Have you heard of the BYOPC (bring your own PC)? Natalie Lambert, principal analyst at Forrester, is a huge proponent. BYOPC policies allow enterprises to give employees complete freedom to use whatever PC or mobile device they wish to use for work (in or out of the office) —primarily laptops. The enterprise gives a stipend for the cost and loads of each machine with the appropriate software.
This changes the network dramatically, since employees now connect through a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), instead of a local area network. Remote access connections now become the majority rather than an afterthought. This forces companies to redefine networking policies to accommodate the multiple devices, operating systems, security software and connection speeds. Or they have to limit employee options, defeating a major benefit to the BYOPC initiative. Now, IT has to be prepared to deal with a wide variety of:
- Devices: PC, Mac, Netbook, iPhone, BlackBerry
- Operating Systems: XP, Vista, W7, 32/64, Linux, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard
- PC Security Software: Anti-virus, Anti- malware, Personal Firewalls
- Connection Speeds: Broadband, 3G, a variety of wireless cards, Dial-up, etc.
Does this mean companies have to rethink their remote access strategy? Yes! Case in point is a Citrix case study detailed within a Processor article. Citrix adopted the BYOPC model; however, their network policy was driven by pre-existing remote access technology, causing restrictions for users. Under the guide of ‘best practices’, they limit users to no netbooks, they must have a Windows OS, machines must connect through broadband or suffer network issues, and each machine had to comply with a certain security software profile.
Are these really best practices or have they made the most of outdated networking technology? Shouldn’t a best practice be an ideal situation and not limit the possibilities of a BYOPC policy? Imagine what benefits a company would realize if they were able to allow use of any computer, OS or mobile device. Let’s look at VPN support for 64-bit processors as an example. No corporation is going to allow employees remote access to the network without a VPN, however, if the current remote access system doesn’t support 64-bit machines or any Mac OS, will the corporation create a policy that says remote users must use only the slower 32-bit hardware and Windows? And remember, BYOPC means everyone is a remote user.