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Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the maybe-companies-should-buy-us-awesome-hardware dept.

Businesses 498

Local ID10T writes "Data security vs. productivity. We have all heard the arguments. Most of us use some of our personal equipment for work, but is it a good idea? 'You are at work. Your computer is five years old, runs Windows XP. Your company phone has a tiny screen and doesn't know what the internet is. Idling at home is a snazzy, super-fast laptop, and your own smartphone is barred from accessing work e-mail. There's a reason for that: IT provisioning is an expensive business. Companies can struggle to keep up with the constant rate of technological change. The devices employees have at home and in their pockets are often far more powerful than those provided for them. So what if you let your staff use their own equipment?' Companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Kraft, Citrix, and global law firm SNR Denton seem to think it's a decent idea."

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Nah (3, Insightful)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883214)

Wouldn't work. The company would always care about its own security.

Re:Nah (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883618)

People who bring their own tools are called contractors, not employees.

Re:Nah (4, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883626)

Wouldn't work. The company would always care about its own security.


1. Security
  a. If computers are coming and going without permission how do you know which are from employees and which are rogue systems
  b. If computers are coming and going how do you ensure they aren't a threat for Virii or bots
    i. At least with company sanctioned computers they should have virus scanners with updated definitions
2. Standardization
  a. Whaawhaaa, my xxx isn't working properly; can you fix it: "I NEED IT RIGHT NOW"
    i. Troubleshooting some hipsters 3D floating mouse with alpha drivers for Windows 7 is just a waste of time
  b. Why can't my Windows 7 Home edition logon the domain, no one told me this when I bought it

Bad idea. (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883222)

Having email on your phone, or your computer, gives the company authorization to scan the whole thing including your personal data. That was already ruled in court.

I'd sooner keep my work and life separate, and that includes my gadgets.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883242)

Well, after I posted my comment, I thought about that. I'm pretty sure the company could find a loophole and exploit it.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883366)

spot on - if you let the company put a pc into your home, its almost always their pc and not, technically, yours. if they lease you a dsl line, that 'own' that link and all that goes over it.

lots of implications of allowing work-bought devices into your home and onto your network.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883576)

spot on - if you let the company put a pc into your home, its almost always their pc and not, technically, yours. if they lease you a dsl line, that 'own' that link and all that goes over it.

lots of implications of allowing work-bought devices into your home and onto your network.

This story is about the opposite. Using employee purchased equipment to be used for work.

Attached strings can go both ways (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883738)

This story is about the opposite. Using employee purchased equipment to be used for work.

It is, but it creates a gray area that I would rather not deal with. If the company wants to stay competitive, then it should be investing in its own hardware and keeping it up to date. If they want me to buy my own equipment for work, then they better make me a voting investor and sign a contract restricting them access to the contents of the PC, otherwise I will look for another job.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883436)

Having email on your phone, or your computer, gives the company authorization to scan the whole thing including your personal data.

You are correct - absolutely (well, depends where you live, but yes in the US it was decided). However, to extend that - what is less than clear is what happens if you are on "Legal Hold". Does your personal computer get impounded? Where I work, we get a lot of lawsuits and there are quite a few folks on Legal Hold which prevents them from deleting related data. Then, if it does go to trial and discovery often devices must be handed over. Folks don't think much about this, but it can be a threat. As far as I have seen (I am not an expert), I don't believe it has been decided yet if your machine could end up as a piece of evidence.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

Capt_Morgan (579387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883490)

huh... not if it's YOUR property that YOU pay for. You are thinking of company owned equipment.. which of course they can scan.. it's theirs

Re:Bad idea. (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883598)

There are compromises possible. To avoid carrying two mobile devices, I have BES on my personal blackberry. When I telecommute, instead of using a junker laptop that the company would provide, I use a virtual machine on my equipment - I VPN to remote-control my workstation at the office so no data or code is ever local.

From a legal/privacy standpoint, I suppose this might not be ideal should things go horribly wrong - I might be exposing myself to some risk. But I have a good relationship with the company so I am willing to take that risk. And I don't know that it is really that much of a risk. They would just wipe my BB, not confiscate and scan it, and with the abundance of USB and other portable storage devices, I think it would be just as easy for a company to make a case for search/seizure of personal data/equipment in one case as the other. Or to reverse it, it would be just as hard for me to prove I never transferred any inappropriate data from work to my virtual machine/personal physical machines as it would for me to prove I never use a portable storage device to transfer any inappropriate data from work.

That being said, I have no intention of ever working on work things directly on a device that is not owned by and located at the company (i.e. remote in over VPN only) - I never want any client data on any hard drive that could be lost or stolen while in my possession.

No one can be trusted (2, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883226)

So No.

Fat chance (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883228)

All the projects in your personal computer can be claimed to belong to the company, unless they make agreement in writing. Also, this will create major headache in company's IT and software licensing business.

No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883232)

I say no. Having employees foot the bill for specific upgrades from a company approved list, yes. (Company would foot the bill to keep the employee with at least one approved machine if the old machine is deprecated.

THe company machine IS the company machine and as such the company has control over what happens, personal machines are under personal control. Keep the separate.

NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883234)

Speaking as someone who manages a bunch of old crappy Win XP machines my answer is:
NO!! Leave your super-fast snazzy ... virus/malware infected laptop at home and OFF MY NETWORK.

Thank You.
Have a nice day.

Re:NO! (2)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883298)

agreed, maintaining any kind of network integrity would be impossible, it's bad enough as it is

Re:NO! (2)

Hacksaw (3678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883442)

If someone wants to steal something, and you are trying to prevent it, short of a body cavity search everyday, you've already lost the game. You can steal a code base and drawings for virtually any product by simply copying it onto a USB flash drive, and walking out. Often your cell phone will suffice.

If you are trying to prevent viruses and stuff, the same techniques apply for company owned laptops versus employee owned. If they can take it home, it can get infected. You might ameliorate things by having a forced virus checker installation, but a voluntary one will generally work just as well.

In the end, the only thing you are can't do is take the machine away, but this is such a rare event that it's almost not worth considering.

Re:NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883554)

Disagree with your second point.

A company owned/provided laptop means the user shouldn't have admin rights on it which helps a little bit. It also means I, as the IT employee, can format that laptop whenever I feel like it. I can also install any sort of anti-virus software I feel necessary.

Can I format a user's home laptop that he brings to work? I doubt it.

I company owned laptop allows the IT department to have some line of defense (although it may not be much its better than nothing).

Re:NO! (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883600)

You're right that there is no way to guarantee security without extreme measures (see, the DOD) Instead, it's about support volume (and the related costs). If you get one or two incidents a year involving a broken computer (with security implications) with a "closed" system that takes reasonable security measures, it's a lot more cost effective than fighting 1 or 2 incidents a *day* as users find more effective ways to break their own computers. Also, the threat profile (i.e. the likelihood that the breakin resulted in a measurable loss for the company because the attacker was able to make off with valuable material) is a lot smaller.

Sure, attempting 100% security is going to cost 100% of your resources and still not going to be 100% effective. However, once the "cost" slider leaves 100%, how far down do you want it to take the "Effective" slider?

Re:NO! (1)

ruemere (1148095) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883418)


Or, if I really have to manage your private computer, you need to hand all your user access rights to me, including ALL administrative privileges. And agree for standard set of services preconfigured to comply with company regulations.


Personal Life Separation (4, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883248)

Do it and you will be happier. So what if your own stuff is more powerful, it is yours and used for your things. Stop acting like a slave and use your own time and devices for yourself.

Good for everybody but the IT guy? (5, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883260)

That's just what I want, to support 30 or 40 different models, brands, or hell even architectures.

To say nothing of when their own personal laptop that they used to surf horse porn last night brings some nasty viruses to work to test the corporate network.

And finally, what happens when I tell them "Sorry, you're going to need to downgrade your os/office suite/creativity suite/whatever to be compatable with the tools we've already paid thousands of dollars for and aren't going to get a new license just for your special snowflake hardware there".

No thanks. I'm happy with standardized hardware. if you keep facebook and yahoo messenger off it (thank god for corporate virus protection that can prevent unauthorized installers/msi files), it'll run nice and quick.

Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007. This is work. Do work.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (0)

dc29A (636871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883324)

I am working on a first generation Intel dual core, 2 GB of RAM and Windows XP. I am expected to run Virtual Box with about 2 VMs and up to 2-3 instances of Visual Studio. While this is work, it's a pain in the ass to work on a shitty machine like this. I would love to be able to work on my laptop that is light years ahead of this piece of shit, performance wise. Of course, IT doesn't want it. Not everyone is lucky to work on machines that can get the job done.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (3)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883452)

Perhaps you need to have a discussion with your requisition department? or pen a nice letter to the VP of IT. Go over people's heads. the majority of people can get by just fine on a dual core processor of virtually any type (or even a fast single core) if they have enough hard drive space, their ram total isn't gimped, and the OS isn't bloated all to hell. Virtually every single "my computer is too slow" issue I've ever worked on has had add/remove programs, ccleaner, malwarebytes, and msconfig as the major improvements, with only stupid configurations like xp on 512mb of ram or less as the exceptions.

If, on the other hand, you actually require good hardware to do a technical job, such as 8 or 12gb of ram to run multiple VMs or hardcore cpu power to render or edit video, i.e. demanding apps that can utilize multiple cores, then by all means you should have your hardware. That's a failure on your company's part. Good hardware isn't THAT expensive. a kickass rendering station can be had for the price of maybe two "joe blow" stations. Somebody can sign off on that, it's your job to find them.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883592)

If your work is not providing you with the tools needed to get your work done efficiently, that is not your problem it is theirs. You should talk to your manager. Talk to IT. Let them know that you are not getting the support you need to preform the job they are paying you to do. And then if they shrug and ignore you get your resume ready and get the hell out because that is a seriously bad symptom.

make a business case (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883718)

The company cares about the bottom line. If your productivity is noticeably impaired, make a business case to your boss for a faster machine. A thousand bucks gets you a pretty decent machine these days.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883342)

Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007.

True, but it'll probably burst into flames in the process.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883440)

Mission Accomplished!

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883376)

Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007. This is work. Do work.

Oh, what I would give to be able to get everything done with Office 2003 or 2007! As it is, my PDF viewer has to fight over the virus scanner, 2 firewalls, IDS, "policy manager", and probably a tattletale program or two thrown in for good measure by the IT guys who want their 10 or so lives to be simple at the expense of the simplicity of the 1000 users who have to fight their computer to get it to do what they want it to.

Hey, at least browsing Slashdot is nice and fast! Maybe that's why it's so damn addictive.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883620)

Slashdot is fast? They must let you have firefox or chrome. Slashdot on IE is bang-head-against-wall slow.

Thank god for RDPing into your home machine.

I've been on both ends of the stick. I've been the guy sitting there trying to do his job with one of 300 cloned machines with company standard hobbling and nannyware, and I've been the guy who hands out those machines to people and tries to support them.

You wouldn't believe how many ways people can still manage to break their machines no matter what you try to do to stop them, but I'll tell you something, and this is the "hidden truth" behind corporate standardized hardware:

As soon as we figure out how something got broken in the first place, we can either prevent other users from being able to break the computers in the first place, or we can repair the problem in 30 seconds next time instead of the half hour it took this time. Standardized hardware saves man-hours and increases up-time.

When one of my Vice Presidents breaks his computer, he doesn't want to hear why it's taking me a half hour to figure out what he did (sorry sir, your laptop is set up differently from everybody else's, and the fix that worked for them won't work for you), he just wants to get back to work. He's missing deadlines and losing money while I sit there researching a problem I probably already knew how to fix on our standard setup.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883724)

...the IT guys who want their 10 or so lives to be simple at the expense of the simplicity of the 1000 users who have to fight their computer to get it to do what they want it to.

Wow, you have ten IT guys to support 1000 users? That's 100 users per support person.

Imagine the fun for everyone involved if just fifty of those users went to the wrong website and picked up a bot or virus. Fifty people who are demanding immediate response from the ten IT guys to "fix it so I can do my work", the head of IT stopping by to find out why he's getting calls from other sites telling him about the multiple DOS attacks coming from within his domain. Where do the IT guys find the time to update anything? And how do they avoid the problems of updating 1000 different computers with 1000 different configurations?

Then the software-AA comes knocking and someone has to explain why 500 of those 1000 have installed copies of programs that nobody can find the license for...

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (4, Informative)

HFShadow (530449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883500)

Did you read the article? Or maybe even skim it? Instead of basing your comment entirely off the summary?

In particular:

Staff taking advantage of the scheme must buy a three-year service contract. "From that point forth the device is their responsibility, and not that of the company," adds Mr Hollison. "We don't asset manage it in any way. "If they want to fill it full of photos and videos of their children, they're free to do so, because the connection back to Citrix is securely in the data centre.

So they're not running any business apps on their laptop, that's all at the dc on their citrix setup. They're also responsible for maintaining their own gear. Sorry, what was your argument again?

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883766)

if you believe for a second that they aren't calling corporate IT asking for help after they bork their own machine, now that it's a "company" affiliated computer, you're living in dreamland.

I've got a handful of users who run on non-standardized hardware, be it their own computer, a computer that their remote office owner bought for them, or what-have-you, and every single one of them still expects me to help get it to work even though they use citrix.

By the way, before those remote offices are being brought onto the company WAN with cisco pix devices in the near future, our VP of IT demanded that all their machines be replaced with our standardized hardware loadouts (which are actually pretty nice. Core 2 duo/quad workstations and i5/i7 laptops), no matter who pays for them. Good man.

And on the other side (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883542)

There is no way I am going to let work enforce their Group Policy settings on my personal hardware. Or slow down my computer with mandatory Symantec junk, or all the crapware that comes with National Instruments software. Or wipe my machine when some idiot emails sensitive information.

I don't mind using RemoteDesktop from home every now and then if it saves me from coming into work, but that is about the limit.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883586)

That's just what I want, to support 30 or 40 different models, brands, or hell even architectures.

The less "support" I get, the better. The developers' cubicles should be off-limits to corporate IT.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883624)

If people are going to own their own computers, they're going to own their own software.

Corporate IT policy would be that files are stored in a certain place on the company servers for archival backups, and certain file formats are required for standardized communications.

Plus a raft of security requirements that are the user's responsibility.

Beyond that, it's ad hoc. No support needed. No particular piece of user-level software on a corporate license.

Of course, that eliminates the ability to get site-license pricing on things, but you're supposed to get that back in lower IT and hardware costs, na?

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883642)

You're assuming all this person does is MS Office. Some of us need Photoshop, CAD, 3D modeling, video editing... and we're tired of the corporate office cheaping out and buying WAY underpowered computers. This sounds like a good idea to me.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (0, Troll)

bjorniac (836863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883744)

You're in IT. Like it or not, you're SUPPORT staff - your job solely consists of helping me do mine. If I damned well want to use my computer to do X it's your job to make this possible. That's what you are paid for. I'm sure you could keep a nice little network if it weren't for us users doing annoying things like using our computers to do work. If I want to run MATLAB from home, you make it damned possible for me to do that. If I want my email in a separate Thunderbird folder on my laptop, you do that. Otherwise there's no point in having you.

I'm sure this will come as a shock to a lot of you, but it isn't the goal of every enterprise to have a neat little network. And the time I spend having to get my password reset because the bit monkey insists that I change it every 6 weeks and that it contain at least 10 letters, 2 numbers and 2 non-alphanumeric characters? That's time wasted from me making money that keeps us all in business.

To put it bluntly: I don't give a damn what you're happy with - it's what I'M happy with that counts. Do your job well and you're a force multiplier, but remember that your function is to multiply MY output.

Re:Good for everybody but the IT guy? (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883762)

Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007. This is work. Do work.

You have my complete agreement, but I bet you have many managers/employees of influence sharpening their knives behind your back when you won't give them their latest $TOY_OF_THE_MONTH.

Maybe. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883268)

As these things get cheaper and cheaper, maybe so. But then again, maybe not.

For years I have always purchased my own engineering calculators. I'm glad they are my personal property.

A few years ago I purchased my own 3D mouse for CAD work. I am glad I own it, also. They are so cheap that I can't imagine operating CAD software without one, regardless of whether the company would pay for one or not.

Computers may be approaching that cost level.


The problem is that computers must interface with the corporate network. They are going to want to control what software is on it, security settings, and the like. So you might own the hardware, but you may not have much control over it.

Sometimes you want to use a computer you know..... (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883276)

I use my own computer simply because, pure and simple, it works and I am intimate with it (minus the candles and Barry White). I'm a developer and use a Macbook Pro, but I have been in environments where all that was available was Windows and I have witnessed other developers installing Cygwin, recompiling MySQL to work with the Windows binary, etc etc. Not that this is ineffective, it's just a matter of being time consuming and being a contractor where I'm hired by the job, time is money.

Re:Sometimes you want to use a computer you know.. (1)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883756)

One of the more interesting ideas I've had in a while was that if I was ever hired by someone who wanted me to use a windows laptop. I would sell it and buy a mac. Just because I've spent far too much time fighting windows to ever want to see it again.

Like at the university I go to, it takes 2-3 minutes to log onto a new windows machine, while you can log into a linux machine in a matter of seconds

step one: allow them to do so (5, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883278)

2: Require them to do so.
3: Don't pay them to do so.
4: Profit!

Re:step one: allow them to do so (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883492)

2: Require them to do so. 3: Don't pay them to do so. 4: Profit!

Your post is funny and may be true in some cases. But the net affect may be a loss of money.

After all people walking in and out of the office with property that is no longer assumed to be that of the employer will no doubt hamper efforts to control the inventory levels of said company.

Re:step one: allow them to do so (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883562)

3a. Charge them to do so.

Bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883280)

All work devices should be secured, encrypted and inventoried (for starters). I know a lot of people with "snazzy computers" that don't run a firewall, anti-virus or have back ups. So place my vote in the emphatic "No!" category. Not until I (the SysAdmin) get to reconfigure your home computer so it meets a minimum standard for security, redundancy and accountability. Because we all know that you let your kids go to god-knows-what-sites on your personal computers, which means that key-logger your child downloaded while torrenting that "hawt pr0n" just stole your corporate login, all so you could use your "snazzy computer."

Re:Bad idea... (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883760)

And as someone who used to bring his home laptop to work (it was either that or be without a computer for half the day - a whole other WTF story), my Rule 1 was: my computer, my software. You want anti-virus on there? OK, that's reasonable - but I control the settings.

When we got proper IT staff, the first thing they did was get me a work laptop (for the obvious reasons you mention above). And I was OK with that. But I definitely burned out my machine faster than it normally would have (considering it was on and running 16 hours a day for two and a half years, not surprising).

I think the "bring your own stuff to work" idea is a non-starter. Peripherals on your computer (mice, etc)? Sure. Smartphones? Maaybe. But actual laptop/desktops? I doubt it.

The article talks about VDI a lot (4, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883288)

Several of the examples in the article are not talking about owning your own computer, but using your own computer to access a remote desktop on a VM in a server farm somewhere. I fail to see how this makes the computer "your own" or allows you to customize it to your requirements. Quite the opposite, because VDI images are usually the same snapshot of the same VM with your user profile mounted over a network.

Sounds like business promoting an externality to me - they want all the advantages of a locked down computer in a physically secure location, realized they'll have to shell out for the server farm, the network infrastructure AND a bunch of VDI terminals - and then realized they could get silly mugs to pay for their own terminal on the premise they are "owning their own".

This is a world apart from companies that actually allow users to be in charge of their own computer - and that typically is only practical, and only occurs, where there is a high level of tech savvy. Like Google, who will buy you the computer you ask for and let you install what the hell you like on it.

Kraft? I'd be gobsmacked if they fell into the latter group.

Slippery Slope (3, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883300)

Good idea: letting your employees bring in their own computers
Bad idea: making your employees bring in their own computers

And I'm not even saying that it would become official company policy. Once a manager sees the savings, the upgrade cycle becomes even more drawn out and employees have to bring in their own stuff by default, just to get anything done.

But if I could charge my company a rental fee for bringing in my own computer ... that might change things a bit. :)

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883444)

I think letting people bring their own computer is OK if they pass benchmark tests and they are working for a blog site or something. I can't imagine a fortune company allowing their employees to use their own computers, or rather even mandate it. There are too many security flaws, loopholes, and legal reprocautions to both parties to allow this kind of thing to happen. It would be a bad business decision even to -let- someone use their personal computer unless there's an emergency and the employee can be absolutely trusted. Though, in the world of business, even your CIO can be the most crooked person in the world and you think otherwise. Oh business politics, have you no end?

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883546)

It would have to be scanned for threats before connecting to the internal network.

Every time it tried to connect to the internal network.

Productive, that.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883686)

No, both are bad ideas.

always did it (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883302)

I used my own laptop whenever I could, of-course for a contractor it's not too hard, but they won't let you do it everywhere, there are 'security concerns', and 'network standards', as if there is anything I cannot do to the network once I am on the inside of the company already. It's silly.

How about go back to work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883306)

Corporate computers should be limited to their intranet applications and authorized web sites. Your own hardware should stay away from company spyware.

the rent would be too high (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883308)

if i buy it and pay taxes on's mine. my company may *rent* it from me when we come to terms.

Re:the rent would be too high (2)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883580)

You know the office storage basement? ....Well, there's a computer already setup there, and it would be a shame if we had to occupy that computer, because of course, it's running Windows ME and it doesn't even have solitaire or access to HSI. In fact, it's connected to a phone jack. You don't HAVE to use your computer, BUT I'm sure you can see where I'm getting at here Milton.

Uh, no. (4, Insightful)

Jethro (14165) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883312)

That's a bit on the ridiculous side, especially for large enterprise. An employer needs to secure their network, and that includes all devices connected to the network. ALL OF THEM. If people own the computers then they can rightfully put whatever programs they want on them and then security goes out the window. You may THINK that if you citrix/whatever in there, but employees will eventually use their personal desktop space for critical and sensitive information instead of leaving it on the "secure" network, and you'd have no way to check or enforce this.

Different HW != unsecure (1)

bsquizzato (413710) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883588)

I see everyone on here commenting about how this would be a nightmare for IT to manage from a security standpoint. I don't really think so. The only area that would suffer is hardware-related support since you're now dealing with a bunch of different computers from all different vendors. So you wouldn't be able to take your broken computer in and get a quick replacement part from your IT folks on site, and that might be OK with a lot of folks, especially at tech-oriented companies.

I work at a large enterprise, and we can install whatever we want on our work laptop to begin with. So me being aloud to install whatever I want is already a "security issue". It's probably like that at a lot of larger tech-based enterprises. The difference is that my IT computer is also running a lot of IT-enforced software that's making sure I keep my system up-to-date and haven't installed anything "bad".

If you don't care about being able to provide IT support for users hardware, you could have employees keep their own computers and just install all the IT-required OS, the BS apps that monitor your computer and push out software updates, the corporate anti-virus, etc. If the computer doesn't meet the IT software standards, then deny it access to the network. There's security solutions out there that can check the integrity of your computer and deny network access if its not up to snuff (google Network Access Control).

Re:Uh, no. (1)

DuEyNZ (887987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883654)

I'm not a system admin, but isn't it stupid to assume that it is possible to secure every device on the network? Wouldn't a more appropriate approach be to assume that every single device is vulnerable and design a system for that scenario?

Re:Uh, no. (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883658)

An employer needs to secure their network, and that includes all devices connected to the network. ALL OF THEM.

I hear this all the time, but if the network is so delicate that a random machine can cause a problem, then there is a problem with the network.

Sorry, not happening (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883334)

They'd want control over my home system including installing corporate sanctioned or purchased software and need to manage assets.

For the technical folks, certainly we'd have better systems. But someone not quite so technical might only have an e-machine or an old Linux box someone set up for them or even an old Windows 98 SE box.

There is also the compatibility issues. I may be using OpenOffice while the other guy is using MS Office 2007 and the next guy is using emacs.

Not to mention issues with internal software working with employee hardware. There's always a big problem when moving to the next upgrade in ensuring existing company apps will work and usually one or two legacy apps that must continue to work.

Yea, I'm not letting the internal systems guys (Windows guys) near my Mac, Sun, or Linux systems.


you don't get it...they're talking virtual desktop (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883652)

All the real work happens on a virtual machine running on a central server farm. Everyone logs in over the network and gets a locked-down uniform corporate virtual machine.

It doesn't matter what physical device the employees use to connect to the server, since from the point of view of the employer nothing important happens on the employee's device--it's just a terminal.

They're call consultants (5, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883338)

Aren't people who use all of their own equipment to do a job called consultants? I'll happily use my equipment but you will pay for the privilege.

Re:They're call consultants (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883530)

Yes, because the IRS rules state if you don't use your own equipment and office space you probably aren't a consultant, even if you're a high-paid itinerant temporary worker.

Re:They're call consultants (1)

Xanthas (102594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883622)

Yes, because the IRS rules state if you don't use your own equipment and office space you probably aren't a consultant, even if you're a high-paid itinerant temporary worker.

Who is then eligible for unemployment...

It is inevitable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883340)

When the company can cut costs, it will do so. Technology is getting to the point where the corporate network can be sandboxed, even in a reasonably hostile environment.

Might work (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883360)

It would work as long as the personally-owned device acts as a dumb terminal. Instead of buying a dumb terminal for an employee, tell them to use their own. But having company data sit on a personal computer will never happen for all the reasons already mentioned.

Some equipment should be personal. (2)

Lashat (1041424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883362)

I would use a company computer, but my cell phone is always mine so I can turn the thing off.

Oh god no (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883400)

I assume the article is referring to small businesses who can't buy gear in bulk. I maintained a server for a company like that. One guy used his own laptop on the company network and used the same machine to browse dodgy porn sites from home after hours. That machine was the sole source of virus infections on the LAN and I wish I had been able to ban that machine from the site.

In other news where I work people are buying tablets for web browsing because our IT policies contain no definition for acceptable use of company equipment beyond normal work.

Re:Oh god no (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883662)

Gee, it would be a shame if a virus got on his machine and wiped it. Cough.

Software Licensing is an issue (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883410)

Note: I have brought in my macbook to work before (as a consultant).

The use of internal standard software (Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat Pro in my case) posed a difficult problem since the licensing is hard to track... employee leaves company, but keeps the laptop, employee brings own software, etc.

Finally the issue of company information and security is better managed if the user of the laptop doesn't have root.

VMware View (1)

eeg3 (785382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883412)

It's interesting to see the article focus so much on Citrix, when VMware currently has the most market share in VDI.

So who then loses out when the computer goes down? (1)

Leslie43 (1592315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883448)

Either your I.T. department starts maintaining your employees own computers, or you lose time and money when the employee can't work. Even if you hold them responsible, you are still losing work time.

This is just a terrible idea.

People do all sorts of things to their own computers that they wouldn't/shouldn't do to a work computer, all of which brings in problems. Combine this with the fact that they now have all of these time wasters on their work computer and you are throwing money out the window.

Letting users upgrade.... (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883462)

How about letting users add more memory, another hard drive etc?

Seems more reasonable.

Re:Letting users upgrade.... (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883692)

Anecdotally I hear a lot of users do this anyway. I know I do.

The pain and suffering it takes to go through procurement to get an $80 RAM upgrade that the outsourced 3rd-party support will charge $200 for anyway and take weeks to fit, is worth paying the $80 to avoid. I get to be more productive, which is satisfying, which is again, worth more than $80. I may even save myself doing more than $80 worth of unpaid overtime because my computer works faster.

And at the end of it, when I leave, my old desktop gets a RAM upgrade. Which is probably worth a bit less than $80 because of depreciation, but what the heck.

So buying your own RAM upgrade is the gift that keeps giving...

Everybody! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883488)

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store.

Two issues (1)

SethThresher (1958152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883512)

On the one hand, everyone would be more willing to take care of their own machine that they bought and paid for.

On the other hand, security would be disastrous.

Changing approach (1)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883516)

This is just evidence of the changing approach to IT. If you assume nothing on the network is secure and present all of the sensitive stuff using server-side resources (think Citrix XenApp, VMware View, etc) then it doesn't matter as much. Set a policy that requires installation of such-and-such antivirus, OS, etc and let it go. Stop caring if the computer hits less savory websites and just monitor usage of the business owned pipes. It won't work for every scenario but it can in many.

A matter of economics (1)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883518)

What can I say. I think this is a terrible idea.

I don't know about the US, but here in Europe the employer provides everything the the employee needs. A programmer with 3-5 years of university education really shouldn't spend their time trying to set up a secure backup solution. That should be the job of someone who doesn't know how to build an operating system from the ground up, or how to write an ip-stack or plan huge complex software solutions for managing more information a second than any human could read in a lifetime.

Seriously. Specialize. Someone should be great at setting up and maintaining computers, other should be great at programming assembly. Being great at something really does require continues dedication.

Any minute now they will want cops to buy their own guns. Teachers to buy their own books. Train operators buy their own trains :P and nuclear engineers to bring their own uranium to work.

No. (3, Interesting)

bb5ch39t (786551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883520)

My machines belong to me. The stuff on them is mine, not the company's. And I don't want any confusion about that. I have VPN access from home to the corporate LAN. We also have a Windows "work at home" server which is accessible via MS's mstsc. I use that, not the VPN/LAN. I use Linux at home and rdesktop to access that server. Once on that server, I use mstsc to access my work desktop. Why? it makes my home machine safer. My home machine is more of a "dumb terminal" which cannot be infected by or infect anything at work. Or at least it is significantly less likely. I'm not aware of any virus which can spread over an mstsc link. Which means little, given my ignorance. My home system is behind a firewall/router, so hopefully it is too much trouble to crack. I don't need "impossible", just need "harder than average" to discourage most. Running Linux and no Windows also helps.

Drawing lines (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883522)

So what happens if your company happens to be Enron and your computer gets supoened by the court? Your personal stuff gets hauled away at the same time? I don't think they'll untangle your business life from your work life when there's only one computer for them to investigate.

The other issue I forsee is what happens with wiping the drive? Maybe you quit the company, the corporate IT system issues a wipe to your iphone, and guess what, your personal data's gone too.

It's not always a good idea to blend your business life with your work life, especially when you don't know whether the corporate security policies trump your personal data.

In my neck of the woods... (1)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883540)

I'm allowed to use my own peripherals but if I were wanting to use my own tower I would have to essentially donate it. For things to work here the IT has to have complete access to my computer, if it were my property it would be a bit awkward. Most of the workers here don't even have admin access because of they get a virus etc... it could leak private info. Not give someone administrative privileges on their own hardware? see how that goes over.

Should stop the complaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883552)

If they had to purchase their own upgrades, it would stop the constant complaining about this "stupid 2x Quad Core 3.5Ghzz 12Gb-RAM machine" being too slow. I work around engineers, and they are if nothing else, penny pinchers when it comes to their own money. They'll gladly spend the company's money though.

Other than that, it's a terrible idea. Security, no baseline configuration, no unified software approach. Forget it. I don't have time for snowflakes.

I love my company (1)

Capt_Morgan (579387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883604)

When I need a new laptop I send them the specs of exactly what I want.. .then they buy it and ship it to me. I then install the OS from scratch and put whatever I want on it (including some corporate softwarre we have licenses for like MS Office and such) The joys of working from home :-)

They're talking about using virtual desktops (3, Insightful)

Chirs (87576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883608)

Pretty much all the companies mentioned are using virtual desktops. That is, the physical device is essentially a glorified terminal for the purposes of work. The connection to the "real" corporate machine is an encrypted session to a central server.

So they don't care about viruses because there is nothing directly on the unencrypted network. They don't care about support because anyone with nonstandard hardware is responsible for their own support, and the corporate support only handles the contents of the virtual machine.

So they don't care what you're running in terms of a physical device as long as you can connect to the central server to do the "real work".

Force employees to buy their own junk? (1)

grikdog (697841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883628)

The first step is semi-rational, the next step is coercion -- outsourcing company costs onto payroll. Why not just force IT to take employee recommendations on what IT should have bought in instance one?

no (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883640)

Not ever.

Besides, in most cases a 5 year old computer is fine.

If ti compiles slow? let your supervisor know how much longer it takes you, then go about your job. If they want to pay you for the extra 10 minutes of compiling time, then so be it.

You do NOT need the at least, greatest all the time. N matter how much we want it and come up with reason we think we need one.

Of course, you also can't claim separation from work and home, so any ideas you write up, or code may become the companies.

To sum up:

No, nada, uh-uh, no way jose, nyet, nein, non, forget it, sorry charlie, bite me, ain't no way in hell.

Colleges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883664)

This is already pretty common in higher education. Plenty of students, TAs, and faculty use their own computers and expect you to make sure everything works.

Replace hard drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883666)

For years, when I have changed jobs, on day one I remove the companies hard drive and replace it with my own. I load the machine the way I want with what I want. When it is time to move on, I put their original drive back in the laptop and hand it back. I've never had anyone complain.

Not no, but HELL NO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883670)

Employees bringing their personally-owned hardware in and plugging into the company network is 100% PURE SECURITY FAIL.

And yes, I intended to yell. I'm the chief IT security officer at our firm, and therefore responsible for security on all things IT here.
I've even forbidden myself from even bringing my own personal laptop into the building here.
You should've heard all the bitching and moaning when we locked down all the CD/DVD burners, denied USB drive connections to all the USB ports, and heavily filtered all web access to become a whitelist-only system.

And what, do you ask, is our business?
We're a law firm.

Umm, what? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883674)

IT costs vs human costs have gone down, down, down and this trend is likely to continue. The tools to manage a large group of machines through Group Policy or other means are becoming more and more advanced with minimal staff supporting a huge number of computers. Of course you could have your employees bring in their own computers and use tons of company time - or IT time - to meddle with their computers, because that's work now right? This goes against all sanity of why you have support departments in corporations, it's not because you couldn't have them do the janitor and cleaning duties on rotation. It's because you want them to do their job, which they're hopefully good at and that you're paying way too much for them to go around playing jack-of-all-trades. And I swear in practice some of the smarter people would become the "go-to" guys which will clog up their time, when they should have been busy making the company money. But please tell me companies that are considering this so I can short them.

Hell No (1)

mjcb (1154977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883688)

The first thing I did when I took over as the Network Administrator at my workplace was put an end to personal computers in the office. The company makes enough money that if we can't afford to give an employee a usable workstation, then we shouldn't be hiring anyone. If you want to bring in a new keyboard or mouse, that's fine with me, but anything else isn't happening When I need to work on a computer or have to wipe it due to a virus or whatever, I don't want to have to waste my time backing up music collections or pictures or crap like that. The first thing I tell a new employee is that the computer is the property of the company, so if you want to load personal stuff on there its at your own risk.

Compter vs Salary (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883708)

Your company needs to seriously rebalance its internal strucutres if the productivity of a >$50k salaray employee is being impacted by the failure to make a yearly $2k investment in hardware. The simple numbers say a 5% increase in employee productivity justifies the expense.

If the problem is staff funding vs IT funding the managers need to escalate it. Save on the staff funding by doing the IT funding. If the company can't do the math and do the rebalancing then it is a bad corporate structure.

My company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883722)

My company, Access America Transport, provides every employee with a capable pc (core 2 duo, 3gb ram) and mandatory dual screen LCD monitors. Every employee also weilds an iPhone with paid service. While you can get better hardware, I can't see a benefit from it in my position. (Keep in mind that I'm one of five IT positions in this company, everyone else's job is based around sales)

Yes. (1)

degeneratemonkey (1405019) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883746)

It seems like this practice would be unfair, undesirable and impractical in many - if not the vast majority of situations. Personally, I work in a very small startup company and everyone here has a blurred separation between work and personal life. To be stingy with my time or personal resources would be to guarantee failure, and I expect (and receive) the same attitude from my constituents.

Of course we are a software company and we aren't plagued with IT support issues due to our relatively competent internal knowledge. In any case, it is very one-sided and cynical to suggest that there is never a good reason to leverage an employee's personal property (at their own discretion, of course) to mitigate operational costs.

Work laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883748)

I'm a developer in IT for a large company and we recently got 64 bit laptops with 8gb ram. I honestly don't mind taking it home with me, as it is faster than anything I own. My last computer is over 5 years old, not as nice to use. I'm also working on my own os x vm (still need to buy snow leopard) to use while I'm at home. I really don't see any reason to buy another computer for personal use when I already have access to this one. Maybe I'm living dangerously by mixing work and home... I dunno...

Common occurance... (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883750)

I have never worked somewhere that officially supported Apple products on their network. And yet, I've always known a few engineers that brought in their Macbooks and got them working. Same goes for non-blackberry smart phones. You can't expect IT to support every piece of hardware and OS on the planet, but you can expect to get some help with server names etc. if you want to do the grunt work on your own hardware.

This is a windows only shop... (4, Interesting)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883758)

Until director-level folks, CEO, CFO, other executives, and board members start demanding to use their iPads for things like e-mail and calendars.

About the only defense IT has is to say, "Fine, to do that we have to do a forklift upgrade of our mail/calendar infrastructure -- $xxx,xxx."

But when the CEO and CFO say, "do it," you do it.

Oh, and don't start on those weirdo creative types in marketing and documentation that bring in their own Macs anyway...

Some businesses, rather than going neurotic about access controls are instead asking, how do we enable employees to use the best tools for their jobs? Yeah, some can get away with XP on a Pentium box. Others want Linux and command lines. Others go for Macs. An iPad can be nearly deal for an exec that lives by e-mail and calendar and doesn't do a lot of content creation.

Figure out how to give people access to the tools that work -- for them


Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34883780)

Anyone with any sort of managed IT infrastructure should shit a brick at this.

Sure, it SOUNDS nice, until the first time you have a non-compliant user. How do you enforce your security policies on hardware that your company does not own?

What's more, you now are taking up responsibility for a massive heterogeneous environment. While EQUIPMENT costs may go down, support costs for a huge variety of systems, operating systems, and compatibility issues with various OEM/VAR add-ins would shoot through the roof.

Office Drone's Schlibovitz 9000C has one of the company's important apps continually crashing. No logs. No error messages. Just BOOM. Back to desktop.

Why? Dunno.
Is it hardware issues? Dunno.
Is it software issues? Dunno.
Can we reproduce it on an identical machine? No.
Why not? No identical machines.
Can we reproduce it on another machine? No.
Why not? Other systems, like the HappyPuppy 3407 run it just fine with no errors. As does the HugeHonkinHeatsink 2600.

If it's a software issue, what do you do? Tell the owner they have to buy another computer or different software/OS? Good luck!
If it's a hardware issue, who foots the bill for replacing the hardware?
Who foots the bill for discovering what the hell the issue actually is in the first place?

How do you get backups from someone's personal machine that may get shut down every night?

How would you retain any moderately sane IT management personnel when you're asking them to essentially asspull the entire environment and "wing it" when problems crop up. You certainly couldn't pay ME enough to oversee that kind of mess.

Duh, they want more money and found a way to get i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34883790)

What a steaming pile of crap.

"IT provisioning is an expensive business." No it isn't. It's an investment that has a payoff. If it doesn't, then it was a waste of money that should have not been invested in. It's a NO-DUH statement that investment in areas of business where there will be a positive return should indeed be invested in. This decision to make or not to make the investment is not that of the employee.

In every way, this is just an attempted money grab (which has litty chance of happening).

Ultimately, employers would have to adequately compensate employees for such purchases, and by diluting the control the seller (Dell/Microsoft/Etc) has more power in pricing negotiations than the singular employee does, and can also be more successful in marketing and otherwise deceiving/convincing the individual employee to buy whatever crap they want to sell.

There is also the ultimate issue of ownership. I used MY tools to create this so I own it. Who's to prove that I did this from 9-5? I own the laptop, I control the software on it. I created this work after midnight, so it's mine and has nothing to do with my regular job, so now I own it. My patent, not yours.

It's about control. You don't own it, so you don't control it. Look at Blackberries vs iPhones/Androids to see how much fun this one is, though the solution itself is actually pretty simple and I'm stupified at why the tools for managing this devices are so crappy.

Let's face it: There are economies in scale. if you have 1000 of the same laptop you only need to stock certain parts locally to fix them when they break. You also don't have to fark around with all the different issues that 50 different models would have. Are the employees themselves going to support those laptops? What's that? Take it to BestBuy or get a remote support tech to come to your house? That's a stupid suggestion -- just ask people how happy they are with the level of disservice that they get from such "support" organizations.

What a flippin stupid idea that only some sleazy sales junkies could come up with.

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