With the rise of social media and ubiquitous access to the Internet, people now use personally owned and corporate owned computers, devices and smartphones interchangeably; work life and personal life has blurred into a single virtual persona who is as likely to be working from home at 11:00pm as surfing the Internet…on the same device. A natural extension of this phenomenon is a relatively new trend, dubbed “Bring Your Own Device” or “BYOD” where organizations let workers use personally owned devices to access company resources such as email, file servers, applications, and databases.
To put the BYOD trend into perspective, consider that a recent industry study found that 44 percent of firms had a BYOD policy in place in early 2012 and 94 percent plan to implement BYOD by 2013.
There are several reasons for the rapid adoption of BYOD. Workers can receive improved user experience and increased flexibility when able to use one device for personal and work tasks. In addition, workers can achieve significant productivity gains by being able to work anytime, anywhere and from any device. In turn, this increased worker productivity can help companies gain a competitive advantage.
As one would expect, this BYOD approach introduces new challenges. While most of the corporate attention to date has focused on the security and data protection aspects of BYOD, many companies have overlooked the importance of considering software licensing issues and ongoing management.
As more worker-owned devices are used in a company, managing software licenses becomes more challenging. From a cost perspective, organizations want to ensure their employees have the applications they need to conduct business without over-purchasing licenses.
From a compliance perspective, licensing issues for employee sourced devices are the same as for corporate issued devices. Already one industry group, The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), has issued warnings that BYOD can open organizations up to risk if employees use illegal software that the company does not support. To further complicate matters, companies may have purchased valid application licenses for employee owned devices, but have not successfully rolled them out to the employees and as a result, employees are still accessing and using applications without license agreements in place.
Organizations looking for guidance will find the Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) have no consistent approach or methodology for software licensing when their workforce uses both corporate owned and personally owned devices. For example, some ISVs offer per-device licenses for some of their software and per-use licenses for other applications. A recent Forrester blog noted that Microsoft offers per-user and per-device licensing for different products, but was also trying to address BYOD licensing through a roaming user license that entitled a non-Windows device (such as a tablet), to access Microsoft software via a virtual desktop.
To avoid penalties as well as IT budget overruns, organizations are taking a number of approaches to address BYOD software licensing issues. These approaches include:
Complement current asset management and software distribution strategies with an eye towards BYOD: BYOD will likely expand the number of different vendors’ devices used. And as a result, organizations need systems management tools that can locate, track and manage a broad mix of end-user devices.
Companies must determine how they will programmatically gain access to a user’s device. From a technical standpoint, this might require that an asset management or systems management software agent be installed on each BYOD device that accesses company resources. In this way, IT can include the BYOD devices in its current processes for asset, software and application license deployment and management.
Obtaining access to a user-owned device will likely require a formal BYOD policy. The policy will need to stipulate that if an employee wants to use a BYOD device, he must allow IT access to the device to ensure compliance with the company’s licensing agreements.
Establish a corporate enterprise application store: Tablet and smartphone users are quite familiar and comfortable using online stores for downloading, installing, and updating consumer apps. Now, organizations are eyeing the same approach for their enterprise apps. In fact, 60 percent of IT organizations plan to deploy their own enterprise app stores by 2014, according to Gartner.
Such stores would distribute company approved, secure, malware-free apps to any type of BYOD device including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The benefits of using this approach are that it can help organizations better manage software licenses since the organization can monitor and control the number of licenses in use at any time, and ensure that only those users who need certain apps access them, thus reducing the number of licenses needed.
Provide access to applications via cloud client computing: Organizations that have moved to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can leverage the technology to better manager BYOD licenses. VDI can provide users with secure, dynamic access to corporate applications on a wide range of devices from PCs to thin clients – with no impact to their bandwidth or end user experience, while allowing the organization to better and more securely manage the end point devices as well as software licenses since the applications are centrally managed on IT servers and delivered virtually through the cloud.
Move to a cloud model: Cloud delivery models for software applications have gained in popularity over the last ten years. Many organizations already use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for email, as well as cloud-based applications like Salesforce.com. And many are eyeing Google Apps for Business and the recently released Microsoft Office 365 Preview to provide office productivity, calendaring, and collaboration solutions to their users. The benefit of a SaaS or cloud-based offering is that a user can access business-critical apps from either a BYOD device or an office computer, while the company pays for one seat.
How Dell Can Help You Navigate BYOD Software and Software Licensing Issues
Assessing your company’s current asset management policies and procedures as well as creating a strategy to manage BYOD software license issues can be a daunting task. Dell has a comprehensive BYOD strategy and BYOD solutions to help you navigate the wide spectrum of BYOD scenarios your business may be considering. In addition, Dell has extensive experience and award-winning solutions for software license and asset management. Dell also offers application services to help you launch BYOD programs. These services include:
If your organization wants to take a VDI approach to address BYOD software licensing issues, Dell Cloud Client Computing provides seamless, end-to-end virtual desktop solutions that deliver a dynamic end user experience on any device, and delivering any application, securely.
For more information about BYOD software licensing and topics please visit the following:
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure