For the past five years (since the introduction of Windows-as-a-Service in 2015), we have talked about the necessity and benefits of Evergreen IT Management for enterprises. While both of those are still as relevant and crucial as before, there are new prevalent trends that will have a long-term impact on your Evergreen IT strategy. Today, I want to discuss the three most impactful ones: COVID-19 and the wide-spread adoption of remote work, Everything as Code (EaC), and Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop.
Having been forced into a remote working situation virtually (no pun intended) overnight, both employees and employers have found that working from anywhere has significant advantages. Employees who are parents and/or caregivers very much enjoy an easier work-life balance, and companies enjoy knowing they could save up to $11,000/year per commuting employee. As a result, the vast majority (93%) of employees prefer to work from home, at least for a while longer.
But the start to it all wasn’t smooth sailing. In fact, 37% of IT leaders said that employees didn’t have the right tools to be able to work when the transition to remote work was first made, which led to a significant increase in support tickets. For example, 84% of remote users say they lose access to applications at least once a week while 11% lose access daily. In addition, many US workers not only had to use their personal device for work, but spent an average of $348 to upgrade or improve technology to make it possible to work remotely.
Now, more than six months into the pandemic, 95% of companies say that they are reshaping their IT strategy. Digital Transformation efforts “were pushed through in a matter of weeks at 71% of organizations”, according to a survey of global 1,000 IT professionals. Evergreen IT is enabling agile, scalable, and secure IT environments which are the basis for Digital Transformation efforts and Work-From-Home scenarios. This will have a massive long-term impact.
Remember when the promise of X-as-a-Service was to make things simpler and reduce complexity? Well, across the board, enterprises have been creating highly complex environments that weave XaaS through all infrastructure layers. These multi-platform environments were managed through workflow orchestration using automation or by executing static scripts.
Although, in theory, that sounds like a great idea, things became complicated very fast. Without adequate versioning, testing, and self-healing, it required constant attention to keep it going. This increase in maintenance efforts quickly affected the already limited budgets and constrained resource capacity, not to mention scalability or performance.
This is where “Everything as Code” (EaC) comes in. Rather than keeping things running by manually intervening, it allows IT operations, System Admins, and developers “to automate IT environment modifications with reusable code and then version control that code much like developers had been handling their application code changes for many years before.”
Among other traits, Everything as Code is version controlled, immutable, predictable and consistent, modular, auto-scalable, and focuses on the end goal or state you wish to achieve. It certainly represents a huge shift in the way we approach not only infrastructure but also IT automation.
In the past few months, we have talked a lot about Windows Virtual Desktop and App Attach. With Windows Virtual Desktop, organizations can fully deploy scalable, multi-session Windows 10 instances, virtualize Microsoft 365 apps, manage Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience, and much more.
Essentially, Windows Virtual Desktop allows organizations to run desktop and application virtualization in Microsoft Azure — a value proposition that is very exciting to larger organizations as it would enable them in the future to get rid of their own internal data centers. This would not only save an enormous amount of money but also free up resources. However, we are not there yet as Windows Virtual Desktop still requires a link between Microsoft data center and your own data center by requiring on-premises Active Directory forests.
We anticipate the adoption of WVD to explode in 2021 after a few more technical wrinkles (like the hybrid situation we just mentioned) are ironed out.
Evergreen IT Management is even more necessary today than it was a few years ago — not only because it satisfies the short-term, pandemic-caused work-from-home situation, but because of the long-term effects it will have. Both employees and employers will be more reluctant to go back into an office/commuting situation. Also, customer demands have changed significantly. This development, as well as the technological changes of Windows Virtual Desktop and Everything as Code, will need to be considered when planning out your Evergreen IT strategy.