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End User Computing

The shift of enterprise software to the cloud, increased mobility, the expanding range of devices on which users expect to work and a range of other IT and market forces mean that supporting end users has moved rapidly from the enforced standard operating environment (SOE) – mandated hardware and software, centrally purchased and configured by the ICT department – of just a few years ago.

Windows 8 and the advent of cloud platforms including Google and Citrix represent the first major platform change in a decade, and users now expect on-demand access, from anywhere, on a range of fixed and mobile devices, including personal devices (bring your own device, or BYOD).

‘End user computing’ represents a paradigm shift, where instead of the ICT department centrally determining and controlling the end user environment, the end users become empowered to identify the ICT requirements needed to do their jobs. This includes the devices on which they’ll work, the locations from which they’ll work and the operating environment, applications and configuration or customisation required. The ICT department then becomes responsible for seamless service delivery allowing users to transition from desktop to laptop to smartphone to tablet, at home, at work, on the road – all the time with secure access to their information.

Clearly this new computing model raises a range of issues, including:

  • Security of data and corporate devices
  • The need for a strong process for requirements analysis to understand the applications each user needs to work with, and to manage approval, provisioning, rollout and ongoing support for those
  • A process for cost-effectively, centrally procuring the operating environments and applications required by users
  • A flexible delivery and support mechanism, so that user productivity is not adversely affected by ICT issues.

For the ICT department, end user computing drives a new way of thinking. One model that provides a framework for this thinking is the People, Process and Technology model.

Putting people before technology is the crux of the paradigm shift. By identifying the capabilities each user needs, it is possible to group these into user profiles, providing building blocks for end user computing management.

Process comes next, with development of:

  • Policies to underpin the new working environment and organisational security
  • Workflows for requirements analysis, approval and procurement, followed by delivery, update and user customisation.

Lastly comes technology, with decisions about how best to provide for users’ needs – through virtual desktops, cloud-based solutions and other new technologies – and how best to secure organisational data and devices. The technologies you use will evolve and change more rapidly than the policies and processes you use to manage them, so the crux of the shift to end user computing is to change your mindset, and establish a strong process and governance framework before you commence any technical transition.

Tags: Cloud Computing, End-User Computing (EUC), Mobility

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