“Give the people what they want, and they’ll come out for it” the saying goes. That’s the thinking at least behind the Bring Your Own (BYO) business model that’s increasingly finding acceptance in many organizations across North America.
If you’re not familiar with it, BYO empowers employees to use the same device they use in the workplace at home, in transit or on the road. And why not? Employees only use their company issued laptop, smartphone or tablet eight hours during the day.
Why not allow them to use the same device for catching up on work, watching YouTube, a little gaming and listening to music during off hours?
Different organizations have taken slightly different approaches to BYO. Some offer a company-sponsored stipend to buy a device – usually with the understanding they sign up for a maintenance plan with the device’s manufacturer. Others simply invite employees to bring in the devices they already use at home. Organizations save in terms of capital costs and dependency on IT and employees get to use the device that best suits their work style and leisure.
Citrix takes the lead on BYO
Virtualization and cloud computing leader Citrix recently instituted a BYO program in their 6,000-strong organization. Citrix employees voluntarily join the program after receiving manager approval. Once approved, they get a $2,100 stipend to purchase a Windows-based or Mac laptop of their choice and a 3-year maintenance program.
With their new laptop, they connect to a BYO website to download anti-virus and Citrix Receiver software for VPN access, creating an encrypted partition for company data and application and desktop access. If employees want to run a local app for personal use, say Microsoft Office, they can even take advantage of the Microsoft employee discount program.
As mentioned, employees are required to purchase a 3-year maintenance plan for any hardware or base OS issues that might arise. But they can still use Citrix’s internal tech support to handle normal support issues related to its own apps and services.
Security remains biggest concern.
Like all organizations considering BYO, Citrix was concerned with security issues like data safety and unauthorized access to its network but most if not all concerns were quickly put to rest once Citrix ensured all devices adhered to its security policies and protocols.
For instance, even though BYO devices are not domain members, users authenticate to Active Directory just like managed devices do. And since devices run on a virtual desktop, everything in a session stays secure in the data center because the BYO user is only sending keystrokes and screen updates over the network, not company data.
What about local storage, like when an employee is not connected to the network and wants to work offline? That’s where products like Citrix’s own XenVault product comes in handy. XenVault extends the built-in security protection provided with delivering applications in a hosted virtual environment to include XenApp data encryption on the local device. That also means IT can centrally manage the encrypted drives and easily lock and delete data remotely in the event of loss, theft or termination.
BYO isn’t for every organization but most leading companies like Citrix are including it or weighing it as a legitimate strategy to help reduce capital expenditures and increase employee satisfaction.
Interested in digging deeper on how they did it? Watch Citrix CIO Paul Martine walk through all the steps he took to implement their internal program in this video.