Standardization / Lego blocks – crucial for managing desktop infrastructure?

July 22, 2009

There have been quite a few postings around the various application virtualization technologies over the years, but more recently something called “standardization”. This post is really to remind us of the importance of this “standardization” and how it affects our consideration of how we will build and support our IT infrastructure downstream.   It is also to set the scene for a future article :-)

We are all being pushed to ensure that the IT operation has a closer and more direct link to the business strategy of the enterprise, but that this must be achieved (of course)  for a fraction of the cost of the traditional delivery techniques. 

So, looking back to standardization – a great example of recent postings in this space would be the article from the AppSense Strategist, Martin Ingram, found at http://www.dabcc.com/article.aspx?id=9225.  While it was written back in November 2008, it really hits home with a few key points;

  • Standardization is key to delivering improved quality and service at reduced cost
  • Once you have standardized the components, you can leverage an automation technique to reduce spin up costs
  • Standardization AND automation will enable the cost of delivery to tumble

Martin uses a Ford Model T as his example which I believe  is really quite simple to understand.  Although to bring it a little closer to modern day, I like to view standardization as the “Volkswagen Group A Platform”- the standard group platform that multiple Volkswagen Group vehicles are based on – such as the Audi A3, Audi TT, Volkswagen Golf, Bora/Jetta, Bettle, Eos, Scirocco, Caddy and Touran as well as the SEAT Altea, Leon and Toledo and not forgetting the Skoda Octavia.  In my example, the Volkswagen Group have created a standardized platform that can be quickly adapted by all of the group companies to great effect, reducing cost and delivery times of their products.  Let’s face it, in today’s marketspace, this sort of cost reduction is a key consideration to a company being able to stay in business.

If we bring this back to IT service delivery, as Martin suggests, this is becoming far more critical to the enterprise since the ability to rapidly create/build desktop environments for users [consisting of base operating systems, applications, users settings for example] is a key requirement to deliver against the business needs.  At all times the user must be able to do his or her own thing and truly believe that the desktop is their own desktop that they can modify or personalize without much or indeed any compromise.  The IT Service team would now be managing a small number of building blocks (I refer to as Lego blocks – everybody knows Lego blocks and understands how to build things with them :-)) rather than worrying abut handling 1,000’s of desktop devices or laptops that are in a disarray of configuration, each of which requires one to one management as and when issues arise. 

The Lego already exists to manage the Operating System delivery (Citrix, VMware to name a couple of headlining acts), and the application virtualization Lego exists to deliver known applications on top of that layer (App-V, ThinApp, Citrix Streamed, Altiris SVS, InstallFree to name a few).  This leaves the user personalization Lego (AppSense Environment Manager fills this gap today), User Installed Applications Lego and of course last but by no means least, the User Data Lego. 

Over the next year or two, this is really going to become reality as the technology /Lego begins to evolve, and hence  allows the administrator to really be in a position to begin to manage all the Lego.

Let’s all prepare to play with the Lego! :-)