Dimension Data Australia recently hosted a series of CIO roundtable discussions on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and the recurring theme in all sessions was bring your own device (BYOD). While the general consensus in the industry is that the term BYOD implies a desktop replacement program or a BYO primary toolset, this was soundly debunked by most attendees. Instead, much of the take up of BYO the CIOs were seeing is related to ‘smart devices’.
Every organisation represented at the roundtables was faced with the need to scale supporting infrastructure, such as saturation wireless, or upgrade or replace legacy thin client infrastructure. Originally, these were designed to support limited remote access; however, this is changing drastically as infrastructure now needs to support a larger number of users accessing applications from a diverse range of devices.
So it is true: the consumerisation of IT is changing users’ expectations – the always connected, search/download/use application experience is being reflected in user demands from corporate services. Systems built to support occasional remote access, or wireless networks designed to support a few devices at a time, have suddenly become business-critical services – supporting users and devices who expect to connect anything from everywhere, all of the time.
The underlying concern for CIOs is about managing and securing corporate data, coping with the influx of end user devices, and improving the service provisioning timeframes while making internal services available.
While virtualisation of end user computing and applications can have significant data centre infrastructure impacts, the real challenge is about managing risk and expectations – often from C-level executives with a new tablet and an article they’ve read in the most recent Qantas/BRW/MIS magazine, rather than offering BYOD as a service.
In the majority of conversations Dimension Data has had with clients, the current focus on BYOD is leading to a mismatch in IT resource consumption and business importance. Many CIOs feel that the user pressure to build or improve infrastructure to support a wide range of devices was taking up time and IT resources that could otherwise be focused on better delivery or support of business-critical applications and infrastructure. This was a sentiment echoed by CIOs from government agencies as well.
However, in sectors where the war for talent is an on-going challenge, these organisations see BYOD as a differentiator for them in attracting and retaining key talent. This is particularly true for organisations trying to attract and retain knowledge workers and highly-mobile staff – where having infrastructure and clear policies that allow and support a myriad devices can be an advantage. Furthermore, these organisations are also mature enough to have already established the user’s responsibilities and the data protection policies for information stored on the mobile device.
And, at this point, we are seeing almost all of our clients focus on policy establishment as an area for them to actively manage. The starting point for many is basic infrastructure upgrades and developing governance guidelines for data protection. The critical step for all organisations working on this is to take a device-agnostic approach, as the device landscape is changing far quicker than policy or controls can keep up.
By developing policies and controls that delivers data securely to the end user’s device, instead of specifying allowed devices, ensures that organisations are able to effectively deal with the ongoing influx of smart devices onto the corporate network, and begin the process of deploying a robust BYOD environment.
Note: We recently released the findings from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dimension Data on the desktop virtualisation market. The research revealed global market data on the increasing number of employee-owned devices crossing the corporate threshold and the drive towards BYOD policies.
David Hanrahan [contact]
General Manager – Virtual Data Centre
Dimension Data Australia