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By Steve Jones,

Citrix announced recently that they'll give some employees a $2,100 stipend to purchase a computer for work and personal use. ArsTechnica thinks this is a good thing, and it makes sense since most people are evolving to be very technologically savvy. There's something to this argument as the days of someone looking for the "any" key or wondering what a mouse is are largely gone in the business world for all levels of workers.

Allowing workers to purchase their own machine, configure as they think it's needed to do their jobs, gives them not only a sense of ownership, but it can be a perk that many people would appreciate. IT departments don't think it matters, but being able to buy a blue or pink laptop might be as important to one person them as the extra 2GB of RAM is to another.

It's not a decision that I would make lightly, however, since employees often don't necessarily treat their own personal possessions as they might their companies. Plenty of people wouldn't install anti-virus or a firewall (or turn them off), they might not patch their machines, or perhaps the most important thing, they might not encrypt their drives and carry around sensitive data.

Some of this can be solved by requiring certain settings or not allowing machines to connect to networks. There might be some server side upgrades required here, but that's not a big challenge. Implementing backups of machines to corporate networks can make some sense, as can storing most data on file servers, Version Control Systems, etc. However then you get into issues of privacy. What about someone's letters to their bank or their Quicken data? If people have one machine they primarily use, they'll tend to put all their data, from iTunes to family pictures Quicken, on that machine. I know I like to have all my data on my primary machine.

The privacy issues here might make this a sticky situation, not that it's much different than today. Personally I might consider virtualization for employees, giving them a VM that covers the business applications they need and letting them run all their other applications, and perhaps mail, on the host machine. Maybe even allow them to use some type of flash drive to store the information.

There are no easy answers here and I know there are plenty of situations that make this seem problematic, but most of those issues exist today. People don't want to carry two machines around, especially those that travel or work at home, and they often resent decisions made by a central IT organization. I think Citrix is moving down the right path, and best of all, when someone leaves they don't need to track down an asset and get it back. The savings there for a couple full-time people might make this worthwhile.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts

Everyday Jones

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