the first/second line support of end device much more complicated. Also think of all those devices connecting to WIFI points, where you know for sure a few devices cannot connect successfully.

More vulnerable

If you ready articles about BYOD often security is called one of the reasons not to do BYOD. Personally I think security is not the right word, because that’s often linked to loosing confidential data. I think this is not a higher risk with BYOD as every infrastructure has one or more possibilities for a user to take data with him (using a corporate device). However the infrastructure will be more vulnerable for viruses and malware as the devices connected to the network are not fully managed by the IT department. This will mostly lead to the discussion of separating the back-end and the front-end (devices) in separate VLANS with firewalls. Sure this will protect the back-end, but if the largest part of your BYOD are not functioning anymore you company is not productive anymore.

More devices connected to the network / more complex network infrastructure

With BYOD you probably need more devices connected to your infrastructure. I have seen implementation of BYOD were also a Thin Client device was available for each employee. In other words there is no reduction of devices to maintain by the IT department. But also practical you need to have more IP addresses (have seen a company running out of their IP scopes). A stable and performing WIFI network, additional firewalls and more complex network architecture are just a few examples. Also think of software that is licensed per device can be an issue.

Let’s continue with the reasons there are currently available showing that BYOD is reality or hyped.

BYOD Reality

Personal devices are used more and more to do business activities

Currently many people are already using a personal device to do some business activities. The majority currently is mail and agenda. I have seen a customer offering OWA and OMA (Outlook) outside and all users were happy again and did not have to a full remote access. I think using some business parts on personal devices is the first to BYOD both from an end-user- as a business perspective.

Every Major player is jumping into the BOYD market

A lot of vendors are jumping into the BYOD market, started with promoting VDI as the BYOS solution, followed the MDM (Mobile Device Management) software which evolved by adding MAM (Mobile Application Management) to EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management). Started with specific solutions build by specific vendors, the big players Microsoft, Citrix and VMware are committing to BYOD by developing products/acquiring companies to have this in their portfolio. If there is no market demand such players do not acquire companies or start developing add-ons to become a player in this market space.

Company owned devices are not fully managed anymore

As more personal devices are used for business activities, the other way around is also visible. More and more companies are providing devices to their end-user without a tight locked down user environment. Thinks of companies that provide smart phones with only the Mail configured and the phone options and then it’s up to the user to do with it whatever they like. This is also a start to give the user more control and a start of the BYOD concept.

BYOD Hype

BYOD suffers with the “VDI disease”

Just like VDI BYOD is marketed as the new big thing in an IT landscape and just like VDI you don’t see that all companies in the world are moving directly over to this new revolution way of working. As current markets don’t grow a lot anymore vendors are searching and promoting new potential markets as you are already too late if you do not BYOD already.

Not many customers (I have) are offering it/thinking about it

I don’t know if this is typical for the Netherlands/Belgium, but I have hardly any customer that is investigating or testing BYOD. You see that some tablets are bought for the management and sales people, but the device is still offered and paid by the business. Speaking to other people in the market space I hear comparable stories: companies are interested, but it’s not on the priority list at this moment

Currently solutions do not fit with the user wishes

One of the largest mistakes in my eyes is thinking that you help a user with an owned device by connecting them to a VDI/SBC solution especially for tablet/smart phone. The user would like to have the native experience of the device, so if he is using a tablet he would like to have the ERP or CRM application as a native app and not a remote session on a XenApp/RDS server. There are developments by some large parties, but it will take (a long) time before the majority of the apps are available as a native app and then I don’t even talk about the data behind (I don’t want to touch the Cloud hype or reality discussion within this article).

It’s not about lowering costs

Again a big similarity with VDI, which was in the first phase, positioned as the cost reduction solutions. Also BYOD was first positioned a cost saver as the company does not have to buy hardware and would have less support. Personally I think that using the BYOD concept to save money is the wrong reason to implement the concept and just like VDI at the end the savings will not be there.

My Vision/Conclusion

You are still here and read all my thoughts and reasons why BYOD could be a hype or reality? As I tried to make clear it’s how you look at the topic if it’s currently a hype or reality. My vision is that it’s currently still in development and that current BYOD solutions do not offer what the end-user would like to see from the concept. For a mainstream adaption the application/data should be offered from the native device, so the vendors should be starting developing apps for native devices. Looking at the Keynote of Citrix Synergy US 2013 I see Citrix also shares that opinion as they are providing SDKs both for XenDesktop as Worx to get applications ready for usage on mobile devices.

Till then I think BYOD concepts are only for specific (IT related) companies (as most personal knows how to maintain/administrator a device on their own) or specific department (where there are specific need, good examples are management and/or sales). If you can offer access to Mail, Calendar, Office Files and Pictures/Movies from any device anywhere you are doing it right as a company. That’s also the reason I expect a lot of growth and implementations of from products like Citrix ShareFile, AppSense DataNow, RES Hyperdrive and VMware Horizon Data (or how the product will be named).