Irish organisations need to prepare for a time when mobile access to data is the norm rather than the exception, on a variety of devices and enabled through the cloud.
We are at the handover from the PC era to the cloud era, said James Stevenson, Citrix area VP for UK, Ireland and South Africa, who delivered the keynote address at today’s Virtual Computing Forum 2012 at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
“The PC era was about building and operating the environment. The cloud era is all about aggregating and orchestrating so you don’t need to own as much of the infrastructure as you have and that’s a big change in thinking,” said Stevenson.
The change applies to users as much to IT teams, he added. “The assumption in the PC era was that people were based in the office and the exception was that people were mobile,” Stevenson said.
Now that model is set to be turned on its head. “You have to assume you’re developing for mobile and the devices will increasingly be personal devices,” he said.
Anecdotal evidence from other markets is that ‘device’ should be plural. Stevenson said people will use different systems according to need, switching between the likes of a BlackBerry, an iPhone or Android handset, and a tablet device or laptop.
“The mobile work style is about any device because we think people should have choices about the devices they want to use. When people start to do that, they actually don’t choose one device. The average is now three devices. The average person on a daily basis will use three different devices,” he said.
“The device is just a delivery point to bring the content, and you use cloud services to enable that … so that people can be most productive.”
The BYOD trend
While the enabling technology may exist to allow people to use their personal devices like smartphones and tablets at work, few Irish companies appear to have taken the plunge. Stevenson conducted a straw poll of the 400 or so delegates in attendance, and fewer than 10 said they had enabled ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) schemes.
Opinions among heads of IT in Irish organisations are similarly divided, judging from Siliconrepublic.com’s Five minute CIO interview series. Some see BYOD as a headache to manage and are concerned about the security implications, but others like the idea and believe the trend is fast becoming too big to ignore.
Trinity College Dublin seems to occupy the latter camp, having issued a tender last month for the necessary infrastructure, software, service, support and maintenance to enable internet access for the college’s users in a way that enables mobility and a BYOD scheme.
The campus network has around 22,000 users, between enrolled students as well as academic and administrative support staff.
In his presentation, Stevenson said that cloud underpins the BYOD trend, as it allows data to be accessed securely and in a way that manages potential restrictions on where information can be stored.
“It’s all about delivering applications and where we’re trying to get to is that a user using any type of device has the applications they need, not physically on the device but having access to it … We think you should be able to deliver Windows desktops and apps as a cloud service, and that’s a big change even from a year ago.
Joe O’Reilly, a director with the technology provider IT Force, told Siliconrepublic.com that many organisations are now actively considering cloud. Having deferring hardware upgrades for some time, and now they are faced with a choice of buying servers, many see cloud’s pay-as-you-use model as a way to offset the cost involved in paying for equipment upfront.