IT Peer Network

8 Posts authored by: VirtualDave

In the past year I have met with hundreds of IT shops globally, and when the subject of Consumerization comes up, most discuss what they have done around BYO.  While BYO is an enabler for Consumerization, it is really just a small part of what Consumerization of IT really is.  BYO is allowing more things like smartphones and tablets to enter the IT shop at a much faster rate than traditional supply models would provide, and in some cases is forcing IT shops to re-think their application development and security model roadmaps and plans.  But there is much more to the overall Consumerization of IT landscape that not only influences IT but can add value as well.

 

IT has been traditionally focused on TCO and ROI, almost to the point if something doesn't lower cost, then they won't implement it.  Now end users are demanding new capabilities and these capabilities are becoming now only a factor in attracting and retaining employees, but also establishing a Great Place to Work.  Instant messaging was a consumer technology that has now been widely adopted by IT industry as a critical business tool and has fundamentally changed the way many users communicate today.  Social Media is becoming a large part of day to day IT life, not only are companies using social media to promote their companies and interface with their end customers, many are starting to use social media to change how employees communicate and collaborate internally.  Some say they want Facebook for the enterprise, but really what they want is the type of capabilities in an enterprise fashion. I don't need to know that my co-workers had a burrito for lunch, I can use Facebook for that, but what I really need is social media that allows me to know what my co-workers and teams are working on and how resources relate to each other.  Allow me to find the relevant information, collateral and people that are critical to things I am working on.  That is true enterprise social media.

 

Last, we can use usage models that exist in day to day consumer environments to enhance the lives of our end users.  We are doing this internally, using ideas like the "Genius Bar" to redefine the old stuffy tech support desk/cubes our end users used to go to.  Now they get something newer, fresher and more relevant to what they see if day to day consumer life.  We are also putting a spin on Vending machines.  Instead of issuing candy bars and soda, we are now using these machines to supply day to day IT items to end users.  With the swipe of their ID badge they can now get anything from a new keyboard to battery for their laptop.  Again bringing consumer models that they use in day to day life to their corporate usages.

 

So I ask you, what are doing beyond BYO to support Consumerization of IT in you shop?

To look forward and try to predict what is going to happen, sometimes you have to first look back and gauge where you have come from first.  Have you ever stopped to look at how much technology has changed in your day to day workplace in just the last 5 years?  If you were to look back to 2005, there wasn't anything like an iPhone, definitely not an iPad.  Instant messaging was something you used at home and they tried to prevent you from using at work.  3 hour battery life on a laptop was nirvana and a cell phone was just that, a phone. We were just starting to use wireless in the workplace and nobody had it at home, much less in their DVD or Xbox system.  We have definitely come a long way in 5 years. There are 2 main forces at work now pushing on your corporate environment, technologies and trends.  Technologies that are changing the way we compute and trends like Consumerization, bring your own device and a changing skillset in the workforce changing the demands on computing.  As we look at technologies, we see that there are more and more coming to market every day. And sometimes it seems as though many of the requested technologies were designed for home or personal use rather than corporate.  But as we look forward we see that changing.  The world of personal and professional computing are no longer so isolated from each other. With hardware and software virtualization available now and as it evolves over the next few years, we see these world beginning to blend, more and more. 5 years from now we may look back and ask ourselves, why was it necessary to have a work laptop and a home computer.  Why was it always so focused on one device.  If anything that we are seeing right now is a marker to where we think the client footprint is going, just take a look at the device ratio.  even as early as 2-3 years ago, most people had a device.  1 system they primarily computed or accessed information from, but today most have at least 2, a laptop or desktop and a small form factor device like a smart phone, PDA, iTouch etc.  TV's now have computer chips and Internet access, consumer electronic set top boxes in the next few months will have the same, your car no longer just has a radio, but on board navigation, local info and even compute power.  We are seeing more and more that the user of the future is indeed a mobile one, but more than just carrying a device to allow this, it will be about accessing corporate services across all these devices.  Not the same computing bubble on each device, but layers of compute services, specific to what that device can offer.  The combination of these devices and their compute offerings will make up the corporate user of the future's compute environment.  And who knows, maybe I will finally get to travel to work via Jet Pack!

I recently did an interview with IT Business Edge around the BYOC concept in the Corporate IT space.  http://www.itbusinessedge.com/cm/community/features/interviews/blog/bring-your-own-computer-intel-calls-for-split-personality/?cs=38256&utm_source=itbe&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MII&nr=MII-TOP

 

This is an area we have been researching for a couple of years now and I have spent the last 6 months talking to numerous IT shops big and small around consumerization, virtualization and BYOC.  BYOC is very attractive to IT shops for numerous reasons;

  • Gives them the opportunity to get out of the platform management business

  • Can lead to lower Capital costs or IT can in some cases get out of Capitalization of these assets all together

  • IT is now viewed as an enabler/partner to end users versus roadblock

 

These are just some of the benefits, but there are just as many concerns as positive parts;

  • Managing security on non corporate owned devices

  • Funding and allocation models are cloudy in most cases

  • What operating systems and device types do you support

  • Users are increasing the number of devices they wish to use to perform "work" related tasks

 

We are looking at our user segments in a completely new way.  We are no longer looking for the "one size fits all" solution, but instead we are refining our user segments into smaller categories and looking for niche use cases to gain positive ROI right away and grow to larger population of users as it matures.

 

BYOC isn't something that is ready for corporate prime time yet, but it also isn't that far off.  Start looking at the architecture and services you are delivering internally now and begin to think of these future models.  As the consumerization influence grows, more employees are going to want to use the latest devices they have bought themselves.  We just need to outline how to make it safe, seamless and practical.

 

I welcome everyone else's thoughts on the subject

Trying to start off the new year with a question more than a statement as you can see from the subject.  I ask this because of some of the work I am currently doing.  Through the past several months we have been looking a several "influencing" factors and their possible effect on tomorrow's corporate environment.  Things such as consumerization, MID's, netbooks, bring your own computer and even the Generation Y workforce growing in size.  I think one area of "influence" we haven't looked at is legacy IT.  It is just as much an influence as new technologies and trends.  Many shops spend lots of money to put solutions, good or bad, in place.  Invest in infrastructure that made sense 3-5 years ago.  Set roadmaps that made sense when first proposed and established processes for how IT used to work or should have worked.  But the real question today is what would you do different?  Should we take a more agressive approach at End of Lifing pre-existing technologies and solutions that seem to cost more to support today or in some case are here to solve a problem that doesn't exist or has moved on somewhere else. What about out sourcing, how many jobs today no longer make sense from a corporate stand point?  Providing a service is one thing, but if you are providing the same service as the vendor at a higher cost, that really doesn't make sense.  I guess what I am really looking for is what is the value add?  What would you different and what is the value add you feel it would bring to your IT?

 

Just some food for thought to start the new year, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, simply some space for some sipirted discussions

 

Please share your thoughts!

After spending the last 6 months researching emerging technologies around the IT Client platform, I have identified two must have technologies when considering your client refresh.  The first is Solid State Hard disks.  While the cost is a concern at initial glance, the benefit you receive from this technology is incredible.  We have seen benefits such as no more hard drive failures do to failures from moving parts.  Increased performance from faster machine startup and resume times.  Increased application responsiveness from quicker access on a SSD versus traditional platform.  Fragmented hard drives become an issue of the past and you can now save costs on 3rd party defrag tools and/or custom solutions you develop in house.  These are just some of the many benefits we have seen, for more in depth review check out our recently released whitepaper - http://communities.intel.com/docs/DOC-2524. But beyond all of these benefits are the ones you may need in the future.  As IT moves to more and more of a Virtualized Client environment, technologies like these help make adoption much easier.  When testing the Solid State Disks, we noticed that our Virtualized IT environment running in a traditional Type-2 Client Hypervisor actually ran 27% faster than the same virtual environment on a traditional platter based drive.  This brings me to the next technology, VT-d.  This is the next evolution in client support of virtualization.  While todays more common systems have VT-x, VT-d is now available on many newer systems today.  VT-s offers what we refer to as "direct pass through" interface for virtual machines to communicate with the system hardware.  What this means for you is that you can have a virtualized OS that can talk directly to certain parts of your systems hardware without having to go through a virtualization layer in a Host OS.  This will also enable better use of Type-1 Hypervisors or "Native Client" hypervisors that will allow side by side, on at the same time OS operation on a single platform.  Imagine being able to support a corporate and personal build on the same machine but keeping them isolated from each other.  This opens the door to a host of possibilities for future IT shops.  Not all of these technologies are ready to run full speed today, but with most shops carrying a 2-3 year refresh cycle, it is important to buy the right technologies at the right time so when you want to deploy these, you have systems that support them.  So make sure you check these two technologies out and get them into your client roadmap as soon as possible.

As I sit here fresh from a leadership conference for IT employees, I find myself thinking about that. Does IT need radical change? After hearing several examples of how people engineered solutions to solve specific problems or reviewed projects they had developed over the past year, I can answer with a definite yes. While it wasn't simply this experience that pushed me to realization, it definitely helped complete the pattern I had noticed in today's IT.

 

I spend most of my normal role investigating and researching emerging and next generation technologies. With this role came many headaches from pounding my head against the wall of established processes, procedures and preconceived notions. But to borrow an idea from Gene Meieran, that is simply the toll I am paying on this road to my success. But I look at this and ask a simple question, why?

 

When pushing to adopt a new technology, why do we have to wait until it meets all of our established requirements? Why do we try to make vendor's products adapt to us, versus us considering the possibility to adapt to them? Why does it take us 2 years to adopt a new operating system or major product? Why do we run projects for 18-24 months to implement a product that exists out on the shelf today? In looking at several examples of what people consider successful products today, I look to see what makes them different, attractive, and a must have. I then ask what would it take to make IT different, attractive and a must have for any corporation.

 

Five or six years ago, people came to work and looked to IT to get the latest hardware, OS and innovations, because we had it here. We spent the dollars and time to solve problems and innovate. But in the last few years, people have adopted technology must faster at home than we do at work. They use the iPhone, a Wii, social networking tools, cloud based services, etc. They are enabled at home with more options than we provide as an IT shop. We use instant messaging in IT, not because we developed it as a way to eliminate small emails, but because instant messaging was a consumer product that grew so fast, that IT had to adopt it. Social networking is doing the same thing. So I wonder, what would it take to get IT back ahead of the curve and become an enabler of new ideas and solutions, rather than an implementer & reinventer of existing technology?

 

We need to get back to freethinking and innovation that is core to our roots. Companies like Intel were founded on thoughts like the famous quote from Robert Noyce - "Don't be encumbered by the past, go out and do something wonderful" yet in our day to day life I see many encumbered by the past and am waiting for the wonderful. We choose solutions that have more of the one size fits all. Instead of picking the best solutions for the roles that exist; we try to find the one item that can solve all of our problems. Rather than choosing the optimal product for the "one size", we should look at the product that enables the end user to perform optimally. Imagined if corporations took this approach with their products. Image a shoe manufacture that developed the one size fits all. It would be an opened toe, ¾ shank athletic tread, men's size 10, 3-inch heel, sneaker pump. It would meet most of the needs of the shoe-wearing world, but wouldn't be the right shoe for many, if anyone. So why do we settle for the same model in IT? We need to be innovative. We need to look at Apple, Google, Nintendo and others. They didn't just develop products that do what everyone else's products do today, but they did them differently & in many cases better. What does it take to make your part of IT the next iPod, iPhone or Wii? How can we enable our partners to perform optimally? What does it take to just go out and do something without worrying about how many existing committees; review boards, processes and groups have to be engaged to just get it going? The answer is radical change. We need to change how we work. We need to change the level of control we have today. We need to shrink what we try to manage. We need to strive to enable the partners versus totally control their work life. We need to ask so what every once in a while. When someone says if we do A then B might happen. Ask the question, so what? We spend all this time doing the day-to-day moving from spot to spot, never worrying about the resources, costs and effort put into the status quo. When we try to implement something new, it goes under the microscope and quite often is held to a different standard than existing solutions. Requirements seem to be a never-ending monster of growth, instead of the simple point-by-point items they should be for solutions. Many times the solutions themselves are actually listed as the requirements. So I challenge us all to start a process of Radical Change. Start asking the question So What? Start pushing back on the status quo, quit being encumbered and start a process of innovation. Help your partners perform optimally and be a key part of their success rather than just one of their suppliers. It won't be easy, it won't always be fun, but it will be rewarding.

As I sit back and think of some of the newer technologies we have looked at recently, I find myself wondering if IT is in the never ending cycle of re-inventing the wheel.  What I mean by this is sometimes it seems as if we continue to try and re-engineer everything to make it fit our environment or how we think it should work.  When viewing newer technologies, usage models and trying to pass data off to other groups the phrases I think I hear the most are, “That will never work in our environment,” or “If we can get them to change this, this and this, we may be able to use it here” or my favorite, “This will never be secure enough for us to use it as it exists”.  While these may be valid assessments against the way we do things today, the big question is: should we be pushing ourselves to look for new ways of doing things?  Five years ago, employees preferred to use their machines and software loads supplied by IT because they were more powerful or feature rich than anything they had at home.  But in today’s society, people have higher end machines at home than IT supplies them.  They also use newer technologies that are usually off limits or not supported by IT.  Think of some of the tools we use today, such as this blog or even instant messaging.  These technologies exist in our corporate environment because we saw people using them at home and brought them into our corporate environment.  It wasn’t something that IT created and people took home to use.  So with so many of these newer technologies out there, should we keep pushing to make them adapt to our IT world, or should we start pushing IT to start adapting to new models.  We take umbrella approaches to everything today.  Total security of the platform, instead of trying to reduce the footprint we have to manage.  We look for solutions that will cover the majority of the users, versus what may be right for smaller enclaves.  We place several management clients on the platform to perform numerous tasks instead of using native components or reducing some of the redundant requirements we have.  Moving forward, the next generation of workers will expect businesses to offer familiar technology and won’t accept tradition as an excuse. IT shops need to provide workers with “cool” ways to work. If they don’t, they risk becoming obsolete.

For the past year I have been working with several client technologies that revolve around the area of Client Virtualization. As I looked into these technologies and benchmarked them, I began to realize several key things.

 

  • These technologies are finally mature enough to start using mainstream. True they may not all fit your current IT model, security rules or management framework, but that is another discussion. The pure fact is with hardware virtualization now enabled in chipsets, we can expect virtualized environments that perform faster than yesterday's systems and almost as fast as the host OS. Moving forward, technologies will be released that will support side by side OS or multiple instance virtual machines. Imagine a world where IT can manage something as simple as a virtual environment and get out of the platform support and enterprise OS business. There are tools there today that allow this to happen and we have done some work in this area and released a white paper recently with our results, it is called Client Computing with a VUE and can be found at (http://communities.intel.com/docs/DOC-1638). The key is to make sure you start planning around these technologies now, versus scrambling to support them later.

 

 

 

  • Some of these technologies are flexible enough, they can be used to enable our users in ways we never could before - Imagine going home at night and not having to carry a laptop. Simply carrying a USB stick that has your IT build on it and being able to plug it into your home system to check email, review documents etc. Imagine users having a choice in the platforms they use. No longer is getting a system in IT like picking the first Model T, do you want black or black? We could enable our users today to be able to simply go to any computer access a website, log in and authenticate, and a few moments later, they can have corporate apps streamed to the system they are on and access their data from cloud storage.

 

 

 

  • IT can sometimes be more than a cost center - After reviewing some of these technologies, I realized we as IT could use some of these to provide more than standard services to the corporate environments we support. Imagine a corporate environment with thousands of desktops that users use day to day but don't fully utilize. Using some of these technologies, we can take processor and memory slices off these machines and add them to a grid computing environment. Allowing our corporation several thousand more process cycles without having to expand their server or data center space.

 

Again, not all of these can drop right into your environment today. Some things may need to change on the technology or your IT side. But the key is this area is changing fast. Let's stop thinking about how we have always done it and instead ask how we should do this tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Feel free to comment and leave your thoughts!

 

 

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