Guest Column | May 30, 2013

A Beginners Guide To BYOD

BSM-Mobile Device

There is no denying that BYOD is one of the most talked about trends in the IT industry so far this year; and yet in a recent survey of MSPs using RMM software it was found that on average only 19% of these MSPs were already monetizing on this trend.

It could be that until now it has always been a safer option for companies to simply avoid allowing BYOD within their organizations to reduce the possible risks to their networks – perhaps a welcome decision for MSPs whose responsibility it is to look after said networks.

However, there’s just no escaping from BYOD anymore - particularly for MSPs. In fact, the time has come for MSPs to stop avoiding BYOD and instead begin embracing the opportunities it presents.

To get you started on your road to BYOD here are a few things every MSP should know!

What is Bring Your Own Device?

To start off with, before you begin to implement a BYOD strategy it’s important to understand just what the implications of this surge in BYOD are.

Essentially the number of employees particularly in high growth markets, who bring their own devices to work, is continually increasing. So much so that research from Gartner suggests half of employers, who are realizing the potential of BYOD, will make it mandatory for staff to do just that by 2017.

The reason for this increase is simple; employees feel they can be more productive, work more efficiently and with more flexibility by having access to a familiar device they can work from at anytime and anywhere. And no one wants to carry two of anything (a business as well as a personal smartphone for example) when they can simply carry one.

And the benefits to the employer? Well for a start with staff providing all their own devices they can save money on equipment and maintenance costs – however, they need to consider any additional costs associated with Mobile Device Management (MDM) with so many different devices on the network. They will also see the benefits of a more flexible and mobile work force; not to mention the increased satisfaction for employees.

So it’s clear to see that BYOD isn’t going away and now is the time for MSPs to prepare for the wave that is sure to come.


As an MSP it will be your job to not only manage the increasing number of mobile devices your clients and their employees are going to be utilizing but also to give advice as to the best way to do so.

As there are two possible models that can be adopted when considering Mobile Device Management (MDM), it is important to have a good grasp of the differences between them. As you will already be aware the first and most talked about model is BYOD, the other option is the COPE model – Company Owned, Personally Enabled.

COPE (Company-Owned, Personally-Enabled) Strategy

With COPE, devices are purchased by the company – to enable employees to work remotely – and are configured to company specifications, including software and security. Employees are often allowed to customize their devices to a certain extent but this is limited. Usually they will be able to download apps but will be restricted to using a certain browser for example. They are then able to make use of their device for both personal use and for work. At the end of the day though the device belongs to the company and it is expected that the device will be handed in when an employee leaves the company.

Many MSPs could be tempted to encourage their clients to opt for the COPE option, especially as this level of control ensures security risks are lower. However, for many of your clients COPE may not be an option. The costs involved in the purchasing and maintenance of mobile devices could be too high for a SMB to incur and so it is important to remember that you must weigh up the benefits of each option when advising your clients.

An added benefit from MSPs for the COPE model would be the option to offer the full mobile service –handsets, airtime & support contracts, giving the chance of an additional revenue stream.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Strategy

Chances are BYOD is going to be the model which best suits most of your clients so it is important to be in a position where you can properly explain all the risks and implications involved. By doing so you can also ensure that you can put a robust strategy in place to protect yourself, your clients and their employees.

The main issue when it comes to BYOD is always going to be security, when you let people connect their own devices to a network you are opening up that network to a lot of threats. Are the devices themselves security protected? Have the devices been rooted or jailbroken? What vital company information is being stored on these devices? What would happen if these devices were to be lost or stolen? 

One way clients can overcome some of these issues is to use an application which employees can download and install on to their devices enabling them to connect to the company network. By doing this you can limit access to non-critical data only, you can include antivirus and encryption software to protect the network and you could even locate a device if it is lost or stolen.

Each company will be different and as an MSP you can advise as to the best strategy for BYOD, for some you may want to consider a password policy for all devices, you may even want to consider the types of device which will be supported and whether clients should have devices inspected before allowing them to be used. Once you have an appropriate strategy in place which both you and your client are happy with you can begin to consider how you will tackle mobile device management.

Mobile Device Management

There are a few important areas to consider when implementing MDM for your clients. First of all do you have the appropriate policies in place to protect yourself in the event that something goes wrong?

A good BYOD policy should outline each party’s responsibilities with regards to mobile devices; you can determine your level of support, what type of devices will be supported and what is expected of employees when using their personal devices at work, among other things. This will ensure you are covered if an employee uses a device on the network which is not supported by your security measures.

Another thing to consider is whether you have the best tools in place to begin managing mobile devices? To undertake MDM you will need to be able to manage, monitor and report on mobile devices connecting to a network while still providing the same level of service you had previously offered. For this reason if you are currently using a RMM tool, you will need to find MDM software which will integrate with your existing software. 

Alternatively you could consider upgrading your software to one which offers MDM as part of its features. By upgrading your software to manage all possible devices you can ensure that you are offering the most efficient service to your customers.

By considering all the possibilities and with careful planning there is no reason why MSPs can’t make the most of BYOD – now all you have to do is get started!


About the author
Debbie Thomson is a Content Marketing Specialist at GFI MAX, when she is not writing about marketing and sales for managed service providers she likes to spend her time watching TV shows, going to the cinema and making jewelry.