Mike Battista
Mike Battista
Senior Consulting Analyst
Info-Tech Research Group

The mobile landscape supporting enterprises is constantly changing. It is more important than ever to determine whether our current mobile platform mix can adequately support our business goals.

We are facing the introduction of new mobile devices available on different platforms on a daily basis. Mobile platforms themselves are constantly evolving causing a shift in usage patterns in the workplace.

Please join me and a panel of subject matter experts on Thursday April 17, 2014 for a Webinar on “Switching Mobile Platforms: Do You Have An Exit Strategy?” We  will discuss assessing your need to switch platforms, the extent of switch necessary, and developing a successful plan for switching.

Register Here for “Switching Mobile Platforms: Do You Have An Exit Strategy?”
(Video replay will be available at this link following the Webinar)

Infrastructure managers are worried that they will be forced to abandon a mobile platform (such as BlackBerry) because it no longer meets their organization’s needs. Take back control and formulate an exit plan.

Info-Tech Research Group webinars occur during the early weeks of our research projects. Attendees will weigh-in on several key polls and will be able to pose questions to the group.We want to work closely with our members and potential members as we build out our research to ensure we are thoroughly meeting your needs.

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Horizon6 workspace
Citrix has long been a proponent of the three any’s for workforce computing – any application, accessed any where, from any device. With Horizon 6 VMware is preaching the same mantra.

With Horizon 6 VMware could pull ahead of rival Citrix in the desktop virtualizaton race and, if so, they’ll do it taking pages from the Citrix playbook.

VMware announced Horizon 6 (formerly known as View and before that VMware VDI) on April 9. The words comprehensive and integrated are almost an understatement when it comes to Horizon 6. Here are a few of the new capabilities (for VMware) that Horizon is bringing to the table:

  • Delivery of published applications and virtual desktops through a single platform. The big thing here is the integration of application access to Microsoft remote desktop services (formerly known as terminal services). This has been Citrix’s bread and better for years (from Metaframe, to Presentation Server, to XenApp). Through integration with Microsoft APIs Horizon will provide access to “published Windows applications, RDS-based desktops and virtual desktops across devices and locations”.
  • Single Workspace Access to Everything. End users will have a unified workspace and single sign on access to applications — server hosted applicaitons, virtual container applications, Web applications,  SaaS applicaitons and “published application from third party platforms such as Citrix XenApp”.  This too is an area where Citrix has been leading.
  • Integration with VMware Virtual SAN. As the name implies, Virtual SAN pools direct attached local storage to appear to VMs as a shared storage array. SAN storage has been a cost driver for VDI. With integrated management of Virtual SAN in Horizon it will be easier to create lower cost VDI-in-a-box solutions where a server or cluster of servers use local storage, lowering the per desktop costs of VDI.
  • Central Image Management. Since VMware acquired Wanova in 2012 we’ve anticipate the integration of the image management across physical and virtual desktops. This is a sort of holy grail, if you can centrally manage desktop images across physical and virtual you can further streamline management (rather than have on discipline for the native running PCs and another for the virtual world). VMware says that through the updated VMware Mirage it will be possible to do just that.
  • Cloud Desktop as a Service Delivery. Another promising acquisition by VMware has been DaaS provider Desktone. Horizon 6  offers a client that connects to virtual desktops and applicaitons running in your data center but also on the VMware vCloud Hybrid Services cloud and various service provider partner clouds that run vCloud.

Desktop Virtualization is more than just VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) but rather all aspects of workforce computing where the end user accesses an application or service that is not running native on the access device. This has been the mantra of Citrix for years. Yes, there is hosting and remote access of virtual PCs running on servers, but there is also traditional server hosted applications and virtualized streamed applications as well as SaaS and Web applicaitons and the rapidly growing mobile applications and services (such as cloud file sharing).

Info-Tech has taken this broader view into account in our annual desktop virtualization vendor landscape. Citrix has always scored very well on comprehensiveness measures. Citrix has also traditionally painted VMware as a one trick pony, mainly focused on the VDI use case with some minor keys in application virtualization and file sharing. If all of the above are successfully executed when Horizon 6 becomes available in the second quarter of 2014, Citrix will no longer be able to make that kind of differentiation. The addition of Airwatch to the VMware portfolio will also challenge in mobility management.

Where is desktop virtualizaiton going? Both Citrix and VMware are staking their ground for the dawning post-PC mobile cloud era. For more on what you need to do to move workforce computing forward in this era, see the Info-Tech project sets:

Also see these previous analyst posts:

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BCP ROIWhat if your  business continuity planning (BCP) could actually reduce ongoing costs rather than be just an expensive insurance policy? The key to realizing ongoing value from your BCP, not to mention making a strong case for BCP investment, is to treat it as a means to achieve day-to-day resiliency regardless of whether you ever experience a disaster.

Traditionally, business continuity planning (BCP) has been viewed as a pure cost to the company – an insurance policy that only pays out if there is a disaster. In this context, it’s often a challenge to get funding and resources for BCP beyond the bare minimum necessary to satisfy regulations. More immediate concerns take priority.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are three examples of potential ROI from taking a day-to-day resiliency approach:

1. Prevent Lost Productivity

A common BCP strategy is to have staff work remotely if there is a major event at the primary location such as fire, chemical leak, or a police incident. However, organizations often fail to apply this BCP approach to “lesser” events such as commute delays due to road closures, bad weather, or transit disruptions. In the last few years even “snow days” have become more common again in northern regions.

The loss of productivity that stems from such minor disruptions is often accepted as unavoidable, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, use your notification systems to alert staff of possible weather impact or traffic delays, and enable staff to work remotely and be productive rather than waste hours trying to commute in to your primary workplace.

A bit of caution: If part of your BCP strategy is for staff to work from home, the organization needs to be fully committed to this option – e.g., deploying laptops rather than desktop computers, and supporting secure remote access to key systems to enable a mobile workforce – or staff might as well just take the day off.

Rely on your BCP team to ensure there are no gaps in your support for a mobile workforce, and then leverage that capability any time events might impact productivity, not just when there is a major disaster.

2. Reduce Facility Costs

Organizations have an opportunity to reduce facility costs while improving business resilience by moving away from the static workplace model to a more dynamic approach. For example, reduce fixed office space to the minimum required (e.g., for staff who must be in a fixed location due to their role and responsibilities) and leverage a combination of vendor-managed business centers and work-from-home policies to accommodate overflow as needed.

If a major incident does occur at your primary facility, the business can more easily adjust to working from different locations since this is already ingrained in day-to-day business practices. Similarly, if the incident also affects one of your usual vendor-managed business centers, you can leverage your existing vendor relationship to identify an alternative location. In the meantime, your organization saves money on facility costs.

3. Minimize Resourcing Risks

It’s important that your BCP identify backup staff who can take over business continuity tasks during an event if the primary is not available. Similar to the work-from-home strategy, the organization needs to invest time in practices such as cross-training to ensure backup staff are capable of taking over in a crisis.

That investment in training backup staff as part of your BCP strategy also enables the organization to better manage day-to-day resourcing challenges from sick days, resignations, and vacations. This can also reduce the risk of being held hostage by the threat of resignation, and improve overall resourcing flexibility.

It’s much easier to get support from senior management for BCP practices such as identifying and training secondary staff when you can demonstrate a return on that investment outside of the disaster scenario.

From enabling a mobile workforce to training backup staff, incorporating business continuity practices in day-to-day business decisions greatly increases your chances of a successful recovery from a major event. These same practices can turn business continuity from a cost drain to a cost saver if you change your approach from a purely disaster recovery practice to ensuring day-to-day business resilience.

Looking to right size your disaster recovery/business continuity plans. Close the gap between your DR capabilities and service continuity requirements with Info-Tech’s World Class Operations Disaster Recovery Planning Workshop. Click here for more.

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Christina Hall
Christina Hall is Info-Tech’s Product and Communications Manager.

We know what we’re talking about. For Info-Tech’s Vendor Landscape research products we speak with a lot of companies, and spend thousands of hours researching products, so that we can help you make the right decision.

Vendor briefings are the heart and soul of the Vendor Landscape research project. Every year we call on hundreds of vendors for briefings on their products and strategic roadmaps. In 2013, we reached out to 418 vendors to participate in 43 Vendor Landscapes. We want to make sure our clients are reading the most accurate information possible.

The Top 10 vendors by inclusion in Info-Tech Vendor Landscapes. We reach out to dozens of vendors annually for these projects.

Vendor Landscapes are Info-Tech’s vendor research reports that take a look at the top 8-10 products in a certain market space. The research walks you through where the market is sitting at the moment, what’s to come, what features are available, and where certain vendors rank based on our default criteria.

Click the images below to see the full infographics for just three of our recent Vendor Landscape reports:

VL_Midsize_to_EESA_thumb VL-Mid-market-PPM_thumb VL_Cloud_Management_thumb

We know that every company looking to purchase a solution has a different use case, so we also have a tool that helps you choose which features matter most to you, and rank vendors based on your own unique use case.

Briefings for Vendor Landscape reports are only part of our coverage story. Analysts often brief with major vendors for regular updates, introductions and expert interviews. Major vendors often reach out to us to participate in analyst briefing events.  This all adds a lot more conversations to the table.

To get full benefit of our vendor intelligence, you can talk with our analysts directly by booking a series of Guided Implementation calls. Speak one-on-one with an analyst and receive help identifying your use case, defining your requirements and choosing your vendor. Imagine how much time that would shave off creating an RFP!

For more on our Vendor Landscapes see the following:

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priorityThere is always a need to prioritize requests. Few (if any) IT organizations can keep up with the flow of requests from various internal customers. Ineffective prioritization can deprive the organization of more valuable initiatives than the ones actually deployed. And frequent changes in relative priority can result in unexpected and frustrating delays to initiatives already “committed”.

The prioritization of requests (including delaying or refusing some) should reflect those organizational goals that are most important. Some IT leaders believe, therefore, that this prioritization should be done by some governance group, like an IT Steering Committee. Members of such a group may be willing to approve or reject major project requests. But they will be reluctant to prioritize approved projects (except for their own) and will certainly refuse to become involved in reviewing the large number of small initiatives.

In some organizations, the user departments pay for their specific initiatives. Often, however, available resources constrain what can be delivered. So willingness to pay does not guarantee quick delivery, and prioritization remains a challenge.

So IT, by default, takes on the responsibility for prioritizing all or at least a large number of requests. The high volume of requests, relative to resources available, generally results in the deferral or rejection of a significant number. Trying to do everything in the interest of service commitment is an impractical approach. Responding to those requestors who are most demanding, while common, fails to direct IT investment to high value initiatives.

A partial answer to the prioritization challenge lies in having individual business units prioritize their own initiatives before they are submitted to IT. This reduces the number of requests that IT has to review and estimate.

But the most practical approach is to have the IT governance team agree to a framework for classifying initiatives that IT can apply to each request. The governance team will set direction, and IT will assess priority against that direction. Because the governance team has agreed to this priority framework, IT can confidently make priority decisions that are consistent with business objectives and priorities.

I suggest that the IT Steering Committee or the Executive Committee be asked to approve a three factor guideline:

  • Impact on strategic objectives – those initiatives that support the most important organizational strategies should take precedence over those that address lesser needs. In some organizations, for example, the growth of revenue may be more important than improving production efficiency. In a health research organization, research into disease prevention may take precedence over research into disease treatment. Senior management agreement to a relative ranking of strategic priorities can help IT make choices quickly.
  • Urgency – those initiatives that lose their value if delayed should have higher priority. An example of an urgent request might be application changes that enable a new product introduction. Support for production changes that will be just as effective a year from now, on the other hand, will not be classified as timely.
  • Impact – prioritize initiatives in the same strategic impact/timeliness category based on the breadth of impact {not on ROI). Consider, for example, two initiatives that are timely and affect revenue growth. If initiative A impacts $50 Million of potential revenue, and B impacts $10 Million, A is higher priority than B.

IT is always burdened with prioritizing IT requests. An accepted and clear framework for such decisions will minimize appeals against IT decisions.  It will often actually reduce the number of low priority requests presented to IT, as business units will realize which of their requests fail the three-factor test. This is all good.

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