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LANDesk 2014 Predictions: The Year IT and the User Become Friends

VMblog 2014 Prediction Series

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2014.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed article by Steve Workman, Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Planning, LANDesk

2014: The Year IT and the User Become Friends

When you look at the issues that IT administrators are coping with - BYOD, cloud, consumerization of IT - it often boils down to a struggle between two essential needs: that of the user to work the way that's most productive for that individual user, and that of IT to maintain security and control of the IT environment. Fortunately for everyone involved, this conflict is not insurmountable and, in my opinion, 2014 will be the year that technology will enable IT to provide the user-oriented services that make employees happy, while maintaining the security and control that helps IT sleep at night.

Several technologies are going to drive this IT evolution, including the continued improvement of mobile device management (MDM) technologies. One feature of those MDM technologies - containerization - has become particularly strategic to the security on these mobile devices. Containerization enables individual applications and the content they access to be kept in secure, individual virtual "containers," which keeps the information secure within the container. A benefit for employees is that their personal data is then kept separate so that if an employee is off-boarded, the container on their personal device - rather than the full device - can be wiped remotely, keeping personal data intact. As an added benefit, data is stored within the container's virtual environment, but not hosted on the device, enabling easier restrictions on unauthorized access to content. For example, if the device is lost or stolen, that additional security step keeps the data secure and encrypted so that a device can be wiped.

Since containers are virtual they can be hosted in the cloud, which enables access to data from anywhere. Containerization gives users what they want - the ability to access any work related content, data or resources from any device, anywhere, at any time. Users can truly work in the way that enables maximum productivity. As containerizeration grows, I think we will begin to see it expand from the mobile device and into the desktop in 2014.

Containers offer controlled access and numerous security benefits, giving IT the peace of mind that even as users switch from PC to Mac to iPhone to Android tablet, data remains securely within the organization's control.

This does not completely eliminate the concerns about heterogeneous management environments or the advisability of using mobile devices to access corporate resources, but it certainly helps bring it down to a manageable level. Devices can still be rooted and social engineering is still a valuable weapon in an attacker's arsenal. But application virtualization and containerization can minimize the concern.

2014 will also be the year that cloud comes down to earth. Right now, cloud is still a bit of a buzz word. It reminds me of the early days of BYOD. Everyone knew what it was and that they needed to support it, but didn't really understand why or how. More importantly, the business value of BYOD was often lost in the rush to support it and many companies are now looking back at their initial roll out and spotting lost opportunities.

If we go back just a bit further we can reminisce on the early days of credit cards and e-commerce. There was a time not too long ago when we couldn't imagine trusting something as valuable as our credit card number to the Internet. Now, online shopping, according to Forrester, is a $230 billion dollar market and is expected to reach $370 billion within the next five years.

Cloud has gone through much of the same process, and now that the buzz has settled, the fog is beginning to clear. Business needs and values are becoming clear and different varieties of cloud are emerging to support those different needs. Businesses are beginning to trust the cloud and believe that it could be a stable and secure storage option for their data.

Cloud storage is also decreasing in cost, thanks to de-duplication software. This software runs behind-the-scenes of cloud storage and enables documents to be stored once, regardless of the number of users that are storing it. Instead, when User A stores the same document that User B has already stored, User A is given a "pointer" that directs them to the document. This saves on storage space and therefore costs, which make it cheaper for organizations to get on board with cloud.

2014 is sure to be an exciting year for companies. The User and IT will develop a less adversarial relationship and increase collaboration as IT develops a more user-oriented approach thanks in part to technologies such as containerization. Cloud will find its place as it settles down to earth and the fog clears. Businesses will understand the strategic value of cloud and implement it with an eye to bottom-line end goals. It will be exciting to watch all the benefits from the reformed IT-user relationship manifest over the next year.

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About the Author

Steve Workman oversees the LANDesk corporate strategy and planning process that identifies emerging competitive and market trends and aligns the organization to achieve strategic growth objectives. As vice president of product management for LANDesk from its spinout from Intel in 2002, Workman drove the product strategy and integration of systems, security, and service management product lines and identified additional business line opportunities that resulted in several key acquisitions. Before LANDesk, Workman held numerous product management / marketing positions at organizations including Intel, Dayna Communications, and Emerson Electric. Workman holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from California State University, Fullerton.
Published Thursday, December 12, 2013 6:37 AM by David Marshall
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