Q. What guidelines should I consider if I'm interested in bring your own PC (BYOPC)?

In my last question, I discussed the emerging BYOPC approach to desktop management. I discussed how BYOPC shifts IT control away from individual desktops and towards delivered virtual desktops and applications. I also suggested how this shift can be done for cost reasons, or to fulfill the needs of an ever-more mobile workforce.

However, as you can imagine, lifting the typical restrictions on employee PCs can't be done effectively without governance. BYOPC might lift many traditional IT controls from individual PCs but it can't lift all of them. You also need to do BYOPC securely.

A recent Gartner report, "Checklist for an Employee-Owned Notebook or PC Program," is available from Citrix. The report has a set of recommendations for companies that are considering embracing the a BYOPC concept. It highlights the security, ownership, and control issues that such an arrangement introduces into the traditional IT environment.

The report has suggestions to isolate enterprise assets from employee-owned PCs while providing robust, scalable, and secure remote access to those assets. Establishing a third-party maintenance and support option and defining the scope of IT support are also critical. In moving to BYOPC, you don't want to lose support options for users.

Identifying the financial ramifications and appropriate policies are also critical. BYOPC is a new trend but it's growing, so the industry might not fully understand its implications. Appropriate policies, including security and update policies, are fundamental to keeping the corporate network protected as employee-owned assets enter and leave the network.

Finally, developing a communications plan is important. When employee-owned computers are no longer directly under the control of IT, employees must be kept notified about changes to the infrastructure. Due diligence requirements increase in many ways in such an arrangement.

More information is available in the Gartner report. Before moving to BYOPC, consider carefully the effects on your users and your protected network assets. Consider also how such an arrangement will impact the culture of your corporation. The results can be a boon to agility, but can also come with a set of costs related to loss of desktop configuration control.

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