Is cloud a solution? Are collaboration and mobility technology outcomes? Or is a solution the answer to a user’s problems? Increasingly, in a new work era defined by staff mobility and flexibility, businesses are approaching technology acquisition in this last light – as one of several inputs to resolving an issue or challenge, rather than viewing technology as a thing onto itself. This is the key message in Collabmobilicloud: Changing User Perceptions, the second in a series of InsightaaS Viewpoint documents that have been sponsored by Dell to explore how collaboration, mobility and cloud computing work together to power new productivity.
Changing User Perceptions begins with the proposition that these technology areas are now well established in the marketplace, sharing, for example, InsightaaS forecasting which estimates that spending on traditional infrastructure, including software, will be roughly equivalent to investments in XaaS by 2020. Similarly, the paper notes a CAGR of 8.3 percent that has been estimated for collaboration spending 2014-2019, and Techaisle Research for 2015, which has found that midmarket spending on mobility applications is set to double in the coming year. However, the document also points to a “darker lining to this silver collabmobilicloud” – the tendency of hardware/software specialists to design these products in isolation for what are perceived as unique user challenges. At the organizational level, cloud, collaboration and mobility technologies are increasingly adopted by various business groups according to different upgrade cycles – a proposition that has become especially attractive with the ease and speed of cloud adoption and subscription-based pricing. Shadow IT and BYOD are only two of the multiple issues that fall from the acquisition and operation of technology in silos, not the least of which, the paper argues, is “the failure to operationalize synergies between cloud, collaboration and mobility.”
In contrast to this fragmented approach, collabmobilicloud is a view that takes into account the interplay of different technologies in solving business challenges. This merging of user perceptions is outlined in the Viewpoint document with the help of research into US SMB buying behaviours carried out in 2014 by Techaisle Research. The firm’s survey of the top spending priorities for 2015, for example, shows a “revolutionary conjuncture” of user interest in cloud, collaboration and mobility solutions, which rank equally highly at the top of the list. Similarly, if the use case for cloud technologies in the midmarket is reviewed, strong linkages with collaboration applications emerge in the research, as they do in the primary use case for mobile devices: when travelling, 97 percent of SMBs use smartphones for collaboration; 94 percent use laptops for collaboration and 34 percent use tablets for collaboration.
Growing awareness of the interrelation of cloud, collaboration and mobility has been recognized by select analyst firms and vendors: while Gartner has coined a new term “Client Cloud Computing,” defining “the convergence of cloud and mobile computing… [to] promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device,” as one of ten top strategic trends for 2015, Dell has worked to address trends driving the mobile workforce – the explosion of data, growth in the average number of devices per user, the distributed nature of information today and the increased use of cloud – through enhancement of its virtual desktop portfolio, and with a host of solutions designed to enable a secure bridge to collabmobilicloud. While public and private cloud infrastructures are being optimized for rapid scale through enhanced software management and appliance formats to address growing mobility needs; advanced EMM solutions are delivering remote management of multiple devices and operating systems; and new approaches to security being developed that provide secure access to data from the end point through to the cloud, to support collaboration between internal employees, and even external partners and customers. And as Amit Bhaga, client technologist in the Client Solutions Group at Dell Canada, explains in the whitepaper, hardware devices are also adapting to the world of mobile collaboration through embedded broadband connections and tethering capabilities designed to enable networking connectivity – fast links via the Internet or VPN for access to cloud applications and data.
To return to the question posed earlier, if collabmobilicloud is an emerging solution, what business issue does it address? While the Changing User Perceptions document outlines some specific use cases and outcomes, in general terms, the benefits of adopting a solutions-oriented approach are many. For example, new pre-tested, converged infrastructure appliances can ease and speed the deployment and scale of cloud infrastructure, and these may be preconfigured according to architectures designed specifically to address BYOD and other mobility challenges. Combined with advanced management software, this type of implementation can reduce maintenance and associated cost. Savings can also be realized at the other end of the technology spectrum through remote monitoring and management of the endpoint via VDI, EMM, IAM and other security applications aimed at securing device access to the cloud. For the user, the outcome is a more consistent experience of corporate collaboration apps and company data irrespective of device or location, speedier access to resources – and ultimately, greater productivity the company that mobility can provide.