There are a number of variables an organization should weigh before implementing a BYOD program, ensuring that it benefits IT as well as the end users.

Bring your own device

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(BYOD) programs, especially when they include desktop virtualization, have gained steam in organizations looking to centralize desktop management and make hardware management easier. Allowing end users to employ their own personal devices can also make them more productive, saving companies time and money.

But if an organization implements BYOD poorly, it can lose control over its infrastructure and, even more importantly, its data. That’s why it’s important to take some time and plan out a BYOD initiative by following these guidelines:

Determine the need for a BYOD program

Some organizations jump on the BYOD bandwagon too quickly, not realizing how it can affect their existing IT infrastructure. Examine how users work on their corporate PCs to gauge whether they will be able to continue this type of productivity on their personal devices. In some cases, users will be a lot more productive given the chance to use their own equipment. Other times, a BYOD initiative just won’t make sense, either because of employees’ work styles, the corporate culture or other reasons.

Consider desktop virtualization

Desktop virtualization can deliver corporate desktop images to personal endpoints, ensuring that there won’t be a drastic change for users when a BYOD program takes effect. At the same time, users can still have very powerful, personalized computing experiences because they are in charge of managing their devices. The added benefit is that IT administrators can manage desktop images directly from one interface and worry less about endpoint hardware.

Don’t forget application delivery

Even though they’ll be using their own devices, employees will still need access to corporate applications. Application delivery is an important subset of desktop management, especially when it comes to BYOD. It means not only controlling how applications get to end users, but also how to monitor and manage application settings all from a centralized location. Virtualization is one way to handle application delivery in your BYOD program; with software such as Citrix Systems’ XenApp, administrators can publish applications to users via a Web portal or directly to a virtual desktop.

Plan for BYOD security

Even with a BYOD program in place, IT admins still have to control and manage access to the corporate infrastructure and data. Another benefit of using desktop or application virtualization is that data and applications live in the data center. This way, a lost device doesn’t spell disaster, because the device doesn’t actually contain any sensitive corporate information. As they do with standard, corporate-owned devices, administrators will still need to create comprehensive security groups and strict policies, plus perform general security monitoring.

Get end users’ support

Keep in mind that some of your users might not be up for BYOD. Some people may take issue with the blurring of the line between their personal and work lives, for example. Educating end users and assuring them that their IT department can help them have a better work experience with their personal devices should be on the BYOD checklist. By gradually testing the program, organizations can gain employees’ support and make them much more enthusiastic about using their own devices for work.

Develop BYOD policies

Implementing a BYOD program doesn’t mean users will be able to use any device they want. For BYOD to be successful, admins must decide in advance which devices they will support for various workloads. For example, you can deliver a full desktop to an Android phone, but it probably isn’t practical because of the small screen (and other factors). But delivering that same desktop to an iPad might work for some users. Figure out what the needs of your users are, then pick a device (or devices) to fit those needs.  IT also needs to develop, implement and enforce a BYOD policy that governs user access to corporate infrastructure and data on their devices.

This was first published in November 2011

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