Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an ever-growing trend that many of us are wrestling with these days. Being a technology company, I know we face this challenge everyday as we are pushed by the Dell technologist.  Whether our employees travel frequently, work remotely, or come to the office every day, more and more of them say that, when it comes to getting their jobs done, they need to use and will be  most productive on  their own personal devices. Keeping our data centers secure in light of the ever-growing list of devices showing up in the workplace can feel like an insurmountable task.

The reality, though, is that it’s not about the devices. It’s about the individuals and their access rights. Regardless of device, employees’ access rights need to remain consistent, and all the different devices they use really should be just an afterthought. And, the good news for those of us in IT is that enabling our employees’ use of their personal computing and mobile devices offers benefits way beyond the users’ sense of empowerment. We can leverage BYOD through key technologies such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), to improve not just user productivity, but application support and security, as well.

At Quest, we have supported a limited version of BYOD for a while now. It’s something that started slowly and just grew as people saw the different devices their co-workers were using, and wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Then, as the whole idea of the “Consumerization of IT” became more of an industry focus, we took the approach that a device is just a means for accessing apps and data. We concentrated on offering our end users a flexible set of tools and toolsets with a familiar interface that allows for secure access anywhere, anytime. We wanted them to be comfortable with those tools, so they could be more productive in their work. Ultimately, our goal was to provide our employees with a world-class user experience, from beginning to end, and to encourage a culture of openness and innovation.

This is working for us, and it can work for you, but there are a number of pieces that have to fit into the whole puzzle. First and foremost, you have to sync up the needs and demands of your IT organization with what your users want.  It the same methodology we have always used in IT, business drives technology. Once you understand the request, you can work to satisfy IT governance and policies, and balance that with users’ needs. Then, you have to go back to the idea that it’s not about the device, but, rather, about the individuals using those devices to access your data center. Employees should have just one set of access rights across all environments, based on their roles within the company. Whether they’re using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, they should have the same consistent user interface, and consistent security rights to get wherever they need to go to do their jobs.

Desktop virtualization is a key component in implementing BYOD. We started using VDI a number of years ago to give our offshore resources secure desktops, and it’s slowly grown into the BYOD solution for provisioning, control and access management of multiple devices.

Management and governance are probably among the most problematic aspects of BYOD, but we’ve tackled this head-on and now provide our IT team with one point of control for an individual and all their devices, one that automates that very cumbersome process of provisioning, moving employees among departments, and then de-provisioning when they leave.  The key to any IT success is the happiness and satisfaction of the end user, and we recognize that supporting and monitoring their experience and performance is most important, especially when you’re using VDI. We are now able to quickly determine which users are impacted by performance problems so we can take action before they feel the pain.

The bottom line is that BYOD is here to stay, and likely is going to become the norm just as virtualization has. Today, it’s a given that your data center is virtualized as much as possible, and, soon, it will be a given that most employees are working on their own personal devices. As younger generations come into the work force today, they already expect to use their device of choice in the corporate world, just like they do at home. Happily for IT, the simplification, standardization and automation that go hand-in-hand with BYOD will allow us to recognize significant savings in our operational costs, just as we have with virtualization.

Interarbor Solutions principal analyst Dana Gardner and I recently discussed the challenges and benefits of BYOD in a BriefingsDirect podcast. Check it out to learn more about how Quest has leveraged BYOD and VDI to improve user productivity, security and application support.