Skip to main content

Consumerization of IT FAQ

Published: April 19, 2011

What does the phrase consumerization of IT mean?

Consumerization is the growing trend where business users are making the ultimate choice in what devices, applications, and services they use to get their work done.

What has prompted the discussion around consumerization?

Computing power is now available across a wide range of devices. Consumer devices such as smartphones and slates are now becoming powerful enough to be able to run the types of applications that were traditionally restricted to desktop and portable computers.

For many workers, such consumer devices appear to represent the future of computing and empower them to do their job more efficiently. There are so many choices available to consumers that members of the workforce prefer to use their own device at work and pressure IT to support their growing need to stay productive and competitive.

Additionally, many workers are spending time working away from the office, perhaps working at home for part of the week, increasingly blurring work-life boundaries. Many workers are now using their own devices and have the flexibility to work out of hours, so there is great potential to improve user productivity, such as during a commute.

Will embracing consumerization benefit our organization?

People are prepared to be more productive, more available, and more agile in their work. However, to do so, they need technology that meets their needs. They want the technology at work to be as good as what they have at home. They want to be empowered.

By embracing the workforce and empowering it with the latest and greatest technologies, IT can help businesses unleash productivity, reduce costs, and stay competitive. In fact, in a recent study, 83 percent of IT decision-makers characterized the effect of consumerization as mostly positive[1].

What challenges might we face when embracing consumerization?

Embracing consumerization is not an easy task and needs deliberate planning from IT. Companies should evaluate how to ensure productivity anywhere, while still protecting data, maintaining compliance, and enabling adequate PC and device management. This all puts pressure on IT to provide compelling solutions for end users while maintaining a secure and well-managed environment.

Does Microsoft believe we should embrace consumerization?

Consumerization is a phenomenon that businesses cannot ignore, so they should address a strategy around it. Embracing consumerization enables businesses to deliver productivity gains and competitive advantage. Consumerization becomes a major opportunity when businesses follow the strategies that the white paper Strategies for Embracing Consumerization describes, ensuring that corporate assets are secure and establishing new roles for empowered employees and IT as partners. Microsoft has a range of enterprise-ready solutions that can help you address users’ needs around consumerization, from deploying the Window Optimized Desktop through cloud-based management using Windows Intune to Windows-based and non-Windows-based smartphones.

What are the factors for success in embracing consumerization?

There are several key factors that should be addressed so that unmanaged consumer devices can be successfully used within the workplace:

  • Assess and understand your users.
  • Assess and understand content and information sensitivity.
  • Assess and understand your device types and application needs.
  • Define the criteria for a successful solution.
  • Use enabling technologies to implement your solution.
  • Update your organizational policies.
  • Pilot your solution.
  • Plan for continuous improvements.
  • Ensure that the program drives business value.
  • Provide implementation and development resources.
  • Adopt the program.

The white paper Strategies for Embracing Consumerization describes these factors in detail.


Recommendations

Does Microsoft provide technologies to help us embrace consumerization?

Yes. As a leader in business and consumer technologies, Microsoft is in a unique position to understand and provide guidance on how best to embrace consumerization responsibly within enterprises. You can learn about Microsoft technologies that can help businesses embrace consumerization by reading Technologies for Consumerization.

How can we enable employees to use their applications anywhere on any device?

You can enable employees to use their applications anywhere on any device by using application virtualization. Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) and Citrix XenApp, a Microsoft Partner solution, extends support for applications to a wide range of devices, including smartphones and other non-Windows-based devices.

XenApp provides on-demand application delivery that can virtualize, centralize, and manage almost any application in the datacenter. By using XenApp, you can centralize applications in the data center, control and encrypt access to data and applications, and deliver applications instantly to users almost anywhere. To learn more about Citrix XenApp, see the Citrix XenApp Web site.

How does Microsoft recommend managing Windows-based PCs?

Microsoft recommends two technologies for managing Windows-based PCs. First, the Windows Optimized Desktop offers client computing choices to enhance user productivity while meeting specific business and IT needs.

Built on the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, managed by Microsoft System Center, and secured by Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection, the Windows Optimized Desktop includes virtualization technologies with integrated management across physical and virtual machines (VMs), including virtual desktop infrastructures. Add Microsoft Office 2010, Windows Internet Explorer 9, and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) to enable a workforce that is more productive, manageable, and secure. For more information, see The Windows Optimized Desktop.

Second, for organizations that do not have the resources or infrastructure to support the Windows Optimized Desktop, Windows Intune can help deliver the management and security essentials. Organizations that have deployed the Windows Optimized Desktop can manage pockets of unmanaged computers (home-office computers and consumer devices running Windows that users bring to work) by using Windows Intune. For more information, see the Windows Intune Web site.

What technologies can help us embrace non-Windows-based PCs for work?

Due to consumerization, users are bringing to work more than just PCs running Windows. Non-Windows-based slates and tablets run a range of operating systems, such as Apple iOS, Google Android, Linux, and so on. These devices provide different user interfaces, different levels of security, and different management capabilities. There are multiple operating systems across consumer devices, so adopting a systematic approach to management and security is essential.

Microsoft offers technologies with which to enable management and security across these kinds of disparate consumer devices. For devices that cannot provide the full Windows 7 experience and security, you can use a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)-based strategy to enable secure access to a server-hosted, Windows-based desktop. This approach is the most effective one for non-Windows-based portable computers and slates. However, a VDI-based strategy can also be useful when employees bring their own Windows-based portable computers into the workplace. In this case, VDI is used to deliver a secure enterprise desktop while keeping all personal data and software out of the corporate network.

For more information about VDI, see Virtualization Products and Technologies.

What does Microsoft recommend for managing smartphones (Windows or non-Windows)?

Tools are available to manage smartphones in the enterprise. For example, you can use Exchange ActiveSync to manage many Microsoft and non-Microsoft smartphones. Exchange ActiveSync is a Microsoft Exchange Server synchronization protocol that is optimized to work over high-latency and low-bandwidth networks. The protocol, based on HTTP and XML, enables devices to access information such as e-mail, calendars, and contacts on an Exchange Server system.

Exchange ActiveSync also provides management tools through Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policies and related tools. For example, Windows Phone 7 supports management policies like requiring passwords and enforcing password strength. It also provides the ability to remotely wipe the device and restore a mobile phone’s original factory settings after multiple failed attempts to unlock it.

Management based on Exchange ActiveSync is an industry standard for smartphones and other small-form-factor devices. Platforms such as Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, Nokia Symbian, and Palm support Exchange ActiveSync and mailbox polices to varying degrees. For more information about Exchange ActiveSync, see Managing Exchange ActiveSync Devices on TechNet.


Technologies

What are key features of the Windows Optimized Desktop for consumerization?

The Windows Optimized Desktop can help IT embrace consumerization on rich devices running Windows 7. These technologies can address challenges such as managing applications and user data, safeguarding data, defending the network, and protecting intellectual property in consumerization scenarios. For more information about the Windows Optimized Desktop and consumerization, see the Technologies for Consumerization article.

If we manage PCs with the Windows Optimized Desktop, why would we consider Windows Intune?

Organizations that have deployed the Windows Optimized Desktop can manage pockets of unmanaged computers (home-office computers and consumer devices running Windows that users bring to work) by using Windows Intune. For more information, see the Windows Intune Web site.

Can we use Windows Intune to manage PCs in a virtual desktop infrastructure?

Yes, you can use Windows Intune to manage virtual desktop PCs. You are licensed to run Windows Intune on both physical and virtual instances of qualifying Windows client operating systems. You cannot install the client software in custom Windows images or template VHDs. Instead, you must install the client software as part of the post-deployment configuration process. Additionally, you will need to install a separate management and malware protection solution on any server computers you are using, as you cannot install the Windows Intune service on servers.

How do we present virtual applications to devices that are not running Windows?

Citrix XenApp is a Microsoft Partner solution that extends support for traditional and App-V virtual applications to a wide range of devices, including smartphones and other non-Windows-based devices. It provides on-demand application delivery that can virtualize, centralize, and manage almost any application in the datacenter. By using XenApp, you can centralize applications in the data center, control and encrypt access to data and applications, and deliver applications instantly to users almost anywhere. To learn more about Citrix XenApp, see the Citrix XenApp Web site.

What are the key components of Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?

Key technical components making Microsoft VDI a reality include:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V. This is a virtualization host that runs VMs and is essentially a grid in the virtualization solution infrastructure. It is a repository with virtualization resources such as VMs, Virtual Hard Disk (VHDs), hardware and software profiles, and so on.
  • Microsoft App-V. App-V is a dynamic application-deployment vehicle based on user profiles and transparent to the local operating system.
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS). RDS provides a single and consistent URL for accessing resources published in multiple Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDSHs) and terminal servers.
  • Microsoft RemoteFX. Part of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1, RemoteFX enables the delivery of a full Windows user experience to a range of client devices including consumer devices. RemoteFX delivers a rich user experience for VDI by providing a 3D virtual adapter, intelligent codecs, and the ability to redirect USB devices in VMs. It is integrated with the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which enables shared encryption, authentication, management, and device support.
  • System Center Management Suite. The suite provides a comprehensive management solution for managing the enterprise IT lifecycle. It can simplify deployment, provisioning, and management of virtualization hosts and VMs.

What is the difference between static and dynamic virtual desktop infrastructures?

There are two VDI deployment models:

  • A static or persistent virtual desktop. In a static architecture, there is a one-to-one mapping of VMs to users. Each user is assigned a designated VM. Because VMs are commonly stored on a Storage Area Network (SAN) and execute on a server, a large user population will likely lead to significant SAN requirements.
  • A dynamic or non-persistent virtual desktop. In a dynamic architecture, there is only one master image of the desktop stored. All user personalization, profile, applications, and so on are stored separately from the desktop. When a user requests a desktop, a VM cloned from the master image is combined with the user’s personal data and applications dynamically delivered to the user device based on roaming profiles and App-V. This delivers a personalized desktop experience by dynamically provisioning a base image. It simplifies the overall VM management by reducing the number of desktop images maintained.

Does Microsoft license any virtual desktop infrastructure product suites?

To accommodate new deployment scenarios, Microsoft has introduced two new offerings for VDI:

  • Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Standard Suite (VDI Standard Suite)
  • Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Premium Suite (VDI Premium Suite)

Both the VDI Standard Suite and the VDI Premium Suite are licensed per client device that accesses the VDI environment, and thereby allow for flexibility of server infrastructure design and growth. You can learn more about VDI suite licensing at Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services site.

How do we know if Exchange ActiveSync supports our employees’ smartphones?

Management based on Exchange ActiveSync is an industry standard for smartphones and other small-form-factor devices. Platforms such as Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, Nokia Symbian, and Palm support Exchange ActiveSync and mailbox polices to varying degrees. The blog post Updated - Comparison of Exchange ActiveSync Clients ( Windows phone, Windows Mobile, Android, Nokia, Apple, Palm ) compares support for Exchange ActiveSync across many different platforms.

How will System Center Configuration Manager 2012 change the discussion?

Configuration Manager 2012, now in beta 2 release, helps IT empower their users with the devices and applications they need to be productive, while maintaining the control necessary to protect corporate assets. It provides a unified infrastructure for managing mobile, physical, and virtual environments that allows IT to deliver and control user experiences based on user identity, connectivity, and device specifics. Along with all of the world-class inventory, operating system deployment, update management, assessment, and settings enforcement you’ve come to expect from Configuration Manager, the new release will deliver:

  • Integrated Mobile, Physical, and Virtual Management. Provides a single, unified tool with which to manage all your client desktops, thin clients, mobile devices, and virtual desktops.
  • Personalized Application Experience. Evaluates corporate identity, device type, and network capabilities to deliver applications in the most optimal way for the user, whether that is through local installation, streaming through App-V, or through a presentation server. It integrates with Citrix XenApp to give users access to any business application from a wide array of mobile platforms.
  • Application Self-Service. Allows users to securely self-provision applications from anywhere with an easy-to-use web catalog.
  • Integrated Security and Compliance. Integrates with Forefront Endpoint Protection to provide a single solution for protecting against malware, identifying and remediating vulnerabilities, and gaining visibility into non-compliant systems.
  • Continuous Settings Enforcement. Automatically identifies and remediates non-compliant physical or virtual personal desktops.

You can find more information about the new updated capabilities involving the deployment of virtual applications in System Center Configuration Manager 2012 beta 2 release at Introduction to Application Management in Configuration Manager 2012.



[1] IT Managers Selectively Embrace Consumerization, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Microsoft, February 2011

Top Tasks

Related Resources

Stay Informed

Microsoft is conducting an online survey to understand your opinion of the MSDN Web site. If you choose to participate, the online survey will be presented to you when you leave the MSDN Web site.

Would you like to participate?