By now most of you know that I love the concept of the "employee-owned PC." If you're not familiar with it, it's the idea that instead of the IT department issuing a standard corporate laptop to their employees, each employee can pick whatever laptop he or she wants, as long as it meets some minimum requirements.
The main driver behind this is employee happiness and the desire for companies to hire and retain younger employees. Also, it's nice to let employees use a version of Windows that isn't totally locked down, and providing a corporate version of Windows via a VM which is separate from the employees' local OS can help with that.
The employee-owned PC concept doesn't necessarily mean that the employee literally owns his or her own computer. In a lot of cases they're given a stipend where they choose whatever they want, but the actual physical asset still belongs to the company. Rather, the employee "owns" the decision about which laptop to use, and in many cases, the employee "owns" the local OS and can do whatever they want to it.
There are two ways the employee-owned PC thing can work.
Option 1: The laptop natively runs whatever OS the user wants, and the user can run and install whatever he or she wants on there. When the user comes into the office, the only network connection available to the native OS is a VLAN that only has Internet access. Corporate apps are either provided via server-based computing or via a locked-down Windows VM that runs as a guest on the employee's laptop. (And of course that guest has the proper credentials to connect to a corporate VLAN.) In this case, the employee "owns" both the decision about which hardware to buy and which software and host OS they run.
Option 2: The employee chooses whatever model of laptop they want, but IT still controls the OS 100%. This option usually involves a client-side bare-metal hypervisor. Employees don't like this as much, because it still means they're running a locked-down version of windows. But IT departments like this better, because it's easier to implement and you don't have to deal with the support of random host OSes. With this option, the employee only "owns" the choice of laptop. The OS is still "owned" by the IT department.
We've been talking about the concept of the employee-owned PC for eighteen months, and last week we started to hear about a few companies who were actually trying it.
First, Information Week's Joe Hernick interviewed Citrix's CIO about the employee-owned PC pilot they're recently launched for internal Citrix employees. This 300-user pilot gives users a $2100 stipend to buy just about whatever they want (as long as it has a three-year support contract). Apps are then delivered via Citrix XenApp. (The article doesn't specify, but one assumes this is via server-based computing, since you can't stream XenApp apps to Macs, and 50% of the pilot users chose Macs.)
Next, VMware's Mike DiPetrillo wrote that VMware's corporate image is nothing more than a VM image. So there's nothing stopping anyone from running on whatever PC or Mac they want. While the employee-owned PC program is not official, many of the SEs just buy their own laptops and use the corporate VM for their official apps.
I guess I could also add that here at The Brian Madden Company, we've been letting employees choose whichever laptop they've wanted since Day One. As it stands right now, the three guys in the company (Gabe, Jack, and I) all insist on Macs, while the two girls (Emily and Lara) don't seem to care and just want something that works. <gasp!> The only "corporate app" we have is Quickbooks, and we deliver that via Citrix Access Essentials 2 on the free VMware Server.
And how about you? Are you buying into the employee owned-PC concept? Are you doing it or thinking about it?