The Hosted Desktop Revolution

Wolfgang Dedollero

Something borrowed and something blue? Not quite, but some things have been around forever and we just take them for granted. It seems that everyone in all parts of business is talking about virtualization in terms of servers and desktops. The new "Holy Grail," it appears, has just been discovered and we're all beating down the door to get to it. The problem for most is that they weren't even wet behind the ears when we shed our first rendition of the terminal. Now they think they've discovered something new. If we can learn from history, we are on the verge of finally getting things right.

Somewhere between the old terminal with the cute little green letters -- or orange, if you were lucky -- and the near future, we in business simply lost our minds. Don't get me wrong -- technology has improved our output tremendously in the last 30 or so years, and I have faith that it will continue to drive society to greater heights. But when the personal computer started to invade the corporation, it multiplied, divided and grew faster than anyone had ever imagined. Hence, I say we lost our minds because we insisted upon the independence and control we could exert with our personal little power house.

I don't know if it was freedom, control, lack of control or fiefdom building, but we did indeed lose our minds and somehow convinced ourselves that this is all in the name of progress. You see, that cute little screen had one problem: You were not in control of it. To put it another way, you could not waste your day away tinkering with it, loading, downloading, uploading -- it simply did its job and that was that. The beauty was in the simplicity of the machine itself and not in the designer colors.

Now I'm not saying that computers within the workplace are an evil thing. Quite the opposite -- they are tools and no different from a carpenter needing a hammer. But as a consultant with no particular ties to any organization, I see firsthand how much time is wasted with the current deployments of desktops across the corporation. Waste starts with help desks needing help desks and continues on to the clerical staff just competent enough to figure out how not to make the PC function. Need I mention here the social network and gaming scene that so many employees engage in on corporate time. We deploy armies of technicians and consultants managing what should be, by this stage of the product game, the equivalent of a toaster.

Our forefathers had it correct in the beginning: centralize the processes and control so that business can focus on, well, business, and not the technical aspects of desktop computing. With professional staff managing all aspects of the computer operation, we are left with completing the tasks we were originally hired for. It is at a critical juncture that can change the landscape of computing by simply returning what wasn't rightfully ours in the first place. We need to understand that control was never ours in the first place, it was just an illusion of control. The sooner we can come to grips with this fact, the faster the adoption of hosted desktop solutions.

Imagine, if you will, what your corporation could accomplish if you simply did not have to manage the desktop environment. As I have said, we can take a lesson from history. No one was really concerned about data when the forklift ran over the terminal; we just plugged in another terminal and we were in essence running in less than a few minutes. I dare anyone to try that in today's PC environment.

As managers, directors and executives, it is time we come to terms with central process control and less focus on our shortcomings and the need for control. Now that hosted desktops are coming of age, are you ready to propel your organization?

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