Customers, partners and mobile workers were given the chance to ‘workshift from the cloud’ at the top of the CN Tower in downtown Toronto at a recent event hosted by Gibraltar Solutions,Citrix, and HP.
On May 9, guests were invited to access their corporate data and applications via secured wireless networks provided by the companies at the Horizons Restaurant on the lookout level of the CN Tower. Gibraltar, Citrix and HP also had representatives and experts on site to demonstrate new mobile products and solutions and The Standard caught up with a few of them to learn more about the hot trends they see in mobility and workshifting.
BYOD still hot
BYOD or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ has been a buzzing around for the last few years, but Ching Mac, regional sales manager for Central Canada at Citrix, said BYOD, mobile application management, and mobile device management are all still hot topics and are seeing good traction with customers in Canada. He said that while mainstream adoption of mobile work styles is still emerging from its infancy in Canada, companies from the SMB to the large enterprise are looking at strategies to implement BYOD and mobility solutions.
“I think we’re seeing companies doing different things to address the influx of new devices coming in and how people want to work,” Mac said in an interview. “It’s starting to change and we’re in the early stages, but the trend is definitely there.”
Corey Copping, a partner business manager in HP’s Enterprise Group Networking division, was showcasing some of the company’s routing, switching and wireless solutions at the event and also highlighted the buzz around BYOD.
“It’s a hot topic and it’s on the top of minds of many CIOs and companies across Canada,” Copping said. “A lot of people are trying to figure out how to bring all those extra devices into work and have them work on the corporate network within proper security guidelines.”
Cloud paradigm shift: embrace, don’t fight
Previous to starting Gibraltar over 16 years ago, Don Lee, CEO of Gibraltar, told The Standard that he worked in corporate IT and, at one time, had the task of managing an operating system on an IBM mainframe running a virtual machine.
“The whole notion of the virtual machine was something that IBM invented in the 60s and the 70s that is now starting to take hold,” Lee said. “. [Virtualization] is actually a very old concept kind of resurrected and come into vogue… and over the past five years there has been a massive paradigm shift across the whole industry towards cloud computing.”
Sitting in the channel, Gibraltar’s key focus is helping customers navigate the road to implementing virtualization and cloud technologies that help solve business challenges. Lee said leveraging the expertise a partner like Gibraltar to help guide you through the jump to embracing mobile work styles and cloud-enable computing will free CIOs and IT managers to really focus on their core business.
“If you’re in corporate IT you’ve got enough things to worry about than trying to become experts in everything that’s available around the cloud,” Lee said. “As an IT person in a widget company, for example, I should be figuring out how I can utilize IT to help my company make those widgets faster or cheaper or whatever the case may be. That’s where my focus should be. Not whether Citrix is better or Microsoft is better or VMware is better.”
Copping brought up a similar point and said when he talks with channel partners and their sales reps the conversation isn’t so much about selling boxes, switches or an access points. What it’s really about is talking to the customer to figure out what their business needs are and what solutions will help free up the IT personnel to stop simply maintaining IT infrastructure and actually become more proactive and innovative in their use of IT to improve business for their own customers.
“Typically in a large organization 70% of the time a network manager is online keeping the network up and running and he’s only using 30% of that time to innovate and drive forward for business,” Copping said. “We need to switch those numbers and reverse them completely.”
Lee said there are still IT workers out there who feel vulnerable and are worried that the growth of cloud technologies could make their jobs obsolete. He said people with this mindset need to understand that moving to a utility-based or cloud computing environment doesn’t mean they’re going to lose their job; it means they are going to be able to spend more time true business value-add activities in IT.
“Don’t be threatened by the cloud,” Lee said. “Embrace it.”
Citrix’s Ching Mac agrees.
“You can either fight it or embrace it,” Mac said. “What we’re telling our customers to do is embrace this change, embrace this trend of work anywhere work styles.”