The year 2012 will go down in history as the year when people voted with their wallets and decided that tablets are good enough for work.
The success of tablets has driven people to bring their own devices to work.
Supporting these new devices has seen old attitudes within IT change: it is no longer possible to run a managed desktop estate.
Mobile device management is the new norm; and traditional PC suppliers like HP and Dell are struggling as Apple and PC companies like Acer and Lenova ride the consumerisation wave.
There is a growing realisation that desktop computing is no longer about IT providing a set of tools for employees. Consumer technology is more advanced than desktop IT, and staff are generally more tech-savvy than previous generations. So why continue with the centralised approach to desktop computing?
The command and control philosophy that has driven corporate IT for over a decade is being put to the test. It may have brought user IT spending under control, but it is now a noose around the neck of business creativity.
Thin-client computing has been around for years. But until recently, it failed to make progress in the enterprise. But it is now a top priority. Quocirca analyst Clive Longnottom says that server-based computing has come of age. The technology is now extremely advanced and what buyers should be looking for is where the real business value-add lies. This can be in areas such as being able to patch and update images en masse and areas such as full licence management to ensure that over- or under-licensing is not occurring.
National Air Traffic Service (NATS), the UK's air traffic control operator, is rolling out an ambitious virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) programme as part of a wider change management initiative. The desktop is based on Windows 7 and Office 2010. NATS head of information services, Gavin Walker, took advantage of the company's Microsoft Enterprise Agreement to offer staff the opportunity to purchase Microsoft Office 2010 for just £9.99 for personal use. He said 3,000 people downloaded the program, which has helped introduce the upgraded Office suite to the business with less training. In addition, it helped to identify power users.
Predicting the demise of the physical desk has been a bit like predicting the paperless office. While great in theory, there are many constraints, often personal and social rather than technical, which makes the reality somewhat more complex to achieve. Mobile is becoming the default and accepted way of working according to Quocirca analyst Rob Bamforth. The humble laptop and mobile phone are rapidly being usurped by the smartphone and the current generation of touchscreen tablets, enabling users to shift a significant part of their IT away from a traditional desktop or laptop.
While Dell is trying to develop its enterprise services arm, and HP, the world's biggest PC supplier, tries to convince everyone it is still a PC company, other suppliers are vying to take market share.
IT consumerisation is driving more people to bring their own devices to work, but, in its Charting the rise of bring your own technology report, analyst firm Forrester Research says it does not expect bring your own device to work (BYOD) schemes to be mainstream in business until 2014. In the meantime IT departments will continue to supply and replace PCs to the business.
It is one thing being CEO of a company with best-in-class supply chain. But what happens when the business refocuses? Adriana Karaboutis is global CIO at Dell. In her role, she is involved in the transition of Dell from a PC supplier to a services-led organisation. She says, "In the past two-and-a-half years Dell has made over 20 acquisitions, where we have moved from a traditional computer company to an end-to-end solutions business."
IT asset management not only reduces costs, but can also improve the way IT is run. According to Forrester analyst Stephen Mann, having a better understanding of what assets are used, where and for what purpose (especially if service-aligned) can dramatically improve an IT department’s ability to operate a number of Information Technology infrastructure library (ITIL)-espoused IT service management processes such as incident, problem and change management. Knowing more about the IT estate can also help with configuration and capacity management.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) CEO Meg Whitman has unveiled a five-year turnaround plan for the troubled enterprise IT company, admitting the turnaround would take longer than expected. Speaking at an analyst briefing, she said: “We have to focus on bringing our incredible assets together to deliver for our customers, employees and shareholders.” Shares in the company dropped 13% following her statement. The value of shares in HP plummeted to its lowest level in a decade.
Sunderland City Council’s datacentre has been somewhat rejuvenated, thanks in part to modern IT that takes up far less space than the old mainframes that used to be housed there. The modernisation has made Sunderland City Council's datacentre something of a profit centre, and strategic to the council's goals of digital equality and community ICT. It is using Citrix XenDesktop Platinum, NetScaler MPX and XenServer, to provide virtual desktops within the council.
London Borough of Brent is planning to provide staff with up to 3,000 iPads and iPhones as it phases out Blackberry smartphones. London Borough of Brent will use MobileIron’s mobile device management software to secure the devices. Brent had previously deployed 490 Blackberry smartphones for email. By February 2013, these will be phased out, and replaced by iPads and iPhones, which will give the borough greater flexibility in terms of access to mobile applications over the locked-down email system from Research in Motion (RIM).