BYOPC, BYOD, IT Consumerization Don’t Matter in the Cloud
If you’ve paid any attention to the computing industry in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard people discussing the trends around the consumerization of IT, including bring your own PC, or BYOPC, as well as bring your own device, or BYOD. Many people often speak of these trends interchangeably yet, while they are related, they do not mean the same thing. To make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s begin with a couple definitions.
First, it’s worth stating that the consumerization of IT is really about the “empowerment” of individual users to use the device(s) of their choosing in the workplace. At the outset of this trend, BYOPC emerged four years ago as an alternative way for users to acquire their work PC without accepting the traditional company-issued model. In some instances, the user’s company will pay an upfront stipend to help offset the cost of the new PC. One of the limitations of BYOPC programs, though, is that most such programs do not include traditional company-provided IT support.
While the consumerization of IT started with BYOPC, it has exploded with the advent of smartphones and tablets. This has led to BYOD, which refers to people bringing into the workplace the devices they have purchased for their own use. As more users have found new ways to increase their personal productivity after acquiring these relatively new technologies, they’ve wanted to create a similar level of productivity improvement at work. Generally, this starts with access to three corporate applications: email, calendaring and contacts.
With the advent of BYOD, users have made an impact on IT that’s starting to transcend other areas of IT beyond the devices themselves. For example, if users feel any resistance from their IT organization to set up tools such as Microsoft SharePoint or Box.net, they now are comfortable enough using consumer versions of cloud storage applications such as Dropbox and SugarSync. Just like the hardware element of BYOD, the use of these services raises concerns about the security and manageability of data. Unfortunately, the user is out of the barn, so to speak.
So while BYOPC, BYOD and consumerization are all related, their origins and focus have been different. At this point, maybe you’re wondering, “What does it matter who selects and pays for the device I use?” “What does it matter if a user goes around IT and uses a consumer app at work?” Well, as it turns out, it matters a lot.
Consider just the PC environment at your company. According to the industry analyst firm Gartner, only 15 percent of the total lifetime cost of a PC is attributed to the purchase price. The remaining 85 percent comes from management tasks such as operating system and application updates, security and so on. Standardizing on devices that use the same components, operating systems and application environments keeps those management costs in control. Having a wide variety of devices produces the opposite effect.
If you work for a small or even a midsized company, the economics may not be so great that it becomes untenable for every person in your company to have a different PC. However, if you work in a large corporation with thousands (perhaps tens or even hundreds of thousands) of PCs, you can imagine how quickly the costs can escalate to manage a wide variety of devices. It’s because of these economics that BYOPC programs focused on PCs have been slow to take off and, of the few that have started, several have since been terminated.
But the focus today is not really about users who don’t want the company PC. In fact, one major Fortune 50 company survey showed clearly that the average user still wants IT to provide a company PC with support. However, with the use of smartphones and tablets becoming more common, the employees’ desire to have anytime, anywhere access to corporate resources such as corporate email, calendar and contacts was equally desired. Similarly, the increasing use of these mobile devices correlates with the changing balance between work and personal time. For example, the BYOD and Virtualization Insights from the Cisco IBSG Horizons Study (May 2012) shows that 38 percent of employees want to do personal activities during work and work activities during personal time. The Cisco IBSG study predicts the average number of connected devices per knowledge worker in 2014 will reach 3.3 devices, up from 2.8 in 2012. Subsequently, the average share of IT spending devoted to mobility initiatives in 2014 is projected to reach 20 percent, up from 12 percent in 2010.
So while some employers are managing BYOPC programs, it’s more likely this misses the mark as users are more concerned about connecting their tablet and/or smartphone to the corporate network. Employees are bringing — or want to bring — their own devices to work and connecting them to company resources, not to mention outside applications such as social networking. Once the floodgates are open, how is a company supposed to manage all of these devices, the application requirements, the potential security risks, etc.?
The answer lies in the cloud, or, more precisely, cloud applications. Since they run in a browser, cloud applications are hardware- and OS-independent — ideal for users trying to access corporate resources from different devices in different locations.
Lenovo recognized this trend and introduced Lenovo’s Secure Cloud Access (SCA), a delivery method that improves the way cloud-based applications interact with consumer devices. SCA allows users to access web or corporate applications on nearly any device through a browser-based interface that mimics the look and feel of their normal Windows desktop. By running SCA, organizations have the flexibility to determine what applications employees can access on their personal devices, whether that is restricted to email and calendar or extended to applications such as SharePoint, Microsoft Office or expense and time entry programs.
Once implemented, SCA delivers an elegantly simple solution to a complex problem. Employees get to use whatever mobile device they prefer, reaping the productivity and job satisfaction benefits along the way. For their part, companies can centrally manage applications and data access, helping to ensure security while they enjoy lowered IT costs for end-user infrastructure and support.
If you want to see what the cloud can do for your company’s IT challenges, consider setting up a pilot program. SCA is an easy architecture to stand up and it takes advantage of existing resources including Web apps, published apps, virtualized apps or even local apps. It doesn’t require any special ports to be open and policy can be inherited and enforced from the user’s Active Directory rights. To learn more, visit www.lenovopartnernetwork.com.
Rich Cheston is executive director, distinguished engineer and master inventor at Lenovo. Monthly guest blogs such as this are part of The VAR Guy’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of Lenovo’s guest blogs here.