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July - 2015 - issue > CXO INSIGHT
How to Meet Your Mission with Today's Technology
Charles K. Narang
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer-NCI
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Gone are the days when successful IT software and service providers built products to (partially) solve business and mission challenges for their corporate and government customers. Today, personalization is key. This is not just a consumer expectation. Companies and government organizations have quickly come to demand solutions that fit their unique needs. They want their solutions to be delivered quickly and securely, to work seamlessly within their operating environments and to fit within constrained budgets.

Thanks to significant technology developments, such solutions are now attainable. Better yet, most are not built from scratch.They harness a practical selection of off-the-shelf products and services to solve customer problems in a new way. Solutions are continuously adjusted to improve efficiencies, expand capabilities and adjust to new realities. The result is accelerated time to value - while delivering on a core mission in an evolving operating environment.

What is enabling this new reality? Here are two transformative developments: a DevOps approach to continuous delivery and adoption of VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) for a flexible workforce.

The DevOps Difference

DevOps is sometimes referred to as next generation agile operations. Both development and operations value rapid development, frequent delivery and collaboration between business personnel and developers, as well as regular adaptation to changing circumstances. Agile is a fine proxy to represent the underlying methodology, but DevOps is broader. It encompasses collaboration between the development and operations staff throughout the lifecycle of creating and operating a service.

Corporations and government organizations alike are feeling pressure to continuously deliver on their missions, while operating flawlessly, despite budget constraints. A DevOps approach adds tremendous value against this backdrop.

The magic starts by placing developers (who create software, services, capabilities or solutions) in close proximity with colleagues who operate the assets being developed. The two groups naturally become mutually invested in success. As early iterations are experienced in an operational environment, flaws are identified right away and put back into development for adjustments. The DevOps approach ensures getting to the wrong answer quickly - so processes, services or products can be updated, tested again (and again) and matured in context. End solutions are more effective and efficient than those developed via a more traditional model.

A Paradigm Shift

DevOps adoption requires a paradigm shift. Even the concept of an "end solution" is redefined. Traditional development projects involved a large team of people to plan, then build, then test, then fix, then deploy the solution. Developers worked physically apart from business owners. There was little room for changing requirements once a plan was confirmed. Significant bugs or flawed connectivity logic discovered close to the deployment date tended to be impactful and expensive to fix. Once a solution was implemented, a much smaller team would be in place for fixes and maintenance. Ironically, while the "end solution" deployment milestone was generally cause for celebration, that moment ultimately marked the beginning of solution obsolescence. There were typically insufficient processes, resources or expectations in place for ongoing adaptation to meet mission needs.

In a DevOps approach to continuous service delivery, the "end solution" is one of many mini-deployments introduced to a product, process and/or service in an ongoing fashion. Each next "end solution" quickly delivers a new or expanded capability as a very natural output of a cross-functional team and approach that is continuously monitoring and adapting to change.

DevOps solutions are known for increasing delivery velocity.Continuous delivery solutions are personalized to the client's mission, enriched over time to expand capability or adapt to a need, and cost-effectively delivered as a natural output of ongoing focus and collaboration.

VDI: Supporting a Workforce of the Future

Another significant technology development is VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Businesses and government organizations balance a requirement for employee productivity against a need for IT security and support. In client-server days, the effort involved physically adding software and updates to each employee's computer. As employees began to demand equal access to productivity tools from remote locations and mobile devices, organizations were challenged to be flexible and accommodate these competing requirements. Technology advancements helped. Managed desktops, for example, enabled organizations to manage one baseline desktop image and remotely deploy patches and configurations out to employee PCs, laptops, smart phones and tablets. Yet, there were still complexities presented by differences in operating systems and device configurations that impacted usability and support.

VDI is an enterprise's answer to securing and standardizing employees' desktops, across geographies and devices. VDI moves all the complexities of deploying, updating and interacting with the productivity tools to the enterprise server. In the same way that browsers simplified access to information on the Internet, VDI simplifies access to applications. Approved configurations are very practically propagated throughout the enterprise. An employee needs only a lightweight terminal to access a rich, secure desktop experience.

VDI has matured to the point where the usability concerns of the past (slowness, limited ability to process rich content, security limitations) are no longer issues. Employees have the same experience whether working on a traditional client platform at a desk or using VDI. With VDI, employees are free to use their own devices, without losing control, security or stability of that experience.

Keeping the Customer Mission Core

As IT solution providers, our customers trust us to help them find ways to meet their operational and mission requirements. They expect practical, innovative approaches to meeting their precise needs. It's our job to step up and deliver personalized solutions based on customer insight - for today and into the future.

We must continue to deliver high performing solutions with integrity and uncompromising commitment to customers' missions. A DevOps approach and technologies such as VDI are two options for doing just that.

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