Virtualization Technology News and Information
Cloud Services & Consumerization Driving Competition with Internal IT
Contributed Article by Bernard Harguindeguy, CEO, Atlantis Computing

There are two market forces that are fundamentally changing the nature of enterprise application delivery and consumption:

  1. delivery of enterprise applications as a service via the cloud
  2. the rapid shift of accessing enterprise applications on mobile devices

IT organizations are facing stiff competition from Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud providers who are delivering enterprise applications as a service that are faster, cheaper and accessible anywhere, on any device.

Today business owners within an enterprise often circumvent IT and turn to a SaaS or cloud provider to get the applications they need to grow their business instantly, rather than spending months working with their internal IT department to implement equivalent functionality that typically comes at a higher cost. At the same time, employees often turn to free or low cost cloud services such as Google Docs for collaboration, Dropbox for file sharing and Skype for communication within their companies to be more productive and efficient.

With business owners and employees cutting out the IT middleman, there's less control of data, difficulty meeting compliance requirements and a general increase in risk.

How can IT balance the forces of cloud, SaaS and consumerization of IT to remain relevant and get users on their side?

The first step is to change IT processes and try to match the rate of innovation enabled by cloud providers. Cloud providers have set a new bar and, as a result, business owners have new expectations.

IT shouldn't try to compete with cloud and SaaS services. Instead of fighting the trend, IT should look at itself as a partner to the business owner who helps them determine what types of services and applications should be delivered by internal IT and which should use SaaS or cloud services. When a service needs to be customized or must be internal for compliance reasons, IT should view themselves as the service provider to the business that is developing a product or service to compete with outside providers and the existing status quo. IT should be able to articulate the real cost of the product/service to the business, its features, reliability, performance and the reasons why it's bettter for internal IT to deliver the service compared to an outside provider.  

I see so many VDI projects fail. Time and time again, it's because IT didn't compete effectively against the status quo - the virtual desktop IT delivered to the business was slower and more costly than the existing physical computer and employees' personal devices.

The reason this happens is that IT generally doesn't view themselves as a service provider to the business and strives to meet the minimum requirements as they understand them. If IT were to look to build a virtual desktop service, they would try to understand the business reasons and requirements for using virtual desktops, the competitors such as outsourcing virtual desktops to a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provider and the alternatives of staying with physical computers. Without understanding business objectives, competitors and alternatives, IT can't build a product or service.

JP Morgan Chase has taken the approach of aggressively innovating their virtual desktop service to outperform physical PCs and any other service offering available. While most companies are still trying to get virtual desktop pilots over 500 users, JP Morgan Chase is on the third generation of their virtual desktop service, and it's one of the largest, best performing and lowest cost VDI deployments in the world. And employees love it because it performs much better than a physical PC.

The second step is to embrace consumerization of IT and mobility. IT as a Service and consumerization are two very different things but are inextricably linked together because of the proliferation of mobile devices. Employees are buying iPad, iPhones and Android devices by the millions. Why not take advantage of those devices and deliver enterprise applications on them to make employees more productive?

Many companies are doing just that with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs that leverage end user purchased and maintained devices as the user's primary desktop client or mobile device, while at the same time building the IT infrastructure to support remote access and virtual desktops for those end user devices.

CBRE, a global real-estate firm that has a distributed and mobile workforce, is an example of a company embracing consumerization and mobility. Employees were always asking for different types of phones, laptops and tablets to be supported by IT. However by the time CBRE was able to qualify applications and standardize on a mobile device like a Blackberry, all the users were using the next generation iPhone, iPad or MacBook Air. It is virtually impossible to select, purchase and provision a mobile device before it is obsolete, and there's isn't a single device that would ever satisfy all users.

CBRE took the approach of letting employees purchase any device they wanted with a few minimal requirements. CBRE then provided them with a virtual desktop that could be accessed on any device. CBRE found that employees actually spent 10% more time on their virtual desktops on their personal laptops, tablets and phones. What company wouldn't want to increase the productivity of their workforce by 10% and have employees pay for the devices that made it possible?

The final step is for IT to become a revenue generator by using consumerization of IT, virtualization, the cloud and mobility to help business owners create and deliver new products and services to their customers. For example, one of the world's largest banks is outfitting all of their wealth management salespeople with iPads that can run sophisticated financial analysis that was once only possible on powerful servers. By using an iPad to remotely access an application running inside a virtual machine in the cloud, wealth managers can now deliver a higher level of service in their clients' homes with the convenience and productivity of an iPad.

Based on what I've seen, the sooner IT starts operating as service providers and embraces the forces of consumerization, the more successful their businesses will be.    


About the Author

Bernard Harguindeguy is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlantis Computing. He has more than 25 years of operating experience in high-technology companies and has served on a number of Boards of technology companies including at Sygate Technologies for 5 years until its sale to Symantec in 2005 and as Chairman of the board of BorderWare which he sold to WatchGuard in 2009. Previously, he was the President and CEO of GreenBorder, a web security company which he sold to Google in 2007. GreenBorder was the first security company acquired by Google and is now part of the Google Chrome web browser. Before joining GreenBorder, he was the EVP and General Manager of the Identity Management business of Critical Path-at the time the only profitable business within the company-and had earlier held the position of Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to Critical Path, he was the President and CEO of WorldTalk, a publicly-traded (NASDAQ) Internet security software company that he turned around before it was acquired by Tumbleweed Communications. In addition, he held a number of positions at Novell, including General Manager for the Enterprise Division, a division that he built into a $145M business with a focus on enterprise applications integration and IBM connectivity. He holds a MS in Engineering Management from Stanford University and a BS in Electrical Engineering, Summa *** Laude, from the University of California Irvine.
Published Tuesday, June 26, 2012 7:04 AM by David Marshall
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