Behind The Firewall – BYOD


'Toshiba Libretto 50CT' by Jon Callow

Some call it the latest ‘fad’, others point to a long history of people bringing their own technology solutions to the workplace, it’s currently referred to as BYOD.

It’s all the rage right?  After all, the ability to set your own course, control your own computing destiny, and pick the phone of your choice is our right as modern humans.  Besides, IT departments are too overbearing and controlling – they don’t understand our need to get our work done in a timely fashion.

At least, that’s what it may seem like to those hip ‘movers & shakers’ types, and may be those Millennials too. Ok, maybe I’m stereotyping with the Millennials… but experience tells me otherwise.

Costs Of Technology

Therein lies the point of the BYOD movement, too many people think it’s a great cost-saving idea.  The problem with that is the costs are simply shifted from client-side hardware procurement, to the data center.  Actually, it’s likely to increase IT costs rather than cut them.

Like most great ideas, BYOD cuts both ways.  It’s a triumph of corporate workers to have choice!  Bringing flexibility to the main tool most productivity workers use every day.

Why can’t we pick a Mac over a PC? Why wouldn’t IT let me provide my own – I’m willing to pay for the privilege! Many more would start talking about the flexibility of different solutions, like tablets and even their phones. After all, are not all these devices computers of one type or another? I know a great number of people who argue the PC hasn’t been more personal than the devices we carry in our pockets every day!

Back to the costs question though. It’s not a simple answer once you start thinking about it.  Yes, the company isn’t buying a computer, the support contract for it, the license for the operating system, the software licenses for your apps… um, if they don’t who does?

You see, there is the beginning of the complexity of simply bringing your computer to work and trying to use it in place of a company provided one. It’s not to say it can’t or shouldn’t be done, but there’s more to it than we might think. Sure, the hardware, support and client OS licensing might be eliminated. However companies need to protect their data, which means server storage for everything, which means increased storage costs, which bring increased electrical costs for the data center, and environmental systems which add more cost.

What About Software

What about software? That too needs to be maintained in a reliable, secure, and usable form. Sure, we can move lots of apps to the cloud, but lets face it – hard core spreadsheet users over in Accounting or those documentation wizards writing all sorts of material need real tools, not a web-based version of Notepad!  So IT needs to host those applications and stream them to your personal device. This adds flexibility for us as individuals, but it also means the savings on the laptop you would have gotten now goes towards server capacity to host that application. Oh, and we need to think of floor space, and the power/environmental systems again… and more costs.

As an IT Architect, I have this kind of conversation with my peers quite often, and we continue to uncover more pros and cons. Somehow they mostly seem to balance each other out. But the real impact of BYOD, in my opinion, is the third dramatic shift in computing in my IT career. This one bringing a renaissance of choice to IT’s End Users, and expanding the idea of what the IT industry is capable of providing.

Behind The Firewall is an ongoing series where I talk about topics of interest inside corporate cultures. The experiences, ideas, movements, challenges, successes and more that we all experience in corporate environments. From an techy-geek’s point of view – behind the corporate firewall.
Photo credit: Toshiba Libretto 50CT by Jon Callow. A kind thank you to Jon for a great picture of one of the best early, highly-mobile laptops.

The Power of Communities

Free Colorful Grafitti Rainbow Street Art Drive By in Worcester Massachusetts by Pink Sherbet PhotographyInteresting thing, communities. We live in them our entire lives. Multiple ones actually, and usually are participating in more than one at any given time.

Today we think of communities more as online constructs, usually referring to a social network as a community. Of course, a community isn’t a tool, but rather a collection of people with similar interest.

The reality is that we participate in multiple communities because of the varied interests we have and the need to connect. We are social creatures and connecting with like-minded peers brings a certain satisfaction to our lives.

This is where the future of communications and marketing come together. Building communities around a brand isn’t misguided as some may suggest. Brands have always had followers, they’ve usually been called loyal customers. These customers are the ones that evangelize at the drop of a hat, and rally around their favorite brand, be it an automobile, soda, or candy bar.

These brand-specific communities existed before social media, indeed, before the Internet itself was useful to the average consumer. So building on that existing base, and providing added value to your brand’s community is the job at hand with social media. The opportunity for your brand is to make it easier for the average consumer to become a loyal customer.

Discover how the power of community can enhance your products and strengthen your brand. After all, why produce and sell something if it isn’t worth people getting excited about it in the first place.

Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

Incredible Droid

image It’s pretty easy for me to gush wildly about Android phones as I’m a bit of a mobile technology geek.  From my first mobile device the Apple Newton 130 to Microsoft Palm sized PC based competitors to the Palm Pilot, to my current favorite of Android based devices I’ve mostly kept on top of the current state of the art.

Of course I couldn’t always afford the latest and greatest, so like any geek worth their statistical prowess I’d read & re-read any materials I could find on my favorite mobile devices.  Nowadays, that fascination and passion has turned to social media (sorry folks, you’re stuck with me), but mobile is one of the key technologies in our mobile lives and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check out new things.

So when an opportunity to check out a new Smartphone or other piece of mobile tackle comes along, I’m all over it.  Such is the case with Verizon’s Droid Incredible (by HTC).


The Incredible is an Android based Smartphone with host of great features.  I’ll knock out some of the top items a techy geek like me thinks are important.  It’s got a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 3.7” 480×800 AMOLED display, 8 megapixel camera with flash, and 1xEVDO rev. A 3G from Verizon.  Things I’m taking for granted are here too: Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, Android 2.1 (Eclair), microSD (up to 32GB), push mail (Gmail/Exchange), and Micro USB connection/charger.

Personally I’m on my 2nd Android phone (the Nexus One), and have had the opportunity to use many others (Droid, Droid Eris, Hero, Cliq, MyTouch 3G, G1) so I felt pretty comfortable with the device.  The phone is a “candy bar” style, meaning it’s basically a slab, and doesn’t have any flip-out or slide-out parts – and that’s a darn good thing in my book.  Less stuff to break.

Front View with Optical Joystick The large screen dominating the face of the phone is fantastic brightly lit and crystal clear, with flush touch-sensitive buttons for Back, Settings, Home, and Search built into the lower edge.  An “optical joystick” is a nice alternative to the standard Android trackball, works well, and is intuitive in function.

Performance of this phone is excellent, matched only by the Nexus One, and probably by other phones based on the 1GHz Snapdragon processor.  This alone makes Android exceptionally snappy and fun to use.  Video streams play without stutters, and audio quality is flawless – either from the included 8GB microSD card, or streamed over a variety of wireless options.

Back View Since this is an HTC device, sold by Verizon, it carries the signature HTC Sense UI.  This enhanced interface that rides on top of Android, provides a bit more consumer-centric interface than the default one designed by Google.  It also brings a uniformity of usability when you compare your Incredible to your friends Droid, Eris, or Hero and other HTC phones on other networks.

I didn’t use the camera too much, but it worked as expected and I thought the quality of the pictures was perhaps a bit better than on my Nexus One.  This is probably due to the 8MP camera in the Incredible, and the ability to upload directly to Picasa was flawless. Below is a sample picture I took out the window.


That brings up another aspect of Android that folks like me take for granted.  All Android phones, the Incredible included, are closely tied to Google online services.  That’s not to say that you can’t use other services, and tools, but the integration of Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Talk, Voice, and Picasa is impressive.  This is what you’d expect from well planned online integration – something that each of these online services were not originally designed for but have developed into over time.  The HTC Sense UI doesn’t break this as much as enhance it.

Here’s a few pics to show how the Incredible stacks up with a few Android phones I had lying around.  (From left to right: T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile/Motorola Cliq XT, Google Nexus One, Verizon/HTC DROID Incredible)


Stacked up to show thickness.

(From top to bottom: T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile/Motorola Cliq XT, Google Nexus One, Verizon/HTC DROID Incredible)

Left Side View

Right Side View

Bottom View

Top View

There are a couple of personal opinions I want to share,  One about the phone and one about Verizon & Skype.

  • First, the case on this particular phone is as creaky as an old guy’s knee (I should know, I’m developing one).  It’s probably because this is a promotional unit that’s seen several different people over the past couple weeks for review purposes – exactly why I have this one.  But if the case gets this loose and “creaky” in few weeks use, what will it be like in year?  Like I said, it could simply be this unit.
  • Second, the relationship of Skype and Verizon – and my point is directed more at Skype than the big V.  I really want to thank Skype for signing up with Verizon to only allow the Skype Android Client to be offered to Verizon customers only – what a bunch of bullshit.  There are millions of Skype customers on Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and pre-paid networks too – thanks for leaving us out in the cold.

To conclude, the Verizon Droid Incredible is a great phone, it’s Highly recommended for Verizon offers.  It’s a sister to the much-vaunted and desired Google Nexus One, and is available and supported through Verizon.  You can order the phone now, but don’t expect it to ship until May 14th – though I’ll tell you it’ll be worth the wait.

Twitter Is…

twitter-2 Since Twitter is the current social media darling, I thought I’d record a few thoughts I’ve had about one of my favorite online tools.  I’ve had the privilege of using Twitter for two years, and each and every person I’ve followed or had follow me along the way has taught me something new.  So here we go.

Twitter is…

  • a place for friends
  • a news outlet
  • a place to share your greatest failures & your most stunning achievements
  • an attention getter
  • a publishing platform
  • a customer service tool
  • a researcher’s dream
  • vulgar
  • the ace up your sleeve
  • brilliant
  • a new entertainment channel
  • a social network
  • a micro-blogging platform
  • a marketing tool
  • your community
  • overwhelming
  • 24x7x365 (always on)
  • a level playing field for your ideas
  • a sounding board for your thoughts
  • a comment reel for your new book
  • your starting place for your online excursions
  • the place for your organization to learn about it’s customers
  • a multicasting instant messenger
  • a game changer
  • a PR tool
  • a messaging infrastructure
  • a simple way to share & trade information
  • can be inane
  • is faster to publish to than anything else
  • is where you go to learn
  • your online “water cooler”
  • a conduit into the lives of others
  • a conduit into the idea stream of smart people

I’ve got a lot more input on what Twitter is than I could fit in this post, so I’ll work on fitting that into another format of some type.  What is Twitter to you?  I mean, what has Twitter brought to your life that you can’t believe you lived without before you discovered it?

Follow me on Twitter:

Notes about the G1 as a MID

image It’s surprising that something as portable as the T-Mobile G1 and powerful a platform as Android can be so useful.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but I’ve been using my G1 as a mobile internet device more and more often.

The biggest issue as many will point out is power, and the G1 is worse at power consumption and management than any other device.  On the other hand, the abilities simply outweigh the power disadvantages that it has.  Besides, keeping a charger (AC, USB, and auto) at hand eliminates that issue for the most part… minimizes it really.

Since jumping from the Windows Mobile camp to Android, I’ve noticed that my phone is fun & easy to use again.  It’s more powerful, simply because I use it for everything rather than explain how useful it can be as I did with Windows Mobile.  The software is fun too – many more new ideas and attempts to do different things than the staid, boring software selection that WinMo had when I last looked (it’s changing I know).

Anyway, just wanted to drop a note about how much I’ve come to depend on the G1, much more than my MDA that stayed by my side for 3 years.  Even though I believed that to be a powerful, useful device, Windows Mobile can’t hold a candle to Android (or the iPhone) at this time.  The phone is fun again.


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