BYOD Is Not About Devices

This is my 11th post on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solutions. A discussion the other day with Microsoft’s Beat Schwegler (Head of Platform Strategy Group) brought out something that was behind much of my thinking, but I haven’t made explicit: my approach – and my recommended approach – is that BYOD is not actually about devices at all. It is about providing secure access to applications and data from any device, anywhere. That is, BYOD is about device agnostic access. The solutions to BYOD are solutions to providing mobility for a number of enterprise scenarios, BYOD included. The caveat to that is that perfect device agnostic options don’t exist at the moment, so we need to use MDM and similar technologies as bridging tactics until the time that we can truly be device agnostic.

In addition, the demand for BYOD from users who want to use their devices, and the problem of BYOD users using their devices without proper controls is part of a range of scenarios brought about by the widespread use of personal cloud computing. People are using a range of personal, consumer IT services, including powerful devices, and powerful cloud services because they are better than anything that central IT can provide them. But in so doing they are unwittingly introducing a set of significant security and business risks. A BYOD solution or solutions should not just address device related issues but should go part way towards solving the wider issue of the insecure use of personal, consumer, cloud solutions. It can do this because many of these cloud solutions are used with devices to allow people to get their jobs done. This also explains why Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions cannot provide the final answer to BYOD – we don’t want to manage the device at all. Providing an enterprise tool set which is device agnostic will allow people to use a secure service on any device, rather than having to use an insecure service because that is all there is.

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