Cloud and proud
Either this Cloud thing doesn't bloody work or it hasn't been designed to work with the real world in mind. More likely, it's just another piece of average technology being sold in shiny wrapping paper to dullards who like shiny things. As ever, Scott Adams sums it up perfectly.
Vanity project? A personal Cloud is not everyone's cuppa
Source: Simply Smile Photography/Georgia Stephenson
This brings me back to BYOD, the world's first IT acronym designed to be pronounced with a Polish accent. BYOD is all about company IT departments supporting whatever (within reason) computing kit you choose to bring in to the office rather than locking the network into MAC serials registered to the company's under-powered 5kg notebooks and shitty little non-Qwerty Blackberrys.
Three years ago, I would have to beg, sign disclaimers and undergo a full invasive strip search before being allowed to use my own smartphone and notebook on a customer site. Today, I can just walk in, log a call and I'm up and running within a couple of minutes, no begging or having to undo my belt.
The BYOD acronym barely expresses the full import of such a change, but these are dangerous word games to play with. I still remember a press release a decade or so ago that kept referring to a 'Smart Hybrid Internet Telephone' without considering how that reads as an acronym. My own acronym alternatives to BYOD - 'Tried Ordering Smartphone, Sold Ebay Relic' or 'Internet Mobile Activity Without Abiding No-brand Klunky Ersatz Rubbish' - might need reworking too.
"You can have a better machine, but you'll have to buy it yourself"
Source: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
What makes me suspicious about BYOD is that it seemed to have come about so swiftly and without fuss. It's as if the boardrooms bought into the idea immediately. And why not? Instead of expensively maintaining hundreds of rapidly devaluing notebooks and mobile phones destined to be antique-class in a few weeks, companies can let users take over that responsibility.
As a management concept, it's nothing short of brilliant. Let's force our employees to pay for their own office equipment!
Ultimately, BYOD does not mean 'Bring Your Own Device'. It means 'Buy Your Own Device'. We asked for it and we fell for it. Duh. ®
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. As a freelancer, he has always paid for his own kit but can sympathise with wage-slaves who got conned into BYOD by being offered company discounts on new kit. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
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.