I’ve been engaging with some clients of late who have all started to use the phrase ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD).
It’s a great concept, and your favourite search engine will produce articles from VMware, Aruba (Dell re-brand its wireless and network access control (NAC) technology), Deloitte, HP and others with a total of about 82.5 million search results returned.
There is a strong trend that we need to empower people within our organisations, whether it be public or private sector, with the ability to work from anywhere at any time. One of the questions your leadership teams will ask is if you get more productivity out of people by letting them choose to use a device and the applications they use late in the evening?
The answer, of course, is ‘it depends’. This article isn’t going to debate the merits or problems with BYOD. Personally, I see the value in it and I have and do use tablet devices for note taking or access to a virtual desktop.
What I want to do is point out some of the things that people need to think about when introducing BYOD into schools.
- What devices will people use? If you have a diverse range of devices, you’ll have a diverse range of access methods to consider. Any platform should allow you to get consistent access and be similar to make it easy to adapt.
- How will you manage their profiles? If a teacher or student gets an inconsistent experience when moving from a desktop, to a laptop, to a tablet, you immediately compromise and restrict the way they use their device. Make things the same, and people will inherently be comfortable.
- How do you manage your applications? Most schools have a lot of applications – in some schools we work with, approximately 150! Virtualising your applications is something that has been around for a long time. If you are planning a BYOD project, consider what applications are important and how people will access them. CAD or design apps may not be a priority, but essential learning applications need to be considered.
- Have you considered your networking? How can you ensure that the flood of wireless devices being introduced will not cause problems in the core?
- Lastly, how do you ensure that the device is secure? If you have a teacher with sensitive student data on their tablet co-existing with personal and private data, how do you ensure the balance of not over securing a device versus leaving it open.
We obviously have answers to these questions – you more than likely have some too! The key thing to note is that BYOD will become more and more prevalent and the obvious advantages – less cost to the organisation, and being simpler to support as they’re not your devices – could well outweigh the challenges I’ve mentioned above.
I’d welcome comments and thoughts – everyone needs to consider a mobility strategy, as like it or not, the students that we are educating today will be using mobile devices in the near future in business as well as their private life.
Author: Dan Parsons, Client Manager
Dan is responsible for business development and client management. He has been working in the IT industry for nearly ten years, delivering solutions that help clients to benefit from the data centre and end user computing. In particular, Dan is passionate about helping companies in the education, charity and government sectors.