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Business Continuity Success Series Part 4: Bring Your Own Device

Posted by Server@Work | Jul 2, 2016 3:51:01 PM

byod-laptop-tablet-phone.jpgBring Your Own Device, or "BYOD", refers to companies allowing their employees to use their personal computing devices, smartphones, and tablets for work purposes.  The BYOD boom started around 2009 as Microsoft and other software companies began providing better and lesser expensive solutions that allowed companies to better control the flow and access to company data and applications -- even on third-party devices like employee laptops and tablets.

By 2015, 74% of businesses allowed or planned to allow its employees to use personal devices to access company information, according to a survey by Tech Pro Research.  The benefit to employers is that employees using personal devices cuts hardware and support costs to the company; while employees see a benefit with more options to get work done and from devices more comfortable to them.

In a Business Continuity scenario, BYOD is integral to companies in disaster recovery as it allows employees to remotely connect to business resources published from your Citrix XenApp desktops.

Review

Getting started we published an Infographic Overview of the five components of business continuity success which we will cover in this blog series:

The Business Continuity solution in its simplest form is to backup your data to the cloud where it can be restored to a warm data center at any time.  The warm data center will have a remote access solution in place that allows your dispersed employees to connect to your servers and work from anywhere using their personal and company devices.  Finally, your business needs uninterrupted access to your IT Support Desk in this time of need.

The forth article in this series discusses Bring Your Own Devices.

Are Your Employees Ready for BYOD?

When your Business Continuity plan kicks off, it is likely your employees will not have access to your office to collect computing resources.  What is more, your business probably doesn't have a sufficient number of mobile computing devices to allow all your employees to work remotely anyway.

This is where BYOD helps you.  According to a 2015 survey by Pew Research Center, 74% of Americans own a personal desktop or laptop computer.  While the survey doesn't distinguish between a desktop or laptop, it is safe to assume that many of your employees own a laptop or can be encouraged to buy one with a small stipend from your company.  In addition, 68% own a smartphone which is a mobile computing device in itself.

To get kickstarted with your company BYOD campaign, have your Business Continuity planner conduct an internal survey of your employees to discover who has a laptop or tablet capable of connecting to your Citrix resources.  You will want to ensure that your key personnel and producers are able to work when they are on the road and those that cannot -- maybe they only have a desktop computer at home and a smartphone wouldn't be practical for long-term productivity -- you consider buying a laptop for those people or offering them a stipend to purchase a personal laptop.

Upgrade Company Laptops to Enable BYOD

Another way to put a laptop or tablet into your key employees' hands is through upgrading your own company assets.  Replacing older company laptops allows you to pass the older units to employees for home and remote use.  Citrix XenApp works great with older hardware since the work is done on the server side and the laptop becomes a terminal just passing keystrokes and viewing results from the virtual desktop.  Recycling older laptops to users to keep at home means your employees are ready to work if a business interruption occurs.

red-flag-woman.jpgKnow the Drawbacks of BYOD

Some companies do not allow BYOD due to the loss of control and visibility of how company data is consumed by personal devices.  The number one asset owned by most organizations is its' data; so anything that compromises that control understandably raises a red flag.  While this is a valid concern, companies need to consider how they restrict access to company data whether they allow BYOD or not.

Unless you are already investing in a Digital Rights Management solution then you already lack the controls necessary to prevent employees from copying files to USB drives, emailing data outside the company, uploading files to Dropbox, or printing copies of important documents to paper.

Not to minimize the risk of BYOD, but your employees already have free reign over how they access and use your company data so serious consideration should be given to allowing BYOD to take advantage of your employee assets as a part of your Business Continuity Plan.

Solutions to BYOD Data Control

As with many business problems, there is a technical solution.  Digital Rights Management is good for companies needing strict control and visibility into how company data is accessed.  The same solution that would be leveraged for on-premise control of your data would also flow to your Citrix XenApp solution in your Business Continuity Plan so allowing access from BYOD would not jeopardize the controls put forth by your company.

For companies aiming short of rights management, you are still able to limit the risks of losing data via remote access.  When employees copy company files and programs to local personal devices, that data can be lost due to theft, lack of security controls, or if the personal device crashes.  Fortunately, this is another area where Citrix XenApp shines.

With your Citrix virtual desktops, data is not transferred to your employees' local device storage; the data stays on the Citrix servers in your data center the entire time.  Using this technology, a lost or compromised employee device will not have any company data on it so there is no additional risk to your company losing data or work performed by your remote employee.

BYOD During a Business Interruptions

The beauty of BYOD is its simplicity.  Employee devices do not require any additional upkeep or expense to your company unless you want to provide them with company antivirus and some basic support.  As for getting BYOD to work with your Citrix applications and company data, you only need two things: Citrix Receiver and a Web Address.

Citrix Receiver

Citrix Receiver is a free download from Citrix that allows devices to connect to Citrix servers.  The software can be installed on Windows and Mac devices as well as iOS tablets and phones and Android tablets and phones.

Citrix Web Address

Once Citrix Receiver is installed your employees need to run Citrix Receiver then enter the web address for your Citrix deployment.  This address is provided by your installer or consultant.  Once you start your login, you use the same username and password used to access your network resources when you are in your office.

What Happens Next?

You are at the finish line.  BYOD has your employees logging into your Citrix virtual desktops and working during an unfortunate business disruption.  Your competitors are stuck wishing they had spent time investing in a DR solution and your customers are still receiving service from your organization and grateful they have you as a business partner.

In our final Blog article of this series, we will go over using your technical resources to keep your business running as smooth as possible during a disaster.

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Topics: Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Virtual Desktop, XenApp, Citrix, MDM