Beyond the hype the of the iPad by Apple lovers and the nay sayers who say “who needs it ” the iPad is likely to impact company IT practice more than anticipated. For many CIO’s and IT Directors there is a growing interest in minimizing the expense and support of endpoint devices. Many companies have taken the fist step to allow access to company apps from unmanaged home PC’s utilizing Application and/or Desktop Virtualization, however very few have taken the leap to allow employees to really bring there own computer to work “BYOC”.

The reasons for the hesitancy typically revolve around security, compliance, local data and risk to internal networks. These concerns have been reason enough for most companies to not to move beyond where they are today. The policy is either a company provided PC/Laptop only, or the next level of enablement allowing controlled access from outside the company network.

What frequently changes IT’s priority to move from the status quo is a management decree or revenue generating employees. Enter the iPad. Regardless of current IT policy the iPad is going to be purchased by Executives, Sale Managers, Physicians, Traders and other money makers. In increasing numbers these employes are going to bring the devices to work and ask IT to support them. Although the first reaction may be no way, the current obstacles of BYOC don’t necessarily apply. If IT allows access from a Receiver equipped iPad with a XenApp/XenDesktop backend the following issues and concerns easily can be managed.

Exposure to Internal Networks – The iPad has no Ethernet port to plug into office RJ45 jacks exposing the internal network. Many companies already provide an isolated guest WiFi network that only allows a secure remote SSL/VPN connection. Alternatively no WiFi access could be enforced and only allow controlled access from the independent 3G carrier network completely isolating the device from the company network.

Company Data on Employee Devices – With Citrix Receiver for iPad no data is stored or runs on the device. Email can be limited to company hosted XenApp sessions of Outlook or Notes and disallow the local native email.

Mixing Personal and Business Data – IT does not want to deal with iTunes, personal music and photos, licensing issues etc. With an employee owned device all these issues are the responsibility of the employee and IT can define a “virtual” wall between IT delivered Desktops and apps that never mix with the employees device.

Replacement Issues – Most BYOC iPads will be secondary devices that won’t kill the employee’s productivity if its out of commission, they can just go back to their primary PC. For some users like Physicians who may depend on an iPad, keeping loaners on-hand can be easy, and set up / configuration can be done in minutes.

Support of Non Company Devices – Aside from replacement issues IT would prefer not to be in possession of employee devices for set-up causing logistical and asset control issues. With Citrix Receiver IT can simply send an email or have an Intranet site that employees only need to click a link to configure the iPad for company apps and desktops.

IT Security Policies – Most companies have specific policies in place for allowing controlled secure remote access. This may include 2 Factor Authentication, 128 SSL Encryption, and password protection enforcement. A Receiver enabled iPad can support all of these requirements.

So for the many companies who are thinking BYOC is an interesting concept but ” not for us ” , it could be worthwhile to consider the Citrix Receiver enabled iPad as a safe way to allow employees to Bring Their Own Computer.

Have you been asked to support the iPad already ? Do you think the iPad is a door opener to BYOC?