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Desktop computing for less than a cup of coffee per day per user




Ewen-AndersonThe latest advances in IT provide secure, any device, any time access to data and boost employees’ productivity. When combined with intelligent finance and delivered as a service, they enable organisations to control cost and reduce risk while realising efficiencies and keeping ahead of the curve, writes Ewen Anderson at Centralis.

Desktop computing continues to see significant transformation. Sales of desktop and portable PCs are down, there is an increase in tablet PCs and smartphone adoption and corporate access to data is increasingly non-Windows driven. The future is mobile – Gartner predicts that mobile app development projects will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1 by 2015.

Rapid evolution in mobile computing and growing demand for remote working and flexible work styles means many organisations have to look to deliver a desktop environment that combines applications from multiple sources, access to data and retention of desktop settings across multiple devices, with a uniform and high-quality user experience.

Many organisations accept that the shift to mobile has already happened and now require a strategy and capability to deal with mobile device management, secure data containers, individual app stores, and enterprise security. They also want to deliver a high quality end user experience at a known cost.

Good news! The capability to provide this ‘pure desktop’ experience, on demand and to any type of device, exists today. It uses the latest advances in virtualisation and cloud technology, and is available at a known price point on a pod-based platform – effectively a private cloud in a pod.

Typically, pods ship in modules supporting 500 users and can be rapidly configured and scaled easily.  They provide a great fit for organisations with 1,000-5,000 users, who want a plug-and-play delivery with maximum flexibility.  Furthermore, independent providers are innovating further on this modular base architecture to offer a pure desktop experience under a managed services contract, and with a range of additional functionality, links to hybrid clouds and intelligent finance options.

Using finance intelligently enables organisations to spread the cost over a 3-4 year period, with the desktop delivered ‘as service’ for a fixed price per user per month. They can scale the solution and depending on type of leasing option, may own the infrastructure at the end of it. This surety of cost, extended access to credit and ability to plan is vital for organisations looking to drive their business forward in the current climate of change and uncertainty.

IT as a commodity
Three key trends are re-shaping the corporate IT landscape – mobility, consumerisation, and cloud computing or ‘IT as a service’. All three come under the umbrella of ‘enterprise mobility’ and are not only driving transformation at the desktop, but an increase in user expectation levels, and a wider change in attitude towards corporate IT.

Whereas IT service provision used to be a highly-customised internal function, it’s now viewed as a commodity. The utility computing business model enables organisations to purchase the resources and services they need, either from an internal or external provider and potentially on a fixed-cost basis, in order to meet their business or operational requirements. Such a model is attractive for almost any organisation looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency and agility.

At the same time, there has been an explosion in the adoption of tablet PCs and smartphones. According to analysts at IDC, tablet shipments experienced their largest year-over-year growth in 2012, up 78 per cent on 2011, while smartphone shipments rose 46 per cent. Overall, the ‘smart connected device’ space surged to just over 1.2 billion shipments in 2012, while global PC shipments dropped by almost 4 per cent as buyers favoured other devices for their mobility and convenience features.

With the market for mobile devices booming, so too is the practice of using these for business – a trend often referred to as BYOD (bring your own device). Both business leaders and employees are accustomed to the instant-on, pick-up/put-down nature of tablets, dip in and out of work and personal life, and access applications and data from the cloud on the move. As a result, business leaders want to extend services beyond the traditional organisational boundaries both to mobile employees and third parties.

According to a survey by Harvey Nash, over half of global CIOs are actively promoting the development of solutions for smartphones and tablets, while Gartner describes the rise of BYOD as ‘the single most radical shift in the economics of client computing for business since PCs invaded the workplace’. Gartner also reports that CEOs and CIOs are pressuring IT teams to lower overheads by offloading services to cloud providers.

Pick and mix hybrid cloud
Given not all cloud services are created equal as far as security and compliance are concerned, a hybrid model is emerging. Organisations are building internal (private) clouds to house critical IT services, and are using external cloud resources (public cloud) for non-critical IT services and data, and to augment internal capacity and increase agility.

Under this ‘pick and mix’ hybrid, some budget is allocated for buy, and some for build.  IT investment and business strategy are aligned. Utility computing becomes a business enabler rather than a pure IT tool, with the Finance Director balancing the procurement option against accounting rules and procurement regulations in order to optimise commercial benefits.

From an IT procurement perspective, there are two models for financing IT procurement:
Finance lease – where a business wants to eventually own the IT assets but wants to avoid upfront capital expenditure (a capital lease in accounting terms), effectively paying per month, and then owning the IT assets at the end of the finance period when title passes to the lessor

Operating lease – whereby the business pays a periodic amount for a fixed term of typically 3-4 years, but the IT assets are off balance sheet, and are not owned at the end of the finance period

A third option is a ‘buy-back’ option. Under this scenario, the new infrastructure has a residual value higher than book value. If the legacy infrastructure is bought back by the vendor a cash profit is delivered against book value to help subsidise or offset lease the payments.

Pay as you go
Opting for a pod-based solution under a managed services contract and spreading the cost using intelligent finance is now the closest organisations can get to a pure desktop experience, on demand, for a known fixed price.  Such a model increases business confidence, as it helps organisations plan for change because they have absolute clarity on the incremental cost of adding new services.  It also reduces risk, because it eliminates multiple components, and frees-up IT teams to address the higher value aspects of IT operations management rather than the fundamentals of pulling and plugging cables and building boxes of hardware.

Crucially, this model means that the ‘pure desktop’ experience can be delivered at a cost that is less than a high-street cup of coffee per day per user.  By evolving the utility computing model to a simple price point decision, agreeing a design requirement and service levels, and providing a plug and play delivery, service providers are shortening the lead-time to productivity with a hard and fast on-premise, fixed-price desktop service.

About Centralis
Centralis is one of the UK’s leading independent IT consultancies, specialising in delivering applications securely to their point of use. Backed by top-level partnership with industry leading vendors, including Citrix, Microsoft and VMware, Centralis provides consultancy, support, managed services and resale of selected products. Strong technical skills and commitment to delivering on time and to budget has led to long-term business partnerships with many customers across the private and public sectors, including Standard Life, Centrica, BUPA and many NHS Trusts and Universities. Centralis remains independent and wholly owned by employee shareholders. For further information go to:





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