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BYOD and IoT

In a January 5, 2016 report entitled “BYOD, WEARABLES AND IOT: Strategies, Security, Satisfaction” (click here for access to the report – requires a valid Tech Pro Research member account) Tech Pro Research released its findings of a survey in which there were 206 respondents from the U.S., Canada, Europe, India, Asia-Pacific, China, Australia and New Zealand.

These findings were quite clear that BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) is something of a new normal, especially for smaller companies. It is also clear from these findings that the use of IoT devices (e.g., electronic controls, sensors, etc.) is approaching critical mass.

Now, while it wasn’t the focus of this particular report (as well as many others on these topics), users – or prospective users – of BYOD and/or IoT understand that there are software licensing complexities for these environments.

Let’s examine an example stemming from Miro’s own experience in which users were both issued a corporate device for on premise work and were included in the BYOD program. These users could opt for the device of their choosing for their personal use and use that same device for accessing company assets and services when offsite.

The issue: With the intent to reduce costs associated with Microsoft Client Access Licenses (“CAL”) for Windows Server, for Exchange Server and for SharePoint Server, the company licensed Device CALs. And these Device CALs were allocated to the corporate device. This meant that the company had to procure additional Device CALs for every device used by every BYOD user. In some cases, these users had three or more devices that they used at any given time.

There are ways of ensuring that software licensing remains defensible as your BYOD program commences or ramps up. These may include User CALs or Software Assurance coverage or hosted services where applicable. Or, perhaps, additional Device CALs are appropriate.

IoT – the use of sensors or electronic controls or other unattended devices accessing company software – is another area where unexpected licensing costs can arise. Such access does not fall under Microsoft’s server-to-server communication concession (i.e., requiring no CALs) and, hence, each of these devices requires a CAL.

But again, there are ways of achieving a defensible license position in the IoT world, including Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite offering. But, as a subscription service, there are caveats. So is it the correct choice?

So whether it is BYOD, IoT, or even a combination of them, each situation is unique and the investment must be gauged for both minimal cost as well as maximal flexibility. It is important to note that companies could actually be adding costs by trying to save costs, so it is critical to consider all angles.