Cloud Computing and the Desktop Client

Everyone’s moving to the cloud.

Rightly so…the cloud brings scalability and agility and it provides opportunities for true innovation by IT groups. Many teams are moving operations and data centers – or parts of data centers – to the Cloud.

But there’s more to the Cloud than just a place to store data.

The Cloud isn’t some nebulous location in cyberspace shared by many organizations, although it can be that. The Cloud is really anything your organization needs it to be and can range from that nebulous data store in cyberspace to a private cloud built specifically by/for your organization.

One area of Cloud Computing that often gets overlooked by many is in the Client area. Rather than buy full-powered desktops to run simple applications, it might make sense for organizations to buy Cloud Client devices. These devices can lower costs for hardware as well as lower IT support requirements since the majority of applications reside in the Cloud rather than on a desktop computer.

Using Cloud Client Computing devices provides IT with the ability to roll out multiple types of intelligent devices without having the overhead of full-spec desktop machines. This approach brings tremendous value to the IT group by allowing a much more centralized management and security infrastructure especially when using an end-to-end solution designed for cloud clients.

I worked with an organization a few years ago who had been planning to roll out new desktop computers in their Dallas office. Roughly 75% of the users receiving new computers were only going to be using an email application and word processing / spreadsheet applications and the CIO of the company was trying to find a way to reduce expenditures while still getting new machines to everyone. Her solution? Rolling out Cloud Client devices to most users and desktop machines for those users who absolutely needed ‘local’ computing power.

Additionally, the CIO was able to reduce costs on software licenses by only renewing licenses for those that needed them. When everyone received a desktop computer, they received a license to Microsoft Office by default but many weren’t using the suite at all (other than using Outlook).

Lastly, untold numbers of hours were saved by not having to have the IT Support team traipsing over the building fixing problems on desktop machines.

Going with a thin client approach saved that organization a few million in expenses in hardware, software and IT support costs in only a few years Additionally, over time, they were able to from a piecemeal thin-client approach to an end-to-end solution with management, security and performance.

Migrating from a desktop environment to one that includes desktops and Cloud Clients isn’t something will happen overnight, but with proper planning and some thought, the migration can be fairly pain-free and bring some overall cost savings to your organization.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.

 

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Cloud Computing – Evolution? Revolution? Yes.

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Sunrise over Carolina Beach, NC by Eric Brown on flickrChristian Verstraete, HP’s Chief Technologist for the Cloud, wrote a nice piece over on the Enterprise CIO Forum
titled Cloud, Evolution or Revolution? In that post, Mr. Verstraete asks the basic question – is “cloud computing is a revolution, a paradigm shift, or not“.

The post is a good read…worth your time to jump over.

While Mr. Verstraet never really answers the question in clear terms, my answer to the question – is cloud computing an evolution or a revolution – is ‘yes’.

Cloud computing is both evolutionary and revolutionary.

Evolutionary because, in many ways, the move to cloud computing is just another stage in the evolution of IT.  We’ve moved from mainframes to servers to virtual servers and now to the ‘cloud’…which, in many organizations’ is seen as just a way to outsource non-core functions.

Cloud Computing is also revolutionary for the organization.  Revolutionary in the sense that there’s no longer a need to spend thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on hardware to get a website and/or product running.  Rather than building up an IT operations team and a development team, you can let the operations be managed for you by a cloud vendor.    There’s cost savings there that haven’t been available in years past to the small to medium sized business.

So…cloud computing is both evolutionary and revolutionary.  There’s tons of debate in the IT world about whether the cloud is the future…but that’s the wrong debate.

The debate should be over which applications, products and services should be in the cloud. The debate should be over what your core competency is – and then focus on that with the rest of the non-core IT operations being outsourced to some third party (via the cloud or other means).

Mr. Verstraete closes his argument with a similar one.  He writes:

It probably makes sense for an IT department to review their applications and identify the ones that clearly differentiate the company from its competitors. The question then has to be asked whether the non-differentiating applications should continue to be ran from the enterprise datacenter or should migrate to SaaS type delivery.

Well said.

Image Credit: Sunrise over Carolina Beach, NC by Eric D. Brown

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Links for Jan 30 2011

Technology Consultant - Eric D. Brown | Image for link posts

Links for June 20 2010

  • Lead From The Front and The Back by Simon Sinek on Re:Focus:

    Yes leadership is about leading, standing out front.  Yes leadership is about painting a picture, a vision of the future that does not yet exist.  Yes leadership is about being a beacon for people to follow.  But great leadership is about turning back to those that you would want to follow you on your quest to thank them, personally, for being a part of what you are, together, trying to build

  • The Booger Therom Of Good Living by Terry Starbucker

    Quote: Find the Booger in your life – someone who can help you get over that hump. And if you’re lucky, that person won’t be named… Booge

  • The Context Machine: Leading CloudWorkers by Bas de Baar on Project Shrink

    Quote: Knowledge workers can work from anywhere. They just need a laptop and access to the cloud (the Internet). These “CloudWorkers” are very convenient for organizations. They are highly specialized, flexible, location independent and have no overhead. So in theory you can get a fair price. Access to a global pool of flexible talent can create agility in an organization: workforce on demand.

  • Zen and the Art of Being Patient in Business – Suzemuse

    Quote: Growing a business is a process. It may seem to you like other peoples’ businesses are overnight successes, because we only get to know about them once they’ve landed the huge client or made a million bucks. Nothing could be further from the truth. The formative years of your business are right now – where you’re building your portfolio, creating long term relationships and expanding your referral network.

  • Hope and the magic lottery by Seth Godin on Seth’s Blog

    Entrepreneurial hope is essential. It gets us over the hump and through the dip. There’s a variety of this hope, though, that’s far more damaging than helpful.

    This is the hope of the magic lottery ticket.

  • The cloud threatens creative destruction for IT by Scott Brinker on Chief Marketing Technologist

    if you reposition your career — and your thinking — as a business technologist rather than an IT person, your future looks much brighter. There’s growing demand for software engineers and service delivery architects at all of these entrepreneurial cloud applications ventures. And, if you’re willing to embrace the art of wielding technology in a specific business domain — such as marketing, with the rise of the marketing technologist — you can turn all these cloud-based offerings into your toolbox rather than your competition.

Focus of the CIO for 2010 and Beyond

Image courtesty of CIO.com

I’m a bit slow on my reading lately….so bear with me as I catch up. Just read through the 2010 State of the CIO Survey published by CIO.com.

A few highlights:

  • This year, nearly one third—30 percent—of the 594 IT leaders we polled say meeting or beating business goals is a personal leadership competency critically needed by their organizations, up significantly from the 18 percent who said so last year.
  • 22 percent cited “identifying and seizing on commercial opportunities”—more than triple last year’s 6 percent
  • Aligning IT initiatives with business has dropped significantly over the last 2 years – 64 percent, down from 71 percent last year and 82 percent two years ago
  • Still, most CIOs have no P&L duties. According to our survey, just 9 percent head up a line of business
  • There are impressive jumps in the numbers of IT leaders concentrating on customer although the majority of respondents still don’t spend their time with any

Interesting results.

A few more stats:

Projects that CIO’s canceled last year:

  • 39% were were infrastructure upgrades
  • 31% enterprise software rollouts
  • 21% were unified communications projects
  • 20% were network upgrades

Projects that got funded were:

  • 63% – projects that improved end-user productivity
  • 53% – projects improved the quality of products
  • 39% – projects that helped create new offerings

From those stats, it looks like CIO’s have been focusing on driving growth and improvements in the business…which is an excellent thing to see.

Take a second to review those that got canceled. Those are the projects that aren’t sexy. They are the ‘plumbing’ of the organizations….nobody outside of IT really cares or understands what a ‘network upgrade’ means to the company.

But…what happens next year when the recessions is over and the IT infrastructure can’t keep up? Will the CIO & IT organization have moved off to the cloud entirely as Gartner predicts will happen with 20% of businesses by 2012?

CIO reports on another Gartner study that says 2010 is the year of transformation of IT using social technologies. According to Gartner, this approach “raises productivity and increases value from current IT assets”. Perhaps CIO’s have been looking to the future and realized that they can get more value from their current assets.  This realization has allowed them to shift their focus from operational to transformational as reported in the survey results above.

The next few years in the IT space will be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2010 & beyond brings for CIO’s.

What do you think about these results?  Are you seeing the same things in your organization that are reported in the CIO.com survey?

Do you have a technology strategy?

Gene asks “Is Cloud Computing part of your Strategic Plan?

While Gene’s question is a fair one, I have to ask a much simpler question….do you have a technology strategic plan? Or at the very least, do you discuss technology and/or IT in your organization’s strategic plan?

I know its a simple question….but its an important one.

Last year I spent some time working with a medium sized organization’s CIO and IT group.  They had just finalized the organization’s strategic plan for the following year and wanted someone to come in and review for completeness and see if there were any holes.

When I met with the team, they were extremely pleased with their work and they were excited to have been included in the strategic planning process.  They were ready and raring to get to work on the new strategic plan.

I received the plan and reviewed it.  It wasn’t bad…it fit the organization well.  The culture fit the strategic plan.

There was only one problem.  At no point was there any discussion of using technology to reach the objectives listed in the plan.

A good portion of the strategic plan revolved around technology but there was little discussion of any strategy to actually acquire, implement and utilize technology

So…back to Gene’s question – is Cloud Computing part of your strategic plan.  Based on my experiences, organizations forget about technology as part of their strategic plans.

Have you included technology in your strategic plan?