Vishwajith Prasad, Network Consultant, Cisco India & SAARC
In today's fast-paced world, the need to be constantly connected and always accessible has made mobility a strategic corporate asset. Video is a very prominent mode of communication in our professional and personal lives and the ability to quickly create and share video is a classic example of the consumerization of IT. According to Gartner, by 2015, 200 million workers worldwide will video conference from their desktops.
This implies that business can come to a halt when employees do not have access to network services and cannot easily reach the people they need, or be reached by the people who need them. Without essential communications and collaboration capabilities such as conferencing, presence, instant messaging, and video, decisions get delayed, business processes are slowed, opportunities are lost and competitive advantage is difficult to attain or sustain.
Historically, companies have addressed the growing need for mobility by equipping employees with multiple devices that help them deal with the many access and collaboration challenges they face daily. The latest to join the bandwagon is the tablet PC. Tablets have large screens, no bulky keyboards, no big programs utilities and focus on some small applications and the internet. With an ultra-portable form factor, powerful collaborative capabilities and flexible connectivity, tablets uniquely address the communication needs of today's workforce.
IT Enterprises see a variety of uses for tablets - remote work, sales support, and customer presentations- because they deliver the same rich computing, communications and collaboration experience in the office, around campus and off campus. The use case for tablets in the enterprise space holds up because of the varied functionality of most tablets -dual cameras, potentially stronger processors, open source platform, 3G/4G and WiFi enablement, various ports and varied collaborative applications built in.
Many IT developers and specialists think applications for smartphones and tablets will outstrip those for laptops and phones by 2015 and video will be the new convergence platform instead of voice. With more than half a dozen new tablets being introduced in the last few months, the marketplace is evolving at a rapid pace. A recent survey by research firm IDC indicates that tablet computers are shifting the application development priorities of IT software companies significantly, tripling their investment in applications for these devices.
The next five years will see a huge and inevitable shift in applications and infrastructure to cloud computing, providing seamless fusion of hardware, applications and services. With a growing focus on cloud computing, it looks like tablets are poised to be the new user platform. The biggest advantage would be mobility and secure access to information anytime, anywhere in the cloud.
Adoption of cloud computing will signify a trend toward the tablet because an increasing number of businesses are actively or strategically planning to migrate some or all of their communications capabilities to the cloud. Cloud- or Internet-based computing makes it possible to centralize applications in the data center while technologies like desktop virtualization enable users to access these business applications, affordably delivered, as a service, on demand. Since they support desktop virtualization, tablets will come standard with a virtual desktop client application, acting as a thin client on collaboration architecture.
Along with resident computing power, tablets can support local processing of applications, and enable IT organizations to further consolidate devices at the desktop, depending on their IT objectives and their user preferences. Desktop virtualization solutions that use cloud computing to centralize a distributed client environment safeguard data and applications, and increase business flexibility, will be heralded as the next big change for enterprises.
Cloud computing eliminates the need for employees to carry around expensive laptops (and desk-bound workers to use more expensive PCs), so IT departments can replace these higher-cost clients with thin clients, which are less expensive to manage. Centralizing applications in the data center, instead of deploying them locally on clients, reduces security maintenance concerns and risk of intellectual property loss.
As organizations migrate to cloud computing, they can provide business tablets to executives, sales representatives and knowledge workers and expand mobility across the enterprise. Instead of bringing employees to where the work is, they can take work to where the employees are. This does not mean that tablets are necessarily a replacement for the existing computer; they instead serve as an ancillary platform to deliver high-definition mobile video and provide access, control and interoperability to a variety of applications and solutions. Users can employ the same device to communicate, conference, meet face-to-face and exchange ideas with user-generated content.
Given the above, the day is not far off when it would be common to see employees walk in to their offices with tablets of different kinds unlike laptops as it is today!