Steria And Microsoft Offer Tailor-Made Virtual Desktops For Enterprise

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The companies claim Workplace On Command allows staff to work from any device, anytime, anywhere

A service that could replace the office desk has been launched by Steria, a European business IT service provider, in partnership with Microsoft. Workplace On Command (WOC) is a cloud service which operates on a ‘pay per use’ model. Clients can monitor their usage through supplied software tools – which could be a godsend for tight budgets.

According to Steria, WOC will be easy to use, secure (since all of the data is stored in the cloud) and will considerably reduce IT costs, from real estate and facilities, energy consumption, operational management, to technology refresh programmes. It aspires to improve productivity and streamline IT resource management, in a single, “all-inclusive” package.

Death to the office

David Gardner, head of infrastructure management at Steria UK called the service “unique”, and said the focus of WOC was on empowering the end-user: hence, “command” in the name.

The service is aimed at a wide range of organisations, including many financial sector clients and the British government. Steria has taken steps to make WOC a part of the framework agreement for the G-Cloud initiative, which aims to provide public sector with affordable and reliable cloud computing access.

“As smartphones and tablets increase their hold on the consumer market, an increasing number of employees want to use personal mobile devices for work purposes, and this makes the balance of security and mobility a key issue for organisations. As a fully integrated set of services, Workplace On Command offers a solution to the challenges posed by the rapid evolution of technology, squeezed budgets and the consumerisation of IT,” said François Enaud, CEO of the Steria Group.

WOC will be compatible with a wide variety of devices running everything from Linux and Microsoft Windows to Apple MacOS and iOS, or other mobile operating systems – but ultimately it is the end-user that decides which devices to run WOC on.

The service will support the next version of Windows Server 2008 R2 and System Center 2012. It also takes advantage of Citrix technology to virtualise desktops and applications, no matter where they are located, allowing organisations to manage requests through its ‘Steria Workstore’.

Partnership with Microsoft means the service can offer a host of familiar Office software including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Project, Visio, Publisher and Office 365. Users can also request additional services through the Workstore. Gavin Chapman, COO of Steria UK claimed that any request will be processed in just 24 hours.

Vision for the future

Eric Boustouller, president of Microsoft France, underlined the support for Steria, saying, “The WOC offering is completely aligned with our consumerisation of IT strategy. We are seeing positive momentum for our cloud offerings, like Office 365 and Windows Azure, across both large accounts and small businesses, and appreciate the demand for business services via cloud platforms. We are delighted to see that Workplace On Command allows employees to access our ‘off the shelf’, Web-based and software-as-a-service solutions.”

Gardner called the service “the workplace of the future”, and he believes it embodies the next phase of how people want to use technology. “This is the way people will work in several years’ time, and we just want to stay ahead of the curve.”

At the very least, WOC could be seen as an alternative, or rather an extension, of the bring your own device (BYOD) concept. The difference being that all the data remains online at all times, eliminating many security risks associated with giving employees too much freedom to download data. A lost or stolen device can be immediately wiped or blacklisted remotely so it loses the ability to connect to the desktop, without damaging any information. This makes it easier for organisations to meet increasingly strict regulatory compliance.

 

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