Telstra has joined a growing list of large Australian companies considering allowing their employees to bring their own computing devices into the workplace, in an attempt to extract savings and efficiencies from various business units.
Telstra chief information officer Patrick Eltridge told iTnews that the telco is conducting proof-of-concept trials across several areas of its business.
The trials also involve the use of desktop virtualisation and the development of new interfaces for staff accessing corporate applications via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs.
Large organisations are under creeping pressure to make systems nimbler and more user-friendly, and increasingly are yielding to staff demands to bring to work their own smartphones, tablet computers, laptops, and sometimes even 3G dongles and Wi-Fi routers.
Whilst the BYO Computing trend was in the past framed as an inevitable problem created by the ‘consumerisation of IT’, many of Australia’s top CIOs now view it as a means of attracting better staff and even reducing costs.
BYO Computing schemes have proven attractive to bean-counters realising savings by allowing staff to salary-sacrifice IT equipment.
Legal firm Norton Rose, for example, “fully supports” the connection of personal mobile devices to its information systems and is weighing up a future in which staff also bring in laptops and other PCs.
“A lot of new technologies are being released and we clearly see major business benefits in having access to office systems while outside the office and travelling overseas,” said Phil Scorgie, director of business information systems at Norton Rose.
“This is particularly important to support our growing international practice. It enables our lawyers to work anywhere in the world as virtual lawyers.”
Jetstar CIO and head of IT Stephen Tame said the airline had not yet formulated an official policy, but employee-owned iPhones, iPads and MacBooks were allowed to co-exist on the network.
“I foresee a time in the not-too-distant future when mobile phones, laptops and PC equipment will be a personal choice and a self-managed device,” Tame said.
Jetstar deploys virtualisation to cater for staff-owned machines, shipping set-up and updates on SD cards to remote workers.
“Deployed on virtual machines, corporate IT still has control over the systems accessing the corporate environment,” he said.
KPMG director of innovation Bruce McCabe said many of the firm’s clients were experimenting with BYO Computing. Many saw the practice as inevitable, he said.
“It’s now firmly in the consciousness of IT leaders in Australia, much more than a year ago, but in terms of implementation - only a few have scratched the surface,” McCabe said.
Any cost benefits associated with not issuing company machines would be offset by equipment allowances, increased IT security expenditure and testing, he said.
“Long-term, the support costs should be less expensive as we move to self-service.”
The number one roadblock to BYO Computing tends to be security concerns.
The premise of a miscellaneous fleet of devices operating in the high-rise offices of corporate Australia does not impress security analysts.
Gartner analyst Laurence Orans expects BYO programs to increase the threat of botnets.
Orans estimates that between four and eight percent of enterprise PCs already have an active botnet client installed and argues that consumer-owned PCs will bring even more Trojans into work.
“The threat of higher botnet compromise rates on consumer PCs is very real and security teams will need to invest in additional resources to mitigate these threats,” Orans said in a security paper.
Uri Rivner, head of new technologies and identity protection at security vendor RSA noted in a February research paper that 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies already had Zeus-infected employee PCs.
Orans forecasts that 80 percent of enterprises adopting BYO computing would see their compromise rates increase by 100 percent or more by 2013.
Read on for a checklist of management policies to consider for your BYO computing deployment.... we also talk to some IT managers that don't like the idea...