End-User Computing Now, Part 2

By Elias Khnaser
CTO, Sigma Solutions

In part one, I offered a high-level overview of a suggested end-user computing strategy. Let’s break down the topics, starting with the desktop strategy.

Desktop Strategy
While we may be in the post-PC era, it doesn’t mean that physical desktops and laptops are going to disappear. We need to continue to fine-tune and deploy desktop management tools like Microsoft SCCM and others. On the other hand, ignoring desktop virtualization and VDI is also not acceptable anymore and continuing the rhetoric and debate about CAPEX vs. OPEX costs and the exaggerated costs of VDI is just a bunch of “malarkey” (sorry, I had to find a use for this word).

A well-planned and designed desktop virtualization infrastructure can be very cost-effective and cheaper than a physical implementation. It is also about time to position the benefits of desktop virtualization from a business perspective, BC/DR, flexibility and more. We must look beyond how much is it going to cost and consider what we gain. Anyone can lie with numbers and you can make them look the way you want, so let’s agree to just get past the TCO of desktop virtualization — it has a place and it is an integral part of the strategy.

MDM/MAM/MIM
Mobile Device Management, Mobile Application Management and Mobile Information Management — they’re all new terms, all colorful terms. And so, with the mobile device explosion we need to evolve our mindset from one that has traditionally always been about controlling the device to one that governs the device. Better yet, we should govern enterprise resources on these devices. MDM will aid in enforcing device passwords, remote selective wipe of the enterprise resources on the device, encryption, reporting, etc.

MAM is about mobile applications, sandboxing and encapsulating mobile applications so that we can apply policies against them. Without sandbox or application wrapping, it will be very difficult for enterprises to control what applications can and cannot do. This is especially apparent with native e-mail clients. Without sandboxing the e-mail client, mobile applications that get installed on the device could gain access to corporate contacts and information that otherwise would not be allowed. Native e-mail clients are also so embedded into the mobile OS that it is difficult to sandbox them. That’s why organizations such as Citrix, VMware and others now provide their own version of a sandboxed e-mail as a complimentary alternative.

MAM can also serve as a consolidated application store for the enterprise where Windows, SaaS, mobile and other applications can be consumed. This is, again, a technology where there might be overlap between MDM vendors and enterprises such as Citrix and VMware. As you are making your technology selection, choose a MAM solution that could integrate best with your desktop strategy and technology partner selection.

Mobile Information Management, also known as Mobile Data Management, provides essentially a Dropbox-like functionality for the enterprise. The idea here is to enforce policy-driven security that would allow or deny file syncing to certain devices in certain locations. More granularly, it would allow or disallow certain file types on certain devices, etc.

Social Enterprise / Collaboration
Do you really enjoy sending one-word e-mails, e-mails that say “Thank you” or “Yes”? Do you enjoy searching through thousands of e-mails to locate the conversation you were having, or to find a file attachment? If you are like me, you probably despise e-mail — I truly hate e-mail and in my consulting world, when working on a customer’s statement of work, we start versioning the SOW and send it back and forth. There has got to be an easier way. What if we had a Facebook-like enterprise where we can collaborate with colleagues? Better yet, what if this social enterprise can be linked to our MIM solution so that we can drag files and collaborate on them while they are in a centralized, secure location?

Of course social platforms still need to mature somewhat for the enterprise and you have to be able to answer questions such as:

  • What level of use of social networking will you allow?
  • Are any social networking services more enterprise-friendly than others?
  • How are they used for work purposes? (crucial question)
  • How do you see social enterprise changing communication and collaboration behavior at your company?

I will take one step further and say that I believe social enterprise platforms such as SocialCast and Podio and others have the potential to become the next desktop and I have blogged about them here several times.

Wireless
Every customer tells me they have a wireless infrastructure and while I recognize that a wireless infrastructure is part of the DNA of every enterprise, for the most part, what many dismiss or disregard is that these wireless infrastructures were not built to handle the number of devices that are or will be connecting connecting to the infrastructure. More important, however, are the types of services delivered over these wireless infrastructures that are significantly different.

Remember, in an end-user computing strategy, you have to take into account remoting protocols like PCoIP, HDX, RDP and others. You also have to take into account the new and updated technologies that could make other services better. So, please don’t ignore the wireless infrastructure.

We are also looking for a secure and scalable infrastructure with pervasive coverage to detect and mitigate sources of interference. A wireless infrastructure capable of location tracking will tie very nicely with your MDM tools to enable or disable certain functionality depending on your geographic location.

Security
There is no way you are thinking about an end-user computing strategy and BYOD in particular without taking into account security generally and network access control in particular. You should be investigating and planning to control wired and wireless access and dynamic differentiated access policies, enforcing context-based security, and providing self-service access and guest lifecycle management via agent or agentless approaches.

Now it’s your turn. Do you agree that an end-user computing strategy is needed? And if so, how we can refine and fine-tune the strategy I laid out here? Comment away!