back to article BYOD: A bigger headache for IT bosses than Windows Metro?

Nothing elicits passionate debate quite like the suggestion that consumer technology is dictating workplace IT - with the exception of arguments over the Windows 8 Metro desktop, perhaps. The debate on the consumerisation of IT is packed with business, legal and human resources headaches. Individual prejudices and experience …


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  1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    BYOD as a solution to Metro....

    BYOD puts the onus on the end user to source a PC. If it's got Windows 8 and Metro on it, then it's no longer the IT bosses problem. Metro problem hand-waved away.

    DISCLAIMER - Obviously this ignores any of the other cost/technical/political pitfalls of BYOD that may bite our heroic IT Boss in his ample behind.

  2. Arctic fox

    @Trevor Pott

    Not precisely on topic I admit but following on from your posting here:

    have you or any others amongst the members here taken a look at this take on how to modify the "Win8 experience"? It does appear to address some of the issues that the more serious minded critics of Win8 like yourself have with the os.

    For example they claim that you can "Run Metro UI and Metro Apps in a Window" with this installed. I'm going to stick it on at the weekend and see whether its worth the enormous sum of about 3 quid they want for it. :)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: @Trevor Pott

      You mean things like "where Trevor writes How Tos about such problems?" Like here:

      Of course I know how to defeat the goddamned thing. I'm a sysadmin. I've known how to beat Windows 8 into submission for bloody ages. That doesn't mean a future patch/service pack won't break it, or that the ability to do this sort of stuff will even be in Windows 9. Unless the solution comes directly from Microsoft, then betting the farm on it is terrible strategy.

      These are stop-gap measures at best to help you decide what to do. Shit or get off the pot; embrace Metro - and Microsoft's vision of the future - or exit the ecosystem. Eventually, Microsoft will leave you no choice. Classic Desktop Mode is a transition mechanism. It is not something any of us should be betting the future of our companies on. We should not be investing millions in new Classic Desktop applications. We should not be coding applications for the Classic Desktop. It is dead. Legacy. Already deprecated and will be removed.

      Learn to live with it, or leave.

      1. Arctic fox

        Re: @Trevor Pott "Learn to live with it, or leave." Is that kind of posting the way you normally..

        ...react to a friendly and polite post? I simply asked your opinion of something, precisely indeed because you are an IT professional and I have read stuff by you before that I have respect for. As to whether or not the Metro UI becomes the sole means of interacting with Windows, that IMO will depend on customer reaction (both private and enterprise) - it is not solely in Redmond's hands whatever they might wish to believe. If customer reaction is very negative then MS are going to have to rethink the way forward whether they like it or not. There is of course a big difference between self-confidence and cut-your-own-throat arrogance - if Redmond largely display the latter they may well find themselves in far more difficulty than they were anticipating.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: @Trevor Pott "Learn to live with it, or leave." Is that kind of posting the way you normally..

          @Arctic Fox: That wasn't a hostile post telling you off, sirrah. Explanation of the policy itself was not intended as an attack; I apologise if it was interpreted as such. It was merely a blunt explanation of Microsoft's policy.

          "Learn to live with it, or leave." I chose "leave." Others are choosing "live with it."

          I personally do believe you are being naive if you think for a second that "customer reaction" is going to mean a bent damn to Microsoft, but I'm not really going to hold that against you.

          Some IT departments might deploy things like classic shell. Most won't, for the reasons I listed. The larger the org, the greater the likelihood they won't deploy it. Some will sit on Windows 7. The smaller the org, the more likely this is…up to a given point. There's a weird inflection point below which companies don't have IT guys. At this point, they will eat whatever is put in front of them; they have no choice, Windows 8 is what Best Buy sells.

          Some of us are giving up on the MS ecosystem altogether. Joining the neckbeards on Linux, or the hipsters on Apple. For the overwhelming majority of end users, IT departments and so forth, however, Microsoft is all that exists, all that will exist and you will eat what is put in front of you and like it.

          You have the same two choices I do, or anyone else does: "learn to live with it, or leave." I gather you don't like the binary option as presented. Gods know I don't, either. That said, in the real world, I do not honestly believe there is another alternative. Nothing you or I or even every single reader of The Register combined could do would make a big enough impact to even cause a Redmondian product developer to yawn.

          They can lose every single one of us – and the companies we support – and not care. The only thing that matters to Redmont are CxOs. People who make the purchasing descisions for companies with thousands of seats and/or governments. They don't want to be supplying you Windows for your desktop, or your crappy little SME. You are a net drain on their bottom line, not a profit center.

          The only people that matter at all to Redmond are the folks willing to stump up subscriptions – SA, preferably, but O365 and InTune will do – in huge volume. This is what Microsoft has bet the farm on, and it is the driving force of every single decision they have made for years.

          That's why we're expendable. The kind of consumers who like Metrololo are the kinds of people who will buy Windows Xbox Live Gold Edition Subscriptions if Microsoft tosses a few episodes of The Guild in each month and allows them to stream the latest Halo over the interbutts.

          Businesses with more money than sense will sign SA agreements because they are so deeply embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem that – like user of IBM mainframes – they aren't going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

          So…the rest of us? Enthusiasts and power users and SMEs with capable techies and the ability to be discerning? We're the 80% of customers that bring in 20% of Microsoft's revenue. We're the long tail that Microsoft will gladly cut off if it can only increase the revenue from the other 20% by a few points. The costs of supporting us are astronomical, and we are never happy.

          So Microsoft have stopped giving fucks. There are simply no fucks given whatsoever. Not by them, not by Apple, not by Canonical, nobody. Nobody gives any fucks about us at all. We have the technical competence to do use any vendor to accomplish our aims, and are just fickle enough to keep trying to play the various vendors against eachother. One by one they have all said the exact same thing:

          Learn to live with it, or leave.

          I can't – and won't – give you advice about which to choose. I will, however, tell you straight up that there are no other choices on the table. That you, or I, or any of the rest of us have a forum to have our voices heard is a fallacy. One that – quite frankly – most vendors don't even give lip service to any more.

          It sucks, but what are you going to do about it? I know what I am going to do: I am going to ruthlessly abuse the contacts I've made as a writer for The Register to introduce the CEOs of various startups to one another. I am going to try to organise a conference of startup CEOs and build a fifth column within the tech industry. Instead of a handful of behemoths surrounded by a collection of intercompeting (and thus irrelevant) ankle biters, I am going to try my damnedest to organise the ankle biters into a serious threat.

          I am going to expend every single iota of political capital I have ever obtained to get a few dozen startup CEOs in the same room and see if they can't hammer out the framework for something larger. I will most likely fail. Probably spectacularly and in a fashion that ensures I will never work in this industry again.

          But I'm still going to try, because I can't learn to live with Microsoft's vision of the future, and Apple abandoned folk like me long ago. Google hasn't gotten its shit together and the open source world is a mess. I have no choice but to choose "leave," but in order to leave I first have to make a place to go.

          If you've a better idea than that – or some concrete rationale you can use to demonstrate why you think regular joes have a snowball's chance in a neutron star of having our collective voices heard by the Microsofts or Apples of this world – I am all ears.

          Because choosing "leave" is a truly exhausting amount of work.

          1. Arctic fox

            Re: @Trevor Pott "That wasn't a hostile post telling you off" Fair enough Trevor, I clearly.....

            .......misunderstood who your ire was directed against. As to your new posting itself I will have to chew over what you have said before I open my trap further. :)

  3. I think so I am?
    Thumb Up


    Bollocks your organisations Domain

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: BYOD

      Completely true. BYOD is only feasible for really tiny companies where the blending line between 'personal' and 'work' hardly exists anyway. At enterprise level, the vast majority of IT costs is at server and networking level, not desktop. Plus, a lot of the desktop cost is in support, not the physical cost of the hardware. Even if an enterprise wants to expand use of tablets if there is a real business case to do so, they are much better off buying, configuring and locking down a 'standard' tablet and giving it to their users than allowing BYOD

    2. philbo

      Re: BYOD

      I can't help but wonder what the BOFH would make of a BSOD on a BYOD

      1. auburnman

        Re: BYOD

        I reckon he'd say that's TSOY and apply CPPL (Cattle Prod on Persistent LUser) if you complained.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: BYOD

        The BOFH, entertaining as he is, has two depressingly common beliefs which underpin almost all of his jolly japes:

        (1) Nobody elsewhere in the organisation knows enough to tell him how or with what tools to do his job.

        (2) He knows better than everybody else in the organisation how and with what tools they should do their job.

        The latter is not the best way to get the most out of those staff who actually generate revenue for the company.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Fanboy Drivel

    Lol, Apple fanboys are so desparate to push the disastrous idea of BYOD and Apple in the enterprise. It is, and will continue to be, bad business practice for large organisations to let unmanaged end-points on their system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Fanboy Drivel

      I'm posting anonymously because I'm a reseller for solutions that allow you do do this in a more secure manner.

      Yes, you can do it securely (not as secure as no admin rights or no su/sudo) but it will cost you both time and money. Is it worth it? That depends on the environment and the regulations under which it must operate.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Both have their problems.

    However throwing Metro onto users means the IT guys lives will be easier, but not the users.

    BYOD makes things nice for the users, but a headache for IT guys. What is best? Well surely something the USERS can use......

    I'm 10000% more productive on my own device, that I would be if I were to be force-fed some Windows Metro shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Both have their problems.

      Rubbish, your productivity is increased no end by being able to remove access to anything not required for your job. This can only be done on a centrally managed device.

      Facebook, Twitter and solitaire are not essential work tools

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Both have their problems.

        The problem is not unnecessary stuff. It's the centrally managed imposition of suboptimal stuff by IT departments arrogant enough to believe that they know how every other part of the organisation should do their jobs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Both have their problems.

          I've seen far too much of this lately - from the clueless tool who demanded that all a department's users switch from using Skype to using Adobe Connect instead (it costs lots of money, does something vaguely similar, so must be much better, right?) to standardised hardware procurement (those cut-price Core i3 machines with the 'integrated' graphics work fine for the lawyers reading Westlaw, so they must be fine for running AutoCAD and finite-element stuff ... *headdesk*).

          There is something Darwinian about an entity full of "it's more expensive so it must be good" purchasing logic hitting financial problems and having multiple rounds of layoffs. Sadly, it isn't the culprits who get laid off...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Both have their problems.

      You are also 10000% full of shite, and you'd be out the door quicker than your feet could carry you.

      Twonks like you deserve to be twatted!

  6. teapot9999

    support nightmare

    Unless all internal systems are accessed via Citrix or some other remote technology is situations where you get a user saying 'I cannot do this and I am working on a multi million pound deal' who will determine that the isssue is with the user's own equipment and we will not fix it?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't wait...

    ...for the ICO to HAMMER some company for £M's for breaking the rules, because some twonk wanted to use his iPad.

    If your a BYOD'er your a tw t!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can't wait...

      I recently left a job at a SAAS supplier, because the CTO routinely carried administrative passwords round with him on his iPad, and duplicated the data to his Google account (his justification for that was that Google are SAS70 compliant). He also refused to encrypt his laptop because "it's not like I'm carrying source code around with me". He just wasn't able to comprehend the damage that could be done if his devices fell into the wrong hands. The legal requirements bypassed him too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't wait...

        "He just wasn't able to comprehend the damage that could be done if his devices fell into the wrong hands. The legal requirements bypassed him too."

        Just who employs these people? These high earners don't have a bloody clue. Too busy "showing off" his shitting iPad (if you can show off an iPad). Of course anyone with a brain cell knows, iPad = they are a bit thick.

        1. Arctic fox

          RE:"Of course anyone with a brain cell knows, iPad = they are a bit thick." Well, no......

          ....I cannot agree with that. Owning an iPad does not make you thick, I know plenty of intelligent people who own iPads as their leisure tablet and I certainly would not describe any of them as thick. They feel that as a media consumption device it has very good build quality and delivers a customer experience that they enjoy. I personally would not have one as a gift (or even if you paid me to take it away) but it does the job for them and in that sense Apple have created a very fine device. However, the type that thinks that owning an iPad says something important and positive about them, who waves it around at meetings and in coffee bars or who logs on here to tell us all how productive they are with their precious - well yes, that type is extremely thick.

  8. tirk

    King Canute

    A lot of the comments above strike me as the IT equivalent of King Canute - we don't like it so you can't have it. Well, if (and that is not yet certain) it makes economic sense for the business, then it's likely to happen, whether or not IT want it. There will be plenty of external consultancy firms telling the directors that they can do it, even if your "backwards IT guys" can't.

    IT should be about finding how we can successfully, securely and efficiently embrace new ideas and technologies, not protect they way we do things now.

    The tide comes in on it's own schedule, not ours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: King Canute

      Wrong. I.T. departments have spent years putting procedures in place to make sure things work, support can be delivered, security is high, legislation is complied with and so on. You want us to throw all that out of the window just so you can use your own device. Get stuffed - it isn't you that gets it in the neck because data has been lost, or someones laptop was stolen that they helpfully did not have a password on the logon screen but have saved all their work passwords locally, or you don't have a complete backup because Dave has been saving the weeks sales spreadsheet to his desktop instead of the network share.

      1. Dana W

        Re: King Canute

        And they have assured safety and security through an all Microsoft environment!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: King Canute

      The tide comes in on it's own schedule, not ours.

      Yes. That is the lesson King Canute was attempting to teach. I suspect you think it might have been something else.

  9. MissingSecurity

    It does pay to be in a smaller company...

    BYOD becomes less of an issue when it becomes SYODD (Support your own DAMN device).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're forgetting the software

    Applying end point security to a wider range of devices is the only approach other than total lockdown that I've seen tried. Like democracy, we do it because the alternatives are usually worse. I'm not sure where this fits in the 4 options above. You're not deploying desired devices, you're trying to secure devices deployed at you.

    All this ignores the second major cause of BYOD: software. The only difference between enterprise software, in particular interface design, and bestiality, is that bestiality is at least half consensual. How long would Amazon have lasted if it looked and worked like the bastard chimeric spawn of Siebel and Oracle?

    You don't sit looking at your device all day (fanbois excepted). You look at the %$&#% software. That's where the gulf between what we're used to at home and what we're forced to do at work yawns widest. Fix that, and maybe your users won't mind using <gasp> Acer.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BYOD boredom

    the higher education sector has been BYOD (well, at many locations...some places tried the digital fortress technique) for a long time...decades even - certainly staff and students have been plugging in all sorts of hardware since the old 9600 baud links allowed them access....and when sites were linked at the 'frankly crazy' speeds of 128kbaud it was quite common to find some random 286 connected to a thinnet segment.

    for the past decade most students have been bringing their laptops onto the network...hopefully following the AUP rules (run antivirus on that windows box and keep it patched!) ...and now its common that staff and students appear with tablets and smartphones (with maybe still a laptop in the bag...) and expect internet access.

    how have sites dealt with it? well, its a mixed bag. but it really requires a different mind-set. the central IT is starting to move to locking the Apps and access away into eg virtual desktops and private cloud infrastructures....making the network more of the 'internet' than a corporate LAN..the LAN gets moved inwards to be shielded with local protection than relying on some big border guard.

    I guess the more interesting issue isnt the IT - if you use standards compliant kit and servers etc you are okay...its the legacy apps that still only work with IE6 or such - virtual containers are ideal for those! - its the 1st/2nd line support who now face the 'get my $mobileflavourofthemonth working on the wireless' - goodbye standard desktop model and known handset list.

  12. FlatEarther
    Big Brother

    It's all about the cost

    This is all very chatty and nice. We have been here before and know what the issue is: Support Cost.

    When PCs were first introduced in volumes, these were typically Windows 3.1/3.11 PCs. Lovely, better than that old glass TTY. You could load your apps, set your own screen savers, control your own world.

    But then, that corporate application that you absolutely needed had stopped working. So you called IT and they spent several hours diagnosing the issue before discovering that you favourite game had loaded an old DLL. All of a sudden, things didn't work.

    Once this had happened a copy of thousand times even the CIO realised that desktop support cost, not hardware and software capital budgets were killing him. So we got standardisation, locked down SOEs, new IT policies, etc, etc. And support costs came back under control. Once security/virus, etc became more of an issue we had a new round of control and tightening imposed. That worked too.

    What's changed with BYOD? Are we going to say, even to senior managers, sorry, if that app doesn't work on your particular ipad/iphone/android/... then you're on you're own? I think not. Support costs will become an issue and it won't go away, no matter how much the "I want it now" crowd shout and scream.

    Same issue. Is there a new solution? I haven't heard one yet. Not in this article. It mostly misses the point.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: It's all about the cost

      What's changed? We've had a few decades to work out the delivery technologies. We can essentially "stream" applications to an endpoint. App-V, ThinApp, RDP, you name it. We can containerise web applications with Browsium or even deliver them as executables. (The webapp wrapped in it's exactly versioned browser.)

      We have SaaS delivery using actual standards now, and automated testing tools that simply didn't exist 20 years ago. In short, the struggle between BYOD and Fortress IT never stopped. Fortress IT was the dominant solution largely because it was the only rational solution for a long time. Today, however, we have the technology to accommodate BYOD should organisations choose. We simply didn't have that before.

      It may still not make sense for a lot of organisations to engage in BYOD…but it is possible to do it today, and do it in a secure fashion. That's the difference.

      So, are you going to tell your managers and so forth they can't BYOD? That's up to you. But you can't use the support costs or technological difficulty as excuses any more. The only barrier to proper BYOD is stumping up the licences for the commercially available, off-the-shelf technologies required to make the problem manageable.

      That's a hell of a lot different than Windows 3.11.

    2. Corinne

      Re: It's all about the cost

      I'm with FlatEarther here. However much the delivery technologies and testing methods have improved over the years, support for 500 different devices will cost significantly more than delivering to half a dozen. Every time a new flavour of any device comes out that has to be tested against everything you do and more importantly you need support staff trained in how to deal with that particular flavour.

      It isn't just a case of ensuring all work stuff is done in a virtual window either. As anyone who has read my posts will have realised I'm not a tech, so when a forced "upgrade" to the software on my home router (Netgear, so a reasonably decent/common make) meant the firewall blocked all access to my financial services employer's systems due to the emploter's own security, I wasn't able to work out a workaround myself. Calling the help desk, there was nothing they were able to do as they knew nothing about the problem; I had the choices of rolling back the upgrade (tried, it refused to roll back), replacing my router, or not working from home ever even with a work supplied laptop. There was no way any employer was going to bear the cost of training a number of support staff (in India) in the very latest version of every single router on the market.

      Now imagine the screams if people are allowed to BYOD, or even worse forced into it, and they are then told that their specific device isn't supported and they have to replace it at their own cost? I don't own a smart phone so would have to buy my own if this was a requirement where I worked; as a contractor who usually ends up working on short term projects I change jobs reasonably frequently so would not be impressed if I had to change my phone every time I changed job.

      I really don't understand why people are so precious about using their own device anyway; while at work they are being paid to carry out the needs of the company they work for so the company supplied equipment and software should be sufficient for that. Use your personal phone/tablet etc for any personal stuff you are doing. It may make ONE person a touch more productive to use their favorite software (not supplied by the company) to do a particular job but if their work needs to be consolidated into with other's work, or if they get run over by a bus & someone else needs to take over, the overall costs/effort rise framatically. Staff are there to serve the business, not indulge their personal whims & tastes - I have strong views on the best tools for my job but if the employer's standard is different from my preference I just suck it up & use theirs.

  13. MachDiamond Silver badge

    BYOD bad, mostly.

    I see BYOD being favored by companies that want to eliminate hardware costs. I think it's painfully clear to everyone that it will turn around a bite management in the backside from the support costs. Management is often a bit tipsy after the 3 martini lunches to really think things through very well. They are just as bad in the morning from the hang over of yesterday's 8 martini dinner party.

    It makes sense for IT departments to have differing levels of kit for different users. An engineer running complex simulations needs a Windows PC with some serious horsepower, a high end graphics card and maxed out RAM. A receptionist can get by with a basic machine to update her Facebook status, check email and type an occasional letter. The marketing and communication departments will mostly want Macs since that's where the bulk of creative software lives. Laptops should be only checked out to staff that really need to have a laptop, salespeople, field service techs, etc. Company supplied phones would also only be issued to personnel that work out of the office most of the time.

    It makes much more sense for companies to provide the required tools and have them available for employees to use. If an employee drops dead or gets sacked, there will be a kitted out workspace ready for a replacement to take over and IT knows how to support it properly.

    What's next? Bring your own office chair?

  14. Whyfore

    BYoD inheritence

    I work in the IT Dept of a company in SE Asia and have inherited a BYoD culture. I think it was implemented more as a cost saving measure ("We don't have to buy a laptop for our new employee? Great!") with little thought for data security. I'm glad all internal administration (HR/accounts/etc) is carried out on company owned desktops, but I've never seen project staff hand over their laptop before leaving for a data wipe/licence removal.

    Now I'm not sure how to reverse this policy- explaining it to management sounds like I want to increase costs and explaining it to staff sounds like I want to take away their toys. Education sounds like the only option available to me...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: BYoD inheritence

      Can I offer a couple of suggestions? Don't try to "reverse the policy." That's foolish. Try instead to "mitigate the risks." Get approval for corporate policy that requires endpoint management software. (I'd recommend Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1, if possible.) PUsh through another corporate policy: that devices used by staff *must* be wiped by IT before they leave. Let them know you'll work with them to back up their data, but that you will only reinstall applications for which they have licences.

      This can be presented with explanations that cover security, data loss, legal liability, etc. Don't sell it as an effort to exert IT control over your users...sell it as an "insurance policy" against some pretty massive legal costs should the worst occur. Ultimately, the cost of implementing endpoint management and wiping systems for exiting staff isn't much, financially, or politically. You aren't taking away toys, just ensuring they are used properly.

      Frame your arguments right and there is a good chance you'll be able to gain some measure of security.



    This is my slightly tongue-in-cheek alternative to the now-standard BYOD acronym: ‘Bring-Devices-You-Expect-I-C-T-To-Support-On-Top-Of-Everything-Else-We-Have-To-Do’. Aka often shortened to a noise a bit like an "Exasperated Sigh," with eyes flicking towards the ceiling (often accompanied by a "tutting" sound…..).

    I have two points to make on this both warnings.

    First - I was made redundant from an ICT Dept in the main because I challenged a Council to look at BYOD openly and in a positive way. My role included "to challenge what we do". I think the word "Apple" worried people, and my Asst Director (who called all modern ICT 'Gizmos', and is was leader in his field apparently, said "iPads will never have a place in B********".

    Second - I am aware of a situation in which an ICT Manager decided to start setting up his colleagues personal iPhones with the 'company email'. An error by a slightly ICT naive employee has now resulted in big trouble, and a pending legal case. There was no accepted policy for BYOD.

    BYOD is a challenge, but it has real advantages. If, however, an ICT Dept decides to fight it without accepting that people will try to BTOD (Bring Their Own Devices), then problems are surer to result. It is as bad to ignore it as it as anything else. Careful advice and responsibility needs to be established. BYOD is now less a technical challenge, more people one.

    Silly people eh?

  16. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Who's pushing this exactly? in, where's the money? Who benefits financially from BYOD?

    It's not the business - only an utter twat of a bean counter will fail to see that reducing the relatively small cost of hardware compared to the additional costs required for, usually, new networking kit, management systems and disparate system support balance massively the wrong way. The business will still have to provide the software that they need the users to use and to police the licensing of it, or is part of this scheme to force employees to also purchase the full and latest version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Vision, Adobe Acrobat, <x> Antivirus plus whatever more specialist software may be required?

    Users don't benefit either... Oddly, despite the rhetoric about users preferring their own systems to do their employer's work, given the choice of spending hard cash on the hardware and software, without corporate discounts, they'll be looking at up front startup costs of at least £1000, but given typical MS Office costs, is likely to be more like £1500. OK, the business could purchase some of the software, but there are extensive licensing issues involved in this - MS's licences state that the software can only be installed on systems owned by the business, and what about when the employee leaves? Should the business buy back the system when they employee leaves or should they take control of the system (which could have interesting legal issues) and wipe it thoroughly before the ex-employee leaves the premises? What about the users who don't want to spend out their own money to do their job? Talk about enhanced benefits and other nonsense is just this - realistically the majority of employers will not give employees anything extra to compensate them for using their own systems... that's yet a further cost.

    Employees are paid to a job and are usually given the tools to do this. While there are exceptions to employees being given the tools, these are far between compared to everything else. Computers in the workplace are *tools*, they are not their for the employee's personal pleasure. Would a guy on a production line be expected to buy his own socket and screwdriver set so he can assemble components - would his choice of tools actually work properly and not potentially cause production problems, possibly very expensive?

    What about when an employee's own system breaks? Who replaces it, and who's at fault? Did a cleaner knock it when cleaning the office, did the system overheat due to a clogged fan, did the user's choice of AV software fail to stop an exploit hitting the system? Who's going to pay for these to be fixed? How about when a user's system contacts some nasty malware that on a corporate system would have been prevented from running but on their own system, took hold, and exploited and infected 50 other systems in the business? Who pays for the clean up? It's no longer then business's problem as it's a user's system that caused the problem therefore should the BYOD user be forced to pay up for their own lack of computer security knowledge?

    So who's driving this and is likely to benefit?

    The PC manufacturers? As a consumer working as an employee is likely to replace a system when starting than use an older one.

    The network kit suppliers? New kit will be required to replace the existing working just fine kit, in order to segregate and protect systems from each other... if you haven't looked into it properly yet, without adequate hard networking policies in place, each of these devices will be able to trample across the entire network - the solution is to effectively segregate every end point into it's own VLAN and carefully martial access to the required internal resources and to protect the device from and to protect the wider Internet (nobody needs their Internet connection blacklisted for spam because of personal systems sending junk mail). Pretending that Windows server can manage this is putting the gate in the wrong place... it's too late by the time a device may happen to have been authenticated and checked on the domain.

    The management software suppliers? They have a new market too push, and they have the tools and a desire to maximise profits through selling management systems that may just about work and then to sell ongoing support and updates - nobody in their right mind is going to think that a single purchase of this software will do the job, devices and software change all the time therefore the management systems have to be updated on an ongoing basis as well.

    What this issue does bring to the fore though, is a good discussion about keeping system selection and software use alive and dynamic rather than a monolithic one size fits all approach to IT. A more agile IT provision where the appropriate tools can be reviewed regularly, or in some cases, on demand, fits the modern business environment much better than introducing expensive cost to satisfy a few buzzword toting sales reps.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Who's pushing this exactly?

      Have to say "not the PC manufacturers." The consumerisation of IT has driven their margins into the floor. Network vendors? How? BYOD is almost all WiFi; that means less sexy switches and routers with expensive ports, not more. (WiFi is cheap compared to wired!) Management tool vendors? They have been reactive in this game, not proactive.

      As much as I am usually the first to cry "follow the money," I honestly don't believe the BYOD movement has anything at all to do with money. It is about the feeling of control that a certain segment of users desire of their computing experience. Money is just not the driving factor here.

      BYOD isn't a manufactured thing, pulled from nowhere in order to shift kit. BYOD is something that has always been lurking in the background, but started to get noticed when smartphones and netbooks became light enough and powerful enough to smuggle into the workplace and be used to get real work done. BYOD is a way to bypass what end users view as "restrictive" IT, to get the cool device they want or just to use the widget/software they feel makes them more productive.

      It is blown out of proportion – no question there – because the people who make a big deal out of it tend to be really damned noisy until they get their way. Maybe - maybe - 5% of staff at a given company give any fucks about BYOD. Maybe. But those 5% of people are squeaky wheels that can cause all sorts of hell. They also have this nasty tendency to be high-value knowledge workers, not Joe Schmoe in shipping and receiving.

      In my experience, BYOD is a thing. It's driven by end users, not widget makers. It is driven specifically by picky elitists; IT are big time culprits here, but oddly enough so are sales and marketing. It can almost always be solved by just shovelling them a corporate-owned system that isn't made of slow and fail.

      Oh, and by getting rid of Blackberries. That's another story entirely, however…

      1. Sirius Lee

        Re: Who's pushing this exactly?

        Trevor, you are talking nonsense. BYOD has nothing to do with users. El Reg has a constant stream of articles about this topic and all of them are nonsense. Users do not ask to use their kit at work. They ask their company for kit. Does the delivery guy ask to use his own van or does he choose to use a company supplied vehicle. Most employee contracts preclude the use of own equipment because of the very real threat posed by employee access to sensitive and sometimes personal data. Very recently one financial institution bought a job lot of tablet to *give* to their employees.

        So where is the apparent demand for BYOD coming from? Where does the money trail lead? Who is paying for people to write articles in newspapers, blogs and august institutions like El Reg? Who has an interest but no in to the enterprise? In my view the manufacturers. Sure you are right, "not the PC manufacturers". No, more likely the tablet and smartphone manufacturers.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Who's pushing this exactly?

          @Sirius Lee proof or GTFO. I've spent the past year talking to people about this. I have customers where BYOD is a thing, not because it was pushed on them by manufacturers, CxOs or sysadmins, but where it has come from users. I have has long conversations with people on planes using their iPads etc for business purposes. In short, I've done my homework.

          BYOD is coming from users. It is a demand seen by (typically) 2% of users, sometimes up to 5%. It is most often from the most mobile knowledge workers. Alternately, there is a push - usually for Apple in the enterprise – from creatives.

          Joe the delivery truck guy doesn't want to bring his own truck because he's a delivery guy. However, if you asked him to deliver pallets in a Pinto he'd start considering it.

          Handing 6-year-old Acer Specials off to Sales/Marketing/IT/Photoshop Nerds/etc has the same effect. They start wanting to bring their own equipment. They have jobs that pay them enough money that they are entirely willing to pay $1500 to avoid frustration for 8-12 hours per day. The same goes from ramming Blackberries down their throats.

          There's also a BYOD push from people who want to use software that isn't supported in the enterprise. Dragon naturally speaking, for example; or Final Cut Pro by video nerds.

          So, unless you have proof that BYOD is a proactive item "pushed" on organisations by whichever boogyman you are afraid of, learn to accept when your prejudices are wrong, sir.

          For that matter, you fail to explain how your pet boogyman is supposed to make money from BYOD. BYOD generally extends the consumerisation of IT; placing lower margin devices in the hands of workers instead of the nice, high-margin lineups that enterprises typically buy. Where is the logic behind that?

          Why would Apple want to sell an iPad to a working when they could be selling a Macbook pro? Why would Asus want to sell a Transformer when they could be selling an Ultrabook? Where is the business case for your claims? You dispute every scrape of evidence that I have obtained over the past year – admittedly through a concerted effort of talking to sysadmins, executives and BYOD-wielding end users one at a bloody time – with no logical business case.

          What possible reason could any of these OEM boogymen have for pushing BYOD on the world? How does it make sense for anyone except the end user, who gets the widget they want? Please, do explain.

          Your delusions are rank madness. Nobody tells me what to write about. I do not recieve instructions from the BYOD hivemind through the implant in my teeth telling me to push the message to the rubes. There is no coordinated effort to convince people that BYOD is a thing.

          Reporters report on what we see. Fucking shocking, I know. What next? Americans really did land on the moon?

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          You want the truth?

          You can't handle the truth.

          Downvote away! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

    2. Bernd Felsche

      Re: Who's pushing this exactly?

      Strongly agree.

      While there may be some "push" from employees if inadequate tools are provided by their employer, letting ("unwashed") employees bring their own won't solve the inherent problems.

      It is essential that IT understands what tools are necessary for people to do their work effectively and efficiently. IT staff need to understand the underlying business processes and work towards introducing improvements that they can see with their knowledge of the technologies.

      Shock! Horror! There is a lot of "push" from employees to bring their own devices so that they can do personal stuff at work using their employer's resources, including time.

      The issue of being connected directly into the corporate network with "uncontrolled" devices is one that is seldom explored. While wired connections are "easily" dealt with by treating every one as "hostile", the wireless network is one presenting a plethora of new security challenges.

      Is every wireless device assigned its own WPA key? I doubt that the employer has the infrastructure. If such a key is "permanent" and pre-shared, then the key goes with the employee's device anywhere that the device goes and connects -- beyond the control of I.T. management. Even if every device has a unique wireless access key, malware can collect vast quantities of data using promiscous wireless operation and a platform for key cracking and subsequent tunneling from the Internet into the corporate network.

      Lobotomising BYODs of departing employees is closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Critical data are probably synched to computers at home or into their own "cloud".

      Some businesses believe that they are too small a target to be "hacked". In reality, an Internet connection is a sufficient asset. The objective of hackers isn't generally to obtain intellectual property. (That's just a bonus.) The primary objective is to get a toehold from which they can launch further attacks so that they can get at real money, by whatever fraudulent means present themselves.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Who's pushing this exactly?

        @Bernd Felsche and yet, I have encountered literally dozens of WiFi access point manufacturers who provide exactly what you are describing: the ability to assign individual WPA2 keys to each device, silo them off from one another and from the rest of the network. The entry level stuff is generally about USD $250.

        There's all sorts of ways to secure data on devices, even outside your firewall. I know, because I do it. There's nothing special about BYOD except that if you do actually embrace it, you need to start working with a few new tools.

        You can rage against the concept of BYOD if you like. I'm not going to tell you it is philosophically "Good" or "Bad." That's up to you, your beliefs and your workplace culture. But I will tell you that handling BYOD in a secure fashion isn't the terrifying multi-headed hydra of ultimate systems administration doom that some would like to make it out to be.

        It's just one more problem. A problem with known good solutions. It's not the end of the world.

  17. David Simpson 1

    Wrong way round.

    "This is a "bottom up" approach to technological adoption and it causes angst among managers"

    This is back to front the so called "top down" approach brought us the 90/00's nightmare that was Windows lock in, "Bottom up" has been giving us much easier products to use in the real world.

  18. Custard Fridge


    Where as corporates might be able to cosnder DeplyingDesribableDevices, SMEs at the moment are in my experience skint, so the act of spending twice as much on kit as currently is frankly impossible. I can't get the budget to get this kit in for testing it, let alone deploying it. The phrase 'let them eat cake' springs to mind...

  19. John Doe 6

    Little correction

    Is "BYOD: a bigger headache for IT bosses than Windows Metro?".

    Should be: "BYOD: a bigger headache for IT bosses of Windows-only environments".

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