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BYO computers and the decline of the SOE
2 min read

BYO computers and the decline of the SOE

This is an old post and doesn't necessarily reflect my current thinking on a topic, and some links or images may not work. The text is preserved here for posterity.

An article in The Australian newspaper got me very excited:

The BYO (bring your own) device program at one of Australia's largest insurers means staff will be able to break free from the shackles of their company-issued PCs and plug in their personal laptops, tablets and smartphones into the enterprise network.

"We can supply you with desktops here, but if people want to bring in their Macs or other devices, then that's their choice. People should use the device they feel the most productive in.

"It is part of Suncorp's fundamental strategy to attract, develop and retain top talent and to give them a great place to work, and try to inspire them to do great things." Mr Smith said Suncorp's goal was not to have infrastructure be a constraint to people's innovation and ingenuity.

I tend to work for lots of clients during a year, usually from their offices. I'll arrive, meet the team, and I'm excited to get started. Then I meet my desktop. It's a Pentium IV, with 1GB of memory, running Windows XP with a 7200 RPM (if I'm lucky) spinning chunk of rust. Hardware is expensive, and good computers aren't laying around in most organizations, so temporary workers like me tend to get to experience the joys of using a computer designed for 2004 in the year 2011. "This was the only machine we could find on short notice" is the usual explanation.

While the company-issued desktop is taking 15 minutes to compile the solution, and struggles to have two instances of Visual Studio open, my dual core, 8GB memory machine running a modern operating system sits in my backpack. Although my laptop is superior to the company issued workstation almost every single time, I'm never allowed to plug it into their network and use it, no matter how much it might increase my productivity.

While frustrating, I can usually understand the reasons why:

  • Computers cost money. Most companies won't buy top-of-the-line hardware to sit around in case someone like me swings by for a few weeks.
  • Protection. I can't plug my laptop in to the corporate network: I could have viruses (though given USB devices seem to work fine, this is probably moot)
  • Credentials. Who am I? I probably can't/don't want to join my computer to the corporate domain, which is necessary for a lot of software to work.
  • Data security. Since it's my laptop, I might walk out of the office with customer data on my disk. This poses a long list of legal problems (though again, a USB drive is probably just as dangerous).
  • Support. What if I'm running the wrong version of Office? I might flood their helpdesk with questions.
  • Not their problem. Due to the way most organizations are structured, IT is a cost centre that needs to be minimized. Their KPI is keeping things running, not enabling me to be productive.

Suncorps move is

Paul Stovell's Blog

Hello, I'm Paul Stovell

I'm a Brisbane-based software developer, and founder of Octopus Deploy, a DevOps automation software company. This is my personal blog where I write about my journey with Octopus and software development.

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