Friday, October 19, 2012

VDI simplifies BYOD

One of the biggest challenges that any organization allowing BYOD will face is that of support. It is simply unrealistic to expect the helpdesk to be able to support all manner of mobile devices, so organizations may turn to VARs. Solution providers can sell revised maintenance contracts that include services such as provisioning end-user devices and offering support for certain mobile operating systems.

BYOD is a pet subject of mine.  Being an Apple user in a corporate sense is 'challenging' and I can't wait for the day when BYOD is a non event in terms of using any device you like inside and outside of work to get stuff done.

The latest thread in the BYOD discussion seems to be the use of VDI (Virtual Desktop Integration) to 'eliminate' the potential complexity and cost of managing physical devices.

Virtualisation is nothing new, its been around for a while, but the idea that VDI is an appropriate solution to facilitate BYOD is relatively new.

Some of the press, including articles by Gartner, indicate that the TCO for VDI is worth it over a 3-5 year period but that may companies balk at the initial costs.  Strangely, it seems to be 'business' pushing for it rather than IT... I think this is 'consumerisation in action' - what people now take for granted in their lives must ultimately be available at work.  BYOD is the 'norm' in real life, people just expect stuff to work on the device of their choice, the same expectation permeates their expectations at work.

A good blog I recently on the benefits of BYOD outweighing the costs makes the point that VDI is not a complete answer to all of IT's concerns about BYOD, there still needs to be a way of allowing people to properly deal with the data and handle data security and privacy issues.  Interestingly, the blog highlights that, using VDI often means that the data being used is on a server or a cloud somewhere and probably even more secure than on many different physical devices... or at least its possible to manage it as a whole rather than worry about the data being out on many physical devices.  This sort of speaks to the 'belief' by some IT shops that if its on an 'SOE device' its secure, if its not, it isn't.  I've always thought this argument was spurious at best ;)

Another article I came across recently, talks about the various technologies needed for VDI... including VMWare, Citrix, etc, etc.  Some of these technologies have been perceived as being 'too expensive' but I think that's just the initial outlay for new software and the TCO appears to more than pay for itself over a 3-5 year period, as highlighted in one of the earlier article I linked to.

As it stands, I think VDI certainly shows a lot of promise in helping some companies realise their vision for BYOD and to overcome some of the perceived (and real) issues.

One issue that does seem to 'stand in the way' is the way some companies are licensing their products and how this impacts BYOD and VDI, etc.  Microsoft has certainly been in the press with regard to this, as most of us use their software every day.  I know this has affected how internal IT departments have approached BYOD - as highlighted in  highlighted in this article about the risks of "violating Microsoft's licensing rules by letting end users access corporate email and applications on their personal devices" but, IMO, things appear to be changing and its important for businesses to review the situation periodically to see if things have changed and how this may facilitate doing more with BYOD.

I'd be happy to hear other people's feedback or latest news on this subject.  Please feel free to post back to the Blog :)

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