This editorial was originally published on Jan 18, 2012. It is being re-run as Steve is on vacation. Some minor edits were made
As laptop prices have plummeted over the last few years to the point where most technical people can afford to purchase their own machine for around $500. Unless you want a really high end machine, in which case you'll be looking at something over $1000. I have even used Macbooks for my work. There are quite a few people working with SQL Server on OSX, however, so if you want one for work, you can make the switch, and here are a few blogs for you (Aaron Bertrand, Brent Ozar, Joe Webb)
As computers become a commodity, and we use them more and more to live our lives as well as work, does it make sense for workers to purchase their own machines and use them in a corporate setting? I know some companies give workers a computer allowance and the workers can take the machine with them if they quit, presumably if they work at the company for longer than a few months. Other companies give their employees money for technology, which can be exciting for technical people that might want to upgrade their monitors or other accessories regularly.
There are definite security and data concerns, but with cheap memory, disks, and hypervisors, it's possible to get around those issues, and allow employees to work with the tools they are familiar with. I ran across this blog that talks about workers owning their own devices in the future, even being required to provide them. Just like many other professions where the workers must own their own set of tools.
On one hand this seems crazy. Employers should provide computers, and as a young worker in this business, I would have struggled to purchase a $1500-2000 laptop. Or maybe I wouldn't have. Maybe I would have seen it as an investment in my career, just like college was. These days, we have even more devices, and while IT departments struggle to secure them, that doesn't stop people from using them, or wanting them. I think I'd like to provide my own smartphone and laptop, and get some sort of allowance from my employer each year to offset the cost.
I don't know how we'd handle the data/security pieces of this scenario, but I'm there would be no shortage of ideas from the various software vendors.