‘Customer demands for infrastructure management are more complicated’
Vice President & Global Head - End User Computing, Application Operations & Shared Services,
What are the various end-user computing services provided by HCL Infrastructure Services Division, and how are these different from desktop management services?
Our gamut of services, under end-user computing goes beyond desktop management services. Desktop, laptop, tablet, PDA or BlackBerry is basically the interface — there is at provisioning, policy, security, ubiquitous access, control, and compliance. We have put together a holistically integrated service because we want to create the user experience and not just manage the device. So there is a set of people who first address the clients, which is servicedesk-as an offering. Then you have a Desktop Management team, which manages your applications. After that, you had those dumb terminals. But now the world has moved from the mainframe to client–server; the great benefit of client-server is that desktop workstation takes the processing power away, makes it cheaper, and enables you to communicate on a network. You can keep the graphic interface here, part of the application can reside on the front- end and the processing can happen there. So, we
Maninder Singh Narang, Vice President & Global Head - End User Computing, Application Operations & Shared Services, HCL Technologies ISD tells Amrita Premrajan about the major trends he is witnessing in the space of end-user computing and information technology as a whole, and talks about the fresh challenges CIOs are dealing with today due to the fast evolving IT landscape
a lot of technology behind it that includes not just the hardware (the devices) but also the application that sits on the device, messaging and collaboration (e-mail, Lync or chat platform), and Citrix-based VDI or a VM-based VDI. So, there is a lot of data center technology and network that sits behind end-user computing.
Our service in end-user computing is not just the management of the device but all of the encompassing end-user computing technologies. It also includes user provisioning — you have the Active Directory so you define policies around users. It is a fairly complex piece but one integrated offering.
Today, the user is looking at a great experience with any device, and the enterprise is looking more there are subject matter experts who enable the entire technology, which involves virtualizing your application delivery to desktop. Finally, there is messaging and collaboration because 80 - 90 percent of our work today happens on e-mail — we are using less of phone and more of chat, social collaboration, social networking and messaging. We call this entire gamut of services as Managed End User Computing.
We started with the mainframe way of functioning, then we moved to the client-server model. How has this model evolved over the years?
If you go back 30 years, the proposition was mainframe, where everything was centralized, and changed the mainframe — we said it is junk, the technology is outdated, and everything will now be clientserver.
What has happened now is that we have again moved away from the client-server model towards the mainframe model, saying that app virtualization and device virtualization is nothing but everything done centrally, irrespective of the type of device which is used for accessing apps. The moment you say virtualization of app, it means the entire app is actually sitting in the data center now. The technology has become a little more open ended. The browser has become the ubiquitous kind of interface, and there is a lot more evolution that has happened in that technology. Obviously, the user
experience is a lot better. So, if you really look back at our mainframes to the current days, it is basically cannibalization of one after the other. The IT industry has remained where it is because of its ability to cannibalize itself, and then again re-invent itself.
What are the major trends you are witnessing that have the potential to drastically change the way IT has been functioning traditionally?
A key trend that we clearly see is the consumerization of IT, which means that the device is no more enterprise determined. More enterprises are also letting the employees buy their choice of device as it takes away the burden of supporting that hardware. While the user manages the device, the enterprise delivers the applications seamlessly. This is driving BYOD and blurring the lines between consumer and enterprise technology.
Lot of activity is happening on the security and access control front. The security policy that governs my personal work is different — I use a different image there. And when I connect to my enterprise, I use a different image. All the security controls and the compliance are controlled at the network, firewall and data center levels. To control access, one may implement many policydriven restrictions.
The second key trend is that social network is getting adopted in peerto-peer and group communication. About five-six years ago a majority of our customers would have 90 - 95 percent voice and 10 - 5 percent e-mail support for end-user computing. Today, it is about 30 - 40 percent chat/e-mail support. This dramatic increase is because of greater acceptability of social networking.
The third significant trend is instrumentation and automation. For example, you have a desktop running XP — every time you have an upgrade, Microsoft asks you to upgrade that patch. Following this, the IT teams at the backend ask you for downtime to upgrade the patch, which is quite intrusive from an end-user point of view.
Now let’s look at an iPad or an Android, when a patch is released for these devices, they automatically tell you about the patch availability and auto-update the system when you connect next time. A lot of instrumentation and automation has gone into enabling this technology.
The fourth trend that we clearly perceive is emergence of global delivery model. We were earlier perceived as an offshore company, but today we have delivery centers all over the world that are servicing clients across the geographies. So the global delivery model has emerged and many of us are seeing that our larger wins are coming from the areas where we are demonstrating our ability to globally deliver to our customers.
The fifth key trend is the impact of open source on technology. For example, Android has had a big impact on the operating system market and the cost of delivery of technology. The penetration of open source technology may be low today, but it will increase dramatically over the years, as the open source market becomes a little more consolidated. So, if someone can give me the same level of availability, reliability and maintainability running on a Linux platform on a desktop, why not use, say a Ubuntu, rather than pay about USD 600 for Microsoft.
The impact of cloud — a re-invented term in my view, is the sixth trend. If you go back to mainframes, it was always cloud and it was all virtual. Cloud will cause a disruptive pattern in the consumption of IT — which today is in a very definitive way. I think it will become undefinitive and very discrete. So, cloud will become a utility. I think we are still far away from a very ubiquitous model but technology availability to service will get there in the next few years.
How have customer demands changed over the years? What are the fresh challenges CIOs are facing today?
The demands from our customers are now more confusing and complicated. The traditional enterprise controlbased model said: ‘I will give you the device and I will tell you which application to use.’ The model has now changed to: ‘ You bring your own device, you will manage two images, you will access it anywhere on the planet, and you will use any network.’ The data center will be hosted somewhere else, part of the applications will be cloud-based and some will be internal (on-premise). This new model is posing fresh challenges to CIOs.
Apart from this, the business head comes and asks the CIO why he is spending so much money on something, which he can buy on a shared basis from outside. And he is asked to cut the budget by 20 percent. Then the security guys tell him that they won’t allow certain things because it might compromise IP protection, information security, etc. So, there are so many conflicting demands, and at the same time churn is happening.
So customers are looking for someone who can first help them in the transformation from a classical enterprise IT support to this new model, where there is pervasiveness of the devices and consumerization of IT. They have to manage a heterogeneous IT environment, which is now selfprovisioned with cloud, transformation of network, security, and controls.
This is a difficult task, but most of our propositions today are focused around meeting these three customer requirements: help him manage the consumerization; instrument and automate as much as you can so that provisioning becomes faster and management becomes more reliable and secure; and combine public and private. For example, there are many customers where messaging is partly in-house — with their most privileged users. But for dealers and the extended organization, it is all on the cloud — so you marry both of them.