May 31, 2012, 2:51 PM — Are we harboring the last vestiges of Soviet-style communism at the heart of the enterprise? And is consumerization of IT the new Glasnost?
In your daily life, you are inundated with choicefrom the brands of clothing you wear to the television you watch and the restaurants you frequent. But traditionally, that freedom of choice ends at the office doors, where the IT department decides the hardware and software you should use to do your work, how much storage you have access to and when and how new services are provisioned.
"IT has behaved like the former Communist states, with strict and limited options for users," says Leslie Muller, co-founder and CTO of cloud automation and management solutions provider DynamicOps, spun out by Credit Suisse's Global Research and Development Group in 2005. "Some of my colleagues and my wife all grew up in Communist Russia or Poland, with a centrally managed economy, five-year plans, central committee management and artificial pricing for everything. They lived with the idea that something that was good for one person was good for everyone. That's what IT is like today."
BYOD Challenges IT's Ability to Exert Control
But IT's ability to exert control over the enterprise environment is increasingly being challenged. Some employees are demanding a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment that allows them to access enterprise resources and do their work on the devices they choose rather than the hardware approved by IT.
"BYOD is here to stay," says Morten Grauballe, executive vice president of Corporate Development & Strategy with mobile software management specialist Red Bend Software. Red Bend works with mobile device manufacturers, chipset manufacturers, ODMs and OEMs to provide type 1 hypervisors for Android devices that allow them to run two virtual images: a personal device and a more secure enterprise device.
"The market is shifting very rapidly at the moment," says Grauballe. "It was a very controlled environment. The corporation would supply all the PCs and laptops to their employees. Those PCs and laptops would have a standard build. That's rapidly changing at the moment. There's no way back. This is happening. It started with the smartphones and now we're seeing tablets being added to that."
Consumerization of IT Is a Software Issue, Too
And consumerization of ITthe addition of choice to the enterprise environmentis not just a hardware issue. Employees and even whole divisions can now turn to the cloud to make an end-run around IT if they believe they are not getting the tools they need or want from IT.