Employees expect to interact with corporate IT in the same way they interact with domestic IT. The Consumerisation of IT has hit us hard. This isn’t going away. It’s only going to get worse. What can we do about it?
The Consumeration of IT means we need to approach IT very differently. We need higher availability across a variety of devices. IT is no longer about the desktop at a user’s desk.
Here are 7 tips to help your corporate IT department embrace and adapt to the Consumeration of IT.
Find Web-Based Solutions
Deploying your applications in a web browser is the best way forward. With today’s web technologies, there is no reason the vast majority of business applications can’t be run out of a browser. If you vendors don’t support web standards, either look for a new vendor or strongly encourage them to move with the times.
Web-based shouldn’t mean you have to relinquish control of your data. I’m not endorsing SaaS for business-critical applications and services. Corporate applications can be deployed in your own data-centre and made available via a web browser. You can have you cake and eat it. Your servers. Your firewall. Your rules.
And if you build in-house tools, make sure you stop using WinForms. Embrace the web browser. It can actually do some pretty cool stuff these days.
Deploy An In-House File Sharing “Cloud”
Dropbox is great, and I see the appeal. However, users can’t use any old tool to store and share corporate data. Deploy an internal solution such as Pydio which makes your existing SMB shares available via a web interface and mobile apps. This way, you can still enforce corporate access and retention policies, while providing additional access flexibility.
Mobile users will appreciate a corporately sanctioned method to access their Powerpoint presentations on their iPad, or being able to make changes to a spreadsheet while on the train.
VDI and RemoteApp
Not everything can be made available via a web browser. We all have our fair share of “legacy” apps we’d like to replace but can’t. For these, consider rolling out solutions such as VDI and RemoteApp. This removes corporate apps from local machines and places them back in your own data centre. This means the local hardware is less important, and apps can be accessed from almost anywhere.
I’ve been very impressed with Microsoft’s offerings lately. RemoteApp, combined with their latest desktop and mobile apps, is enabling me to deliver a large number of corporate applications to users cross-platform.
While not everyone wants their work apps following them home on their appropriately secured iPad, they like knowing it’s available to them if they need it. I like knowing my corporate applications are sitting safely in our data centre, and access can be cut off to users at a moment’s notice with no residual data left on devices.
Embrace “Chaos Monkey” for Desktop
Chaos Monkey is Netflix’s suite of tools to simulate failures in their cloud-based server-instances. They design their architecture to withstand single points of failure, and automate failure testing with Chaos Monkey. Any server (or group of servers) could go offline at any point in time, so their engineers are forced to design around it.
I like to apply this principal to the desktop environments I manage. What would happen if a desktop disappeared? Could a user login to another desktop and keep working as if nothing happened? Would their documents and settings carry across? Would they have access to all their applications?
Thinking this way helps you to design your environment. Suddenly, you can’t store any data locally or rely on non-standard desktop applications delivered to the local workstations. If an app is in the standard desktop image, then that’s fine – but “once off” installations are problematic because they don’t scale.
Consider web apps, VDI, RemoteApp, group policy and folder redirection to design around this problem.
Make sure IT is available conveniently to users through self-service tools. Users will love being able to check their access levels, deploy printers and software, and access help articles without having to go to the trouble of logging a support ticket.
Consider building an IT self-service portal into your intranet. It should be passive for your IT team, integrating seamlessly into existing infrastructure such as Active Directory and package management tools.
Decisions Backed with Policy
Ensure that everything you do is backed with simple and accessible policy. Users will appreciate having their rights and restrictions spelt out to them, so long as it’s not overly draconian.
Don’t Be A Roadblock
IT Departments, particularly in larger organisations, are seen as “blockers” rather than “enablers”. This shouldn’t be the case and needs to change. Now.
IT doesn’t exist to be a hindrance – we are here to enable the rest of the business function as efficiently as possible. Be responsive to changes in technology and business requirements. Listen to your users. As Michael Scott says: Adapt. React. Readapt. Apt.