At the request of some of my teammates here at eGroup, I decided to accept a challenge of running nothing but Linux Mint 14 on my MacBook Air for the entire month of February. The ultimate goal was to test its usability during my daily work regime while not being disruptive. In other words, in order to pass the test, Linux Mint 14 needed to “just work” without impacting my ability to do my job, deliver service for our customers, and continue in the field work, as is usually the case.
After (now almost 40 days), I’m proud to say that I have succeeded, and it wasn’t nearly as hard as I was originally expecting it to be.
To start with, Linux Mint is based off of Ubuntu, which I’ve used on and off for a few years now. It’s kind of the new “hot and trendy” Linux distro for its ease of use, wide device support, and the options it provides for its desktop environment.
The Website is Linux Mint (just don’t judge the distribution by the appearance of the website).
While some strongly dislike the Unity interface on Ubuntu, I have no issues with it. Some complain that it’s too slow, or too “Windowsy,” and maybe it’s because I’m that accustomed to Windows that I don’t notice, but I’ve never had issues with its performance (and that includes running it on a 5 year old Shuttle PC I have at home). The interface itself, while a little more “bold,” has a kind of polished elegance about it.
Moving to Mint and away from Unity, I will say the Cinnamon desktop environment experience on Linux Mint 14 was much more enjoyable – from the smoothness of the “Start menu” to the hot corners which I now find myself addicted to.
To avoid impact on my ability to do my job, I used the Citrix Receiver to hit our internal Citrix XenApp deployment for all Office application needs, including and especially Outlook, as well as some of our other Windows-native applications. And, while it comes with LibreOffice, the free, compatible, and open source Office-like product, I still needed Outlook. This was a no brainer for me, since I use the Citrix Receiver every day on the Mac– as do millions of others. But if you don’t, the Wine software is the way to go.
I’ve used my own device for work for almost 2 years now (I really live the BYOD dream), and having applications and desktops delivered to my preference of device is very liberating. Without that ability, I couldn’t have run this challenge.
On the client side, offline and accessible locally, I found that almost every one of the “really nice to have” applications were available for debian-based Linux distributions (of which Ubuntu and Mint are), including Skype and Spotify. For anything else, the use of the free “Wine” Windows app emulation layer did the trick.
While onsite with customers, simply connecting to their servers via RDP provided me access to any systems that did not have tools available for Linux clients.
Most of those I told about this little challenge asked me why I would even bother. Well, and the answer is simple: I believe it will become a valuable skill set to have for technologists ranging from the home user, to the veteran sysadmin. I believe, and have shared this belief with my teammates, that Linux, in all of its distributions, will continue to grow in popularity, riding on the back of cloud computing. And with the “bleh” response to Windows 8, and Canonical’s push of Ubuntu into more and more client devices (including smartphones), growth will come on the end user front as well. Do you agree? Am I nuts (yes)?
Do you think you could survive 30 days using Linux exclusively on your personal or work computer? Give it try and let us know!
On the heels of launching our eGroup eBook, “7 Steps to a Sensible BYOD Strategy: So You Can Sleep at Night,” we recently sat down with John F. Andrews, Chief Operating Officer and Fractional CIO of Virtual C-I-O, to chat about his company’s views and opinions on BYOD. And, most importantly, how c-level executives should manage the situation.
It sounds like both eGroup and Virtual C-I-O agree on quite a bit when it comes to BYOD. Read on for more:
eGroup: What effective approaches can management take in addressing “bring your own device” to the workplace?
JFA: BYOD is a growing, undeniable reality. The CIO or company fractional CIO would be best served to embrace this trend as well as establish a program to manage its implementation, just as programs are put in place to implement other new technologies. To roll out such a program effectively, a cross-functional team of IT, finance, legal and all other affected operating entities must collaborate to address the following at minimum:
- Which employees are eligible and which are not?
- Who pays for service plans and hardware?
- Who pays for devices that are stolen or lost?
- Which applications are permitted and which are not?
- Are employees required to use mobile device management security software that encrypts company data, monitors the device usage and passwords?
- Are employees required to agree that the company can remotely wipe out any data—possibly including personal data—if the device is lost or stolen?
- Are employees responsible to back-up their own personal data?
- What disciplinary actions will be taken in response to misuse?
With these items fully vetted and addressed, a formal policy can then be developed which best fits the corporate culture, legal, financial and operating perspectives. The CIO or fractional CIO must understand that there is no “cookie cutter” approach that works for all organizations.
eGroup: How should management educate their employee users on the security risks and potential threats BYOD raises without hampering the substantial productivity benefits of BYOD?
JFA: BYOD isn’t a technology issue, it’s a policy issue. A policy issue that involves other organizations besides IT, such as finance, legal, HR and operations. Therefore, a comprehensive view is appropriate. This cross-functional group mentioned earlier, led by the CIO or fractional CIO should be responsible for developing a policy that considers all aspects of BYOD with security being a critical item. It should be formalized, institutionalized and communicated to all impacted employees just as all other business-critical policies.
eGroup: Does company management have a role in making mobile apps available to employees and their devices?
JFA: After adequate review and approval, the BYOD program should indicate which company applications can be used by each employee based on their role in the organization. The policy should also indicate which applications or application types aren’t to be used as well.
Beyond that, we see many CIOs and fractional CIOs setting up their own “app store” that BYOD participants can access to download applications and other software that they are approved for, and that provide tangible support for their jobs.
As you write in “7 Steps to a Sensible BYOD Strategy: So You Can Sleep at Night,” VMware’s Horizon Application Manager is a great example of a tool which helps CIOs deliver policy-driven application access.
eGroup: What is the best method for encouraging productive feedback from the employee end-user community to company leaders?
JFA: To gain the most candid and honest feedback, CIOs and their teams should conduct regular user surveys. Centralized suggestion mailboxes are also popular, where employee users can provide suggestions at any time on how to improve service. Both methods can be handled on an anonymous basis, again encouraging the most honest and candid feedback, without the worry of reprisals.
eGroup: Should a CEO be concerned that the company’s application usability and human factors are best-in-class?
JFA: Absolutely. Software is integrated into almost all — if not all — core processes in corporations today and can be a major differentiator – either positive or negative – on the company’s stature, reputation and desirability as a supplier or employer. The company CIO or fractional CIO can actively support the CEO’s leadership in this regard by developing a comprehensive strategic road map design for IT / business technology that includes the internal as well as external leverage that BYOD provides. In addition to tactical responsibilities, the CIO’s role involves strengthening the CEO’s company vision, as well as the long-term value proposition.
When you think about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, does it send shivers up and down your spine?
If you answered “no” – great! Sounds like you have everything under control. But, if you answered, “yes” – you’re not alone according to our research.
These days, business and IT leadership wake up in a world where one-third of young employees use three different devices. For many, it’s a nightmare because there’s a gang of monsters hiding under the bed (i.e. security, cost, management, etc.). No wonder 73% of UK IT directors surveyed said they are concerned BYOD will cause IT costs to “spiral out of control.” Their fears are supported by Aberdeen Group’s finding that a company with 1,000 mobile devices spends an extra $170,000 per year, on average, when it uses a BYOD approach.
Yet, most IT leaders aren’t disputing the business case for BYOD.
With all this Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, filling the market, we’re pleased to offer advice and practical solutions in the latest eGroup eBook, “7 Steps to a Sensible BYOD Strategy (So You Can Sleep at Night).” In it, you will learn how to devise and implement an effective BYOD strategy. Enjoy – and don’t let those gang of monsters win!
Download (PDF, 283KB)
eGroup, in collaboration with a few of our manufacturing partners – Cisco, VMware and EMC – hosted a high touch event specifically designed to guide and inform our customer executives on the most critical and impactful innovations.
The Forum, titled “Building Organizations with Technology to Achieve High Performance and a Distinct Competitive Advantage”, took place against the beautiful backdrop of the Inn on Biltmore in Asheville, NC. The content theme focused on “Three Mega Technology Trends: BYOD, Collaboration, Cloud” impacting our customer’s business and how they can leverage for a competitive advantage.
To see more photos from the event, please click here.
Happy Pi Day readers! It’s day 011 of FLISH MADNESS and we are continuing our conversation on End User Computing.
To review, we discussed yesterday that three things are needed for EUC to be successfully deployed in a corporate IT environment.
1. Device agnosticism aka BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
2. Application abstraction / Modern Application development (HTML 5)
3. Secure MDM (Mobile Device Management)
We went in depth about topic number one yesterday.
Today we will discuss topic number 2:
Application abstraction / Modern Application development
Read more >>