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HCL Technologies

Unlocking the Potential of BYOD

Published Date: 
Nov 13, 2013
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Whether to implement a BYOD plan or not is no longer a question to ask. Rather, you should now be thinking of how to put a proper BYOD framework in place to combat the onslaught of personal mobile devices in the workplace. Unless of course, you're running a highly data sensitive operation where personal mobile devices are simply banned from the workplace (like call centers that don't allow mobile phones because of their built-in cameras, audio recorders, etc that can be used for information leakage). But for the rest of the world, it's important to start putting a framework in place to manage the additional load of personal mobile devices on the network.

The reason for that is simple. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have become a part and parcel of everyone's life, thanks to their ease of use and the plethora of applications that they can be put to. As a result, employees can be more productive if allowed to work on their own devices instead of those issued by the company.

But implementing a BYOD framework is easier said than done. While on one side, you might have offset a bit of the hardware cost from your IT budget, but many other issues crop up as a result which would require your time, attention and of course, budget.

The first and foremost is information security. How do you ensure that employees don't leak important company information from their mobile devices? They have feature rich devices with built-in cameras, WiFi, and 3G connectivity, which can be used to send out information to a user's personal storage space in the cloud, or emailed to anybody in the world.

The whole concept of enterprise workplace is undergoing a massive change, thanks to the plethora of end-point device options that are available to users. Besides the usual Windows 7 based desktops and laptops, you now also have hosted PC, thin clients with Embedded OS, server based computing, VDI, and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. You now have to give access to all your enterprise apps on these devices.

As a result, there’s an interesting trend taking place in the enterprise. At the data center level, you’re trying to drive standardization, convergence, consolidation, etc. But with the end user, it's consumerization and diversification, which is exactly the opposite! Here, you get multiple platforms, multiple choices, with users bringing their own devices, apps, etc.

So while there are so many options for users, you still have to provide them with your common set of services, like directory, file storage, print, backup, identity access, profile virtualization, etc. For instance, if you have one user profile virtualized, then you will decide what sort of access to give to the user based on the device that the user has come in with. For instance, if the user wants to run financial reporting on SAP, then you’ll allow the user access to the corporate network, otherwise not. That's the only way to secure your network, by having more granular control over users.  

The onslaught of personal devices in the workplace has given rise to a buzzwords, like BYOD, BYAD (Bring Your own Approved Device), BYOC (Bring Your own Compute Device),
etc. In BYOC for instance, some companies give employees vouchers to go and buy a laptop of their choice. But after that, the employee is responsible for managing it. The organization
will provide enterprise backup for say, one folder on the employee’s laptop. Rest of the data and its management is the employee’s problem.

There’s another concept called BYOA, or Bring Your Own App, wherein employees for instance, would use their own personal cloud storage for storing their data. Here, organizations can provide two separate IDs to employees—one for personal and the other for corporate data.

Today, organizations are forced to think in this direction because that's the way people work nowadays. In the old world, say 15 years back, we used to come to work from home because we had better productivity tools at office. Today, when people step out of their home, they experience a deteriorated quality of IT at office. That’s because their home’s IT is better than corporate IT.

That is the challenge that enterprise IT is facing today. At home you have all flexibility —wireless printing for instance. But the office is still running an old MPS (managed print services) contract that won’t expire for another few years. So the employee would have to fire a print from his seat and walk all the way to the printer to pick it up.

The expectations of employees are becoming different. Today, an employee might be using an Apple based device, but tomorrow, it might be an Android based one. However, the employee would want the same level of service irrespective of the device.

So it’s up to IT to manage their expectations

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