You only want me for my BYOD
Get your kit off... my cloud
Something for the Weekend, Sir? They've taken advantage of my goodwill yet again. The really annoying thing is that I pleaded with them to do it, so it's my own fault. And it may be yours, too.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I want to talk about BYOD. For the benefit of sole traders reading this, it stands for Bring Your Own Device and is the latest craze in companies big enough to have IT support departments. You know, a craze like Cloud computing. Both, by the way, are blatant con-tricks devised to entrap the simple-minded. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.
Mobile Me users: ever get the feeling you're being evicted?
First, let's set some ground rules. In computing, there is a difference between an early adopter and a blind follower of fashion. The very nature of computer journalism tends to make me the former, and I love it, but that does not make me a committed user of everything that comes my way.
It can take a very long time for me to make my mind up whether I like a product or not. As El Reg's reviews editor can attest, it's not unknown for me to spend so long tinkering about with the product that it gets superseded by something else before I've written a word.
Apple provides better support for Windows PC users than it does its own customers
The aforementioned Cloud computing is a good example. It's been around for ages but I've struggled to form a definite opinion until recently. This was finally prompted by a colleague who, when hired to rewrite some tech copy on Cloud adoption the other week, tweeted: "Yes, perhaps I will adopt a cloud. But only if it's a really cool shape." She subsequently added: "Migrate to the Cloud? Why? What's happening to the ground?" and, even later, noted that the pre-edited tech copy was claiming that "resiliency and availability are architected into the software".
This set off the bullshit alert and I've had trouble switching it off ever since.
The Cloud may be the future but that's no guarantee of security or reliability. Yes, I know the Cloud storage provider you outsourced to says it's secure from unauthorised access and regularly backed up to disaster-recovery sites but come on, how do you know? My Cloud data is probably no more secure than if I'd printed it out and taped it to the inside of my office window, facing outwards.
Panic now and avoid the rush
It is also unreliable. Connections drop, performance stumbles to a crawl, and it's entirely reliant on internet access which I'm paying for myself. When I take a photo with my iPhone and iCloud, there's barely a one-in-three chance that it'll show up in Photo Stream before the end of the next day. Some early adopters of Adobe's Creative Cloud are getting restless too: it has been suggested that if Creative Cloud doesn't 'hear' from your computer within a certain time frame, it reverts your (fully paid up) applications to limited demo mode with '0 days remaining'. Nice.
Next page: Cloud and proud
Re: BYOD - for the lucky few
The problem is though, (and this is coming from someone who does work 'in IT') that it's not the letting other people use 'our' network on 'their' device. It's when people bring in 'their' device, from home, that little 'little timmy' has somehow managed to narf up, and then expect to be able to drop it on our desks, so we can fix it for them. Or as you mentioned yourself, using their pc, that has no kind of AV on it, that 'little jimmy' uses to browse warez, pr0n and whatever the fuck else he wants, then bring it in on a Monday morning, and act surprised (and often indignant) when crucial services start failing (this actually happened to us recently, someone's laptop got compromised, and in turn wreaked a bit of havoc with our mail server)
If people can be trusted to take care of 'their' devices, as well as we take care of 'our' own, then in theory, I have no problem with this BYOD fad. It let's me use my smart phone for emails, fault tracking etc. Instead of the non-existent phone that I haven't been provided with and would save us a bit of much needed cash, but unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be the case (at least not in my experience)
Re: BYOD is complex and stupid
But then they call you Hitler and accuse you of empire-building.
Re: BYOD - for the lucky few
AC - your device is a security risk. Your device is also a licensing cost if you require software you do not currently have. Your device could left on a train just as all civil servants who have access to confidential information appear to delight in doing.
Your device could be compromised when outside our networks (especially if you have no AV meaning you're probably a Mac user who thinks he can't get malware) and then spread its infections to our machines. Your device may require us to support protocols and software we have no interest in or business case for supporting, such as the filth that is iTunes or Bonjour or that proprietary, resource hungry Quicktime crap.
Your device may not support LDAP or Active Directory security.
Or it might. But finding this out requires investigation and a risk assessment.
You might not like that.
Tough shit, sunshine.
BYOD is arse because the entire point of consolidated and structured support is to reduce diversity of supported platforms so as to minimise overheads and maximise centralised system management efficiency.
In the absence of a fully-virtualised environment (and even then, how many crappy consumer cheapy laptops will boot from a VHD pushed out over the network and run it worth a damn?) this falls on its arse because instead of being able to have same-day/NBD onsite support for a limited range of platforms (even if this means buying and storing parts yourself) you have to wing it with a bunch of arsegravy-level hardware, not to mention putting up with supporting horrible home systems laden with personal data that make any support call a potential DPA-violating nightmare, dodgy software installs, OS installations missing every patch since the OS was released, and more.
Chances of that working out as cheaper than just providing a supported computer for those who need them? Slim to feckin' none, says I, and thus far none of the organisations who've measured the impact have provided numbers that suggest otherwise.
BYOD is complex and stupid
As title, anyone who says otherwise does not work in IT and therefore doesn't get a vote.
This is nothing to do with empire building or being an "IT attack dog", I'm not a manager of any kind and share my technical duties with a couple of dozen other staff so I have no empire building options.
What this does have to do with is the detailed and complex technical issues and policies that make BYOD difficult and/or illegal to implement, as well as expensive and a nightmare to support.
You want to use your own laptop for work? Sounds simple until it turns out you want us to install company licensed software on it. Which as it turns out, we can't because if you actually read the details of the license agreement it clearly states you can only install the software on hardware owned by the license holding corporation.
Who's going to install and configure that software for you? You're certainly not going to do it yourself because we can't (that's right can't not won't) give you the license key. This because yet again the software company (Microsoft included here I think) stipulate that the license keys MUST NOT be given out to all users and be kept secure.
That means that our desktop support team now need to spend time installing it for you, this also puts responsibility for your device onto out staff. If it now develops a fault after they have worked on it, they could be held responsible since they worked on it.
The costs, risks and potentially insurance problems associated with this are huge. None of which exists if you have a company issued device with a standard software image on which has been rigorously tested.
There are many other issues similar to this, but this is just a great example.