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Cisco's own BYOD policies and practices helped kill Cius

Company was advocating for own personal device use even before doomed tablet launched

By Jim Duffy on Thu, 06/14/12 - 1:26pm.

Cisco even rejected its doomed Cius tablet internally. BYOD trends globally - and locally, officials said this week -- forced the company to cancel development of the collaboration endpoint three weeks ago, later than it apparently should have.

 In keeping with its 'eat our own dog food' practice, Cisco planned to roll Cius out across the company, just like it did with Quad, another homegrown collaboration product. But there was a silent backlash as workers were already bringing their iPads to the Cisco campus.

Cius was quickly overtaken: iPads deployed within Cisco grew from 9,000 to 16,000 in the time that Cisco rolled out only 2,000 Cius tablets, said OJ Winge, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration Endpoints Technology Group.

Indeed, Winge added during his collaboration panel presentation at CiscoLive! this week that 63% of the tablets used in enterprises are iPads.

Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby saw the lack of appeal for Cius internally first hand.  She herself advocated a BYOD policy at Cisco even before Cius was launched in 2010.

"We've been doing (BYOD) for four years," Jacoby said during her roundtable discussion with reporters this week at CiscoLive! "We were driven to do it because we spent an inordinate amount of time defending BYOD. And we're evolving that strategy as we go forward. It was important to change the way we were thinking and be open-minded, not stuck in a legacy mindset. And it's consistent with our long term architectural strategy to go down the VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) path."

"People kept bringing in their own devices" even as Cisco was rolling out Cius internally, said Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior in the same roundtable session. "As a converged device, we saw the transition (to soft client-based collaboration) happening in the last six months. Our vision is the same."

"The reality is, it is a great concept but as a software client it's a much more effective strategy for us," Jacoby said. "We continue to give a choice of endpoint, which is much more consistent with our long term strategy. I was supportive of that decision" to cancel Cius.

Cisco's BYOD policy embraces company-provisioned and personal Android and Apple devices, and some Blackberry, but use of those products is declining, Jacoby says. Laptops supported include "standard" PCs and some Apple Macs, though there are some stipulations and trade-offs to opting for a Mac over a PC: Macs cost almost twice as much as a PC, she says, so decisions on its use may be made on a departmental level vs. IT.

Still, 25% to 30% of Cisco workers people choose a Mac while 70% choose a PC. An iPad is a personal choice, and a Cisco worker's department pays for the VDI implementation on that, Jacoby says. Security is Cisco AnyConnect client on mobile devices, and other Cisco and Microsoft security products.

So with BYOD prevalent, will IP desktop phones also go the way of Cius? Eventually, but not right away, says Carl Wiese, Cisco senior vice president of Worldwide Collaboration Architectures.

"It will, but not near term," he said. "Is it either or? There's not one device or client. We've shipped 50 million IP phones and seen 40% growth in 18 months. Apparently it's not dead yet."

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