Consumer-driven trends, new social working practices and good old-fashioned technology advances have made the modern enterprise an eclectic concoction of devices, applications and services. The IT team can now be forgiven for thinking that every user is different – everyone wants, indeed needs, a stack of technology that’s ‘just right’ for them and the job they’re expected to perform. This Goldilocks approach creates user-pressure and is inevitably forcing the hand of IT teams to break away from the comfort of standard operating environments. While good for the users, this does present some challenges for IT operations.
New applications – no longer say ‘no’
Until now, the status quo has been for IT teams to keep their application environments linear, where scheduled upgrades on crucial day-to-day systems and applications occur just once every few years. Time consuming application audits and large-scale packaging routines are then needed to ensure that the standard operating environment works with the new operating system being deployed, or that new versions of web browsers or productivity suites don’t cause conflicts with existing line of business applications; the list goes on and on. Such long delays between scheduled upgrades or new applications doesn’t work for the users however. Application release cycles are getting faster and certain users will need non-standard applications to do their job, or at least make them more effective. Of course, some people want certain applications on occasion for reasons of vanity, but dig deeper and in most instances there will be a sound business case as to why a user needs different applications. Many IT departments often end up saying ‘no’ and turning down requests– but for all the wrong reasons. Fear of creating more problems further down the line, perhaps involving security or support and worrying about creating micro-groups of niche user requirements are often the underlying objections. There is, however, an alternative way…
Make IT the pacesetter
By taking a different stance and proactively managing your application estate, IT teams can continue to retain the control required without standing in the way of the users’ needs. Through proactively packaging applications on an ongoing basis, new application releases can be catered for more easily and IT teams can slowly begin to get ahead of the users. Packaging a small number of applications on a recurring basis means users will no longer have to keep bugging IT teams for the latest update, instead the software will be ready-to-go before it’s even asked for. Not only does this help enterprise agility, but it also helps make IT appear as a business enabler rather than a ‘blocker’, all while reducing the need for long periodic application upgrades, which become a great source of frustration for all parties.
A little and often
Packaging applications is critical but isn’t always much fun. Adopting the attitude of ‘a little and often’ makes the task much more manageable and overcomes hurdles, which otherwise might be more challenging. For example, Microsoft is no longer supporting any versions of Internet Explorer before version 10, creating a serious security compromise for organisations using anything earlier than this. Proactive application management would mitigate this risk entirely as the latest version of the application would be pre-packaged for release the moment this information was shared by the vendor. Similarly, once an application is packaged, users can continue to choose which version they would most prefer to use, extending new freedoms. Finally, packaging applications more regularly puts organisations in a better place to consider their application delivery strategy and whether applications need to be deployed universally, to mobile-only devices or through Terminal Services for example.
Spherica has been helping organisations to take a more proactive position on application management for some time and we have enabled many of our customers to realise the benefits discussed in this article. We provide expert resource for packaging and use whatever tools are favoured by our customers. Through the work we undertake, we stay abreast of changes for all of the most common enterprise and commercial applications and bring valuable knowledge on less mainstream applications as well.
If you’d like to know more about proactive application management then please get in touch.