According to Dictionary.com “one size fits all” is an adjective that means “acceptable or used for a wide variety of purposes or circumstances; appealing or suitable to a variety of tastes.” In IT, we have used this approach for how we deliver client systems to users. We pick a few key hardware platforms and create OS builds that meet security requirements and contain a base level of software applications. Users take delivery of new systems and then customize from there with various configuration settings and specific software needed for their jobs. The “one size fits all” model has worked pretty well over the years. It has been a highly successful way for IT to mass produce systems and support users in a standard way.
The world is changing. The number of available choices in hardware platforms is significantly increasing, ranging from desktops to portables to blade client to smart phones. Users are becoming increasingly aware of the choices and want to participate in the decision over what devices are best suited to their work style. In some cases, they want to use different devices simultaneously (for example, a smartphone and a laptop). In terms of software applications, new computing models are emerging to respond to the complexity. IT does not want to create new applications for each kind of device introduced in the environment. A major challenge will be to consolidate backend infrastructure and provide a common user experience across the spectrum of client hardware platforms, not to mention all of the issues related to security and IT governance. We must embrace these challenges because the days of “one size fits all” client hardware are numbered.