The Enterprise desktop is dead – get over it
I recently attended a TechTarget event in London on “Modern End-User Computing”, hosted by Brian Madden – an expert on desktop virtualisation. The event was focused on mobility, consumerisation and desktop virtualisation, and how enterprise IT is evolving.
It’s no secret that employees are increasingly using consumer devices and putting corporate data on cloud services and personal apps. This is creating a complex challenge for corporate IT departments who need to ensure security, control and compliance of all corporate information and forcing them to rethink how they deal with data security, network performance and systems management.
Breaking from the traditional EUC
Enterprise end-user compute has been built around Windows, implementing all the security and control policies into the Windows user profile, typically defined in the Active Directory. However, the days when employees would only use one computer that would sit physically in the office at all times are long gone. Today employees want to work from any device, anytime and anywhere. This refers not only to desktops and laptops, but also tablets and smartphones, both corporate and personal. The approach typically taken is to extend the corporate workspace to any of these devices through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which provides secure access to the traditional Windows desktop and therefore maintains the security controls based on the Windows profile, regardless of device or location. However, while VDI is a great technology, it still has some limitations and is not enough.
But why are employees using personal devices and cloud services to work and manage corporate information? It’s not that people want to be corporate rebels and leak confidential data but simply that they prefer to work with the best tools available. And the days where office equipment was far superior to consumer solutions are mostly gone… Today you will find several more powerful and innovative solutions aimed at consumers rather than enterprises, creating a huge capabilities gap. So it’s no wonder that users choose not to stick to their ‘corporate approved’ tools when there are so many other better options in the market.
From Data Leakage to Data Ingestion
A common reaction towards this user behaviour is denial and trying to block users from accessing these ‘unsupported’ solutions. However this is not only tricky to do, especially on personal devices, but they cannot guarantee the leakage of data… I doubt even a Data Loss Protection (DLP) system would be effective towards people using modern tools like Evernote, IM, Social Media, QuickOffice, etc. It won’t be long, if not already, when employees are actually using consumer solutions to create corporate content in the first place. Therefore companies, instead of worrying about data leakage, should hope for data ingestion.
The important thing to remember is that users don’t really want to break the rules. As long as the corporate tools are good enough so that the capability gap is not significant, users will typically avoid the hassle and risk, and adopt the corporate tools.
IT must shift towards a service-oriented mindset
It is important that enterprises understand this shift and adopt an enabling stand towards their employees. Trying to block consumer solutions will only create a cat and mouse situation in which tech-savvy users will always find a way around. Instead, enterprises need to enable users across any platform and provide secure access to corporate data and applications. IT can no longer afford to choose to support a platform or not… users are now mandating and they will adopt the platform of their choice, regardless of whether IT supports it or not.
This means IT should change the focus from managing devices to enabling users and their access to corporate data and applications through any platform. In summary, it is time for IT to shift out of the defensive/offensive mindset and into a service-oriented mindset.
What do you think? What are the challenges for IT to adopt this change?
You can also engage with Javier Lecanda via twitter.