How IT Departments Can Approach Bring Your Own Device Environments

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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an acknowledgement that the tools you could give your users aren't any better than the ones they already have. If your users already have iPhones, they won't want to use an Android phone. Plus, your users will hate you for forcing them to carry two devices that perform the same functions.

John Welch, Director of IT at a 200-person creative firm (Zimmerman Agency), spoke at the Mac IT Conference in San Francisco on the benefits of Bring Your Own Device and how he supports it. John stood out among IT Directors at the conference by stating that his job is to say "yes" whenever possible. IT departments of the past have been about control and locking down devices whereas he comes from the perspective of enabling people to do their jobs however they wish. He is also the author of iOS in the Enterprise.

The Benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

  • Saves your budget on buying devices. You'll need to buy the MDM solution either way but you can save some serious money on devices.
  • Makes your users happier because they don't have to carry two devices that do the same thing. Happier users are more likely to work cooperatively with you.
  • Saves your time on training users on how to use devices they don't already own. You'll have fewer support calls to answer.

The Disadvantages of BYOD

  • You can't really lock down someone's personal device.
  • If they decide to upgrade the device or change carriers, you don't have control over that.
  • Less device consistently, which means you may have to support Windows Phone, etc.

When Does BYOD Not Work

  • Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPPA environments may not allow for BYOD.
  • High-security areas, such as work places where you are not allowed to use a phone with a camera.
  • School environments may not work because your end-users may not be mature enough to mange their own devices.

The Compromise To Support Any Device

  • At the Zimmerman Agency, employees can bring in any device that supports IMAP & SMTP for email.
  • In exchange the user has to register their iOS device with the MDM solution. They also are asked to use Exchange ActiveSync instead of IMAP.
  • Devices are setup to allow remote wipes in case of loss. Users are educated that they don't have to freak out if their device goes missing because they can text or call IT to have it wiped.
  • Some users went from using 1-2 IP addresses on the corporate network to up to 5. You may have reconfigure your DHCP server, especially for wireless access points.

Many companies specify a limited range of devices for BYOD so that it's easier to deploy mobile device management solutions and support. What challenges and advantages have you seen with Bring Your Own Device environments?

Photograph by Miki Yoshihito.

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