Archive for the ‘Desktop virtualisation’ Category

Focus on 2012: 5 key areas in Enterprise IT

December 19, 2011

According to the industry analysts, experts and professionals, some of the changes and novelties introduced in the last few years are set to become actual trends in 2012. Influenced by the ever-challenging economic climate, disillusioned yet careful outlook on industry best practices and need to obtain measurable efficiency from any IT project, these are the five key areas that will acquire growing importance next year:

1)      Larger use of non-desktop-based applications

This is due to of a growing need for mobility and flexibility. Users need to be able to work while travelling, from any desk or office (for instance, in the case of large/international companies) and from home, as home-working is growing due to the financial benefits involved. It is also a good choice to guarantee business continuity in the case of unforeseen circumstances such as natural disaster or strikes which leave the workers stranded or unable to reach the office. As well as cloud applications, virtualised desktops are becoming a must-have for many organisations. Companies with older desktops which need updating anyway will find this switch more financially convenient, as well as those which have a large number of mobile users which need to access applications from their smartphone or laptop while out of their main office. It can also give those organisations considering or embracing home-working more control over the desktops, as they will be centralised and managed by the company and not at user level.

2)      Larger use of outsourced management services

The ‘doing more with less’ concept that started to take grip at the beginning of the past recession has translated into practical measures. These include handing part or the whole of the Service Desk to an external service provider which, for a fixed cost, will know how to make the best of what the company has, and provide skilled personnel, up-to-date technology and performance metrics. Managed services, IT outsourcing and cloud services will become even more prominent in 2012 and the following years due to their convenience from a practical and financial point of view. With the right service provider, the outcome is improved efficiency, less losses deriving from IT-related incidents and more manageable IT expenditure.

3)      Management plans for ‘big data’

There is much talk around the current topic of ‘big data’, which describes the concept of the large amount of varied data organisations have to deal with nowadays. There are some practical issues that arise from this – mainly how to store it, share it and use it, all without breaching the Data Protection Act. However, at the moment it is still very difficult to understand how to take the next step: using this data strategically and to create business advantage. This is something companies will have to look at in the years to come; as for the next year, they might just concentrate on dealing with data safely and efficiently, possibly storing it on a private virtual server or using public cloud services.

4)      A more balanced approach to security

This new approach sees the over-adoption of security measures dropped after the realisation that it might affect productivity as it may cause delay in carrying out business operations; it could also diminish opportunities that are found in sharing data within the sector to allow organisations to improve and grow; lastly, it can be counter-productive, with employees bypassing the measures in place in order to make operations quicker. Although being compliant with on-going regulations is becoming vital, there will be more scoping and tailoring than large technology adoption. Organisations will be analysed to understand which areas are in need of security measures and to what extent. This way, heavy security measures will be applied only to high risk areas rather than throughout the whole organisations, with less critical areas able to work more freely. In this approach, risks are balanced against efficiency and opportunity and the end result is a tailored solution rather than a collection of off-the-shelf products.

5)      Less budget control

Due to the challenging economic climate, other departments, in particular the financial department and therefore the DOF, will have more control over IT investments. CIOs and IT Managers will have to be able to evaluate if their IT project is necessary or just a nice-to-have, and how it can bring business advantage.  All proposed IT investment will have to be justified financially; therefore, it is important to analyse each project and find a reasonable ROI before presenting it to the finance decision-makers. This implies that IT professionals have to learn ‘business talk’ and manage to translate difficult technical descriptions in business terms.

All in all, developments within IT will not come to a halt next year – investment and changes will continue but with a more careful outlook and a stronger focus on efficiency, safety and Return on Investment rather than on following trends or adopting the latest technology for the sake of it. Because of this, the difficult economic climate could also be seen as a good thing: organisations make wiser and far-sighted choices that will create a solid base for any future decision that will be made when times are less tough and spending capacity rises, increasing the efficiency potential of IT for business purposes.

Tony Rice, Service Delivery Manager

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Financial firms’ IP is safe with VDI

May 10, 2011

As with many other new technologies, financial organisations have been among the most keen to embrace desktop virtualisation. The main reason this particular technology is being largely adopted by the sector is because it suits the need for easier mobility: thanks to VDI, users can access their desktop from any PC with an internet connection, making it easy to access large amounts of data and heavy applications from a light mini netbook while travelling and even making it unnecessary to carry a laptop around when visiting another office.

But although for many this is a good enough reason alone to adopt this technology, there is another advantage that makes desktop virtualisation even more attractive for the financial sector: it allows centralisation of all Intellectual Property, which is not owned and managed at end user level but centrally by the IT department. It is extremely important for this particular sector to have control over data and IP, as these are vital to a firm creating competitive advantage in the market – to financial firms, IP is an important asset and therefore needs to be protected. With this solution, all data will be processed and saved in a central hub rather than at user level, so that it is less difficult for users to take information to competitors or to copy it on an external device and lose it, therefore protecting the company from breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Centralisation also means that individuals will not be able to freely download random software onto their desktop that may contain viruses or create a window for hacking, with all the extra security benefits that this entails. Due to the sensitivity and importance of the information a financial firm deals with, being able to minimise the occurrence of these kinds of data security breaches is a great advantage – it increases public and regulatory confidence and credibility, which can add value to the company. Data leakage, loss or theft may in fact lead not only to costly fines, but there is also a likelihood, due to the obligation to inform clients and make an incident public, that  this would create a loss of reputation and, therefore, business – both with current and potential customers who might choose to opt for the competition. A safe environment is more attractive, hence a correctly managed VDI solution can help retain clients and perhaps also win new business.

Sure, desktop virtualisation has a cost and is not particularly convenient financially for companies that have just upgraded their hardware. It is instead a wise investment when PCs are in need of a refresh, as an alternative choice. The ROI in this case is immediate, but in any case the short and medium-term benefits are not confined to reduced hardware costs. It also enables the IT department to reach some important cost-efficiencies. Benefits include: enabling IT support personnel to carry out maintenance more easily and quickly; speeding up simple operations such as patching and applying new application upgrades; a smaller number of technicians needed to deal with support to remote users, especially the more expensive desk-side engineers.

Desktop virtualisation also allows for cost savings in the long run by extending the PC lifecycle and applying a concurrent-usage software licensing model. The pooling of flexible server hardware will extend its lifecycle and the simplified infrastructure will enable zero downtime.

The advantages of VDI are evidently numerous, but being in control of data, IP and the way each individual desktop is managed by end users represents a major benefit for financial organisations in particular. If implemented and managed correctly, in fact, this technology can allow them to gain competitive advantage, minimise losses, increase their security and return on investment, ultimately improving business success.

Sharron Deakin, Principal Consultant

This article was written for Director of Finance Online: http://www.dofonline.co.uk/content/view/5270/118/