How Cloud Computing Has Empowered The End User

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Until the last couple of years, organizations have been focusing technologies around corporate efficiency, growth capabilities and the ability for business continuity. Of course, these are all still important. However, with the advancements around cloud computing, WAN technologies and virtualization, a new trend has begun to emerge. Because of cloud computing and IT consumerization, there is now a distinct focus on the end user.

Targeted data center technology is driving better performance, happier users and improved productivity. More users are bringing their own devices into the workforce. Not only has IT consumerization changed the IT playing field, more companies are conducting workforce analysis to see how they can make their employees happier and more productive. A lot of those results came back with something simple: work place technology flexibility.

As more organizations begin to leverage cloud technologies, they will turn their focus to optimizing the end-user experience. Furthermore, they are going to try their best to optimally deliver more workloads with better resource utilization, both at the data center and at the end-user level. There are already more solutions which directly help data center administrators control users and the information that they are trying to access. Going forward, be prepared to see many more user-centric technologies start to rise up. Let’s understand why:

  • Remote users. More contractors and users are now logging in remotely. There has to be a system in place that’s capable of supporting such an environment.
  • Flexible work schedules. More employees are asking to work from home, or during their own hours. For many organizations, this isn’t an issue. However, delivering a positive user experience over the WAN to someone’s house can prove to be a challenge.
  • International user base. Technologies are allowing us to re-provision hardware and software to accommodate new time zones. This means we don’t have to have duplicate resources to support more users.
  • IT consumerization. Almost every organization is allowing their users to bring in an iPad or smartphone into an environment. These organizations are continuously tasked with allowing users to connect to corporate data.

Cloud computing has facilitated the growth in end-user devices being brought into the corporate environment. Furthermore, more organizations are creating truly distributed platforms where users have the freedom to log in from anywhere, anytime and on virtually any device. End-user optimization and the performance of an application or desktop are vital for optimal workforce productivity. When the focus turns to the end-user, here are some technologies to keep an eye on:

  • Complete User Abstraction. Imagine being able to carry all of your settings with you at all times. I mean literally – all of them. From how your applications function, to the slightest detail in your profile – all yours. It’s happening now and will continue to grow. Organizations like AppSense are presenting the ability to abstract not only the user, but the hardware and software layer as well.
  • More ShareFile/Dropbox. Right now, companies don’t like Dropbox. However, there is a need for a secure file sharing platform. It will grow and it will enter the enterprise. Organizations can now create Dropbox-like environments and completely silo their data. That means information doesn’t have to leave a data center – or even a region.
  • Content Optimization. Not just WAN optimization. Specific QoS at the content level. Things like ICA, PCoIP, Flash, Video and Audio are all end-user centric. This type of content will be easier to manage. And, it won’t require a big hardened appliance to do so.
  • Mini-WAN Accelerators. Much like their bigger brothers, these would be given out to very remote employees. Why not optimize traffic into their home to ensure a better user experience? When the costs come down, this technology will see some big growth.
  • More Cloud APIs/Connectors. More applications are being built in the cloud space. As a result, there has been a greater emphasis around cloud connectors and APIs. The idea is to help the user connect faster to more applications around the web. Moving forward, these technologies will continue to grow and expand as more cloud-based platforms are brought up.
  • More IT Consumerization Control. Almost every organization is facing the BYOD truth. There are more users, more data and a lot more devices trying to connect into a network. Instead of blocking users, many data center administrators have switched tactics and are now trying to empower the end-user. Solutions like XenMobile or MobileIron create granular BYOD policies and controls to allow administrators to deliver more content to the end-point. Remember, the goal isn’t to block or track devices – it’s to allow users to become more efficient as well.

Cloud computing and IT consumerization weren’t just new technological platforms. They were a new way of thinking. IT administrators are now working with a widely distributed networking infrastructure with components possibly being located all over the world. Furthermore, there is the challenge to deliver more applications, workloads and data to end-users which are not using traditional means of access.

There are core benefits in focusing your IT efforts around the end-user. Not only will organizations create better user personality profiles, they’ll be able to align their business around end-user functionality. This means creating an environment which allows the end user to become more efficient, utilize more devices, and – very importantly – enjoy using your company’s technology platform. At the end of the day, this all translates to a happier and more productive user.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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