Virtual workforce — great use of BYOPC

June 26, 2009

Cisco’s recent announcement of a $277 million productivity savings by moving to a virtual workforce has me thinking…these virtual workers would be a great use case for BYOPC. While the article doesn’t state what type of PCs are being used for this workforce (I know that Cisco does have some internal BYOPC initiatives going on), imagine the benefits of allowing these workers to compute from the device of their choosing.

I have spoken to many organizations that are already using BYOPC for their home-workers. Why? Because it is easier (and less costly) to have their workers use or go buy their own machine than have a corporate PC shipped to them. While some of the folks that I have spoken with actually require home workers to use their own machines, others give users a stipend for a device (and an associated support contract) — thus no longer being responsible for any of the hardware support. This works for both parties as these remote workers will more likely be closer to a third party support, such as the Apple Genius Bar or the Geek Squad, than to their corporate IT staff. This means faster and less expensive support.

In terms of how these organizations support this model, most are using a combination of application and desktop virtualization technologies to provide access to the corporate desktop and applications — just like being in the office!

Very interested in your thoughts around BYOPC for the virtual workforce.


Green IT: Does Hosted Desktop Virtualization Help?

June 25, 2009

Hosted desktop virtualization is one of the major technology enablers of BYOPC. So, in that vein, I must digress. My question: does hosted desktop virtualization lead to less power used in the organization? My answer: No.

Think about it. Yes, we are moving from a full blown PC (or laptop) to a thin client. However, a monitor is kept in both PC and thin client scenarios. But, I will agree that we have just cut the PC power from roughly 100 kw/hour to 10 kw/hour. But how about all of the servers in the datacenter (we are talking 30-50 users/server)? How about all of the storage — and the BC/DR storage? The networks (that were there before but may need to beefed up)? How about HVAC and all of the environmentals?

I speak to our clients about this everyday — I have hosted many panels on this topic as well. Universally, the folks that i have spoken to who have moved to hosted desktop virtualization are not seeing less power used — they are seeing much more. They are just seeing a transference of power so that it is not in the building facilitates budget but in the datacenter.

Finally, in the majority of implementations that I am seeing today, companies are not even moving to thin clients immediately. Why? To save costs. They figure (and I agree) that they can double the length of their PCs. So, again, if i am not going to move to thin clients for another 3+ years, moving to hosted desktop virtualization will be anything BUT a green IT story.

VERY interested in your thoughts! Please comment here and lets get a dialog going.

If it’s good enough for the Government…

June 22, 2009

“We are having a problem delivering new PCs to all of our users — we need to get out of this refresh cycle. Help me think outside the box.” — CIO large government agency

That’s how a recent conversation started with the CIO of a large government agency. I had recently sat down with him to talk about his challenge with providing new PCs to his users on a 3-4 year basis. It was costly and he just didn’t have the IT staff to get these new PCs to all of his workers in remote locations. His request was simple: challenge him and help him think outside the box for a new desktop delivery model.

This led us down the path of BYOPC initiatives that many companies are beginning to embrace — at first, he was skeptical to say the least. But I talked about how he could give his employees either a lump sum of $2000, and let them purchase the PC of their choice OR just let his home workers use their home PC. Using one of the various flavors of desktop and application virtualization, he could allow all of these “unmanaged” or “untrusted” devices to have secure access to all of the applications and data that the managed PCs had before. In addition, his users would get to use the PC of their choice (which was a big deal for him as his organization was trying to recruit younger workers) and furthermore, he could offload all hardware support to the Geek Squads of the world.

After 40 minutes of conversation, he was sold! To be honest, I picked on this one example because I typically think of the Government as less sophisticated (maybe “risky” is better). But even stodgy government agencies are looking to BYOPC to cut costs and appease a new generation of workers. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for everyone, right?

Time article about the changing workforce

June 18, 2009

Recently, Time Magazine published a set of reports on the Future Of Work. In these reports, Time talk about how the next generation of workers have completely different expectations of what work is — this is specifically true of technology. Over and over I hear from IT organizations that they are being forced to support the latest technologies in order to just get the new worker in the door. For many reasons, it is things like what is mentioned in these reports that drive BYOPC.

I highly recommend you check out all of the articles in this edition.


June 13, 2009

Enterprise security concerns

June 13, 2009

Yes, I do get a lot of questions about the standard security of BYOPC. In this post, I will talk about the security of using an application like VMware Fusion/Ace/Workstation, Microsoft’s Virtual PC, or Parallels Desktop.

When virtualizing a corporate image, all of the same security policies that are put in place for a physical machine will impact the virtual machine — assuming you treat the VM the same way you treat your physical machine. This means that you must install all of your security, management, and VPN agents that are part of your physical machine image into your virtual machine images. By doing this, you can control VMs just like your physical machines. Here are three security examples:

1. Secure access to resources with a VPN. When installing a VPN client inside your VMs, only the VM will get access to corporate resources — not the host PC. This means that the VM will get scanned to make sure it meets the requirements of the VPN policies before gaining access. So, the net result is that the VM will be able to access file shares, applications, etc. while the host PC can not. In my example, my VM has access to everything I need to get my job done, but my Mac (using the same internet connection) does not.

2. Antivirus scanning. By making sure that the corporate VM has the same antivirus agent installed that the physical machines do, IT operations professionals can ensure that machines are scanned and updated on a set schedule. For example, if you want all of your machines (both physical and virtualization) scanned weekly and their signature files updated daily, that one policy you set can apply to all your machines.

3. Full disk encryption. Many organizations today are looking to full disk encryption solutions for their PC environment to protect themselves against disclosure laws in the event of a PC loss or theft. The same can be done to virtual machines. Because a virtual machine has the same properties of a file (albeit, a very large file), IT admins have the ability to treat it as a file. So, it becomes quite easy to use a file encryption solution to encrypt the corporate VM, thus protecting organizations against that lost or stolen PC. In addition, vendors like VMware offer the capabilities to natively encrypt the VM as part of standard policy.

These are basic examples to show how you can secure your VMs just like they were your physical machine.

My BYOPC story

June 13, 2009

Back in January 2008, I finally had enough with using my work PC for my personal activities. However, using two PCs was out of the question as I traveled for work more than 40% of the time. So, I decided to try an experiment — go out and buy the machine of my choice (a 13 inch MacBook that was travel friendly) and use it for work. I met with my IT department to see if they would pilot a program for me to use my personal PC for work purposes. They agreed!

Using VMware Fusion and the P2V converter, I virtualized my current Dell and ported it over to my new Mac. Now, I have my Mac for all of my personal activities (music, documents, applications, photo, etc.) and can run VMware Fusion with my company image when working. It is the best of both worlds! I now use my Mac for everything — it is the machine I work on, edit pictures on, watch movies on, and more. I love having a single PC for my life.