by Mike Masnick

Will You Bring Your Own PC To Work?

from the changing-times dept

People often have emotional attachments with their computers, even if that computer is supplied by their employers. Going one step beyond the concept of telecommuting and the so-called commoditization of IT, some are wondering if a few years from now, people will be expected to bring their own computers to work, the same way they're expected to drive their own cars to work. And, if that's the case, what will it mean for the traditional role of the IT staffer who used to have to get you set up with your computer and help you troubleshoot when things weren't working properly? The article suggests it may mean fewer IT jobs, since they won't have to manager purchasing new machines and applications. However, it could mean a shift of those jobs towards the new problem: making all of those different PC configurations work together properly. Of course, that seems like an opportunity as well. If things really do progress in this manner, there will be a greater need for automation tools that can help configure a machine to work within a specific corporate network environment.

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  1. identicon
    aNonMooseCowherd, 7 May 2004 @ 1:34pm


    With the cost of hardware dropping, it will probably cost companies a lot more to manage computers that they don't control than to provide computers for employees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2004 @ 2:11pm

    No Subject Given

    bad idea. bad BAD idea. if it ends up happening, IT departments need to prepare for the nightmares of virii unleashed upon their networks by moron users who hook up their own computers, not knowing they have, say, the sasser worm floating around in there. happened today to my ex-boyfriend. he spent all day clearing up the aftermath, and the idiot consultant who brought the virus-laden laptop and plugged it into their network was immediately fired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    DV Henkel-Wallace, 7 May 2004 @ 2:13pm

    Good Idea, but too soon.

    This is an excellent observation but surely 5 years is too soon.

    This is already happening with mobiles...some people get a company-issued one and some people use their own for both.

    Thus I think what will drive this is the further power/convergence of mobiles and PCs. And that will take more than five years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    AMetamorphosis, 7 May 2004 @ 2:31pm

    Re: why?

    This doesn't make any sense.
    I don't bring my own telephone or other equipment requirement to do my job to work.

    My brother is required to travel extensively for Eastman Kodak ... they provide him a company car for his transportation needs.

    And as aNonMooseCowherd points out, the cost of supporting a multitude of different PC's that the employees choose will make this cost prohibitive.

    When my employer pays for my laptop then he can install his shitty software packages.

    Until then, my computers, paid for by me will not be used for the companies benefit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Chris McMahon, 7 May 2004 @ 2:35pm

    No Subject Given

    I was sick of the underpowered dasktop I was using at my last full-time gig so I bought a Dell Laptop and used that for over a year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Bryan Price, 7 May 2004 @ 2:48pm

    We're getting there. Sort of.

    My wife has bought for her (former) place of employment:

    256MB Flash drive
    USB Hub (for said flash drive, she was out of USB ports)
    PCCard for 802.11B access.

    She had been making backups of data on CDRW, but the speed of the media and the drive meant that it was slow going. Plus, every now and then she'd have to reformat the CDRW to start over again. Not so with the flash drive. It was fast enough to be a usefull media, not just backup.

    And the PCCard was used mostly at home, but considering the amount of work that she did with it, I'm quite surprised that they didn't buy one for her.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    AMetamorphosis, 7 May 2004 @ 2:58pm

    Re: We're getting there. Sort of.


    With all due respect, they did not buy her one because she was willing to purchase one herself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Mike (profile), 7 May 2004 @ 3:07pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well, if we combine this idea with the hybrid approach to spam/virus/bad stuff I discussed earlier, there isn't the "nightmare" problem to deal with.

    Also, if more applications become web-based (as they are), then it shouldn't much matter what kind of computer people use, as they'll just need a web browser to connect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    SalesGuy, 7 May 2004 @ 3:09pm

    No Subject Given

    I don't see this happening anytime soon - at least not in the way outlined here. Getting to work via car and doing work are two different things. Most companies don't expect you to use your paper, pens, telephone, copier, etc. Most companies that require you to use your car for business purposes either pay for the car or reimburse you for expenses and mileage.

    I think whoever wrote this article took one to many hits from the utopian IT pipe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Mike (profile), 7 May 2004 @ 3:20pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well, what if they reimburse you for part of the computer, but it's still yours?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    bbay, 7 May 2004 @ 4:58pm

    we do

    At my company (an ISV and consultancy) we make workstations available to our employees, but some of them choose to bring their own laptops or computers because, among other reasons, it's convenient for them to control their own development environments. We haven't had any problems with viruses yet, but we have a very small number of employees. As for configuration problems, the burden is on the employee to sort these things out, which is a luxury we can enjoy because these employees are technically capable. I wouldn't expect an average office worker to bring their own computer and be able to maintain it.

    I suppose if I were wiser, I would set up an ethernet segment that was firewalled from the main network specifically for untrusted machines to connect to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    alternatives, 7 May 2004 @ 5:20pm

    Its not the computer.

    The major cost for the business is not the computer but the software.

    Businesses would LIKE to shift the cost center that is IT onto someone else, but software costs, possible violations of the firewall, employees taking data home, and then the 'waste of employers time' stuff on machines will all be factors making such a prediction the exception and not the rule.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2004 @ 2:47am

    So am I behind the times or ahead of the curve?

    I've been using my own 5 year old 300Mhz 64MB vaio 505TX everywhere I've been employed for the past 5 years and I have every intention of continuing to do so for as long as possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2004 @ 9:59am

    It's starting

    At my work, an investment bank in NY, you are expected to purchase your own Blackberry without being reimubursed for the device. If your manager agrees, the company will reimburse you for the service (however, you do have to file a monthly request for reimbursement). You also have to sign a contract for confidentiality, etc, in order to receive corporate emails on the device.
    This way, you are responsible for your own device, and the company no longer has to support it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    eeyore, 10 May 2004 @ 5:03am

    exactly the problem

    This is how viruses infect supposedly secure corporate networks. One of our executive VPs brought his own laptop in every day and when it got a virus it infected the mail server and within a day had spread to nearly every machine in the building. Because one person was too ignorant to protect his own laptop from viruses and ignored the corporate directive that non-company machines were not to be connected to the LAN probably millions of dollars in damage were done when lost productivity is taken into account. Any company that allows employees to bring their own computers to work where they have no control over their configuration is putting their entire network at risk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2004 @ 7:31am

    Re: exactly the problem

    In a large enough system, you CAN NOT keep viri out by saying "don't plug any non-corporate PCs in". We must mature our abitility to harden hosts.

    Once the hosts can fend for themselves, and once I have a mechanisim to ensure that every host has this (anit-vir soft or whatever) before it's allowed fully on the network, then I no longer care...

    So, say this: To connect to BigXYZ corp network, you must have:

    1) XYZ anti-vir with sig files of date x or above.
    2) Browser level XYZ or above
    3) A citrix client of XYZ or above
    4) Email client that uses protocol X

    and, of course, the proper authentication credentials for the various back end systems. Beyond that, I could care less where you PC comes from; if it came from Corporate IT, then you can get support from Corp; if not, you're on your own (once connectivity is verified).

    Simple. Clean. Makes everybody happy. Doesn't require Corp to do anything they shouldn't already be doing (not just building, but als verifiying proper level on hosts).

    So, what's the debate again?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    eeyore, 10 May 2004 @ 9:15am

    Re: exactly the problem

    simple. you can require whatever the hell you want to, and the department manager comes in and does whatever the hell he (or she) wants to because they're management and you're a serf. The manager in question wasn't reprimanded even after it was proven that the virus came from his system, but the IT manager was reprimanded for "not properly securing the network."

    It's hard enough securing managed assets, but when you have systems where users have full administrative access it's impossible to adequately safeguard them because all they care about is "ease of use," not "security of corporate infrastructure." And that attitude goes all the way to the top.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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