As the consumerization of IT takes hold, it will also have ramifications for back-end infrastructure.
More users will want to access corporate systems from their smartphones and tablets, outside the firewall, and share data with colleagues in more collaborative ways—something that legacy back-end infrastructure and server-based applications aren’t set up to do particularly well.
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THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING DESKTOP
Part 1: Employee mobility: A leap of faith for IT admins
Part 2: Mobility won't kill the Microsoft Windows operating system
Part 3: Consequences of consumerization on back-end infrastructure
Part 4: Microsoft, PC manufacturers share the blame for the desktop downturn
For example, the traditional enterprise data store, the network file share, typically requires virtual private network access from a machine that can read the Windows file system. To share a file, a remote user would have to log on to the corporate network from an approved device, save the file locally and email it.
Traditional server-based collaboration software functions in a similar way. Benjamin Robbins, co-founder at Seattle-based mobile consultancy Palador, recently watched a colleague struggle to find and share an old document in his company’s Microsoft SharePoint environment.
“He was cursing the thing,” Robbins recalled. “I was like, ‘Wow, I do not miss that.’”
Robbins is one of millions of users who have turned to cloud storage and file-sharing services, which sync data across multiple devices and offer one-click sharing. Box and other vendors offer enterprise versions of these services—either in the cloud, which many IT pros are still wary of, or on-premises, which requires IT to become more of an internal service provider.
Another data center fixture, the Microsoft Exchange email server, also faces a murky future. Increasingly, workers who rely on cloud-based email in their personal lives have come to expect the same features (virtually unlimited storage capacity, easy search) from their work email. And cloud email providers such as Google are tempting enterprise customers with the promise of lower costs, easier management and better disaster recovery.
“Exchange drives a good deal of Windows adoption,” said Francis Poeta, president and CEO of P and M Computers, an IT solutions provider in Cliffside Park, N.J. “If you get rid of Exchange, that’s another serious blow.”