Pros and cons of bring your own device for the workplace

One of the more contentious topics in managing endpoint devices is the issue of users bringing their own device to the workplace. IT pro Rick Vanover discusses some considerations of BYOD for support staff.

Last week, there was a flurry of activity related to a Windows Update that caused VMware View clients to prohibit connectivity. VMware View is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that can be delivered to any number of clients, including Windows systems. The criticality of this issue was amplified to make it seem that this could knock out a whole fleet of users. While it could, it is important to note that the View Client runs on Windows; the typical VDI solution for a large mass of users would include zero-client devices. These boot up and natively run a protocol that is supported by the View Client. These zero-clients, as well as other operating systems would not be affected by this particular issue. The workaround was quick, and likely not as serious as it could have been as not every PC is always entirely up to date.

The issue of bring your own device (BYOD) or bring your own PC (BYOPC) is frequently talked about in a number of VDI communities, mostly experimental in enterprise configurations however. The premise is that the infrastructure team supports the View Client and the associated virtual desktop in this configuration. In fact, I’m familiar with a number of organizations that take this one step further for remote workers and issue them a PC purchase credit every two years and provide View Client download instructions. That’s the PC support policy for the endpoint. Low cost for the organization and high flexibility for the user. Pretty simple it may seem. Could it be flawed? Maybe.

For the Windows-based installations of the View Client; there could be connectivity issues in a situation like this. In my personal administration practice, having the View Client as the primary access for VDI users would not be optimal on Windows PCs or notebooks. This means that the infrastructure teams would have to support two Windows client systems: the endpoint and the datacenter virtual desktop. But the View Client is run within Windows for a number of situations; and it is likely installed on Windows more than any other operating system. This particular issue, however, is a good springboard for discussion. A friend of mine, Gartner research VP Chris Wolf states in his blog quite simply, “It becomes IT’s support problem.” Chris is absolutely correct. At the end of the day, the internal IT staff needs to make IT resources available. Our hero capes are never far away it seems.

In regards to BYOPC or BYOD, the same burdens fall on internal IT staff. What are your thoughts on this endpoint practice? Share your comments below.