In my recently posted blog, Supporting Enterprise Mobility: Cloud Assembled Workspaces, I touched upon how IT vendors are taking the ingredients that include multiple delivery models, identity and access management controls, device management, and granular persona management to create policies and assemble workspaces for end-users. The idea can be compared to how we interact with our TVs today via smart TVs (or TV add-ons like Roke and Apple TV). They have become the media center in our homes and while there may be different services from many different sources (legacy broadcast and modern web-based) that we can subscribe to, the basic idea is that you connect to WiFi and immediately start browsing TV shows, movies, pictures, the weather, YouTube etc. Once this connection has been made, the service provider can add new features and services without the consumer being directly aware of the new capabilities, but if we want them, they are at our fingertips. And while the TV may be the main consumption device, the same applications and services are available via phone, tablet, or PC/Mac/Laptop.
The TV experience example is nearly identical to how we can be thinking through ways to deliver applications and data to end-users when and where they need it. In the corporate environment, we care more about business applications, corporate data, collaboration tools, and obviously security, but the concept of aggregation, assembly, and delivery are very similar in comparison to home entertainment.
In order to embrace transformation, businesses need to inspect these challenges:
- Point solutions that are tactical in nature and directed to a limited set of employees show some traction, but fail to aggregate multiple delivery models, a variety of application types, user location, secure delivery of corporate data, and common identity and access management.
- As we mentioned in a recent blog, Embrace BYOD for Improved Employee Productivity, the majority of mobile solutions today focus on the consumption of information. While that is important, the corporate value of mobility sharply rises when IT can maintain improved controls, simplify management across users, enhance security, and turn the mobile experience into a productive environment.
- The vendor focus is classic innovation in regard to IT vendors finding a pain point inside of IT and creating solutions that solve that pain point. Subsequently, the bigger (and harder) problem to solve is just starting to be addressed as IT vendors think about a platform approach to creating and delivering workspaces.
A few vendors stand out and can help corporate IT create a new generation of workspaces. Before we peek into those vendors, it’s important to understand that there are key traits that each of these companies exhibit at various levels, including identity, business productivity applications, and delivery protocol. I’d also challenge that, although it may not be the current priority order, IT professionals create mobile workspaces with this lens on their analysis and decision process moving forward.
Amazon WorkSpaces Application manager (explored in detail in this blog) is a pay-as-you-go service from Amazon comprised of a marketplace for applications and desktops. Windows desktop applications are assembled into virtualized application containers and delivered as a cloud delivered workspace executed on AWS. The IT administrator centrally manages applications, access to the workspace through corporate directory integration, and persistent data storage to users across a variety of devices. Users can select and manage applications that they have access to within their workspaces while IT maintains visibility into the usage of these applications.
Citrix Workspace Cloud is a management platform that enables IT to deliver a unified services experience to end-users. IT assembles workspaces via a cloud portal as employees gain instant access to applications, desktops, files, and collaboration tools across networks and devices while IT maintains control through the improved management of secure workspaces. Consuming a workspace delivered by the platform enables businesses to drive toward their mobility goals with a delivery model that simplifies implementation and combines the cloud operational capabilities of Citrix with the desktop and mobility services of a business.
Google for Work is ultimately centered on business productivity applications (and, someday, a driverless car). Google enables businesses to have a zero footprint IT infrastructure. Employees leverage applications and collaboration tools to create a productive workspace for teams and/or an entire employee base. The foundational element is the Google data center that provides access to App Engine for application developers, the Compute Engine for any IT capacity needs and obviously the applications, and file sync and share and collaboration capabilities. Google also has common identity and security top of mind, and perhaps some of the more unique capabilities with search and how it can be leveraged in a corporate business environment with user workspaces.
Microsoft Enterprise Mobility pivots off of creating a single identity for a user that can be used to access applications from many devices. It leverages on-premises AD (active directory) federated to Azure AD, moving the identity closer to Azure-delivered applications. The next ring in the strategy is tied to business productivity applications and this translates into Microsoft Office (quickly moving entirely towards Office 365) applications and productivity tools, which Microsoft has expanded the surface area of to include usage of these application on non-Microsoft operating systems and devices. Microsoft enhances the strategy with Microsoft Intune to deliver mobile device management, mobile application management, and PC management capabilities from the cloud. Microsoft Azure Rights Management rounds out the workspace by enabling businesses to create policies to secure files and avoid unauthorized access at the file level.
VMware Workspace Suite is an example of a company pulling together a rich set of end-user computing technology into a suite for simplified delivery of workspaces. The VMware strategy aggregates EMM (enterprise mobility management), application and desktop delivery, file sync and share, and identity. VMware also recently announced further evolution in workspace mobility with project Enzo. The company claims this project to be a hybrid cloud architecture designed to build, deliver, and manage workspaces as a cloud service on its public cloud offering and hyperconverged infrastructure for on-premises infrastructure predictability.
Anyone in IT responsible for the business mobility strategy should be aware of what each of these companies is doing and how they may impact decisions today and with longer term strategic mobility goals. Each of these vendors is on a rapid innovation cadence to create the ideal workspace for today’s businesses that are embracing the impact mobility is having across the company and its employees.