Even if the enterprise fails to plan for smart phones, their broad consumer appeal means that theyll change employee behaviors regardless. With their Marketplaces and App Stores, smart phones are changing how end users interact with applications. No longer is it necessary for each and every app to interoperate and function as a component of some larger suite. Unlike shrink-wrap software of the past, buyers dont expect a million and one features in each and every app. Instead, smart phones encourage simple, streamlined apps (at much lower price points), and users are getting accustomed to using single apps for single tasks.
Meanwhile, the cloud is being adopted by most organizations on an app-by-app basis. Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Informatica and the like are adopted to tackle specific business challenges.
What does this mean for IT? It means that both mobile and the cloud are growing outside of ITs control. Many cloud-based apps are adopted by individual departments or working groups, often with no organizational coordination and little IT oversight. Meanwhile, few organizations subsidize smart phones, meaning that security and safe-use policies are practically non-existent.
Organizations hoping to stay ahead of these trends should start formulating policies, training workers and giving IT the tools it needs to keep the chaos under control today.
As IT teams become fed up with PC security and maintenance issues, they are looking for a set-it-and-forget-it computing option, said Jeff McNaught, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Wyse Technology, a provider of cloud-client solutions.
Connect souped-up thin clients (or those with powerful processors and decent amounts of RAM, yet no hard disk drives) to the cloud, and these so-called cloud PCs offer a familiar PC experience to end users, while giving the organization lower support, maintenance and licensing costs. Cloud PCs also offer security advantages (since no data is stored device-side) and lower energy costs.
Operating systems, desktops and applications are centrally stored, managed and maintained in a private cloud. They are then streamed to client devices.
For organizations with severe budget constraints, the cloud PC model offers the additional advantage of extending the shelf life of legacy PCs. Strip out the hard drive, and legacy PCs can be repurposed as cloud PCs, so long as you have the proper infrastructure in place.
Theoretically, tablet PCs connected to the cloud will let radiologists remotely view MRIs, allow college students to attend virtual classes and enable any number of virtual training scenarios. The instances where cloud-enabled rich media benefits the enterprise are practically endless.
Thats the theory. In practice, all of these scenarios face one big obstacle: broadband. In the U.S. especially, the pipes arent keeping up with the applications people want to send over them.
Put bluntly, broadband in the U.S. is a joke. Most providers advertise speeds of 10 Mbps and above, yet most end users never get anywhere close to those speeds. According to Akamais latest State of the Internet report, the average connection speed in the U.S. is 4.6 Mpbs. U.S. connection speeds lag behind Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, to name only a few. Top countries Japan (8.0 Mbps), Hong Kong (8.6 Mbps) and South Korea (16.6 Mbps) blow U.S. connection speeds out of the water.
Even worse, on the list of the top 100 cities worldwide for average connection speeds, the U.S. doesnt even crack the top 50. The top U.S. city, Monterey Park, CA, comes in at number 76.
Even if the U.S. is pioneering cloud computing (and plenty of other tech innovations), its clear that our neglect of infrastructure, tech and otherwise, is rapidly becoming a competitive disadvantage for U.S. companies.