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Reg's reviews editor can attest, it's not unknown for me to spend so long tinkering about with the product that it gets superseded by something else before I've written a word.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.
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.