Tech Solutions Library > The Evolving Workplace


The Evolving Workplace

Workspace as a Service is changing the way users do their jobs, providing better flexibility
and enabling greater productivity.

by  | Calvin Hennick

Calvin Hennick is a freelance journalist who specializes in business and technology writing. He is a contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.

The way users view technology has changed over the years. In the past, many workers faced the arrival of new devices or solutions with trepidation, worried about having to learn new features and deal with changing procedures and requirements. Now, users embrace technology and even demand the latest solutions. 

These workers – especially millennials – increasingly want employers to provide them with tools that offer both increased flexibility and productivity. According to global accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials value personal development and flexible work environments over financial rewards. 

Of course, enabling productivity outside of the office has benefits for the enterprise, as well. When users have mobile access to their work tools, they can check inventory in real time, submit sales orders from the field, respond to client requests on the fly and collaborate with their colleagues from anywhere in the world. 

So, if providing mobile workspaces helps both employees and employers, why isn’t every organization doing it? Because it’s not always easy. Deploying and supporting a vast array of mobile apps and devices can create substantial management and security challenges for an organization. 

Enter Workspace as a Service. This new model – which combines the security, application delivery and desktop delivery features of mobile workspace solutions with Device as a Service support – provides everything users need to collaborate and be productive on the go, in a single bundle. 

“It’s a cloud-delivered mobile workspace, along with devices and management, with the hardware and software bundled together at one price,” explains David Garcia, mobility inside solutions architect at CDW, which began offering Workspace as a Service in 2016. “It simplifies procurement and management. You take a capital expense and make it an operating expense model, and as the suite changes, you always have the best and latest version, so you can stay current with updates.” 


The percentage of enterprises that list “increasing workforce productivity” among the goals of their business mobility programs

Source: VMware, “VMware State of Business Mobility Report: Shifting from Workforce Productivity to Digital Business Transformation,” November 2015

Mobility Solved

Mobile workspace solutions from vendors such as VMware and Citrix give users access to applications and desktops on any device, deliver a consistent experience across multiple devices and operating systems, allow IT staff to centrally manage mobile deployments and accommodate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives. 

Dan Cote, a product marketing director at Citrix, says that mobile workflows have become so important to users that many will find their own workarounds if organizations don’t provide a top-notch mobile experience. 

“If IT doesn’t deliver a solution that is easy to use, people will just go ahead and start storing files in their personal Dropbox accounts,” Cote says. “You’ll have intellectual property files that are out in the cloud in a way that isn’t endorsed or secured by IT.” 

Citrix’s mobile workspace solution, Citrix Workspace Suite, brings together virtualization tools, XenApp and XenDesktop, the XenMobile enterprise mobility management (EMM) suite, file synchronization, productivity apps and a remote access solution. Similarly, VMware Workspace ONE combines the AirWatch EMM solution with VMware’s identity management tool and a cloud management program that delivers virtual desktops while customizing the user experience for different devices and operating systems. 

Both solutions aim to simplify mobile deployments by giving users seamless, single sign-on access to all of the mobile apps they need to do their jobs. 

Kevin Strohmeyer, a senior product marketing director for VMware, says that businesses are increasingly seeing the value of simplifying mobility for their workers. “There are so many failed IT projects, because the usability is so poor that the adoption is never there,” he says. “First and foremost, you have to design for adoption. It’s got to be as simple as what people are used to in their consumer experiences.” 

Workplace Mobility by the Numbers

Research conducted by Citrix displays the increasing importance of mobile solutions to the enterprise. 

These statistics help paint a clearer picture of mobility inside the enterprise: 

  • The number of devices managed in the enterprise increased by 72 percent from 2014 to 2015. 
  • Sixty-one percent of users report working outside of the office at least part-time. 
  • The average user employs three or more devices daily for work activities. 
  • Ninety percent of organizations deploy passcode enforcement, making it by far the most common device-level security policy. 
  • Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook are among the most common apps to be blacklisted by organizations, but they are also among the most common to be whitelisted. 

SOURCE: Citrix Systems, “Mobile Analytics Report,” February 2015


Delivering Collaboration

Mobility is about more than just location. When users have ready access to a wide array of mobile apps on all of their devices, they’re able to communicate more effectively across a variety of media, work collaboratively on documents and files, and synchronize applications such as email and calendar. 

In a 2015 study, research firm, Forrester, found that fewer than one-fourth of enterprises make Windows tools, enterprise data or remote support services available on corporate mobile devices, and fewer than 10 percent make any of these tools available on users’ mobile devices. 

While these numbers represent a huge missed opportunity, the same study shows that organizations are interested in enabling mobile collaboration. Thirty-seven percent of IT decision-makers said they planned to begin supporting mobile collaboration tools such as web conferencing, instant messaging, or voice and video chat, and 45 percent said they planned to support customer relationship management apps and file synchronization on mobile devices. 

“Organizations have a mixed bag of applications,” says Robert Young, research director for IT service management and client virtualization software at IDC. “Gone are the days when IT issues out a standard desktop PC, and says, ‘These are all the applications that are going to run on a PC that’s going to stay behind the corporate firewall.’ ” 

The challenge, Young says, is finding a way to push out collaboration apps and other applications to an array of modern devices. Mobile workspaces present one solution. 

‘Workspace’ in the Workplace

While Workspace as a Service is a relatively new concept, many organizations have already begun incorporating components into their business models. 

Device as a Service: An auto care service provider deployed Hewlett Packard Enterprise's PC as a Service
program to streamline sourcing, staging, configuration, repair and project management for IT assets at thousands of North American franchises. The model combines hardware and services into a single solution at a fixed monthly cost, and it freed the auto care company from having to manage asset acquisition, technology refreshes and other logistical matters that come with owning hardware. 

Digital workspace delivery: The American Red Cross uses VMware Workspace ONE to deliver digital workspaces. Users log on to a Red Cross web portal with the same login credentials needed for email and the corporate intranet, gaining access to an array of applications. Some applications run locally on a user’s device, while others run securely on equipment in the organization’s data center. 

Secure mobile application delivery: Using Citrix tools including XenApp, XenDesktop and XenMobile, a global urban development company is securely pushing apps out to a variety of users’ mobile devices. Previously, many workflows required users to return to the office to complete paper forms, resulting in wasted time and avoidable clerical errors and miscommunications. The mobile apps improve the efficiency of this process and improve productivity. 

Solving the Security Conundrum

Security concerns are a chief obstacle for many organizations that have failed to offer users tools to enable productivity in a mobile environment. According to the 2015 Forrester study, 64 percent of organizations cite the securing of apps and data as a challenge. 

Letting these concerns stand in the way of robust mobile deployments may be understandable, but it’s also counterproductive and shortsighted. Mobility isn’t going away, and organizations should focus on ways to secure mobile deployments now, rather than simply putting them off. 

Many Workspace as a Service packages incorporate mobile device management (MDM), encryption, and identity and access management. Together, these tools safeguard enterprise data without impeding the user experience – a delicate, but essential, balance. 

Cote notes that the Citrix Workspace Suite allows him to respond to urgent work requests in a secure manner, even when he’s at his son’s baseball games. “In the old days, they would have needed to wait until I got home,” he says. “Now, I can just log into my Citrix ShareFile account, navigate to a particular folder, and it’s a secure link. The activity is tracked, and there is no data attached to the email to be exposed.” 

The suite’s mobility management features also make it easy for organizations to shore up security when users leave the organization, Cote says. “You don’t have to worry about getting the device back or uninstalling applications,” he says. “Once the credentials go away, they have no access to anything that’s stored in the data center. It’s instantaneous.”

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