|By Jeff Fisher||
|April 15, 2013 09:00 AM EDT||
IT departments within companies are seeing the growth of a more complex IT environment fueled by growing user demands for more flexible and productive solutions. The growing desire of users to have instant access to their IT services from any device at any given time - combined with IT trends such as the consumerization of IT, cloud-based technologies and hybrid end-user computing - are challenging the way nearly every enterprise IT department operates. The rising demand for flexibility is forcing them to grapple with the increasingly blurred lines between personal and professional device usage and making it difficult to reconcile the security and compliance implications of granting users constant access to IT services.
While IT departments struggle to fix and manage complicated IT infrastructures, the mobility and variation of today's workers and their devices has led to the slow and steady disintermediation of the IT department. Historically, IT departments have dictated the corporate policies that manage access to company data and applications. This worked well enough when employees did their work in their offices during set business hours. Now, a more competitive economic landscape and new technologies are changing the way people work.
Workers today want access to enterprise IT services 24/7 from any location, and a traditional PC-based setup simply cannot support this. Adding to this challenge, new technologies do not merely replace older ones. They add layers of complexity when they are folded into the mix along with legacy applications and existing systems. Companies introduce new technologies with the hope that they will provide the ease-of-use and flexibility that end users demand. But, problems arise when each new product requires its own set of management tools. This adds massive technical complexity to an already clunky IT environment. Managing these environments has become not just convoluted, but costly as well.
What's on the IT Department's Wish List?
It's clear that the traditional way of managing and dictating IT policies is out-of-date and out-of-touch with the daily realities of modern IT departments. What are the top issues IT managers are grappling with to maintain control over their IT architecture and deliver the types of services expected by today's workers?
Providing secure access. The challenges that affect IT departments trying to maintain security and control over corporate data and apps are rooted in the extreme complexity of their multi-layered IT environments. With the hodgepodge of applications and devices connecting to a company's network today, IT departments have had to implement security measures for a myriad of different software and platform requirements. Across several industries, such as government, finance and healthcare, more stringent regulations are being drafted and enforced that are requiring companies to maintain better data privacy and security. IT departments are not only mandated by their companies to protect intellectual property, but outside regulatory pressures are also demanding that they do the same in order to remain compliant.
Increasing automation. Workers have often complained about how slow the IT department can be when responding to troubleshooting requests, while the IT department complains of having to fix the same task over and over again on a regular basis. Employees who have grown used to the fast and easy service delivery of their consumer technologies will sometimes grow impatient waiting for a response from their help desk and attempt to "fix" the problem themselves by downloading software without the IT department's approval or using a third-party application to complete their work. Having the ability to automate standard IT tasks in the infrastructure can help reduce the amount of time and resources a company's IT department spends on help desk calls, while minimizing the security risks inherent with the usage of rogue IT applications.
Designing a flexible and personalized virtual workspace. How does a company keep control of their data and manage their critical applications while still allowing for users to work remotely, on the road, evenings and weekends, independently of their traditionally locked-down computing devices? Over the span of one day, a user's job role, location, and time zone can vary greatly, along with the kind of device they may be using. The desired features, capabilities, and access requirements that doctors or financial professionals, for example, can have will fluctuate drastically depending on the physical setting and the hour of the day they are attempting to access information. IT departments need to find a solution that not only provides the end user with the appropriate information they need within a user-friendly interface, but one that also seamlessly integrates with a company's existing hybrid IT infrastructure.
The Path to Workspace Virtualization
The rising need for IT operational excellence, improved user experience, better security and increased compliance has created a perfect storm for the IT department. End users are demanding a workplace experience that is similar to that of their consumer lifestyle - one of instant gratification. The "I want it, and I want it now," mentality has left IT management searching for answers for the inevitable need for self-servicing.
Achieving an easy-to-manage, low-cost, automated and secure virtualized IT environment can be achieved with workspace virtualization. The benefits provided by workspace virtualization can meet the demands of both end users and IT managers, while also providing a foundation for the inevitable need for more self-service within an enterprise IT environment. With workspace virtualization, IT departments and end users are given a lightweight, independent technology that provides context awareness and automation capabilities to its IT applications, while seamlessly integrating with an existing hybrid application delivery infrastructure. A context-aware virtualized workspace allows IT managers to attach rules governing computer access based on a user's circumstances, without regard to device type, location or time of day. In short, workspace virtualization enables enterprises to operate more efficiently while simultaneously lowering the costs of daily operations. It frees up an IT department's staff from constant support requests and it satisfies the "do-it-yourself" urge in every modern consumer.
What's more, workspace virtualization enables IT to centrally deliver, manage, and secure the key elements of a user's computing experience, independent of workstyles and devices. This also appeases some of the headaches faced by enterprises struggling with liability and compliance issues. With a carefully deployed workspace virtualization solution, gone are the days of IT nightmares, and here to stay is a vastly more productive IT experience where the enterprise, the consumer and the IT department are in perfect harmony.
Context Awareness: A Virtual Workspace that Adapts with Users
Within the IT environment, context awareness refers to the idea that an end user's virtual workspace can both sense and react based on their environment. With context-aware technology, IT managers can provide end users with workspace personalization while maintaining security and regulatory compliance oversight, without hands-on intervention. Context-aware technology can automatically prevent unauthorized actions such as executing certain applications and using removable disks. These restrictions can be added or removed based on a user's context as it changes, 24/7. IT can also automate all day-to-day tasks and combine them into run-books, saving time on about 80% of manual tasks. And, ultimately, IT can introduce self-servicing, where users can request and be automatically approved for services directly - based on a user's circumstances. Workspaces that are context-aware can provide end users with a fully dynamic desktop environment, while allowing IT managers to retain full control and management of an organization's IT structure.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
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