I’m a big fan of analogies, so I’ll start with one. You want to open up a mechanic shop, basic auto repair. You have a world of options to you, but as you examine the details, it becomes clear that on a shoestring budget, servicing one brand of car is the best way to go. If you service Ford and Ford alone, you only need to stock Ford parts, your staff only need to know Ford troubleshooting, etc., etc. Over time, you can become a real expert in Fords. And since you’re only supporting one brand, your costs are minimized.
Want to expand to Honda? Now your techs need to be certified in Honda AND Ford, which raises their cost and lowers the available labor pool; now you have to stock both companies parts; now you have to understand and do both sets of paperwork, warranty rules and regulations, etc., etc. It certainly isn’t *twice* as expensive to add Honda, but it sure isn’t as cheap as just doing Ford, either.
It is simplistic, but this same concept of homogeneity = cost savings is mirrored in the IT world. The more things are the same, the easier it is to support them. Software issues, hardware issues, all tend to replicate. Same=Simple=Savings.
Part of this desire for homogeneity in IT is born of necessity; in all my A/E/C travels, I’ve only seen one firm that I would qualify as Adequately/Well Funded. Everyone else is living on what they’re given, trying to make the most with what they have. Despite the AEC vertical’s complete and utter dependence on technology, it is still given short shrift in most firms. That’s fine. You perceive IT as a cost center, not a revenue generator. But Bring Your Own Technology is variance, and as any Architect should know, Variance has Costs.
Let’s build a hotel with 200 suites. Option A has a window in every room, exactly the same as every other. We can single-source the window, we understand the heating/cooling specs, calculate a mean time to clean for the staff, calculate quantity needed on hand for break/fix, etc.,etc.etc. So lets take that same hotel, and with Option B, have 180 rooms with that standard window, but for the remaining 20, each is completely unique. Are your purchase costs the same? No. Design costs the same? No. Replacement costs? No. Installation costs? Will the operator have a 1-1 onhand spare for each unique window in case of breakage? No. But can you do it? Absolutely.
The “Can you do it” question in IT is *always* yes. Yes, we can. All it takes is a combination of time, money and people and we can do *anything*. But that’s not really the situation, is it? We not only don’t have unlimited resources, we’re trying to do the best job possible with a very limited set of resources. You want to start bringing your own tech in? Your iPads, your Bluetooth hard drives, your shareware app that you can’t live without, the Sony Vaio laptop, etc.,etc.? Yes, it can be supported. But not with the budget as-is. Not with the staff levels as-is. If BYOT is important to the firm, we’ll get on board. Just don’t be the customer who wants their 20 unique windows at the same cost as the 200 standardized windows.