Bringing Your Own PC? From a SAM point of view,
First of all, a Happy New Year from FAST Ltd. I hope you managed
to keep your feet in the snow.
One of the key issues IT managers will have on their New Year’s
Resolutions list is having to decide when their organisation is
going to start moving towards adopting Windows 7. That will
necessarily have to be tied into a desktop or laptop refreshment
policy which may previously have been put on hold because of the
A related trend organisations will also have to get to grips
with is that of users wanting to bring their own equipment into the
office. A slippery slope has already started with iPhone adoption.
Instead of using company-given BlackBerries or Windows Mobile
devices, staff – at all levels, from middle-managers to the chief
executive – want to be using an iPhone. The chief executive of
course, can probably demand one from the IT Department!
It is much cheaper for the organisation in terms of capital
costs if staff bring in their own iPhone and use it on company
business. Where the increased costs do hit is for the IT department
in supporting these additional devices.
Now, in addition to accommodating staff’s desire to use their own
mobile devices, some organisations are now embracing the idea of
BYOPC (Bring Your Own PC) programmes.
The irony of the PC revolution is that relentless technology
improvements mean that although manufacturers offer an array of
product selections, many IT departments still don’t afford their
employees many choices. As the PC market splinters into
ever-narrower niches, enterprise users are often stuck with a
frustratingly binary decision: desktop or laptop.
Yet the “consumerisation” of IT, in which new technologies first
appear in products designed for average consumers before eventually
migrating to the enterprise, is now rampant in everything from
iPhones to netbooks. That’s why some organisations are considering
letting employees use whatever hardware they wish in the office and
is why BYOPC is now being piloted in a number of companies such as
Citrix and Cisco.
The magic ingredient that enables this is virtualisation, where
VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) is used to not decrease
support calls and enhance security but also enable new client
delivery models such as BYOPC. It can also deliver a 20% cut in the
total cost of managing the client PC environment.
A potentially thorny issue, however, with employee-owned systems
is ownership of any locally stored data. Therefore, it is important
to confer with the HR and legal departments and update relevant
employment contracts and IT policies to clarify data ownership.
Another problem that will inevitably arise is the management of
software assets on such PCs, because software on BYOC necessarily
mingles business applications with personal applications.
From the business side, the argument is sure to be, "We only pay
for the business application". But it’s more complex than that. Do
the tools exist for a business to check each PC to determine that
all are in compliance? If it is already difficult to know the state
of your software assets when the devices are company-owned, imagine
how complex it can be with personal applications on a device too.
How, as an organisation, can you keep track of what are
employee-owned/downloaded and what are business-sanctioned
There is also an operational and security threat. What if
personal applications are on the device, and employees acquire
non-sanctioned software that creates driver issues with existing
applications, or introduces viruses or other malware? And more
importantly, if personal applications are used in the business
arena, approved verbally by management or acquired through a
Purchasing card or other permission with Active Directory, then the
business just signed up for more risk and responsibility, not
The idea of Bring Your Own iPhone might be acceptable to some IT
departments who want to cut the cost of procurement in their mobile
estate. But for some, the widespread adoption of Bring Your Own PC,
may just be, in software asset management terms, a device too
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