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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.

Reflections on IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda 2014 Top 10 Predictions

By Paul Chapman

Paul Chapman-crioAs I read through IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda 2014 Top 10 Predictions, I was reminded that in the world of IT, one thing is certain: change. The roles of the CIO and the IT organization overall continue to evolve and increase in complexity at the rapid pace of technology evolution. The IDC report tackles this complexity, presenting areas of focus and solid guidance around critical topics. Here are a few key topics that caught my eye.

Addressing the Skills Gap
While IDC’s first prediction regarding a need for CIOs to focus on innovation and business strategy isn’t news, it reinforces a truth we as IT executives know all too well. The difficulty in shifting from technology services to business strategy and services stems directly from the skills gap. In my organization, I see us trying to move people from deep technical roles into data analytics roles, and it’s not something they gravitate towards. For example, a network engineer is not necessarily the best person to do network forensics. The focus on business services will happen gradually, as new skills are recruited or trained into mature organizations.

The skills gap shows up as an important theme in the report, which says, not surprisingly, that new skills are required for these new cloud-related jobs. I equate the situation today to placing an ad for an Oracle database administrator 25 years ago. You wouldn’t be able to find one because they didn’t exist. We need to create new roles, like cloud services administrators. At VMware, we are developing a college grad program where we immediately put new hires into new types of roles to help seed the acceleration.

A Need for Mobile Services
That leads directly into the report’s call for a rapid shift to ensure support for the “ubiquitous mobile and socially connected lifestyle.” IDC suggests that within the next 12 months organizations “create a portfolio of mobile services for inclusion in the IT service catalog.” This is bigger and broader than mobile. It’s imperative that every organization builds a holistic strategy around end-user computing. IT may place more heavy emphasis on technology but this is really about organizational change management. New generations of employees embrace change much faster then previous digital transients; they adapt much faster, they consume technology differently, and their expectations are different.

New Cloud Security Concerns
IDC also predicts increased exposure to risk through cloud adoption in an attempt to reduce IT costs. Of course, security is always a major concern, but we have to keep in mind the distinction between private and public cloud options. On the public side, cloud services companies’ reputations depend on their ability to provide the best security available. Many organizations worry too much about doubling-down on security when the service provider has it covered more fully than most companies could do themselves internally.

On the flip side, some companies will never move to public cloud because of security and IP protection concerns. That doesn’t prevent them from taking a similar internal private cloud approach. You can take the same kinds of capabilities, flexibility, and agility from a public cloud and build your own internal private cloud. This way you can control the security.

Outsourced Enterprise Architecture?
On the topic of employing consultants to support enterprise architecture, I’m not necessarily sold. I think enterprise architecture will change drastically in the coming years, and what we build today may be obsolete fairly quickly. I see enterprise architecture shifting to a central focus around the network and the data center. We’re moving so much compute into massive data centers and they all have to be connected together; performance and quality of service have to be the focus. Architecture will need to have a heavy focus on networking and physical location. You can’t just push everything out to the cloud and expect them to perform—you need to know where things are and have the right tools and forensics is place to proactively manage quality of service.

Budgets Shift to LOB
When it comes to shifting budget to the lines of business (LOB) for third-platform investments, this typically means the IT organization processes do not get the LOB what they need fast enough. This shift isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Investments in some business processes are better off using an external provider. IT should manage the crown jewels: the cash register, the strategic things that differentiate you in the market place, and the things that need strong protection. Finance has to play a bigger role to say it’s okay for people outside of IT to buy services independently. I think it’s a good thing as long as IT embraces it and partners to deliver, instead of resisting and trying to control it. At the end of the day, the company is paying for all of it. At VMware we embrace this model and partner with our LOB leaders and come up with the right decisions together.

I highly recommend reviewing the IDC paper—there are interesting new insights alongside some core points that bear repeating.

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Paul Chapman is Vice President, Global Infrastructure & Cloud Operations at VMware. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulChapmanVM

Look Back to Move Forward – Top 3 Infographics from 2013

As any good strategist knows, you must first assess past actions to successfully plan for the future. So in the midst of 2014 planning, we decided to take a step back and revisit a few of our top posts for the year.

The Accelerate Advisory Services team prides itself on helping to clarify and simplify complicated IT initiatives, focusing in on key goals and eliminating inefficiencies. So it makes sense that three of our most popular posts this year included infographics that break down big topics into concise, clear insights (that happen to look good, too).

Take a minute to check them out—it’s a quick look at this year’s trends, which history tells us are likely to influence the next.

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.