Balancing Power, Responsibility, and Control

As we push down functionality to the end user portal, consumers will have more and more flexibility, while we give IT more control around that experience. Our goal, we hope, is a comfort and balance between chaos and freedom for both IT and the end user.

At LANDesk we’ve been doing a lot of research and analysis on defining what a proper end user portal should look like.  We’ve been in contact with a number of IT administrators asking them what their thoughts are on balancing the power, responsibility, and control with their end users.  The dichotomy of feedback has been expected, yet was still quite astonishing.

As with any shift in mindset, the consumerization of IT has taken a strong hold in some IT organizations, while others seem to be minimally affected.  Some customers stated it would be a good idea to have a portal that suggested potentially new apps to its users that would assist them in their jobs. After all, if the employee has a better set of tools to get their job done, the employee satisfaction rises and the company itself becomes more efficient and effective.

However, managing apps that can have a behavioral “flavor of the month” from the end user perspective can be very problematic.  The reality is, IT gains its scalability through control and limitation of options.  Creating licensing agreements, purchase orders, software asset tracking processes, deployment packages, gold images with the appropriate business applications, as well as and many of the other requisite tasks, are all simplified when limited in scope.  Complete end user flexibility can generate complete chaos in the IT department.

Thus we see the dichotomy and the need for a balance between IT and the end user.  The next few years will prove quite interesting to watch.  Currently we’re in the middle of IT consumerization with devices being used at work.  Data and applications are ramping up – just look at the proliferation of DropBox in corporate America.

At LANDesk, we are seeing the trends.  We’ve offered user based pricing to help IT being to bridge the balance of controls.  As we push down functionality to the end user portal, consumers will have more and more flexibility, while we give IT more control around that experience.  Our goal, we hope, is a comfort and balance between chaos and freedom for both IT and the end user.

Are You Ignoring the Apple Elephant in the Room?

Managing your Mac devices can help your department reduce cost, increase productivity and gain control of end user environments.

A couple of months ago, I found myself in the San Jose International Airport. As I waited for my plane, I noticed that nearly everyone in the terminal was using a Mac laptop or an iOS device. (And I mean it when I say nearly everyone.)  While it was interesting thing to notice, San Jose is practically in Apple’s backyard so I dismissed it as an effort to support the local employer.

Several weeks later, while waiting for my plane to arrive at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France, I started noticing the devices used by others waiting in the terminal. Much to my surprise, nearly all of the devices in use were either Mac laptops or iOS devices.  Since Paris isn’t in Apple’s backyard and thus the usage trend became ever more intriguing. It’s obvious that times are changing and according to Apple’s 2012 fiscal numbers, they’re changing in big ways.

Last month Apple’s 2012 fiscal report showed they sold more than 125 million iPhones, 58 million iPads, 18 million Macs and 35 million iPods with more than $156 billion in total sales and over $44 billion in profit.

Just in case you’re not great at math, I’ll add it up for you: 125 million iPhones + 58 million iPads + 18 million Macs = 1 very large elephant (of the Apple variety) sitting in the IT office.  Thus the $156 billion dollar question becomes: “Are you ignoring the elephant in the room?”

If you are, it’s time to review LANDesk’s management portfolio again. Built within LANDesk’s renowned integrated console is power to manage those millions of iPhones, iPads and Mac devices wandering around your office.  Managing your Mac devices can help your department reduce cost, increase productivity and gain control of end user environments. With the number of Mac devices in use, you can’t afford not to do it.

LANDesk is at Gartner ITXPO

LANDesk is at Gartner ITxpo.  Come find us at MP9 to talk about LANDesk’s latest releases for Management Suite, Security Suite, Mobility Manager and Service Desk.  We’ll have experts on staff to discuss zero touch AMT provisioning to zero-call software request resolution and everything in between.

LANDesk’s Jesse Frye (@jessefryeutah) and Ian Aitchison (@ianaitchison) will also be hosting a solution provider session Wednesday afternoon at 3:15 in Dolphin-Southern II.  They’ll be speaking on increasing organizational productivity through “user oriented management.”

For updates on the show or our latest product releases, follow us on @LANDesk on twitter or like us on the LANDesk Facebook page.

To be Thin, Slim, and Lean

To be thin, slim and lean. People, young and not so young, spend an enormous effort to obtain those traits.  Strangely enough, so do some computer devices. Who would have thought?

Thin devices are somewhat veneer objects that look pretty but are only acting as the interaction point between the user and the other backend machine doing the work.

In the computing world, the words thin, slim, lean, fat, and thick are terminology words used to describe where the processing work is taking place.  Thin devices are somewhat veneer objects that look pretty but are only acting as the interaction point between the user and the other backend machine doing the work.  Thick devices actually do the processing and all the work locally as well as interact with the end user.

Originally, one of the main selling points with thin client devices was the inexpensive cost of the hardware.  Thin client devices are designed specifically for workers that didn’t need the horsepower of their bigger brother and sister devices, of which cost three to four times more.  What an economic deal, right?  If a thin client device breaks, administrators can have two to three spares for the cost of one of those bigger brother machines.  What CTO wouldn’t sign up for that?

Well, the cost of a device itself is definitely a different discussion than that of the total cost of ownership for a device.  Ironically, one of the greatest benefits of thin client devices also proves to be one of the greatest challenges.

Embedded operating systems, the OSs that run on thin client devices, offer unique write filter overlays that prevent data from being committed to the device without going through the appropriate process. As such, write filters provide corporations a large degree of security safety by purging everything upon a reboot—including viruses, and application or OS corruption that may occur during normal use—returning the machine back to an original state defined by the administrator.  Just reboot and magically all your problems go away.

Unfortunately, this protection provided by the operating system write filter introduces a unique IT challenge and changes the total cost of ownership on that device.  Although the client is thin and the main processing takes place on a backend server OS, the thin client device itself still needs to receive OS and application updates and maybe even new applications altogether.

To reduce the total cost of ownership on a thin client device, negating the need to have yet another tool to manage just thin clients as well as all the hardware, administrator training, and process creation that comes with yet another tool, LANDesk and HP have teamed up to bring thin client management directly into LANDesk Management Suite 9.5.

When LANDesk Management Suite 9.5 releases in Q4 of 2012, it will contain support for HP Thin Client devices running Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7 Enterprise, Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 09 Enterprise, and HP’s ThinPro Ubuntu derivative OS.

Leveraging the same LANDesk policy workflows and a unique write filter management system built into the LANDesk agent, administrators will be able to capture and deploy images, patch the operating system, distribute software and perform remote control operations to their thin client devices.*

Stay tuned for more information about LANDesk Management Suite 9.5 release.

* HP ThinPro will only support an agent install at time of the LDMS 9.5 release.  Further enhancements to software distribution, patch and remote control will be coming in future enhancements.

One Way to Enhance End-User Security Without Compromising End-User Productivity

In life we are always making trade-offs.  We analyze the benefits and weigh them against the negatives and decide whether or not to proceed.  Sometimes the decisions we’re making are small and less significant, like, “Should I eat that delicious slice of red velvet cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory?”  Other times, however, the decision requires more investment and time before knowing if the result is worth it.

Life’s black and white decisions are generally easier for to analyze, make a decision, and then move forward.  It’s the decisions that wander into the gray zone that require us to slow down and think things through before moving forward.

IT professionals often find themselves contemplating the age-old debate of how to provide end-user security without compromising end-user productivity.

To arm IT professionals with the tools needed to provide a more secure network without having to invest time and effort beyond perceived benefits, LANDesk has teamed up with Hewlett-Packard to help IT administrators centrally secure their HP notebooks, desktops, and workstations.  In June, LANDesk released an enhancement pack that allows IT administrators to more efficiently manage their HP machines.

Using LANDesk’s integrated console, an IT administrator can now remotely update the BIOS using patch content automatically supplied by LANDesk’s content servers and apply any drivers needed to plug security holes. To enhance performance, admin can set and apply strong BIOS passwords, enable and take ownership of the machines’ Trusted Platform Modules (TPM), and set alerts to be properly notified of the status of your HP machines—all of which can be done in a one-to-many fashion.

Having the ability to remotely set a BIOS password and subsequently take ownership of the TPM chip eliminates hours of manual labor.  As such, the end result changes the IT professionals’ discussions around convenience vs. security.  Rather than debating whether to implement great tools that take advantage of TPM, like Microsoft’s BitLocker drive encryption utility, the discussion becomes more black and white.  The gray area around the effort to implement has been greatly reduced through LANDesk and HP’s central manageability innovation.

So next time you’re debating the enhancing-end-user-security-without-compromising-their-productivity debate comes up, remember that the issues isn’t as gray as it used to be.