Not Just VDI — It’s All About End-User Computing Now

by Elias Khnaser
CTO, Sigma Solutions

End-user computing has expanded so much and gotten even more complex. In this two-part series, we will explore the strategies that could be used in enterprises to address all the current issues: from consumerization and BYOD, to desktop virtualization and physical desktop management.

It used to be fairly simple and straightforward: End-users either got a desktop or a laptop and those who needed a bit more accessibility got a Blackberry for mobile email, and that was it. Sophisticated enterprises managed those desktops with Microsoft SCCM, Symantec Altiris, LANdesk or similar technologies.

Those days are gone and the situation has radically changed, with the needs and requirements of end-users having evolved to the point that they have, on average, two or three devices — a PC and smartphone and/or tablet.

Access to resources has also changed. We used to just load everything on the laptop, but now end-users want and need selective access to resources on their preferred device from anywhere at any time over any connection.

That means it’s time to rethink the end-user computing strategy.

For many years, IT treated the end-user space as a second-class citizen, with no real IT talent devoted to it or any serious planning or strategy. The attitude was to just get it done no matter how sloppy the method. Most of our time and effort was focused on the data center, the crown jewel of every IT engineer’s resume. We wanted to go through the ranks, through the help desk and get to the data center — where real computing happens.

Well, today, enterprises are demanding that the same level of seriousness we dedicated to the data center now gets focused on the end-user computing side.

Where do we start? Let’s begin by identifying the components of this new strategy:

  • Desktop Strategy — this means a strategy for physical and virtual desktops and applications
  • MDM/MAM/MIM — necessary to govern the mobile devices, applications and data
  • Collaboration — a modern way of collaborating between end-users that goes beyond the traditional tools to reach the social enterprise
  • Wireless Infrastructure — a robust, dynamic and scalable wireless infrastructure to support the influx of devices and services
  • Security — at the heart of any strategy is security, and end-user computing security in the age of BYOD is crucial

Now, the challenge is the ability to weave all these technologies together and avoid overlap, as some of the vendors in question provide similar capabilities. For instance, most MDM vendors now have some sort of Dropbox-like functionality, but so do desktop virtualization vendors such as VMware and Citrix.

Next time, we’ll break down these components and discuss the strategy in more details. In the meantime, please share with me in the comments section your feedback, especially if I have missed any high-level topics.