The personal computing desktop is something that is both new and old. It was only 30 years ago or so that I used my first Commodore VIC-20, followed shortly thereafter by the Commodore 64 and the Tandy TRS-80. (The games on those computers were awesome – Load “$” ,8,1) In the history of industry and automation, the personal desktop is a relatively new device that has radically changed the life of many of the workforce. However, in the history of computing, the traditional desktop model is archaic. Almost everything else has been evolving toward a virtualized cloud-hosted computing paradigm.
The benefits of a cloud hosted technology service have been widely publicized: availability from anywhere, consumption elasticity, operational expenditure model, pay for value and a number of other items. However, it is evident that one type of computing service more than any other can help bring the organization towards the cloud hosted service model and deliver the value that the cloud is able to provide: the desktop.
The desktop is complex – and even more so as the world becomes more interconnected and interactive. Applications, data and user profile are commonly assembled and built from multiple locations – whether it be a corporate file server, Internet application, web-based browser favorites repository or a cloud based back-up service. The desktop has evolved into a mash-up of trusted and un-trusted data and sources. Moving to the cloud with a priority on the desktop helps to solve a number of problems and drives the business towards a more efficient business model.
Firstly, the virtual desktop enables the centralized management and control that is required with the desktop of today and tomorrow. Running the desktop in a known environment is the first step towards a better security model. The allows the IT staff to not only control the trusts and relationship between the desktop and third parties, but allows for continuous monitoring of the desktop for business compliance.
Secondly, the complexity of the desktop environment can be “outsourced” to the cloud. The desktop requires a number of adjacent abilities such as desktop maintenance, data storage, backup, identity management, collaboration tools, messaging and many other standard business services. All of these services are offered by the managed service provider. While cloud services such as these are difficult to establish in a cloud-to-consumer model, using these managed services in a cloud-to-cloud model is not only simple, but brings increased economics as they are more repeatable for the provider and lower costs. It also allows for consolidated billing and IT expenditure. The whole world of desktop engineering becomes more easily outsourced at a better cost point for the business.
Thirdly, moving to cloud hosted virtual desktops offers flexibility for the desktop. Given the explosive growth of tablets, ChromeBooks, mobile devices and the consumerization of IT, no one is sure what a desktop will look like two or three years from now. Buying back into the cycle of physical desktops is making a 3-4 commitment to a model that may soon be outdated or detrimental to the business. Moving to the cloud for the desktop allows the business flexibility to enable the employee without locking in.
Lastly and most critically, business success is about people. As is commonly heard in the workplace, “Cash is King”, and investing limited capital resources on a non-strategic asset is never a wise decision. Enabling employees to do their work more productively by investing in projects of strategic value allows the business to not only grow, but thrive.
It is clear that technical and computing resources are making the migration toward the cloud. The benefits of this are readily apparent and already enabling business success. Given the relative importance of the desktop to the business, it only makes smart business sense that the desktop is prioritized in this technology evolution.
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Director of the Novomoskovsk Institute RHTU im. DI. Mendeleev, Head of the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting.