By Peter Stein
Standardisation is no longer the name of the game when it comes to enterprise desktop upgrades. Today’s workforce is more dynamic, working in individualistic ways and often away from the office. A standard PC configuration will no longer cut it for a diverse mix of mobile, remote and desktop-bound workers. Nor will it work for your IT department, which will be inundated with requests for productivity apps, personal device connectivity or access to cloud-based tools. Whereas these areas used to sit in disparate places in the business, they are now integrated under the umbrella of “enterprise desktop”.
Your next desktop upgrade will take a deeper, more holistic strategy that accounts for the varied and complex needs of your workforce whilst ensuring the IT department can do its job effectively. Consider these tips for plotting your enterprise desktop upgrade and preparing your organisation for a more evolved, interconnected future.
1. Consider new tools and technologies
Different devices are no longer roadblocks to delivering applications through IT. Application virtualisation and virtual desktop infrastructure mean software can now be separated from the device hardware and operating system, which reduces compatibility issues. Gartner expects cloud computing, hosted desktops and application virtualisation to become more common and offer organisations more choice when it comes to enterprise desktop computing.
2. Think about the user
And, for the record, you have more than one type. Identifying user personas is crucial for taking a more holistic approach to enterprise desktop strategy. You can get there with some basic questions around usage patterns. How many of your workers are in the office most days of the week vs. which ones are on the road, for instance? What types of content do different departments create or consume? Perhaps the sales team gets the tablets whilst the knowledge workers stick with laptops, desktops or thin clients. Whatever your workforce split, there’s a technology — or technologies you can combine — to align with these disparate user types.
3. Investigate your hardware and software assets
If you already have a solid asset tracking program in place, this part won’t be as cumbersome. If you don’t, this exercise will make you strongly consider one. Before you get started on your enterprise desktop upgrade, you must know which applications and hardware you have. This will help you not only discover software that’s not being used — a potential cost savings —, but should also provide you with tools to better distribute current resources, identify areas for new investment and give you an understanding of where new applications and computing devices would benefit your organisation.
4. Know how these assets are being used
After you know what you have, you can start seeing exactly how it’s being used. For instance, you’ll be able to learn connectivity patterns — has VPN become more popular, for instance? —, how devices map to computing usage and which devices should be added (thin clients, for example) or retired in the future and whether virtual desktop infrastructure might be a wise investment.
5. Create an integrated management toolset
Varied devices, applications and user needs can quickly make IT management chaotic. Centralising management, security and application delivery across both physical and virtual end user devices can help simplify the IT environment. This centralised management approach will also help IT quickly provision desktop services, no matter the device, that map to the user need and profile. On the software front, having an app store or catalogue can help ease the delivery of applications in new desktop environments.
Gartner has said that organisations will increasingly be bound less and less by hardware and operating systems and eventually be able to cost-effectively deliver applications to any device. They recommend a 10-year enterprise desktop strategy so that organisations can poise themselves to take advantage of future technology developments that can add more business value. As organisations get more enterprise desktop choice, it makes sense to talk out your strategy with an IT provider that can help source, integrate and implement tools and services that will maximise your desktop computing environment now and down the road.
Peter Stein is General Manager of Licensing for Datacom, a role in which he is focussed on nationalising and growing the licensing practice. He is an experienced IT channel professional with leadership experience in sales, marketing and product management. He has managed diverse teams and contributed to the growth of the companies with which he has worked.