In recent years, there have been a number of things that have forced organisations to think differently about their IT service delivery. These include staff mobility, fiscal challenges, the rise of personal devices, the need to use physical space more efficiently as well as the commercial impact of online services. The pressure for more operational flexibility is being felt across all aspects of corporate IT including desktop services.

From Device To Workspace

In the workplace, corporate devices increasingly have to be more responsive to change and provide users with the service-levels they have come to expect. In response to this, many organisations are now running ‘bring your own device’ programmes and using cloud services to innovate their internal back office services.

They are also “virtualising” the components that traditionally have been “inside” of end-user devices, maintaining these as discrete assets inside secured repositories in the data centre. These components include all user profiles, settings, and user-authored data, as well as applications, applications data and application configuration.

This shift that is happening in desktop innovation is putting much more emphasis on the software architecture of desktop systems, moving corporate environments towards the creation of “software-defined workspaces”. Whilst the last 20 years have debated whether corporate environments will move from fat to thin clients, the reality is that the desktop environment has morphed into a melting pot of different application models and devices, and there is now more of a requirement to build systems that are responsive to change.

A User-Based Approach

Being able to support a software-defined workspace strategy is invaluable in a world where one size doesn’t fit all and where the pace of innovation means a company has to be ready to embrace new devices and form factors if they are deemed better for the business. However, creating and supporting software-defined workspaces requires new management approaches. Greater importance must be placed on understanding the needs and management of user requirements, behaviours and access rights, which is why user environment management has become a must-have capability for next generation desktop teams.

IT Is Transformed

The beauty of a workspace approach is that it not only satisfies users but fundamentally transforms the efficiency of the IT operation. In a workspace model, OS and applications are centrally managed, critical patches and updates are applied in timely fashion, and the number of rogue or unlicensed applications is reduced or completely eliminated, therefore providing essential vigilance against intrusions.

Where desktop upgrades used to take months they can take days or even hours in a software-defined environment because the process only requires updates to a few base images, which are then recomposed and delivered to users from the data centre. Migrations too can be automated and performed securely at least three times faster than using traditional desktop upgrade methods and users can still work on their devices the entire time. Also, by storing user profiles centrally they can be replicated and mirrored, keeping them secure and available for disaster recovery scenarios. It’s also common to see a reduction in help desk calls by 70 to 80% or more.

Readiness For Change

Many organisations are prioritising the need to innovate services and drive operational efficiency. Like other areas of IT infrastructure, desktop estates are being transformed to enable this. By moving to a software-defined environment, organisations can benefit not only from immediate savings and better services but from an infrastructure that can evolve as the world does.