Following the release of Pokémon GO, the consumer relationship with software applications seems to have hit its zenith. With users now desperate to engage with the physical world through an augmented reality application, the near-global trend is symptomatic of a wider change in our society: that of the Application Love Affair.
A result of the exponential growth in computing power – as observed by Moore’s Law – businesses are now under increasing pressure to bring unique experiences to users through the new and ever-changing technologies that pass through their hands. And while it is smartphones and tablets that have enacted this change, it is the applications that are so central to the way our engagement with businesses has changed.
Choice and flexibility are the driving forces. Applications have become the currency of any and every modern organisation – central to implementing a successful business model.
The numbers themselves speak volumes: in 2015 alone over 25 billion iOS apps were downloaded, while over double that were added to Android devices. It is this consumer revolution that has led to the same enthusiasm permeating the workforce, with employees now expecting the same level of access to apps in their working lives as they get in their home-life. The rise of the consumer app store has given birth to demand for a corporate app store: and businesses have answered, with an 80 per cent jump in business apps in the last year alone. In fact, ‘business’ is the third-most popular app store category in 2016 so far.
With employees able to see the options, all of which seem quickly accessible, it can become frustrating if they feel the IT department is blocking them from using these new tools.
Delivering new applications for the wider business has always been a time-consuming and often technically challenging task, even using a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) approach it could take an excessive amount of time and resource to update the images on employee devices, ensuring everyone has secure access to the latest version of the organisation’s approved applications. The process was long due for improvement.
With market speeds hitting an all-time high, and industries seeming to change overnight, organisations need to adapt and realign their application management strategy to one of continuous development. Making it an iterative process, where employees can have access to the latest tools as and when they become available, rather than sitting on old and outdated versions as upgrading the device’s image is a low priority for a time-strapped IT department.
Doing this needs a new kind of tool. Enter VMware’s App Volumes. Making VDI more agile and flexible, App Volumes allows businesses to implement a ‘Just in Time’ deployment model – bringing applications and tools to users the moment they need them.
The use cases are wide-ranging: think of a school where the teacher decides, at the last minute, to introduce their class to a new application that can help their studies – one quick word to the IT department and they can ensure all pupils get instant access to the programme. Or consider a business hiring temporary employees to cope with seasonal demand – as soon as HR has confirmed the names of the employees, IT can set up a virtual system for each one, complete with the apps they will need to get started straight away.
App Volumes in the Real World
The Metlac Group is one such business who have benefited from the App Volumes solution. A leading producer of coatings and inks for the internal protection and decoration of all types of metal packaging, the company’s focus is on innovation, advanced technology, quality and customer service.
Metlac began using App Volumes within its VDI environment to launch applications for the wider business. Allowing the organisation to manage just a single ‘master image’, rather than updating individual devices, applications can be delivered to the work force quickly and efficiently – meaning no downtime for users.
As Stefano Del Bino, IT Architect at Metlac notes: “The advantage for us is from an IT management point of view. Timescales for deploying both existing and new applications have definitely come down – we’ve shaved up to 75% off our deployment times. Now, if a user requests access to a specific application, it takes no time at all to have it ready for use on their desktop.”
Two Sides of the Same Solution
Over the next year, the technology will become closely integrated with the AirWatch products, allowing a two-pronged approach to application delivery: with AirWatch offering device control while App Volumes governs the application stack.
Moving away from the device-centric IT strategies of old, the user will now be placed at heart of the strategy. The end result will be one in which employees have access to the latest, most relevant tools to do their jobs via any device and from any location in which they find themselves. Employees won’t need to wait for days or weeks to get the tools they need, IT can provision and deliver everything they need instantly.
For the IT department, it will not only strength relations with the wider business – removing the frustrations of slow deployments – but will also allow the department to manage IT services for a larger user base without having to expand headcount (an important benefit in times of budget constriction). Running an Application-as-a-Service approach means no more time is wasted in installing services or apps to a device – all that is required is access. This also improves issues of security; if a device is lost or stolen, then organisational data is not at risk as it is not stored directly on the device.
Importantly, more time can also be pushed into the strategic initiatives rather than lost in awkward and detailed update processes. Finally allowing IT to move from being an expensive, albeit necessary, cost centre and become a critical part of the organisation’s growth strategy.
By offering both an agile service delivery and unified application management, App Volumes is a critical tool in helping organisations remain at the forefront of technology. Staying ahead of rivals can offer a competitive advantage, allowing staff to better engage with customers and prospects or build stronger ties with partner organisations.
However, as Moore’s Law comes to end, and future of technological advancement becomes more obscure, failure to stay at the front of the pack will have ever more concerning consequences. Those who fail to develop and deliver the best applications to their workforce, or who can’t offer an agile infrastructure that allows the business to adapt to the twists and turns of their market will soon find themselves under threat. With IT moving so quickly, those who fall behind could well be left behind permanently; while those at the front are well positioned to lead their respective markets for many years.