When the Cloud Meets Mobility: Heaven or Headache?
The cloud and mobile computing have made an awful lot of promises to enterprise IT: reduced costs, higher productivity, jaw-dropping data analytics, rapid rollout, granular control over the IT solution stack. But have they delivered? Unfortunately, that’s not easy to answer. In a recent Gartner survey of over 2,000 top CIOs, analytics and business intelligence, mobile technologies, and cloud computing ranked as their first three priorities (in the order).
These CIOs have high hopes for the next wave of cloud technologies.
Their ultimate goals include:
- Allowing anywhere, anytime access to cloud-hosted data and applications on any device regardless of operating system.
- Providing remote but secure access on any device to both private and public networks that automatically scale to meet demand.
- Virtualizing as much IT infrastructure as possible to increase efficiency, elasticity, redundancy, and flexibility. (In other words, less stuff, more value.)
But, is this really happening? The same group of CIOs claimed that enterprises realize only 43 percent of the full business potential of the latest cloud and mobility technologies. And every CIO worth his or her salt is saying their enterprises can only leverage the full power of cloud and big data and mobility by taking an integrated, comprehensive approach. We’ve already learned what doesn’t work: a hodgepodge patchwork of SaaS solutions, API integrations, make-shift bridges, and another half-dozen workarounds.
So where do we go from here?
The technology already exists to address most of the interoperability and integration issues enterprises (as well as SMBs) have struggled with. So perhaps the better question is: Are we ready to accept them? You see, one of the biggest barriers to making the next leap in computing technology isn’t technological.
It’s not even operational. It’s cultural.
Almost every end user still associates their devices with their applications and their data. Ask 10 random people where a file is, and nine of them are likely to say, “My computer,” or “My iPad.”—not Google Drive. Not iCloud. And definitely not a data center in rural North Carolina.
For enterprises to truly embrace the full potential of mobility, business intelligence, and the cloud, they need to start moving users away from a device-centric mentality and towards a focus on hosted apps and data.
One real solution is virtualized desktop infrastructure.
With the advent of VDI, companies like Citrix have taken the complete end user solution stack and put it into the cloud. An entire virtual desktop—with all of a user’s data and apps—can be reduced to a data stream that data centers send to whatever device a user wants—desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. The device falls into the background and the experience takes front-and-center.
With VDI, enterprises really can have the best of all worlds:
- Complete control over apps and data, regardless of platform or device
- Minimal integration concerns
- Full-featured desktop apps delivered as a service over a private, public, or hybrid cloud
If CIOs really want to realize the full business potential of cloud technologies, then they need to get their end users ready for a major shift in thinking. Only once end users start thinking about their desktop as something that moves with them, from one device to another, will enterprises be in a position to capitalize on the promises the cloud IT world has made to them.
But what do you think? Is there another answer we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below.
By Robert Shaw