Posted by Alan Mac Neela on February 4, 2013
The rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs in organizations is well documented and it is a growing trend that shows few signs of slowing down. The benefits in increased worker flexibility and improved modernity of the working environment can often outweigh the various and well documented technical, legal and operational concerns. The architectural implications are equally important and often less well understood. The architectural view on BYOD can take multiple perspectives, for example: a device view, a centralized infrastructure view or a usage focused view. Common components such as support, management and security apply all of these architectural views. Each view provides a discrete perspective of the architectural patterns required to successfully architect for BYOD. The selection of the right view for your organization depends largely on the organizational environment in which it will be employed. Irrespective of the view employed, key to architectural success with BYOD programs is to identify and plan for critical aspects of a BYOD scenario based on the different architectural views.
The device view takes the perspective of BYOD from device through operating system, presentation layer, connectivity, applications and data through to the process being undertaken by the user role. Key architectural considerations include user expectations and experience for application presentation, data management and network connectivity. The infrastructure view takes the perspective of BYOD from the infrastructure platform, through the virtualization layer, presentation layer/device management and connectivity layer to the end device. Key architectural considerations include the infrastructure platform model (for example, internal, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service),and presentation layer model (for example, application virtualization, virtual desktop) employed.
Key to architectural success with a BYOD usage view is to determine usage scenarios based on vectors such as application usage, location/mobility requirements, usage frequency patterns and application interaction type. For example: What applications (line of business, productivity, generic organizational systems) does a BYOD user need to use in order to do their job? Does the BYOD user need access from a location on a trusted network, from a remote location on an untrusted network or while mobile? Is the usage frequency sustained for prolonged periods, intermittent or infrequent access? Does application interaction involve creating and managing content or consuming?
EAs play an important role in helping undertake this type of analysis in order to create BYOD architectural patterns which can enable organizations to determine the architectural model that is most appropriate for their requirements. This in turn informs the development of device specifications in the EA standards catalog for BYOD usage scenarios to help workers select or ensure their BYO-device meets organizational standards.