Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Tale of BYOD

Once upon a time there was a company.  It grew up in the days or yore, the days of mini computers and terminals.  As time went by, the wise occupants of the C-suite decided it was time to retire the mini and to develop client-server computing at their growing company.  More time passed and email was born.  The very first enterprise solution, Lotus ccMail was installed and additional staff were hired to manage and groom the ccMail so that all the company's workers could have email.  As branch offices opened, the company wisely connected them and integrated their marvelous, robust mail system to all the offices.  And as they acquired new subsidiaries, they were even able to integrate "other" mail systems into ccMail using a new technology called the gateway.

Then along came Windows and the PC.  Again ccMail rose to the challenge as it was able to continue to deliver mail anywhere on the network, including the home desktop PCs and Macintoshes of special people like executives and the sales folks.  They did use another new technology called a VPN, Virtual Private Network, to keep the IT Department happy.

More time went by and some newer mail systems emerged that were less expensive and required fewer support people.  So, being forward-thinking, the company migrated to the newer system and again, everybody could get their email at work AND NOW at home and on their laptops at Starbucks, at client sites, and while traveling.  Life was wonderful. The VPN was alive and well.

Along came the smartphone.  And the technology wizards at Blackberry created BES, Blackberry Enterprise Server.  It gave the company the ability to push out the mail to their employees' Blackberries, to integrate mailboxes, contact lists, Instant Messaging, and a number of cool company information initiatives.  It even enable the IT group to shut-off phones remotely when lost or stolen and also to wipe them clean in an instant so that the "enemy" wouldn't get critical company data or contacts.  Life was still wonderful.

And then came the iPhone and the Android in a variety of colors, flavors, sizes, and models.  Everybody at the company now had the best of both worlds, the ability to communicate with friends and family and also with the office, even after hours and on weekends.  Life was now a bit more complicated.  And it continued when the Tablet came along complete with its own unique email client configurations.  Also employees complained because the company expected them to pay all or part of the cost of their Smartphone.  The Company now loved the fact that employees were still working, even after they were off the clock.  Spouses and friends complained because a whole new generation of workers and spouses and relatives were spending far too much time on their Smartphones. Trouble.

The company IT group acquired new capabilties to connect whatever device the employee purchased and brought in to be connected to the mail system.  And things seemed to work.  Firewalls had to be strengthened.  Policies had to be set, and security issues had to be handled.  More IT employees where now required to manage the new integration challenge, named BYOD, for bring your own device.

All was great until one day, the company mail system began to experience strange and mysterious problems.  Consultants were hired, forums were consulted, and after considerable troubleshooting - of the finest kind - the problem was diagnosed as "rogue" devices with IMAP configurations that weren't able to fetch and synchronize email without bringing the company mail server down.  It would have been fine if just ONE smartphone or tablet device were the problem, but others cropped up and it became evident that each manufacturer and each newly released device would have to be tested before configuring it to receive company mail.  Great day for employment and IT careers.  Dark day for the C-suite.

You know the rest of the story.  That wonderful, stable, reliable, cost-effective mail system was retired.  And the company then ventured into the land of Google so that they wouldn't have to disappoint all their loyal employees by telling them they couldn't bring "certain" smartphones to work if they wanted company mail.  And the old argument that they once used to justify the company Blackberries, just didn't cut it anymore.

And the stock prices at Apple and Google and Samsung rose and rose.  And Wall Street was happy.

The End? 
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