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BYOD – A Practical Approach

The major challenges with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are perhaps less about technology than they are about changing the mindset of IT departments in the face of the ongoing consumerisation of technology. Since the advent of personal computing in the 80’s, there has been a gradual shift to IT being a set of tools that surrounded an empowered user. However, the fact of the matter is that most of the IT that has been available simply wasn’t consumer ready. It was complex, expensive to own, insecure and impossible to manage. In the end, centralised IT was asked to take on the burden of fixing the mess.

The introduction of truly consumer ready devices and services has seen the realisation of the idea of the empowered user. Where the likes of IBM, Oracle and Microsoft were the biggest players in the first wave of IT, it is companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google who have been the dominant players in this second wave by creating an ecosystem of personal technology that is easy enough for a child to use at a price point that almost everyone can afford. The excitement generated by these new technologies means people want to use these new tools not only at home, but everywhere.

The fact that people are now prepared to pay for their own technology in exchange for the ability to have a choice in what they use hasn’t been lost on those who are asked to fund upgrades for ageing corporate infrastructure. The result is that BYOD is now firmly on most IT department’s radar. However, the people who want to BYOD don’t want to use it simply as a way of lowering IT’s overheads, they want it to continue being a tool that allows them to consume services that enable them to do their job better. They want their internal IT to give them the service levels they’ve grown used to, they want immediacy, and they want it now.

For IT departments to take advantage of the benefits of consumer IT and BYOD, they must begin to shift their focus away from being custodians of technology towards being a provider of a service. The delivery of this service-centric IT may in fact provide the necessary political and budget justification for creating a new IT foundation built on an agile data infrastructure. To ease the transition to BYOD, IT departments should take a four-phase approach.

  • Define your policy
    Publish a service catalogue of what applications and services can be consumed from tablets and smartphones from within the corporate environment, while simultaneously setting expectations around the use of public cloud technologies for sensitive data
  • Focus on quick wins
    Deploy virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for laptop users. This is something that can deliver a reasonably quick win, allows a broad range of end user devices to be brought into the corporate environment, and elegantly solves a number of security and supportability problems
  • Continue the dialogue
    Establish an effective two way communication mechanism that allows users and IT to work together to prioritise which services need to be developed and deployed in-house, and which may need to be blocked or uninstalled
  • Develop the total solution
    Expand on, or integrate the initial VDI deployment into a larger Infrastructure as a Service offering that will form the foundation for Software and Storage as a Service offerings. These will fulfil much broader demands and allow the BYOD strategy to be completely successful

By focusing on quick wins, effective two way communication, and building an agile foundation for the future, BYOD efforts can be the catalyst for building a truly service driven IT department.

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