Unicorns, Fairies, even Goblins, all make for wonderful viewing and on paper are a great thing, but over here in the real world, just like BYOD they are just make believe
BYOD means Bring Your Own Device and is an idea that staff instead of being handed equipment, by the companies IT dept, go out and buy their own hardware be it a Laptop, Tablet or Mobile phone, bring it into work, and because they have the latest empowering devices productivity goes up, and everyone is happy.
This is how companies formed round BYOD sell it to you, the simplicity of a 3rd party Mobile Device manager, linking all these devices securely to your company network, provides a harmonious experience, and is easy for your IT dept to maintain and provided a segregated work, home experience for your staff.
However from the perspective of the person who maintains the company network, BYOD is more akin to something the Manager in the Dilbert comics might suggest..
Its an idea borne of a management meeting, where O level execs compared their digital/gadget wangs feeling oh so happy, because its far easier to read those emails on their <enter product="" name="" here="">. So some bright spark thinks, how can we ensure we get the latest toys from the Geeks in the Sysadmin dept? Simple, we get Marketing to put a cool sounding Acronym to an Idea, they convince Finance that by not spending money on laptops and phones we can save a load of cash.. then we get the rockstars in sales to suggest they could make loads more cash with and iPhone, than a Blackberry and Bingo the Execs get the best toys of the bunch..</enter>
Of course at no point in this conversation does the realism of life kick in...
BYOD in reality works like this, it can be broken down into 4 stages..
The Policy Stage
Avoiding the one dept who will do all the work, the management team, get the Sales teams buy in, who wants a solid, bulky, heavy laptop, that can survive being thown about daily anyway, when there are these shiny new Macbook look alike Ultrabooks, with 10hrs of battery life, no VGA ports (enjoy that presentation on customer site). then HR create a policy...
- Staff will purchase their own Laptop and Mobile
- The company will subsidise the purchase to the tune of <enter figure="" or="" percent="" here="" />
- the items must be sufficient to perform your role within the company
- The item must be compatible with the company systems.
- Staff will be responsible for the upkeep and payment of their device
- Staff will be responsible for ensuring warranty is kept up to date
A week after this goes out, the office ignites with tales of super tablets, 20" screen mobiles.. However we have a policy, so we are safe...
The Purchase Stage
The Sysadmin team explain that to do this BYOD thing properly we need certain software, so we can segregate the environment and ensure we are secure.. these are are all boring words which the boys down in the Hogwarts dept will sort out, they are all wizards in the it dept.. it will get sorted..
So systems are tested, a decision is made, and the bill presented..
A stunned silence.. How much?
OK, we can get the same version, but with fewer module thingys, less of the security bits, and is there a basic version of this..? So the basic version of the software is purchased an the finance team are beaten into submission about writing the cost off over n years..
This BYOD project must go ahead, because the management team don't want to loose face since they announced it at the last meeting, which is probably the first time an IT person heard about it.. As the IT Manager forgot to mention this little curve ball.. Better this one is seen as being driven by someone like a Sales Director as they get what they want..
So with back end software ordered the staff are encouraged to go out and purchase thier kit for the big date..
The Implementation stage
Having installed the MDM, and found the limitations not mentioned in the marketing brochure, ironed out those kinks the presales guy glossed over in the Demo, and approached HR to amend the policy to specify that we can only support certain devices, with specific Operating System Versions on.. The go ahead is given to bring in the devices...
At first it goes smooth, then the fun begins..
- Devices not on the list, not supported on the MDM or chosen platform.. but the bloke in the shop said it would be fine.
- Obviously old devices scrounged off the it literate cousin, which the cash sum paid back to the employee would be given in part to said family member/friend the kit was borrowed from.. Hey its all good, its not that old, its an Ipad first Gen (an original one)
- The Laptop with Gentoo on it..
All manner of devices out of policy turn up.. but its ok, we have an HR written policy, so when you explain that the Sales team can't function using this old kit, or Samsung Galaxy Ace.. we have a policy which covers us, we feel happy in the fact we have management backing..
right up until the moment, that the Manager of that person sends you an email, telling (not asking) you that the person has bought the kit, and you need to get it working, they can't do their job and make loads of money in possible million pound deals in pipelines without thiskit working.
No amount of explaining that because we bought the cheap version of the MDM software, we just can't do this will help here works..
So fudges are implemented, security relaxed, so the rockstar can get on with their job
The Broken Stage
I call it the broken stage, but really its about 3 weeks after the implementation stage when the true fun really begins..
First you've had 3 weeks of staff coming up to your desk needing support on every app which apparently doesn't work because of the software you've installed to do their job, Angry Fruit Ninja Kittens on this phone just won't load... No thats because... I don't care, my kid wants to play the games and we only have this computer/phone.. but you shouldn't be.. it's my compter, i'll do what i'll like..
so your help desk has basically become the Tech guy desk at the local PC world installing printers, getting the VPN working again as installing this hooky copy of Adobe Photoshop seems to have killed it, and I take 3 photos a month and use photoshop to crop them..
this however is just the beginning...
3 weeks in, you start getting complaints that person X can't do their job because the VPN won't connect, further investigation finds that they brought into a 10,000,000 minutes and texts a month phone deal with 128k of 4G data for £40 a month.. And can't upgrade as it was a special deal..
4 weeks in a panic mail gain from the sales manager..Mr Rockstar has left his laptop and phone on the 18:15 to wherever, he uninsulated the HDD encryption as it was slowing the Games down.. we need to get him a replacement phone and laptop asap..
Explaining that as we run BYOD we don't have any spare kit, that was the point.. fall on deaf ears with curt sort it..
Not that far from the truth
While I have embellished these a little, the underlying issues here are real, BYOD is usually implemented in either an effort to save money, or empower employees with the latest technology, and I can't argue with either of these reasons everything described up here has happened to one person or another I have spoken to.
BYOD can work in certain situations, but not all, it can work in some departments, but not all, and if it is going to be implemented it needs to be done so with the realisation that Polcy needs to be solid, there are potentially high setup costs involved, requirements on support staff need to be communicated and above all management need to buy into this side of BYOD as well as the downsides, the potential worst case scenarios and that it may just not work.
I've read some great quotes about BYOD..
If you're a Sysadmin who is trying to stop BYOD, you're a dinosaur..
Well while we all like the shiny new toys, i know I do, there is nothing better than a nice new laptop or phone, there is also a need for stability, security, and even providing all employees with a level playing field. Knowing that all laptops have the same disks, warranty, base install, lock down all phoes have data plans, security software and above all there are immediate replacements are important.
BYOD empowers staff..
It's actually proven it doesn't, it has been shown that staff are more likely to be using apps, software and personal stuff more often than doing work, with an underlying justification that its a work PC, and it's only a few minutes.
BYOD can be secured down.
Seriously, i doubt it.. even the industry leaders are susceptible to cross segregation pollution, and an underlying OS which is malware infected is a poor surface to be putting ANY software on..
I'd be interested in actual real world Sysadmin experiences, I don't need trolls and petty comments, lets keep it real, informative and honest...