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Tag Archives: end-user computing

End User Computing Modernisation – Observations of Success

Charles BarrattBy Charles Barratt

As I come to the end of what has been a long customer engagement I find myself reflecting on what went well, not so well and REALLY well. I engaged with a client who was struggling with desktop iStock_000056305548_Large_modernization (300x200)transformation, having been shackled to Windows XP for too long, and had little direction to move in apart from the tried and tested approach of fat client refresh and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) application delivery; hardly transformative or strategic. Compared to what they were doing in the datacenter, the desktop environment was light-years behind, yet they had the capability of a modern datacenter to deliver a transformative digital workspace.

All too often, I witness organisations treating their desktop as second-class citizens to the datacenter, when in reality the datacenter is the servant to the endpoint. Those organisations that truly transform their end user computing (EUC) environments do so with three key principles in mind:

Engagement

All too often, IT starts with technology rather than thinking about what impact modernisation will have on users, their productivity and the financial model associated with end user IT. Gone are the days when we simply issued users with devices and mobile phones and never spoke to them again until they had an issue. Our end users are far more technically savvy and operate their own networks at home, they want to be engaged, they want a say on the appropriate application of technology and they want workplace flexibility; happy workers tend to stay where they are.

Users deserve to be engaged and by engaging them early on EUC transformation you create advocates who are part of the process and want to see it succeed. Don’t underestimate this vital stage. Simply put, “Stop starting with technology.”

Integration

It is no longer appropriate to operate end user computing environments in isolation to the rest of the IT organisation. Virtualisation stopped that trend from happening when we saw a movement of the desktop into the datacenter. As organisations start to consume different application and security models your EUC environment needs to be close to the action for performance and operational gains.

To fully harness this change, we see organisations starting to build out a centre of excellence containing members that span the many moving parts of an EUC environment from endpoint, applications security, networks, datacenter and operations. In doing so you can be confident that there will not be overspending on technology, there will be appropriate capacity to support your requirements and the best experience will be delivered to your end users.

Simplicity

I recently saw the lightbulb moment in my client’s eyes when discussing the simplification of application delivery; we were introducing AppVolumes. Rather than dazzle them with science, we had a simple demonstration and a discussion around the time tested install process of “Next, Next, Next Finish” into an AppStack and made them realize that the world has moved on.

As organisations look to re-architect critical applications they need to think about simplifying the application lifecycle management (ALM) for legacy applications, a key capability of AppVolumes. IT brings the ability to shorten the ALM process significantly, from request fulfillment through patching and updates, to drive consistency and stability whilst minimizing the cost associated with lifecycle and change processes.

As with all technologies, you need to make sure the investment reduces the problem and the financial gain supports the change. The architecture and minimal impact on existing processes places AppVolumes in a very desirable place to solve application delivery challenges.

Opportunities to transform the end user computing environment don’t come along very often but their impact on end user computing is prolific. There has never been a more exciting yet complicated time to be associated in this space.

To use the words of the late Steve Jobs, “You have to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”

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Charles Barratt is an EUC Business Solutions Strategist for VMware’s Advisory Services team and based in the UK.

Transforming Your Business with End-User Computing

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-cropIn my last blog, I talked about the need for a common definition around what constitutes transformation within the IT organisation. In this follow-up post, I’ll discuss the VMware approach to an end-user computing (EUC) transformation.

First a recap, for an initiative to be truly transformational it must satisfy the criteria of change across the elements of people, process, and technology. Additionally, it should be aligned to business objectives and have clear benefits.

If we look at the typical EUC environment today, it’s transitioning from a rigid environment based on a desktop or laptop running a Windows operating system to one that is application and data-centric rather than device-bound. This has some profound transformational impacts for business and IT.

Today’s End-User Computing Environment
Let’s first take a closer look at the EUC environment found in most organisations today.

BISHOP-EUCAs shown in the diagram above, staff have historically used either a laptop or desktop as a primary device. This device, running Windows as the operating system, is locked down at the configuration layer with applications installed natively. This stack forms your traditional and very common standard operating environment (SOE) model. Coupled with the SOE, the EUC ecosystem included printers, isolated (not integrated) mobility devices, and finally an identity management authentication and authorisation component.

This model served us well, providing control, standardisation, and management of risk. However, the rise of the consumerization of technology, a modern IT-literate workforce, ubiquitous access to applications, the decreased usage of the Windows operating system, and the always-connected Internet means this model is, at best, inflexible and, at worst, irrevocably broken.

The Transformed End-User Computing Environment
So what does a transformed EUC environment look like? In the diagram below, the focus has been abstracted from the devices to the application and data access layer.

BISHOP-EUC2

Let’s look at each layer in a bit more detail to better understand the benefits of removing the focus on devices and elevating it to the application and data access layer:

  • Business layer
    Business is typically not just a single entity: It consists of your internal business and external B2B organisations that collectively form your business ecosystem. While your business will provide a core service, in the future it’s likely that smaller, more nimble organisations like start-ups will utilize your core business services and APIs to provide customers with innovative products. Your applications and data will not just be consumed internally, but also by external organisations as business-to-business transactions.
  • Application delivery platform
    The application delivery platform is a standardised access point where your consumers will access applications, data, and desktops. The key features of this abstracted application access layer are:

    • Device independence
    • Centralized management via policy
    • Auditable access and usage
    • Accessed over secure channels
    • Simplified ease of use

Where security and control was traditionally applied at the device and operating system level, it is now abstracted to the application and data access layer.

  • Lightweight device management
    In this context, lightweight management means the minimal IT controls necessary to manage devices, primarily for security reasons. While rigid, locked-down control has historically been the norm, in the transformed environment only lightweight controls are applied. For example, mobility devices use mobile application management (MAM) containerisation to ensure IT can remotely wipe or lock access only to the corporate container. Data, applications, virtual desktop access, and security controls are now applied at the application delivery platform layer via centralized policy controls.

Finally does this constitute a transformation? Let’s review the impact through the lens of people, process, and technology:

  • People
    A modernised EUC environment is a catalyst to elevate staff from traditional, task-based to knowledge creation activities using the productivity platform that best suits their work style. By unleashing staff from the rigid model of yesterday, staff exercise increased creativity, providing a real point of competitive differentiation through innovation.
  • Process
    The traditional EUC environment is awash with layers of process to manage a monolithic computing stack. From processes to deploy applications and patches to service desk support, they add complexity with many moving parts to manage. Shifting the focus to the application delivery platform with lightweight management of devices introduces policy-controlled automation and simplified management controls.
  • Technology
    Businesses today struggle with BYOD, security, and management. By abstracting the management to the access layer, BYOD becomes a moot point. IT is no longer concerned, apart from connectivity, about what device is being used. Security is applied where it should be, at the application and data layer. Finally, management is focused on controlling access to data and applications via policy, rather than managing a desktop and laptop stack.

I’ve really just scratched the surface of what constitutes an EUC transformation. The role of unified communications, changing work practices such as activity based working, the software-defined enterprise, and the changes to the IT organisational structure to support the transformed environment — can and should be significant components of a transformation program.

I’d be interested in your view from the trenches. What EUC initiatives do you have planned and how are they transforming your business?
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Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

VMworld-graphicCheck out the VMworld 2014 Operations Transformation track for opportunities to hear from experienced VMware experts, practitioners, and the real-world experiences of customers transforming their IT infrastructure and operational processes.

Enable Global Collaboration with an Enterprise Social Network

Author: Charles Barratt

I had the fortune to work with a large global organisation recently that has multiple sites, thousands of staff, and a huge R&D team. Although the organisation itself has an impressive suite of end-user computing technologies aggregated into a single portfolio and delivered to the end user, the one element that’s missing is an effective communication platform to help avoid duplicated effort. I advised my client how the implementation of an effective enterprise social network (ESN) would pay dividends for them.

As with many areas of business, there continues to be a blurry line between internal and external communication channels. Driven at a fast pace by consumerisation, enterprises need to utilise more effective communication channels to foster better collaboration. ESNs bring in the best of public-facing social networking technologies such as Twitter and Facebook, but their roots reach further back to strategies such as knowledge management from the turn of the century.

ESNs create business value by harnessing the familiarity of social network sites— linking individuals and groups across the business through updates, notifications, and projects—all behind the safety of a firewall. A global organisation that adopts an enterprise-wide ESN correctly should enhance business value by bringing together disparate teams to communicate for the benefit of the organisation.

An ESN provides additional value once the service is opened up to trusted partners. This creates a third dimension that allows organisations to not only develop bigger and better capabilities but also quickly respond to dynamic markets to increase brand value and revenues.

Equally important as finding the right technology to implement an ESN is taking the time to review and optimize the people and processes surrounding it. An ESN is a fantastic way to improve communications, but to get the full value from the investment, people need to be educated in its use, a management system needs to be established, and an improvement process needs to be defined.

In my recent collaboration with earlier mentioned client, my ESN strategy recommendations included Socialcast® by VMware, because it could blend familiar social capabilities into business systems already in place across their company. For this particular client, the technology’s comprehensive set of built-in security and data integrity features to keep company data safe and in compliance was key. That, along with the ability to deploy the technology platform in three ways—on premise, as well as single-tenant cloud and multi-tenant SaaS—cemented their decision to move forward with including Socialcast in the IT roadmap.

When an enterprise “goes social” with a sound strategy and implementation team, the rewards are vast:

  • Improved collaboration on global projects, removing team silos
  • Reduced operational costs associated with collaboration and team travel
  • Fast time to market
  • Removal of duplicate effort and cost
  • Improved product quality
  • Service and product awareness prior to product launch
  • New feedback channels
  • Broad networking, removing the walls associated with hierarchies.

So how do you go about developing an enterprise social network? Firstly the purpose, charter, and strategy need to be defined, agreed upon, and phased. Below are some of the core areas that you’ll want to focus on.

  1. Define your ESN Strategy
  2. Build a virtual team across all boundaries of the business and leverage crowdsourcing techniques to define “What good looks like”
  3. Involve all stakeholders
  4. Pilot on a contained user group, including a blend of users across the business each with their own use case
  5. Build on the right IT architecture and one that is integrated into other touch points to become part of the business’ DNA
  6. Market the service using innovative approaches to gain excitement and momentum
  7. Leverage reward-based systems based on active sharing and learning
  8. Evolve, evolve, evolve. Social networks should never become dormant. It’s the same principle as websites; a website that hasn’t been updated in months is ultimately ineffective. Find ways to ensure adoption. Identify processes that are inefficient and can be addressed through social networks, such as connecting people with expertise or improved workflows through collaboration.

An enterprise social network should not be seen as just another communication tool. Instead it should be integrated into existing platforms and communication tools to deliver a true omnichannel service. Remember that the consumer world is increasingly spilling over into the enterprise space; it is only a matter of time before people expect to engage internally using this type of service. It’s a complicated moment for end-user computing—but also an exciting one.

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Charles Barratt is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, based in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @csbarratt

 

Stop Starting With Technology

AUTHOR:  Arron Lock

I recently presented onstage at the Enterprise Mobility: BYOD event here in London with a couple of respected peers in the industry from Airwatch and Swivel as well as a VMware colleague. After taking questions from the audience around security for BYOD, my main takeaway from the event and in particular this session is that there is still a lot of confusion around mobility in general. In fact, mobility is becoming a catch-all phrase for end-user computing (EUC) transformation.

It’s amazing how quickly the line between BYOD and enterprise mobility (EM) became blurred. A number of people in the audience had deployed some form of BYOD (most for smartphones) to enable employees to get access to email and calendar. But others, typically with a higher level of risk associated with externalising email, were struggling with the business case.

But BYOD is only one aspect of mobility. The main benefit from enabling users to become more mobile is realised when you mobilise the business workflow that they are part of. This started off as email for executives—with their exec toys such as tablets or the latest smartphone—an obvious use case. But when a business is looking holistically at mobility, there are many other opportunities such as enabling field engineers or the sales force to be more productive. So, the important message that I stressed to my audience wasn’t about technology or security, but rather to ensure they establish the business justification for doing this work before jumping in with both feet.

It’s paramount to gather the business requirements first, by engaging the business stakeholders to understand their needs. I recently helped an IT director of a large multinational company interpret the corporate strategy to collaborate with industry partners. I took the IT team and line-of-business stakeholders through a defined process of the steps required to build out a highly agile externalisation platform. Now they have users accessing the platform from any device and any location—24/7—and they manage everything from the centre since the devices are unknown to them. It’s like BYOD to an extent, but tied to a major business initiative and nothing to do with smartphones.

As with this example, the most successful IT projects are those linked to business outcomes. The EUC space has long been at the unfortunate end of the IT spectrum in that it provides the general tools and services that employees expect to use on a day-to-day basis, yet the solutions do not appear to deliver direct value to the business.

So where did I begin with the before-mentioned IT organisation? First, I got my client to stop starting with technology, which in my experience is often the root cause of an IT project’s failure—deploying technology without considering the “why.” 
Here’s how I approached this project and others like it with my clients:

  1. Set a clear and simple mission statement with your business stakeholders.
  2. Kick off with a discovery workshop with the key stakeholders from IT and the business.
  3. Capture the business requirements in a clear and concise format, under the following headings:
    – User Experience
    – Security
    – Application Delivery
    – Performance, Availability and Scalability
    – Service Wrapper
  4. Use the MoSCoW model or similar to help set priorities.
  5. Review your findings regularly with key stakeholders.

Once this series of steps is complete, I find that my clients are in a good place to communicate internally to key stakeholders as well as externally to potential vendors of technology solutions—communication that paves the way to move forward to build out the business case and functional and technical designs for the solution.

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Arron Lock is an EUC business solutions architect with Accelerate Advisory Services and based in the UK. Follow him on Twitter @arron_lock

RELATED: To learn more about the trends in mobile adoption and how IT is adapting, read the Mobile Rebels research report. This VMware-commissioned study provides insight to the pressures European businesses are facing and reveals just how dependent employees have become on their mobile devices.

Microsoft Windows 7 Migration: You Can’t Afford to Put it Off

Author: Charles Barratt

Almost every IT organisation I have worked with in recent years is struggling with the same question: How do we help the business see IT as a strategic partner rather than a cost centre?

The looming April 2014 end of support date for Microsoft Windows XP and the requisite migration off to Windows 7 or 8.x presents an opportunity for IT to do just that—if IT leaders put in place the right end-user strategy. This strategy should address issues such as the consumerisation of IT, the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, improved work/life balance, and generally providing a higher level of end-user computing (EUC) solution to empower the workforce. Together, these initiatives can improve productivity, job satisfaction, and staff retention.

While the businesses I engage with understand the opportunities presented by Windows 7, they are also struggling to make sense of the myriad EUC solutions available. Rather than getting stuck on a choice between Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, I recommend that IT organizations take this opportunity to step back and reset their entire end-user strategy.

Too often I hear that businesses are forcing IT solutions on end users without consulting them about their needs or wishes. In line with this strategy, many organisations have stuck with Windows XP because it’s “good enough.” By leaning on this “good enough” mentality, IT organizations are missing an opportunity to realize cost savings, increase user productivity, and redefine IT’s value to the business.

Consulting with your end users is no longer optional. But you don’t have to see it as a chore. By listening to users’ needs, you’ll not only end up with a better solution, you’ll also be upleveling internal PR by proving that IT is approachable, flexible, and delivers.

If you are still struggling with the logistics of Windows migration, I recommend migrating to Windows 7 immediately, since that will only simplify a later transition to Windows 8.x (the architecture of the operating systems is very similar). VMware can help you meet challenges of this transition with a suite of technology solutions to provide you with an agile platform for application, data, and desktop management, and the advisory services to help you develop a comprehensive, actionable EUC transformation strategy and roadmap.

Don’t wait to migrate — I can’t overemphasize this. Layering, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and zero-touch PC deployment technologies will help simplify migration and leave you with a more secure, stable, and better-managed PC footprint while significantly avoiding the cost and challenges associated with a physical OS migration project. Leveraging these solutions, your IT department has the ability to deliver a smarter workspace and reduce the issues associated with a physical OS migration project.

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Charles Barratt is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, based in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @csbarratt

Cloud, End-User Strategies Guard Against Data Breaches

Author: Alex Salicrup

The Fifth Estate hits theaters October 18, and with it a reminder of the corporate and government secrets exposed when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange obtained breached classified data and released it to the world.

Assange and WikiLeaks, as we know, gained access to classified documents through US Army Private Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst who was recently sentenced for espionage. In addition to this breach, there was Edward Snowden, the contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) who outed the organization’s telecommunications monitoring programs.  — See related by Richard Rees on the VMware Consulting blog: The Snowden Leak: A Windfall for Hybrid Cloud?

In the 80s and 90s the spy scandals centered on individuals passing secrets to enemies of the state, like Aldrich Ames and Richard Hanssen, government employees who sold sensitive information to Russia for big bucks.

These days data breaches are more likely to be driven by a cause than cash. Widely described as hacktivism, breaches and malware attacks are made against corporations—not just governments—often by organizations that see themselves as the arbiters of online justice (like Anonymous). Two-thirds of all data breaches last year were made by installing malware on corporate systems. Almost all breaches were made from external sources.

Since its breach, the NSA, which already had plans to build a private cloud, has accelerated its implementation, largely because it sees automation as a key to eliminating the need for contractors like Snowden. In my experience, this is a good start, but only when it is followed by security policies focused on data classification rather than per application or system.

One of the advantages I see to software-defined networking is that it allows better visibility into where data, platforms, and infrastructure reside as part of the larger virtual infrastructure. The closer to a software-defined data center a corporation gets, the more control and visibility it has over its data security.

I was recently part of a deployment where the client designed innovative ways to classify and secure data, making it harder to breach, easier to monitor, and mostly automated. That’s a scalable solution that delivers enhanced security of precious data.

End-user computing (EUC) is another area where the right strategy needs to safeguard data accessible from devices that can potentially be accessed by someone besides the intended user. In my experience, if a company does not employ a comprehensive EUC solution, staff members will eventually bypass data security policies in order to have access data on their mobile devices.

Organizations will do well to start an internal assessment of how well-positioned they are to manage their data securely in the age of hactivism. Are there opportunities to enhance data security using virtual infrastructure and software-defined networking? Which is more cost effective and efficient? How much would a breach potentially cost? Is your organization capable of managing the infrastructure needed to support virtualization and EUC initiatives?

Let’s face it: No one expects to have their data breached. And yet, the majority of US corporations are victims to it every year. Why risk being one of them?

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Alex Salicrup is a business solutions architect for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.