Faster Delivery = Happy Users
Automated Process = Fewer Errors
Standards = Cost Reduction
Order Visibility = Confidence
Linking Systems = Efficiency
The proof is everywhere. Start with the prominent use of Windows XP, a 10-year- old operating system causing a mass migration to Windows 7. Next is a sea of aging client hardware, remnants of down-economy budget crises.
Combine these pressures with an onslaught of new tablet devices, exploding into the enterprise, and you have all the ingredients for a complete transformation in desktop delivery practices. “It’s truly a paradigm shift,” says Scott Harper, Softchoice’s Director of Business Development. “End users want to have full access to a customized desktop experience, for all business applications, on any device, anytime, anywhere.”
In the face of this evolution, IT leaders are dealing with a number of key considerations. We explore what Scott sees as the top three challenges of the new desktop environment.
Challenge #1: Tackling the hardware question
With hardware, the challenge is two-fold for IT leaders looking to upgrade to the latest Windows operating system.
On one hand, you might want to standardize on Windows 7. But how? Will you do it through a hardware refresh, which many find easiest, or will you do it with a software upgrade?
“Organizations looking to standardize on Windows 7 need to decide if they’ll deploy through a PC refresh or upgrade their existing fleet,” says Harper. “Examining how many devices are approaching or have surpassed the policy refresh lifecycle and evaluating the fleet’s ability to support the new OS are paramount to the decision making process.”
Complicating the matter, IT departments have to contend with the “consumerization of IT” movement, and the demand to support new kinds of devices. End users want more flexibility, mobility and freedom and you’ve got to address these demands, too, says Hbarper.
Challenge #2: Understanding the application
The second major challenge is assessing and addressing business application compatibility.
“One of the most time consuming and daunting tasks in desktop deployment planning is assessing, and testing, driver and application compatibility,” says Harper, underscoring the burden of ensuring line-of-business applications are compatible with new operating systems, such as Windows 7.
On top of that, a number of organizations wonder how to deploy legacy “niche” applications and line-of-business web applications that were developed for Internet Explorer 6.
This is when virtualizing either the desktop or application becomes attractive. By packaging the app or the desktop in a bubble and decoupling it from the hardware, organizations can remove application compatibility concerns and deliver the end-user experience to those demanding freedom around the device they use.
Challenge #3: Deploying
Organizations are also faced with figuring out how to efficiently deploy Windows 7 to their fleet. There’s a number of options to look at: deploy manually, machine by machine, through remote deployment, or integrate with a hardware refresh.
Regardless of the deployment process, organizations will need to package the OS and their applications, and create new golden images – which is no small burden. It’s not uncommon for Softchoice to find organizations with more than 500 applications they need to package for deployment.
And even organizations considering application virtualization – whether it be a Citrix, VMware, or Microsoft solution – still need to package the applications, says Harper.
“This process is very time consuming and outsourcing it can be a wise move,” Harper argues. “Picking the wrong approach here can literally cause thousands of hours of extra work.”
Today, IT leaders need to focus on leveraging technology to efficiently deploy the new desktop experience. As opposed to spending 3-5 hours per machine, organizations want to dramatically reduce the provision speed by creating an efficient deployment plan.
The next step:
The desktop horizon is complex and shifts daily. What’s certain is that many organizations will face these challenges in 2011. How will you assess your hardware lifecycle? And what steps are needed to determine application compatibility? Is application virtualization and/or desktop virtualization a viable solution? And how will you create the most efficient deployment strategy, regardless of the direction you take?