The State of Workplace Delivery
Chapter Outline Minimize

Organizations today are delivering applications and data across a myriad of devices via a number of delivery models. The traditional method of deploying corporate desktops, projecting applications to an end-user environment, locking down mobile devices, and securing the environment is becoming increasingly complex and extremely hard to manage. This creates additional challenges for IT organizations already struggling to maintain application performance while meeting the growing demand for an improved end-user experience.

With the fast pace of consumer technology innovation, in a market continuously flooded with new devices, managing, maintaining, and securing applications and desktops have IT scrambling. The rapid influx of end-user computing devices, the onslaught of application and desktop delivery models, and the ability to meet compliance and government regulations are challenging corporate IT on multiple fronts (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Corporate IT is Being Barraged with Multiple Challenges

Top Challenges Confronting Corporate IT

With more directives and initiatives being piled on daily, corporate IT’s greatest challenges are:

Securing and managing numerous applications, devices, and endpoints.

Creating, managing, and enforcing corporate policies for applications, devices, and endpoint data.

Maintaining performance and improving end-user experience and productivity.

In addition to supporting a huge and ever-increasing number of endpoints per user in the workplace, IT must secure these devices—many of which are used for both business and personal use—in order to safeguard critical data. This means not only managing increased endpoint security requirements, new data protection strategies, and new application access control policies, but improving end-user experience and productivity as well. 

Further adding to the proliferating IT to-do list, is the transformation to a user-centric computing model. The user-centric computing model requires organizations to evolve their endpoint computing strategies. This entails rethinking about how to develop and architect applications so they can be easily accessed by a user on any device.

As individual use cases vary, companies will require a multifaceted approach that identifies various end-user profiles and pairs them with the appropriate long-term strategies—including alternative application and desktop delivery models—for achieving ubiquitous accessibility and enhanced end-user experience.

In addition to the challenges associated with supporting endpoint device environments, a number of trends such as “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) and alternative application delivery models are forcing IT organizations to reevaluate the manner in which digital workspaces are provided to employees. It follows then that 60% of organizations are investigating and pursuing various alternative endpoint and application delivery models for either certain employees or everyone (see Figure 2). 

Source: Ibid.

Figure 2. Changes in the Desktop and Application Delivery Landscape  

The Hybrid Delivery Environment

The hybrid delivery environment is a combination of traditional, private, and public cloud environments. With today’s diverse business landscape, devices and applications are doing double duty—working within the corporate network as well as outside it. It’s not just a one-to-one relationship anymore. Data is not just being tied to a corporate laptop or desktop; data is being used, shared, and stored locally. End-users are keeping files outside the corporate network on file sharing solutions—without any common IT policy tying together their personal computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Presently, the transition to IT service-based delivery models for application and desktop delivery has been largely tactical. So while businesses are still focusing on high-level goals like improving flexibility and agility while managing costs, many organizations have begun deploying assorted delivery models to achieve smaller tactical objectives.

For example, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has experienced some success when deployed to end-users who have predictable roles and responsibilities, but this technology has not been able to break through boundaries to demonstrate the value to a mobile worker. The same holds true for software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that are independently used, but lack centralized control. But employing a strategy to satisfy immediate needs with temporary solutions is ultimately myopic. Why? Because these solutions fail to aggregate across endpoints and delivery models, complicating IT management and impeding end-user access. In essence, these solutions are unable to address the long-term goal of IT—securing, managing, and improving business processes. 

To be able to secure, manage, and improve business processes, it’s essential for organizations to put into place a federated workplace delivery platform—one that centralizes IT management, provisioning, and security on an intelligent infrastructure, and provides end-users with a common, easily accessible interface. Simply put, IT must find a way to aggregate different applications, desktop, and data delivery and consumption models in a hybrid delivery environment, and maintain control over them while providing easy access for end-users.

The “Dissection” of the End-user Work Environment

Traditionally, organizations have delivered end-user desktops as a single, bundled unit. User settings, applications, operating systems, and data were coupled to a traditional desktop or laptop, and delivered as a packaged unit (see Figure 3, Traditional Method). This method doesn’t take into account the resources an end-user requires at any given time, so everything associated with that particular end-user is delivered in total, expending unnecessary time and resources.

With the Contemporary Method, virtualization has thrown a wrench into the works of convention by enabling the parsing and encapsulation of all layers. Now organizations are able to deliver each layer independently of the other (see Figure 3). Orchestration and management software works dynamically to assemble the various components needed at run-time. By delivering each level independently of one another, IT is better able to streamline desktop and application delivery, and can cater to specific networks and device types.

Figure 3. Traditional and Contemporary Methods of Workplace Delivery

And while traditional desktops and virtualization at multiple layers are both valid means of delivering end-user work environments, IT can further improve on workplace delivery models.