Cisco: The Biggest Mobile BYOD Deployment Around? [Slides]

Cisco: The Biggest Mobile BYOD Deployment Around? [Slides]

Summary: You know how in New Zealand, the sheep supposedly outnumber the people? At Cisco Systems, the number of mobile devices could soon outnumber the number of employees.


You know how in New Zealand, the sheep supposedly outnumber the people? At Cisco Systems, the number of mobile devices could soon outnumber the number of employees.

There are 50,538 smartphones and tablets in use at Cisco, which has 71,825 employees. Not only does that already comprise a ratio of one device per 1.4 employees, said Lance Perry, vice-president of IT customer strategy and success for Cisco, during an excellent presentation at the Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise (CITE) conference in San Francisco on Monday. But the 50,000+ device figure is also an increase of 52% from just 12 months earlier.

I gleaned 5 things from this slide:

1) iPhone dominates - nearly 21,000 devices, up 10x in last 2 years.

2) BlackBerries are treading water, in absolute terms, though their share of overall usage has fallen by more than half.

3) Android usage is growing fast, driven by Millennials and other young people, said Perry.

4) Fittingly, Cisco might have the largest deployments of Cisco Cius tablets, with more than 2,000 tablets.

5) The 8,144 iPads used by Cisco ranks them 7th on my list of the largest public iPad deployments.

Another really interesting thing about Cisco's deployment is that it is 100% Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Employees have complete freedom to choose whatever device they want.

Just because Cisco is a Silicon Valley giant that is routinely ranked among the Best Places to Work doesn't mean that it's always been liberal about employees' choice of devices. As recently as 2005, Perry was asked by his bosses to "make it so the wireless doesn't work with" the Macs that employees were bringing to work.

Perry didn't see the point of that. Not only were those employees buying the Macs on their own dime, but they didn't use any help desk resources. Whereas the average Windows-using employee made "ten calls a year at $19 a per call," he said. And the Mac-toting workers seemed happier for it.

This led Cisco to make BYOD and device agnosticism available to every employee. That boosted penetration. Today, an impressive 51% of employees use mobile devices at Cisco (sad to say, that may top SAP, which has 40% of workers carrying iPads or iPhones).

Moreover, "our satisfaction went through the moon," Perry said. "If we don't pay for it, and our users are happier, isn't that a beautiful thing?"

(To learn about what Strategy Analytics thinks is the ratio of BYOD to corporate-deployed tablets in the enterprise, click here.)

While Cisco requires employees to pay for their own hardware, it does pay the service fees for about two-fifths of them. That's a hefty savings, since an annual subscription can total 2-3 times the cost of a single device. Those employees need to get vice-presidential approval, said Perry.

About 9,000 employees pay their service fees out of their own pocket. But Cisco does have employee discounts with many carriers, Perry said. And that segment - employee-paid - is growing 5x faster than the other, said Brett Belding, an IT manager at Cisco helping oversee the BYOD service.

Befitting a networking vendor with strong security offerings, Cisco has a comprehensive policy for what it categorizes as "trusted devices", requiring encryption, 10 minute inactivity resulting in automatic lockout, 4-digit PIN codes to unlock and remote wipe capabilities. These capabilities are stricter than non-encrypted "alternative devices," which are only secured with PIN and remote wipe.

Here's a slide showing Cisco's overall mobile security model.

A last miscellaneous comment: Perry said he's a fan of desktop virtualization for mobile, not only for boosting security, but for cost savings. "If you're very very diligent, you can get 17% to 22% savings," he said.

Topics: ÜberTech, Cisco, iPhone, iPad, Mobility, BlackBerry, Tablets, Virtualization

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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  • Appropriate that Cisco is an early BYOD adopter.

    As a premier vendor of networking equipment, it is only appropriate that Cisco should take a lead in adopting BYOD. They can prepare networks and networking devices that are impregnable by unauthorized users of a BYOD-friendly network.
    • Thanks!

      We're very proud of our BYOD implementation. We started this 3 years ago as a way to reduce costs and allow users to choose from a wide variety of mobile devices.

      We leverage a lot of our own technologies to secure the devices and networks, and we couple that with strong policies that our users agree to.
  • Cisco iPhone and iPad user here

    I work for Cisco in San Jose, and carry an iPhone and iPad to work. The iPhone has access to email from anywhere, whereas the iPad has access to the internal wireless network. I also leave a Macbook Pro, 27" Thunderbolt display, and Time Machine drive chained to my desk on my dime (plus a DynDNS served domain for lab switches/hosts, and Dropbox for scripts, both also on my dime).

    I have to say that Cisco is indeed very liberal in what we can use. I'm self-sufficient, have never called the help desk for anything, expect when it's very obviously a corp network issue. We've an internal user-maintained mac Wiki that provides answers to the most common Cisco-specific questions e.g. printing, vpn, wifi, etc. That, in addition to Google, is pretty much all I need to stay productive.

    Reorganizations aside, life is pretty good @ Cisco :-)
    • Former Cisco Linux and Android User

      Ummm, policies are pretty liberal, but you might want to talk to Infosec about your config. I'm pretty sure you're violating policy on that config.

      (a former maintainer of the internal Linux User Support Wiki)
  • Wonder if Cisco cares about the cost of BYOD?

    ~72,000 employees * two-fifths is 28,800 employees. If CISCO is taking care of these costs through individual expense accounts, that could be an extra $10 million in labor and another $10 million from lack of direct wireless expense management. I wonder if CISCO has taken this into account or whether BYOD is becoming an excuse to stop managing costs?
    Hyoun Park
    • Expenses

      Hi, this is Brett Belding. I manage the team that delivers BYOD at Cisco. I can promise you we are very focused on cost management. By practice we only allow very limited expensing of personal mobile accounts, and we include those costs in our overall monthly/quarterly TCO management. Remember that we started BYOD three years ago as a way to reduce cost and allow wide device choice. I am personally measured on the TCO of our BYOD implementation. Follow me on twitter @bbelding
      • Great to hear!

        You seem to have thought it out, Brett, but most BYOD deployments actually don't have anyone goaled on reducing or managing TCO and I unfortunately wasn't at the event to ask about more details. I was curious because many BYOD presentations focus only on the ease of management or the direct costs of devices and carrier plans rather than the full TCO.

        I'm glad that Cisco has thought this out. Being a telecom expense management industry analyst and a former telecom billing manager, I unfortunately run into many companies that have not thought out their approach and are leaking money either through full expensing of accounts regardless of spend, the cost of processing expense accounts, not leveraging personal device counts in corporate discounting, lack of rate plan optimization, increased cost of implementing mobile GRC, or internal support costs. Thanks for the reply and I look forward to following you on Twitter!
        Hyoun Park
      • Cost to Employees?

        I see the benefits to the enterprise, but what are the best options for the employee's that are being dropped from corporate smartphone rates to individual rates? Do most people see their company's still maintaining a relationship with cellular carriers so that their employee's can receive discounts or is it up to the employee to find the best deal?
  • See me at Cisco Live

    If you'd like to talk with me one on one or hear me deliver the full presentation on Cisco IT's BYOD strategy, come see me at Cisco Live! I'll be at our Melbourne, Australia show March 21st-23rd and at our flagship San Diego, CA show the week of June 10. Find out more at www.ciscolive.com and follow me on twitter @bbelding
    • BTW, an iPad BYOD update from Brett Belding

      Brett let me know via Twitter that they are up to 10,000 BYOD iPads at Cisco, incl. 2,500 of the 3rd-gen new iPads. Good stuff...