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Think you can hold the line against the forces pressuring the corporate desktop as we know it? Maybe, if you're in an very security-conscious or heavily regulated company. But the better question is: Should you?
The InformationWeek Analytics 2011 End User Device Management Survey of 551 business technology professionals shows that the device landscape has, in some ways, changed tremendously since 2009, when we last surveyed our readership on how they equip their companies' employees. The Android and tablets are now on everyone's radar, and virtual desktop infrastructure is making gains. But some things have stubbornly remained the same: 51% of us still equip the majority of our users with fat desktops; laptops and smartphones follow in popularity. We're still trapped on a three-year replacement cycle treadmill. And 24% are still tied to expensive PC leasing arrangements.
In 2009, we predicted that native desktop applications would become less important, and we got that one right. In our 2010 InformationWeek Analytics SaaS Survey, 47% of respondents were using software as a service. In our April 2011 survey, 60% said they were using applications in the cloud, up 13 points in a year--an impressive jump for a technology category largely viewed with suspicion by IT.
Moreover, mobility continues to transform the nature of work. In 2009, 64% of respondents said screen size was a major barrier to smartphone use, but in our 2011 survey just 51% worried about screen real estate. We spoke with a large communications firm in North Carolina that's no longer issuing laptops to salespeople, because, frankly, speed trumps rich functionality. The company's portable computing platforms are now built on the new generation of tablets.
Consumerization? Well, we said that it was coming in our 2009 report and advised readers to prepare a risk/benefit analysis that clearly states the dangers and the costs of mitigation, as well as the upsides. As we discuss in our cover story, these include significantly lower gear prices due to manufacturing volume and commoditization. Yeah, there's going to be chaos, but there also will be chances to shine. If you like the idea of experimenting with rapidly evolving, low-cost technologies and techniques, you've come to the right decade. Take VDI: In 2009, just 18% had adopted or were considering it. Now, that number is up nine points, to 27%. This year, we asked for the first time about tablet use, and 15% say they see no barriers. We'll bet that by next year, that number also will jump significantly.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.