CXO

Enterprises are moving to the "suite" life

There are dozens of vendors selling mobile device management, file sharing, desktop management, remote desktop access, desktop virtualization, and other systems. But more recently, suites designed to consolidate these and other functions have emerged from start-ups and established vendors alike.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and consumerization of IT phenomena have benefited enterprise end users in many ways. But these trends have also created "IT anarchy."

IT anarchy is a state in which an enterprise ends up with thousands of consumer devices and applications to manage. Collectively, this can create unnecessary expense, management complexities, security risks, and regulatory compliance challenges-the very things the IT department is tasked with preventing.

The BYOD and consumerization of IT trends show no signs of abating-this year, mobile device use in enterprises is expected to grow 20 percent according to IDC. Something's got to give in this chaotic post-PC era, however. And that's why enterprises are looking for integrated solutions.

Enter: the suite. An enterprise suite is an integrated, comprehensive bundle of tools-a kind of Microsoft Office for end-user provisioning and management. It streamlines the individual management of an enterprise's many disparate, stand-alone pieces-the tablets, smartphones, computers, operating systems, applications and feature-specific services, such as file sharing. At the same time, a suite gives mobile enterprise users secure, consistent, 24/7 access to their desktops, applications, and data from any device.

There are dozens of vendors selling mobile device management, file sharing, desktop management, remote desktop access, desktop virtualization, and other systems. But more recently, suites designed to consolidate these and other functions have emerged from start-ups and established vendors alike. CIOs are taking notice-and it's easy to see why.

The proverbial "iceberg tip"

Let's say a team within an enterprise suddenly needs to share large files with contractors outside the firewall, but the enterprise solution doesn't have a feature that meets the team's specific needs. So the team signs up for a consumer file-sharing service.

Over time other teams do the same thing and an enterprise ends up with multiple file-sharing services across multiple departments. All these particular (and sometimes redundant) services add up in costs, complexity, and security risks, not to mention potential regulatory compliance nightmares. For example, that $10 per month, per user cost of a consumer file-sharing service is the proverbial iceberg tip, representing only 20 percent of the service's total expense to an enterprise. Much greater are the implementation, training, operating, and maintenance costs.

In contrast, a suite can cover all desktop uses, whether it's file sharing, application delivery, tiered access to information, or secure access to desktops on mobile devices. It all comes together in one common, secure management platform, reduces those ‘below the iceberg' costs, and often delivers more functionality than many stand-alone products it replaces.

The CIO's challenge with suites

Moving to a suite can mean asking end users to part with their preferred devices, applications or services-and therein lies the CIO's challenge. To succeed, CIOs must demonstrate that a broad-based enterprise solution can meet most, if not all, end-user needs. The CIO must help users and decision makers understand the real goal of IT, which isn't to give every user a specific product to solve a specific problem but to ensure that the entire organization is lean, efficient, productive, secure, and compliant.

From IT anarchy to business growth

We're moving toward a consumer-computing environment split almost into thirds between Microsoft, Google, and Apple, according to Goldman Sachs-a big departure from the Wintel dominance of so many years. And as we've seen, enterprise IT is increasingly mirroring what's happening in the consumer realm. For example, AT&T is gradually getting rid of in-store computers and counters, CNET reports. Instead, retail store employees roam sales floors with iPads-bringing the BYOD trend full circle.

For CIOs, it's time to evaluate all the different solutions you have in place. Are they creating complexity and unnecessary costs? Do you truly understand the risks that come from having all these individual consumer products and services? And most importantly, how can you transform "IT anarchy" from something to be tolerated and managed into something that can be leveraged for business growth?

Erik Frieberg is vice president of End-User Computing at VMware. He has more than 20 years of experience with cloud, IT infrastructure, SaaS, application lifecycle management (ALM), databases, and security software.

1 comments
Webminotaur
Webminotaur

Very good article. It's refreshing to read someone who views the current trend with sanity. But then, that may be because your article agrees with what I've been saying for quite some time - the enterprise computing model is changing. The traditional way of doing things no longer works. High speed Internet, readily available Wi-Fi, and proliferation of mobile devices are working together to bring about the Internet-based programs, file sharing and storage (now called Cloud Computing) that was started in the mid 1990s. The three major companies you mention are working hard to provide a multi-devise common environment that benefits both the users and IT. It's a shame that more commentators don't recognize that. My only question is: what do you mean by "post-PC era?" I disagree with most authors who use that term to mean the death of PCs. However, if you are using it to describe an era where the PC is no longer the predominant driving force, then I agree wholeheartedly. PCs won't die, but they will become a minority. They will still be needed for certain types of tasks. Even the old huge mainframes haven't totally died. They are still used for specialized intense computing.

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