Want to let your employees use the device of their own choice for business duties? Then be prepared for risks and pain, says a prominent IT official steeped in the practice of supporting BYOD (bring your own device) policies in the enterprise.
At a peer-based conference aimed at sharing tips on how to navigate the consumerization of IT, Seng Ing, senior network engineer at KLA-Tencor, warned IT colleagues that the BYOD phenomenon brings with it a set of issues companies must face, particularly in the areas of device management, security, resource accessibility, and network connectivity.
"In reality BYOD is hard to implement, and it's hard to support," Seng said during a panel at this week's CITE (Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise) conference. BYOD, he added, is bound to bring "problems that don't even exist yet."
BYOD "is too hard to secure and may not be supportable in the long run," Ing claimed. In the wake of BYOD, IT needs to prepare for questions such as what to do when employees leave the company with corporate data still on their personal devices.
"The data and the devices will not clean themselves," Ing said.
Ing was not alone at CITE in emphasizing potential difficulties around security and BYOD.
Brad Wright, vice president of IT integrated customer services at Jacobs Engineering, cited potential risks to his company's protected client information, which could even involve data related to a nuclear energy facility.
"It is risk that we're worried about but not so much the financial risks," Wright says. "It's more the credibility with our clients." Wright, though, believes BYOD is inevitable for most organizations. "It's our task to embrace it; it's our task to [figure out] how to deal with it."
Security was not the only concern expressed by the IT pros on hand. IT must also gauge which services are accessible from all device types and whether services are displayed correctly on all device types.
"You will learn that many of your apps were not designed [for devices]," Ing said, adding that network connectivity is another issue to address with BYOD. Ing, whose company accommodates BYOD to the tune of 8,000 devices worldwide, recommends Wi-Fi access, calling it cheaper than 3G and 4G data plans. But he notes he is not aware of one single solution for managing the plethora of devices, such as RIM BlackBerry and Android.