BYOD vs. COPE vs. provisioned: That's the wrong question to ask

If you start with the answer, you'll force-fit the real needs into it, which is a surefire way to not address those needs

I've been in IT long enough that I've seen many different revolutions. Sometimes they start small and grow, while other times they start out as a huge tidal wave that you get swept up along in whether you like it or not. The last year has been one giant conversation about bring your own device (BYOD), whether it is happening, whether we should embrace it, or if we even have a choice. We have seen the rise of another model (COPE, or corporately owned, personally enabled) and pushback for the corporate-owned model of old.

The real problem with these conversations is that they always start with the wrong question. What model do we need to move to in order to be successful? Is it even a one-choice question: Do you go with BYOD, do you go with COPE, or do you stick with the legacy model?

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Anyone who believes that you can take a strict technology model and apply it to your whole workforce hasn't worked in IT long enough.

These types of arguments are nothing new; they've been going on for years. In my previous position I was among those responsible for the data center and servers, and we were looking at cloud computing. We had the stalwarts who proclaimed that doing anything less than public cloud was doing it wrong. Then we had the other side that was very popular a few years ago, claiming that private cloud was just fine and public cloud pundits could pawn their wares somewhere else. Finally, you had what some would term as the voices of reason saying that everyone should move to a hybrid cloud that consisted of workloads in the public and private clouds. You had three different models, and you had to pick only one.

This sounds quite similar to the "BYOD versus COPE versus traditional corporate-owned" conversation. There are even the same voices of reason who tell you to do both based on level, title, and/or need of the users involved. In both battles -- and let's be honest that they are battles -- there is name-calling on all sides and everyone knows that they are right.

On the public cloud side, the big pull was always "You know there are people at your company (might be users, could be whole departments) who are buying public instances anyway, so you might as well embrace it, you're already on your way." The same argument is heard on the BYOD side: "You know, you already have people who are using their own devices, whether you allow them or not." These pundits aren't wrong; there are people doing this right now in your organization.

The other side is convinced, as its cohorts came from the data center or corporate devices, that you shouldn't mess with something that you know works. I mean, how hard can it be to set up a private cloud or buy mobile devices for your employees? It is, after all, something you have been doing for years. They claim the other side's BYOD world is full of security breaches, malware, and who knows what else. Why worry about those things when you can be safe and secure all the time (or so they say)? Maybe it costs more money and maybe it saves some. Isn't peace of mind worth it?

The other side responds immediately that you can only save money through public clouds and BYOD programs. After all, Amazon.com can set up instances far faster and for much less money than you ever could, thanks to cost sharing (multitenancy) and economies of scale. Employees are buying their own smartphones, so why should you pay for them?

It becomes a battle where each side hits each other with the latest bit of research or FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) that makes its case better and will hopefully sway you into the "proper" choice.

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