Following from my previous post covering briefly what consumerism of IT and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are, I’ll now cover some of the things these trend mean for ICT departments.
For any IT business or IT department that thinks they do not need to consider the impacts of consumerism and BYOD – Think again! Regardless of perceived business benefits such as cost savings or flexibility, or even the side benefits around the improved security and management of utilising VDI to centralise business owned user computing resources, as BYOD becomes more mainstream it will become and expected benefit / perk rather than the exception.
As an example of how this is already becoming more mainstream; several large companies such as IBM and Citrix are embracing this trend and have well established BYOD programs.
Ask yourself, do you want to attract the best talent? If the answer is yes then you need to ensure the working environment you offer is up there with the best of your competitors. This includes offering things like BYOD programs across mobiles, tablets, laptops etc. and / or offering a wider variety of consumer type devices such as tablets and smartphones.
The challenge, as is often the case, will be to understand how these changes and trends can be harnessed to provide both business benefits and create an attractive working environment while still ensuring the security of your and your customers data and maintaining a stable and manageable ICT estate.
BOYD and consumerism of IT can and will make sweeping changes to how IT departments manage and provision user devices. Whether this is due to supporting a wider variety of devices directly, or from relinquishing some control and embarking on a BYOD program, there will be changes. What they are will depend on the route your company takes and how mature your company currently regarding technology such as desktop virtualisation and offering functionality via web services. If you currently have little or no VDI type solution and most of your application access is via thick or dedicated client software the changes are likely to prove very challenging. On the other hand, if you are at the other end of the scale with a large and mature VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) deployment along with most applications and processes being accessed via a browser, then the transition to more consumer or BYOD focussed end user IT will likely be relatively straight forward from a technical standpoint.
Without sounding like a broken record (well hopefully) the first thing you need to do before embarking on any sort of BYOD program is to get the right policies and procedures in place to ensure company data remains safe and that there are clear and agreed rules for how any devices can be used, how they can access data, how access, authentication and authorisation are managed, along with the companies requirements around things like encryption and remote wipe capabilities.
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) have recently released an updated draft policy around the managing and securing mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This policy covers both company owned (Consumerism) and user owned (BYOD) devices. This can be used as a great starting point for the creation of your own policies. It’s worth noting that NIST highlights BYOD as being more risky than company owned devices even when the devices are the same. The policy draft can be found here;
Once you have the policies in place you will need to assess the breadth of the program, this must include areas such as;
– Will you allow BYOD, or only company supplied and owned equipment
– Which devices are allowed
– Which O/Ss and applications are permitted; this should include details of O/S minor versions and patch levels etc.
– How will patching of devices and applications be managed and monitored
– What levels of access will the users and devices be permitted
– What architectural changes are required to the environment in order to manage and support the program
– How will licenses be managed and accounted for
– What are the impacts to everything from the network (LAN, WAN and internet access) to applications and storage to desk space (will users have more or less devices on their desks) to the provision of power (will there be more devices and chargers etc. on the floors)
This is by NO means an exhaustive list, the point of these posts is to get you thinking about what is coming along, and whether your company will embrace BYOD and the consumerism of IT.
CIO.com recently ran an article titled ‘7 Tips for Establishing a Successful BYOD Policy’ that covers some similar points and is worth a read;
There are several useful links from the CIO article that are also worth following.
It would be great to hear your thoughts and experiences on the impacts of consumerism and BYOD.