Happiness CDXIII

Highly portable computing devices since I’m not only a geek, but a nerd as well.

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.

Pondering A Motorola Nexus Droid


Courtesy of Motorola Mobility

I’ve been on the fence for some time regarding whether Google should use Motorola to produce a pure Google Android phone.  There are lots of reasons why this would impact the Android marketplace in many predictable ways, but could also bring a number of unknown effects.

However, I’ve been thinking lately of all the so-called fragmentation, and of all the varying user interfaces (skins) that every OEM ships with their phones.  Some are great, most aren’t.  They all add unnecessary overhead to the Android experience, no matter how good they may seem on the surface.

Maybe I’m simply an Android ‘purist’, or a Google Fanboi – take your pick.  Among other things, one of the missing components of the Android ecosystem is a line of true, pure Android devices.

Sure, the Nexus series of phones is as honest an experience that you can find in the Android universe today.  I had the privilege of owning the original Nexus One – a phone that still kicks ass for my daughter Brianna and that keeps amazing me with its ability to seem relevant two years later.

To be honest though, what the market needs is a line of true Google devices.  While I realize that the Motorola isn’t complete by any means, and that it could still unravel, I think this is what Google needs to use their new division for.  When I first heard about the deal, I thought it may affect the Android market in negative ways.  That Google recognized this and would work towards ensuring their OEM partners of fair participation in the availability and participation in Android code releases.

What I fear at this point is that Google will stick to this promise and not take the opportunity to clarify what this can mean to the marketplace.

Google needs to set the tone for Android.  Period.

They can do this without jeopardizing the Nexus program, releasing their own take on a line of devices through Motorola.  Not flooding the marketing with 12 designs in a year, but just three.  One candy bar style like we’re all accustomed to, one slider with keyboard, and one BlackBerry style with smaller screen and dedicated keyboard.

This does several things:

  1. Demonstrate the positive affects of timely, consistent firmware updates across a standardized platform.
  2. The Android market would have a pure Android option to choose from on multiple carriers.
  3. OEMs would have a baseline Android device to compare their enhancements to, differentiating their products.
  4. The Nexus series would continue similar to today as annual examples of state-of-the art, premium devices.
  5. Google could demonstrate standardization, without mandating blandness across OEMs.
  6. The Motorola deal becomes more than just a patent purchase, and allows Google to bring some of the best concepts of Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s WP7 approaches to leading their ecosystem.

Granted, this is simply my wish list, but is having Google produce their own phone really that ‘evil’?

Featured Android image on front page: 0076_droid_misc_03 by Mike Sullivan

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