There’s an idea that I’ve mentioned in several presentations over the last couple of months, and today I want to get it out in a quick blog post. The idea is that enterprise mobility management (EMM) products like MDM, MAM, and file syncing should always have a per-user licensing option in order to be consumerization-friendly and prevent users from having to “go rogue” to do work on personal devices.
Let me set a baseline for what I’m talking about:
- First, we can talk about different types of BYOD programs, whether or not BYOD should be officially sanctioned, the future of corporate-owned devices, and anything else related to BYOD—but whatever our feelings about BYOD are and no matter what our official policies are, we’re going to have to deal with “extra” devices no matter what.
- Second, it’s futile to think that we can try to block all these extra devices, or that we can just forbid them, or that we won’t face the issue. We’ve been talking about this for a few years, and these days most people are on board with this concept. We occasionally call “FUIT.” If you’re not familiar with the term, check out Brian’s 2011 article The consumerization of IT: Why most vendors get it wrong, and why it's a real challenge today. (Part 1).
- Finally, we’ve come to the conclusion that part of the way we deal with consumerization, FUIT, and mobile devices is by being proactive about providing users with safe, modern access to corporate apps and data.
Now this is where licensing comes in. We don’t want licensing costs to get in the way of employees using all their “extra” devices in a sanctioned, secure way. If the EMM products we’re using are licensed on a per-device basis, then ultimately supporting all those “extra” devices means spending more money on licenses. And we know that all those devices are going to be there no matter what, so if we can’t support them because of licensing costs, then they’ll just go underground, and users will have to go rogue if they want to use them. (Of course all of this is assuming that connecting a device to the corporate EMM platform is something that users actually want to do, and that in doing so they’re given access to useful apps and data that they wouldn’t get otherwise.)
Certainly there can be per-device licensing schemes that are based on average numbers over time, or that can have provisions for occasional bursts of usage (like when everybody gets a new iPad over the holidays), or something else like that, but that’s not the point of this discussion. And of course there are places where per-device licensing makes sense, like iPad cash registers and shared tablets, but that’s not the point either.
The reality is that users are flexible about their devices and that we’ll always have to deal with all the “extra” ones, regardless of what our official BYOD policy says. At the same time, there are plenty of vendors that are working on ways to provide secure mobile access to corporate resources, make it easy to enroll devices, and keep a good user experience. We shouldn’t have to worry about per-device licensing getting in the way of any of this. Instead, licensing for EMM products should be available on a per-user basis to better accommodate users, BYOD, and consumerization.