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How the software-defined workspace is reshaping enterprise client computing

TR: Exactly. In recent years, there have been a number of things that have forced organisations to think differently about their service delivery – staff mobility, the rise of personal devices, the need to use physical spaces more efficiently – so application streaming and hosting offered a way to address those challenges.

What we see now are more, not less, flavours of application models and a realisation that actually we have to be ready to accept the possibility of new devices coming to the fore and different demands from users over the coming years. The desktop environment has to be portable and easy to change, like any other part of the stack has to be.

TRP: What other things do you see coming into the client computing space that tech pros should think about?

TR: There are a few things really. The new style of desktop workspace requires different tools and management processes to be in place at each stage of the lifecycle – from early planning and assessment through to monitoring and issue remediation.

Persona and user environment management solutions are essential for giving tech pros the ability to design, deploy and manage these environments successfully and cost-effectively.

You also need to have visibility across the application landscape. If you're running different platforms and types of application models this is critical. For example, browser-based applications are becoming more widely used, and a tech pro should have the ability to see what the application within the browser is – whether it's Salesforce or Facebook. I also think the ability to be able to manage different components of the desktop centrally will become even more important as organisations adopt digital business models.

The convergence that is happening at the datacentre is extending down to the endpoint. As desktop environments become more software-defined, IT will need to have the capability to monitor service delivery from the endpoint all the way back to the shared subsystems that are supported such as virtual hosts, network and storage infrastructure.

TRP: Is the move towards software-defined adding more complexity to the enterprise environment?

TR: It seems complex because it is a new way of thinking about IT. But the fact is essentially you are trading desktop sprawl, which has its own inherent problems and complexities, for a more streamlined and structured approach which is much more scalable, secure and flexible. It also gives the ability to tailor the correct delivery model to the user's specific needs, which is more efficient.

The software-defined workspace, for example, allows administrators to have almost granular ability to lock down specific components of the desktop, take away admin status from basic end users and allow them only to "touch" the parts that they need for work.

In addition, because OS and applications are centrally managed, critical patches and updates are applied in a timely fashion, and the number of rogue or unlicensed applications is reduced or completely eliminated, therefore providing essential vigilance against intrusions.

Companies can't afford for their technology to keep them shackled. We see this with legacy PC environments, where boot times are slow, upgrades are lengthy and expensive to conduct and the lifecycle doesn't accommodate change very easily.

Using user profile and user environment management solutions with virtual, physical and cloud applications and desktops gives organisations an incredible amount of freedom and value to start managing their client environments in a much more flexible way.

One organisation that we worked with, an NHS trust, was able to transform their clinical environment by taking a new approach to their desktop strategy, enabling consultants to log on to applications quickly and manage security and application rights from their datacentre. They reduced logon times from 10 minutes to seconds and are able to progress their goal to be data-driven.