Bring your own device (BYOD) is a fast-spreading practice most IT managers have not only heard of, but are actively coming to grips with. It has been driven in part by the availability of powerful smartphones and tablet computers, together with powerful apps.
Windows 8 Enterprise also adds a new capability called Windows To Go that allows the OS to boot from a USB flash drive or external disk drive. Using one of these drives, a worker can take their personal corporate Windows 8 environment to different PCs and replicate it there.
These two related trends offer opportunities as well as threats to the enterprise, but more competitive organizations will understand the use cases associated with each and take the best advantage of them for their situations. Let’s take a look at a few use cases here.
Workers traveling between different physical branches of the organization or different physical locations in their own location can be well served with Windows To Go. It is as simple as taking along your hard drive, plugging it into a PC in a meeting room or alternate location and your desktop is recreated. It is a secure option for organizations as 60 seconds after the device is removed, the PC shuts down. BYOD devices can also fill the computing needs of traveling workers, particularly if computers are unavailable at the new location. However, security is critical with BYOD in particular and requires more effort.
Telecommuters are prime BYOD candidates, especially if these workers are temporary. They simply need to install VPN software, ensure certain security practices like anti-malware security scans and that’s usually effective enough. The use of encrypted Windows To Go devices (using BitLocker for example) is an intriguing possibility for telecommuters if organizations need workers to use a standardized corporate environment. If this is the case, worker productivity could show significant improvements.
Some workers travel most or all the time, often to client sites. The most secure option for many of these workers is an encrypted VPN-connected company-provided device that accesses virtual instances on the corporate server. This way, a lost PC or smartphone is not a security threat to the enterprise. For workers who are forced to use BYOD devices, then the mantra is “no local data stored” i.e., every application is run on the company server on a virtual machine.
Many workers, even with home offices, choose to take work home. They’ll work at night, on the weekends, on holidays, on planes and so on. Most of them will use BYOD devices – typically the new breed of smartphones and tablets. Again, security is concern #1, #2 and #3. Company-provided devices are more expensive, but tend to be more secure and easier to remotely manage.
Using server based applications and enforcing security standards can help IT managers sleep better as device loss and theft are all-too-frequent occurrences. Windows To Go devices should be encrypted if possible.
Despite the risks, BYOD practices and Windows To Go can make for a more effective and efficient workforce, able to access and process enterprise data anywhere and anytime. Use cases here can be used as a start to calculate the ROI for implementing either or both strategies and/or measuring their effectiveness.