Cloud Delivers on Personalized IT Service Delivery
Since the dawn of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, one of the most powerful potential benefits has been end-user personalization. The vision was that upon logging on, users would immediately have access to any and all resources they need to use. This has been realized, to some extent, through online portals and e-commerce sites that store data on user preferences.
Cloud takes personalization to a whole new level. For enterprises, it means the automatic delivery of IT services to where they are needed, when they are needed. For example, developers are provided access to the tools and platforms – all updated – that are pertinent to their jobs. IT administrators have access to the environments and data they require at all times. For IT managers, working with the cloud means only worrying about one set of applications, data and security protocols. For enterprise users, working from the cloud means rich computing experiences – regardless of what device they happen to have, or if they are working from their offices, someone else’s offices, from hotels, or from airport terminals.
Cloud-based personalization is delivered through virtual desktops or virtual clients. Applications, data and functions preferred by each user are stored within the cloud environment, typically a private or hybrid cloud supported by the enterprise. Users have access to resources in accordance with their job roles and permissions levels. In addition, cloud automation tools support governance policies that help deliver greater personalization. Fine-grained policies – including business, machine, reservation and application policies – enforce unique IT and business needs to ensure delivery of service at the right level to the right person.
For CIOs and IT leaders, cloud personalization is a dream come true. It means no longer assigning IT staff to trudge through offices and locations to install, re-install or fix systems. Plus, in the era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), it would be too hard to find a lot of end users anyway.
Cloud-based personalization is delivering the following advantages:
Tech teams can all stay on the same page. Developers may be scattered across the globe, and as has been the case, often work with different versions of tools. Plus, as tools grow more robust, developers have had to make new hardware purchases with faster processors. Virtual desktops for developers, engineers and other technical staff ensure that the latest and most robust toolsets and testbeds are available to all – regardless of how old a machine they are working on, or whether they are based in Baltimore, Berlin or Bangalore.
Enterprises can provide mass customization of IT services. In modern manufacturing, production is highly modularized, enabling the sharing of the same parts by different brands. IT is evolving along similar lines, with services that function as commoditized building blocks that can be assembled in unique ways for customers. Automated these capabilities enables personalized services without additional costs.
The right information is available at the right time. Data and applications on virtual desktop scan be targeted at specific groups of users, or those with appropriate levels of permission, ensuring greater security. For example, executives may have access to high-level dashboards that capture information from across key points in the enterprise, such as sales, production and finance. Data can be managed and made more secure within virtual desktops. If an executive leaves the company, for example, access can be quickly revoked. If a manager is promoted to a higher-level position, his or her desktop can be expanded to include appropriate functions.
Enterprises get a better handle on security and compliance. One of the key advantages of personalization is the fact that it embeds security into computing. When employees walk out the door, they potentially make take sensitive information with them. They may not intentionally be careless with data, but there have been countless incidents involving thumbnail drives being lost, or laptops being stolen from cars. In addition, there is always the threat of internal breaches. Maintaining data within a centralized cloud environment helps mitigate these risks.
Enterprises can quickly expand their workforces. For an organization experiencing rapid growth in its workforce – and in outside contractors and partners – access is important. Yet, managing the IT needs for a growing workforce can be daunting. With cloud, employees and contractors can be granted, with the flick of a switch, appropriate levels of access and permissions for data and resources. Virtual desktops are highly adaptable and flexible, meaning they can be created and configured immediately as employees and contractors come and go.
Business can continue with a minimum of interruptions. Today’s on-the-go users need to be able to pick up where they left off, whether they are in the midst of travel, if they break their laptop or tablet, or if they are going back and forth collaborating with team members. If they lose their computer while traveling, their entire desktop and files are still there waiting for them as soon as they acquire a new device. With a virtualized desktop stored within the cloud, users are able to access ongoing work anytime, anywhere, on any device that is handy.
End-users can work from any device. Virtual desktops can access users’ environments – or at least the parts that are important to them – no matter what device they happen to be using that day. In this BYOD era, users may be doing their work off their own tablet computers or smartphones. With virtual desktops, delivered via private cloud, users are not confined to a particular piece of hardware, such as their desktop computer, to be productive. Plus, IT staff would never have the time to attempt to manage and support all the devices now used within organizations.
The cloud offers many advantages to enterprises, and the ability to provide highly personalized, virtual workspaces to end users will have a powerful impact on productivity.
Joe McKendrick is an author, independent researcher and speaker exploring innovation, information technology trends and markets.