Moving to the IT-Lite Desktop

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You Are Here:Moving to the IT-Lite Desktop

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and we’re finally starting to see the adoption of social networking front-ends in the enterprise space. Workbook, a Facebook plug-in by Worklight, creates a secure enterprise environment using the Facebook platform but allowing full integration into back-end applications. This in effect makes the “face” of the company a light-weight web interface. We can throw all kinds of terms out to try to enlighten people on how this is done but ultimately the adoption of a web front-end achieves several key things:
1) Portability
Almost 1/3 of all portable devices today have some browsing capability. Within the next five years expect this to double. The web is the window to our world of data and has little to no dependence on the underlying operating system. This may kill the Microsoft dominance in the desktop space that they have enjoyed for nearly 2 decades.
2) Flexibility
The use of Web Services and SOA-like applications allow simple drag and drop type web design enabling, for example, an IT-lite office to add a click-to-call widget to a locally hosted web directory. Companies will shift from trying to control the portal framework (i.e. MySpace, SharePoint, Facebook) and instead develop widgets, gadgets and portlets that focus their key product strengths into embedded applications.
3) Consolidation
We’ll start seeing enterprise applications being outsourced at an ever increasing rate as this will be a prime source of revenue for service providers. A successful transformation will include reliable web communications, optimized bandwidth and QoS.
4) Mobility
Accessing content from mobile devices will become commonplace with SharePoint, Websphere, MySpace and Facebook adopting front-ends optimized for mobiles. Also LiMo (Linux for Mobiles) and Google Android will further drive mobile application development to allow enterprise users to work from a cell phone or iPod.
I remember when I started my career in telecommunications and there was a clear differentiation between my colleagues that chose the software path and those that chose hardware. Now these spaces are converging…if not at a technical level then most certainly at a business level. If you can’t articulate the business values of why more bandwidth, more ports, better wireless coverage or better QoS is critical to your enterprise then don’t expect to find a warm welcome.
Coming from a large telecommunications vendor I’ve seen a lot of selling technology for technology’s sake. Every few years we start a new bandwidth upgrade cycle. Even today it is quite likely you can sell the value of increasing the bandwidth of a pipe to an IT manager but trying to sell that to the IT director or CTO is a bit more difficult. Why is the bandwidth required? What applications are being used? Will this be enough for the next five years?
These questions can only be addressed by looking at the applications and the way in which the enterprise is evolving. If today most users have individual instances of software packages installed on their machines then a user editing a Word or Powerpoint document has no impact on the network. A full adoption of a web environment means every application launched will now create web traffic. Applications that were commonplace and never considered as bandwidth consumers will now be the primary uers of it.
While shifting to a hosted model offers real benefits to the enterprise it will also create plenty of new challenges. Will the same E1 that was used previously be able to perform with a fully hosted environment? Probably not. In fact while the application guys are working on WS and SOA the hardware guys are working on new ways to better utilize resources. WAN optimization and caching is key to delivering the performance enterprises have come to expect. At the same time, experts in CSS and web design will help streamline content hosting and presentation to maximize performance.
When this all comes together everyone will win. The service provider will see an increasing revenue stream from hosting, the enterprise will realize cost-savings from outsourcing, application designers will find a lucrative market for services and business process integration, and web architects will see a growth opportunity in content optimization.

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