Desktop Paradigm

This article is about managing the replacement for the traditional Windows XP desktop. It may sound like a straightforward upgrade of the desktop OS, or it may already seem like a complicated upgrade because of the business applications that don't run on Windows 7. But in my view it is more than that. The old desktop paradigm that has been in place for more than twenty years is coming to an end. Without a paradigm we face a bundle of difficult choices. A paradigm is a pattern or model; a world view underlying the theories and methodology of a particular... Read more →

Cloud Cuckoo

Cloud is a great marketing concept. It creates an impression of something new and better. But is it really new and better, or is it for the birds, up there in Cloud Cuckoo Land? There's no need to define Cloud services. It has been done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in their Cloud Computing Definition. You could write a PhD thesis on the abuse of the term in advertising. Let's assume for the moment that it is something like buying your IT as a service. What is new about that? Running your IT in a third... Read more →

Cloud and Windows 365

The idea of a Cloud Desktop is appealing, but can it exist? Microsoft does not allow service provider licensing for Windows 7. You can have a monthly subscription for a remote desktop on Terminal Services running on Windows Server, but not for Windows 7. This has been clarified recently in a note from Microsoft: Delivery of Desktop-like Functionality through Outsourcer Arrangements and Service Provider License Agreements. Terminal Services mean that the user shares the resources of the server with other users. To be reliable it needs to be very tightly controlled. The user cannot be an admin and cannot install... Read more →

Cloud is a brilliant marketing concept, but it can be difficult sometimes to pin down exactly what it means. This post looks at what Microsoft is offering in Office 365. Office 365 is Microsoft's version of cloud services for office applications. It provides "secure anywhere access to professional email, shared calendars, IM, video conferencing, and document collaboration". It is also a business (or multi-user) version of Windows Live, and a replacement for the earlier incarnation Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS). My focus in this blog is what Office 365 delivers for a medium sized business. There are plenty of resources... Read more →

Complexity in IT

In a previous post I said I thought that problems in IT are caused by complexity, and not by the pace of change, poor management or lack of skills (although any of those may contribute). Here are some interesting thoughts from David Gelernter. Gelernter is Professor of Computer Science at Yale. In his book Mirror Worlds he says: "Information structures are, potentially, the most complicated structures known to man. Precisely because software is so easy to build, complexity is a deadly software killer." "Programs that amount to a quarter of a million lines of text (there are about 7000 lines... Read more →

Why is IT so difficult?

A friend of mine, a very experienced and senior non-executive director, asked me why, in all the organisations he knows, IT is the area that causes the most difficulty. There are several common explanations, but I am not sure they add up. This leads me to a different explanation, with interesting consequences. IT causes difficulty in many ways, for example: results not achieved on time, not what was expected or promised, and not within budget catastrophic failure of critical systems, or loss of data systems hard to use, difficult to change, not integrated with other systems, expensive to maintain, hard... Read more →

Versatile Desktop is the ability to run different business desktops on the same client device. We can already do this easily through terminal services, but only if we are online, and without the full features of the client device such as enhanced graphics or audio. Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) makes it easier than before to run different desktops locally, with the full features of the device. This post looks at how widespread and practical UEFI is as a means of achieving the Versatile Desktop. We need the Versatile Desktop anywhere that we might previously have used two or more... Read more →

Virtual or Versatile Desktop

There is a lot of industry talk about Virtual Desktops at the moment. This is the desktop OS running as a virtual machine on a server in the datacenter. It sounds like the solution to all those difficult desktop problems, but it is more like a niche within a niche. Much more interesting is the Versatile Desktop. The Versatile Desktop is a personal computing device that is able to run different desktops at different times. Personal computing requirements are hugely varied, so it is not surprising that the industry provides many different solutions apart from the common or garden desktop.... Read more →

Migrating applications to Windows 7

One of the biggest challenges when upgrading to Windows 7 is in testing and preparing applications. This blog puts together a few conclusions that might assist you in planning the work. The extended lifespan of Windows XP and Server 2003 has been a sort of "peace dividend" or "pension holiday". When you do come to upgrade it is important not to underestimate the cost and uncertainty involved in application compatibility. But at the same time you don't need to accept that the migration will take forever. The problem is that applications can be incompatible with Windows 7 in many different... Read more →