CES 2015 Enterprise Technology Review


Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas unveiled some amazing new advances in technology. More than anything, we noticed a shift in technology with the underlying theme thin is in. Lightweight computers, handheld smart devices are now the standard for those companies looking to minimize their employee’s work stations.

But if consumer electronics aren’t part of your core business model, why should you care? It’s a good question and one we pondered ourselves in a companywide staff meeting. The insight we gleaned is that digital disruption (shifts in consumer technology patterns) is lurking at every corner to sway your customers toward your competition.

So what new products were unveiled at CES 2015 that can improve your SMB?

Virtual Access

Our IT techs love the HP DL380z virtual workstation. It’s becoming popular among companies that are migrating from traditional desktop environments to work from virtual spaces. But with a price tag of nearly $1400 per device, it may not be a wise investment if your company employs more than 50 employees.

A less-expensive alternative is to consider using an IT Cloud-based provider. Many CFOs now realize outsourcing their IT connectivity with Cloud technology empowers their users to access hardware and software without sizable capital expense.

One of the smartest reasons to convert to a Cloud-based environment is it allows you reduce your hardware and software expenses. But it’s not just about saving money. In fact, the data analytic available using Cloud resources allows your IT technicians to pinpoint work flow trends among your users.

Connectivity Is Key

Despite CES 2015 centered around consumer product launches, we feel that’s a cue for businesses of all sizes to consider. With new consumer trends shifting every week due to online community interaction, staying ahead of the curve is vital to growth.

One of the most memorable interviews at CES was with Samsung’s President of Enterprise Business Marketing, Ed Abrams. He commented about one of the biggest struggles many organizations suffer is how to implement new technology into actionable, customer-centric measures. Abrams suggests companies should develop a more clear digital strategy that benefits the customer experience interacting with their brands.

It’s no surprise Samsung’s enterprise solutions are catching the attention of CEOs. For example, they’ve committed to streamlining their healthcare and B2B divisions into mobile spaces. Granted, for some companies converting to mobile platforms may not be as easy if they’re not properly funded.

In Samsung’s case, they developed a five year plan to integrate these divisions over time. Doing so is a mission-critical step to building their technology infrastructure. Then adjust based on user demand.


Windows XP Support is Ending: Is Now the Time to Go Virtual?

rsz_xpWhile the response toward cloud storage and networking has been overwhelmingly positive, businesses are still slowly warming up to the idea of virtualized desktops. Amazon Workspaces stands to make the concept more mainstream, offering a simple format with affordable prices. But businesses are still unsure what a desktop in the cloud really means to daily operations.

Big Changes

Currently, a major change in Microsoft Windows is leading many businesses to consider multiple options. Microsoft officially ended support for its extremely popular Windows XP operating system on April 8, leaving businesses vulnerable to viruses and data breaches. According to NetMarketShare, the 12-year-old operating system still has 28 percent of the O/S market, with many of those computers in use in both businesses and government agencies.

The expiration date has left many businesses with a big decision to make. Since many copies of Windows XP reside on devices that already need to be replaced, costly equipment replacements are often the only option. New devices will likely come with the vastly unpopular Windows 8 O/S, leaving businesses to downgrade to Windows 7 or choose a Mac O/S as an option. This has led some businesses to look at a third, less talked-about option: making the move to a virtual desktop.

Amazon Workspaces

Through an AWS consultant, businesses can utilize expert support in implementing Amazon WorkSpaces in their businesses. Employees are no longer tied to a laptop or desktop, with their entire desktop available through tablets or PCs, from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it easier for employees who travel or telecommute to conduct their work on a daily basis.

In time, virtual desktops will become a part of every business, but currently organizations are still interested in learning more. For businesses currently running Window XP, this may be the perfect time to consider Amazon WorkSpaces as an alternative to the operating systems available today.

Will Amazon’s Workspaces Mean the End of Cubicle Life?

The concept of virtual desktops has been a distant dream for many in the IT industry for a while. Instead of purchasing a PC or laptop and installing software on each device, businesses would only be responsible for providing a device that connects to the network, where a user’s entire operating system is stored.

Enter Amazon Workspaces

So far, the technology has been too expensive to be accessible to most businesses. But Amazon stands to potentially change that. Through a Managed AWS provider, businesses can sign up for Amazon Workspaces, a service that provides cloud-based work areas to each of its workers. Because its affordability makes it accessible to businesses of all sizes, Workspaces stands to be a game-changer in the virtual desktop space.

But the most appealing feature of virtual desktops isn’t that businesses are no longer required to purchase desktop PCs to access work data. Virtual desktops appeal to the emerging mobile workforce, which is gradually being redefined as mobile rather than desk-based. A cloud-based workspace means workers can log on from a smartphone, home PC, or smartphone and see the same desktop–icons, applications, files, e-mail connectivity, and the like. This constant accessibility may remove the final barriers to a mobile workforce, freeing workers to conduct business while on the go.

On-Site Support Reduction

Businesses are increasingly moving away from having a full staff of I.T. workers on site. Instead, on-site and remote support is becoming the norm in a growing number of organizations. While businesses may still need help with troubleshooting printer problems and issues with network connectivity in-office, most customer support can be done at the cloud service provider level, with businesses only being charged when they call for help. Since software is managed at the server level, though, there are likely to be far fewer glitches and bugs than there are with hundreds or thousands of separate installations in one organization.

Amazon is unveiling several new offerings as it continues to grow in the cloud services space. Workspaces is a promising new offering that can potentially change the way both personal and business customers access the cloud today.

How Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Can Help Your Business

Businesses are currently caught in the middle of a transition. Most industries are seeing a gradual shift toward Cloud services, but many businesses still run at last part of their operations from desktop PCs connected to on-site servers. One major problem with that old-style way of doing business is that when something goes wrong, you have to pay someone to fix it. Another problem is that you have to constantly update both hardware and software to keep up with current technology.

Virtual Desktops

Through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), businesses can eliminate the need to pay desktop support personnel when a problem arises. A user’s entire operating system is stored in the Cloud, allowing them to access it from anywhere, using any device. As mobile devices continue to redefine the concept of working, VDI is becoming increasingly more attractive.

Until recently, cost was a huge inhibitor of moving to VDI, especially for larger organizations. But service providers know that VDI has the potential to change technology forever and, as a result, are racing to be the first to create an affordable solution suitable for mass consumption.

Amazon Workspaces

One of the first affordable solutions to hit the market is Amazon’s new Workspaces offering. Priced as low as $35 a month for a standard plan, Amazon Workspaces sets aside a chunk of space on its server for each user. By logging into this space, users have access to a Windows 7-based operating system that includes basic operating system software, along with the software specified by the business.

By locating each user’s desktop in the Cloud, Amazon creates a work area that can be accessed whether a user is on the road, at home, or in the office. Users connect to their server space through their Managed AWS provider through a tablet, desktop, or laptop and all applications remain the same regardless of the device.

While VDI still has a long way to go before widespread adoption, Amazon is getting a jumpstart on the competition by pricing its product within reach of the average business. The promise of a higher ROI will be more likely to attract more businesses.

Virtual Desktops: The Future of Business?

We’ve all heard plenty about the growing popularity of Cloud computing, but in many workplaces, employees are still connecting to servers via a traditional desktop or laptop PC. Mobile device use allows employees to connect directly to the Cloud, but there are still many employees chained to a desk all day. Think of the many receptionists, call center operators, customer service technicians, and similar workers for whom a tablet doesn’t make sense. For those employees, the future is likely in the virtual desktop.

The Basic Concept

The concept makes more sense than the current mode of operation in many businesses. Instead of purchasing a $600-$1,000 PC and associated software for each PC, businesses run everything off one central server, assigning each worker a designated piece of space. It’s an internal Cloud that centralizes everything. Instead of moving from PC to PC to install, update, and troubleshoot software, IT professionals can control operations from one central place, potentially even offsite. Security is also a benefit to virtual desktops, since workplaces no longer have to worry about desktop malware.

So what’s stopping all of this innovation? Believe it or not, expense. The software that powers all of this technology, VMWare, is notoriously expensive, prohibiting most enterprises from deploying it. The good news is, VMWare seems to realize this limitation, having announced recently that they’re working to streamline costs in order to make the technology available to the masses.

Cloud-Based Virtualization

Cloud service providers are also catching on to the potential of virtualization. These much larger companies are able to deploy the software directly to users, without an on-site server required. Virtualizing desktops can allow them to work side-by-side with the same mobile devices a business’s traveling employees are using to access those same servers. As Cloud providers race to be the first to offer these solutions to businesses of all sizes, those companies that aren’t yet Cloud-based will continue to gradually migrate operations to the Cloud. This migration will prepare them for the day virtualization becomes a part of their business model.