Gartner, Inc. the world's leading information technology research and advisory company has been predicting the consumerization of IT for over five years (even a couple of years before the introduction of the iPad). One of the main forces in the consumerization of IT is the trend of Bring Your Own Device to work, or BYOD.
Since the first iPad hit the street, the consumerization has become a reality for hundreds of organizations with users accessing company resources with their own devices through their home networks. Users have in fact created their own personal infrastructures to interface with your own company’s services. As a result your company may be facing one or more of the following challenges and risks:
- Introduction of viruses and malware
- Users complaining of not having enough access when they are on the go (e.g., access to work files that may be stored on a file share)
- Users complaining of not having the right resources when using their personal devices (e.g., not being able to install a corporate application)
- Users asking you to support their new iOS\Android\Windows phone that just came out two weeks ago because they are taking it on a trip overseas
- Actual loss of intellectual property or confidential data when a device is lost or stolen
While some of these trends may not be new to your organization, the traditional model of IT is not equipped to handle trends like BYOD. Traditionally there were limited and specific groups complaining or introducing problems, like a group of high-level executives or your road warrior sales force. Today the complaints and issues are coming from just about any type of user.
So how do you meet these challenges? Do you embrace them or do you try to fight them with corporate HR and legal policies? Either way, these challenges are here and are not going away. The good news is that if you decide to embrace them there are some technologies that can help you including, Desktop Virtualization, Application Virtualization and Client Automation.
- Desktop Virtualization:
This is one of the main technologies that will enable users to run corporate resources on their own devices, because in fact what they will be able to do is run a corporate machine inside of their own machine. All of the actual resources like CPU processing, drive space, file system, memory, etc. actually reside on a remote system hosted in a corporate data center but this transparent to the user interacting with the remote screen on their own device. Well, almost transparent because in the beginning some users may experience some small lag between what they do and changes in the screen but as they get used to this, it becomes almost negligible. The best advantage of this technology is that dissimilar platforms can be run in parallel. An Android tablet or a Mac Book Pro laptop can both run a virtualized remote session of Windows 7. It is important to note that in our context where we want to run corporate resources we are referring to a virtual remote infrastructure, because there is also software to run a virtual machine locally but that does not apply to this article.
- Application Virtualization:
This is a different level of virtualization where the application only appears to be running as part of the system but it is actually being streamed from a central location or it can run isolated from the host system to avoid compatibility issues. What makes this a compelling option is that the virtual application does not get permanently installed in the user’s system because the moment the user stops using it the application “disappears” without leaving any trace in the file system or registry (in the case of a Windows system). The only caveat is that the host system can only run virtual applications written for the same platform; even if the application was written for a previous version (e.g., a 64-bit Windows 7 system can run a 32-bit application written for Windows XP).
- Client Automation:
This is the component that ties everything together. Client automation allows organizations to manage both physical and virtual clients in a consistent way and, most importantly, in a way that is transparent to the user. With a client automation suite, organizations can determine what resources are managed on users’ machines and with what level of control. For instance, a full version of an application can be intelligently deployed to a user while he or she is using a corporate machine while a lighter or virtualized version of the same application can be deployed to the user on their own personal laptop. Client automation can also offer users an internal “app store” so that they can install approved software on their own.
I have listed only a few technologies from dozens of others that are now available. However what sets these technologies apart is that they offer multiple other benefits to an organization, a great example being making it much faster to migrate to a new operating system. These technologies also integrate with other systems to enhance what they do, for instance virtualization is part of the necessary “backbone” to run cloud services, which also allow users to be productive with their own devices.
About the Author
Jorge Villasenor, Sr. Consultant, Evergreen Systems
Jorge has more than 15 years’ experience in IT. He has been with Evergreen since it merged with net.works (NDW) in 2008 and has experience working in the entertainment and automotive industries. Specifically, his expertise lies in planning, developing and implementing IT automation solutions. Jorge is ITIL Foundation Certified and earned his Bachelors in Industrial Technology from California State University Los Angeles.