Bring Your Own Device–what it means in education

There’s a lot of interest in Bring Your Own Device in education, as many believe BYOD is going to be an increasing trend moving down from higher education into schools. But today, there aren’t many exemplars that we can look at to see how it might work.

I have come across some stuff that might be useful, which is a case study from the Microsoft IT team (MSIT are the people that run our IT infrastructure for employees and the business). The scale probably isn’t typical, but there’s some excellent information that is!

The Microsoft IT infrastructure and BYOD

  • Most employees at Microsoft are working with at least two portable devices at any given time
  • There are approximately 1.3 million devices on the Microsoft corporate network
  • Most employees expect to use their own devices for work
  • The challenge for IT is balancing employee productivity and satisfaction, whilst safeguarding the integrity and security of corporate data
  • Devices are evaluated for risk into a series of device classes
  • It’s a tricky set of decisions – the balance to be struck is between business value versus risk

Tony Scott, the Microsoft CIO, puts it clearly:

  We worry about data security, not about a device in particular. When you do that, you find that your employees, or consumers of your information, love it, because now they have something that s useful to them both at home and at work. It’s also a recognition on the enterprise’s part that a lot of our information comes from outside, not from internal IT systems.  

Technologies to support BYOD in education

The article goes on to discuss what technologies are being used by the Microsoft IT team to support the strategy. Although the situation is quite different, there are many parallels to how you would manage an education BYOD policy:

  • System Centre 2012 Configuration Management allows device management on the corporate network
  • Exchange ActiveSync allows for policy control over mobile devices – eg remote wipe
  • Office 365 provides secure access from anywhere to collaboration technologies
  • Direct Access provides secure remote access, without needing a VPN.
    The MSIT team saves approximately $300,000 per facility with this (as well as making me, as a user, happier than the days of VPN)
  • Lync and Lync Mobile allows real-time collaboration across multiple platforms.
    And the business saves over $200M using this every year for remote meetings, training and communications
  • OfficeTalk, which is an internal social network

You should read the article for the full story – especially towards the end, when it talks about the best practices for development of future internal applications that are web-based and device agnostic – like using HTML5, supporting employee-driven development, and using the cloud.

Learn MoreRead the full case study on Microsoft’s BYOD story


NB: I have gone back and tagged articles on this blog relevant to Bring Your Own Device in Education, so that you can easily track down everything on the subject.