At the moment I’m doing some work for vendors who offer solutions in the object storage, sync&share and next generation file services for enterprises (you can find more about the papers I’m writing here).
I’ve been developing some concepts for a while now to explain my point of view and why object storage based solutions are important. And Lately, I’ve found two terms: “dispersed enterprise” and “device parity” to better explain what is happening in the enterprise space. They are in some way related to each other and I would like to briefly introduce them here. I’m curious to know if others have my same opinion about enterprise evolution and the IT services they should deploy to improve user productivity. Comments are welcome.

The dispersed enterprise

iStock_000015202734MediumTerms like “distributed enterprise” are no longer enough to describe the new enterprise after cloud and mobile revolutions have changed the rules. Now, the mobile work force counts for the majority of the users and this has direct consequences on how data are created, accessed and have to be managed. Probably, It’s now better talking about the “dispersed enterprise”.
Users work on many different devices at the same time, continuously switching from one device to another, and hence document workflows have dramatically changed. Data are accessed from everywhere at anytime by single users and teams: collaboration platforms, starting from file sharing solutions, are fundamental layers of any modern organization.

End-users are now used to technology and they consume cloud services on a daily basis as private consumers. These users want to relive the same experience at work which they do bat home with their consumer-grade cloud services such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
On average, they usually work with three different devices which they want synchronized and updated with the latest data available.

Sometimes, just because the enterprise is not able to keep up with the change, phenomenons like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are joined by others like BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud), which inevitably lead to concerns regarding security or data leaks now more than ever. Closing the gap between home and work user experiences makes employees more productive while the enterprise regains control of data, costs and risks.

Users now have a new approach when it comes to producing and working on documents. Rich files creation and editing is a process that now goes through different devices. People take notes and pictures on phones, they put contents all together on PCs or tablets, sometimes they use platform specific apps to further enrich documents. Eventually, they need a trusted repository where it is possible to share content and work together with the rest of the team.
Especially where teamwork is involved, documents are viewed, opened and modified on different devices and users take for granted that they won’t be losing the updates they make, even if it happens when they are off line.

Device parity

The need of “device parity” comes as a direct consequence to “dispersed enterprise”.
Cloud computingEach user has now simultaneous access to several different devices, ranging from smartphones and tablets to notebooks and PCs. They want a seamless user experience, performance and ease of use. All devices are getting bigger in size (now phones have up to 5,5” displays), they have plenty of RAM and CPU power, and they sport the latest networking technology (LTE can download files at more than 100MB/sec). Users can view, create, edit and share documents while on the move and they are not willing to wait for the content they need. They know that it is no longer a device issue. Device parity is a must though. The workflow continues when the user reaches its work seat, he still prefers to use a traditional PC and he wants to access the same data domain as fast as possible with a seamless user experience. It’s all about productivity after all.

At the same time the IT department needs to maintain data safe and secure, lower costs (both in terms of TCA and TCO), having all audited and controlled. IT mangers have to rapidly provision
storage, performance, availability and data protection where needed, while granting access to next generation mobile services for all users. Things that are getting harder and harder now that data is exponentially growing, user access patterns and workloads are unpredictable, and the enterprise is getting larger and widespread.

Bottom line

punti di domandaTerms like “distributed enterprise” can no longer suffice to describe the organization of modern enterprises after cloud and mobile revolutions have changed the rules. We need new terms to describe them and help IT managers to understand and face new challenges. At the same time, some cloud based products address “device parity” much better than legacy solutions and allow for an overall better user experience.

Things are changing pretty quickly in the IT enterprise scene. End users want a better user experience and tools capable of improving their productivity. In fact, enterprise users have access to multiple devices and they want to access data anytime from anywhere… Is your infrastructure ready to satisfy user needs? Most next generation core infrastructures are based on private/hybrid cloud models but, most of the times, cloud storage and collaboration tools are not part of the core design. This adds complexity and costs in the long term while end users become frustrated because of the poor user experience. Once again, I think that talking about “dispersed enterprise” and “device parity” could help both to focus better on the bigger picture and to build more conscientious infrastructures.