In the PC-first enterprise, the Windows OS was the workspace.
An employee could access their applications - some Windows client server, some browser based - inside their Windows desktop. They had access to data in a folder that was either on a local file system or on a network drive mounted on their desktop. Finally, the Windows OS enabled enterprise workflows:
- click on a link inside Outlook to approve expenses inside SAP
- edit a shared file in a content repository like SharePoint
- download a file to the desktop for editing using Microsoft Office and other workflows
- use a Windows client server app to report expenses.
When users brought in the iPhones and iPads into the enterprise, the hypothesis was that VDI was the "simplest" solution to deliver all applications and data onto these new devices. IT could virtualize their existing Windows desktop in the data center and end users could access all their apps and data using a virtual desktop.
This hypothesis turned out to be incorrect in the vast majority of cases because either (i) the user experience of a virtual desktop was poor on mobile, or (ii) the cost of a virtual desktop was too high.
We need a "workspace" for the mobile-first enterprise.
Many have tried solving this problem multiple ways in the last five years, first VDI, then MDM, and then a literal alphabet soup of solutions: Mobile Content Management (MCM), Mobile Application Management (MAM), Secure Browser, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), Mobile Information Management (MIM), Per-App VPN, and others. These new technologies added multiple layers of infrastructure in the data center. But the bigger problem is that these add-ons broke enterprise workflows! A user couldn't click on a link because it was behind a firewall, they could'nt download a file and edit it. Or run a Windows app to report expenses. And the user experience is confusing to say the least.
You need a workspace to mobilize your enterprise. What are the five characteristics of a workspace?
- One Client: Multiple clients can result in a confusing end user experience. Where does a user go to access a specific application? How do workflows across applications work?
- It's Available on Any Device: The single workspace client must be available on any device. The devices could have different form factors: phone, tablet and laptop. Or, the devices could run different operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows OS, and Mac OS.
- It provides Access to All Apps and Data: The workspace needs to provide access to applications behind the firewall like SAP and SharePoint. The workspace also needs to provide access to applications outside the firewall like Salesforce and Office 365.
- Frictionless Access: There is lots of friction in end user experience today from launch and logging into a VPN to launching and logging into an app. Each step can take 3-30 seconds. A workspace needs to enable single sign-on and transparent VPN connectivity. Why should the end user care whether the application is hosted in the company's data center or Salesforce's?
- It Provides Granular Control for IT: IT can control the workspace at a granular level.
Simon Bramfitt has also described the workspace in a recent article: VMware Project Enzo Rains Fiery Death on Citrix Workspace Parade.
If you'd like to learn more about what it means to be a mobile-first enterprise, check out our post: 'Mobile-First Enterprises: Embracing a Heterogeneous World'.
For additional insights, check out our free eBook, 'Roadmap to Solving Enterprise Mobility' that outlines the key considerations to becoming a mobile-first enterprise: