server-based application computing solution can dramatically
reduce application maintenance and desktop costs. Enterprises
that consider this can also make its network less complex.
by Soutima S. Das
since computing moved onto the desktop, giving access
to all kinds of applications to all categories of users
in an organisation, an unrelenting complexity has dogged
technology personnel, from the top IT honcho down to
the system administrator. The complexity gives IT staff
management nightmares, and top management the bugbear
of ballooning costs, as they grapple with the nagging
issue of expensive upgrades.
The complexity also involves a large number of applications
written for stubbornly different operating systems running
on a wide array of hardware platforms. In short, an
expensive complexity that simply refuses to go away.
The issue of the rising cost of managing an intriguing
Web of technical infrastructure has surfaced frequently
in various industry surveys. Product
companies, both hardware and software, continue to roll
out faster machines and software often with incremental
value propositions, yet necessitating frequent upgrades
in user organisations for competitive reasons.
Combine this with organisational churn and growth, and
your goals of managing your
computing infrastructure in today's tight budgets slipping
out of your grasp.
the issues of key hardware are mostly settled when an
organization decides on a computing architecture across
its operations, those associated with software upgrades,
and application deployment & management are the
most daunting. Today, more than ever, organizations
seek to minimize the costs associated with owning, deploying,
and managing applications. Organizations today typically
use three primary computing models to deploy applications.
These models are the unmanaged desktop, managed desktop,
and the server-based application computing environment.
The unmanaged desktop computing model defines an environment
in which users have their own desktop systems. System
administrators manage each system individually, including
the installation and upgrade of operating systems and
The managed desktop model allows administrators to install
and manage applications on desktops remotely and from
a centralized location.
The application computing environment is focused on
a server-based computing model. In this environment,
all application processing takes place on centralized
servers. Users can access these applications, either
locally or remotely, via virtually any connection using
a standard desktop device, a thin client appliance,
a wireless device, and a Web browser.
of these models presents unique cost and support implications.
Typically, the unmanaged desktop is the costliest, and
server-based computing offers the lowest desktop management
costs. To complicate matters, most organizations currently
employ more than one of these computing models. This
not only increases overall cost, but also creates technical
delivery challenges for users who need access to applications
that run under different models. Since these organizations
also need to support multiple platforms like Windows,
Unix, and Mac, it complicates matters further and dramatically
increases costs under some of these models.
According to a study of these computing models, conducted
by Doculabs, it has been found that the major cost components
associated with deployment of any of the computing models
are loss of productivity, desktop infrastructure, application
maintenance, and training. Loss of productivity is usually
due to server, desktop, and network downtime. Desktop
infrastructure includes elements like hardware, operating
system licenses, and support. And application maintenance
includes desktop and client/server applications.
A server-based application computing solution dramatically
reduces the costs associated with these key components,
particularly application maintenance and desktop costs.
In fact, it has been shown in the study that typical
large organizations can save over 50 percent in hard
costs in the first year following deployment.
Most organisations do not directly consider as part
of their IT cost structures the costs associated with
loss of productivity and training, which are often categorized
as 'soft' costs. However, for long-term benefits, organizations
must consider soft costs when determining how they will
deploy applications in future.
Soft costs refer to costs associated with non-tangible
items. These include the costs associated with loss
of productivity due to downtime or training. And hard
costs typically refer to the cost of items like network
hardware, telecommunications, and software licenses.
These are budgeted items that are clearly visible on
a company's balance sheet.
Although cost is a measurable and well-understood concept,
it can be difficult to calculate, especially in light
of the number of variables an application infrastructure
presents. An accurate assessment of cost is also the
key to calculate other metrics like return on investment
and profitability. Many variables influence the cost
of deploying and managing applications. Some of these
elements are hard numbers that are easy to ascertain,
like the number of users and applications and the price
of thin-client workstations. Other numbers are more
difficult to determine, like the effects of downtime
on different user populations.
Variables like the number of remote locations that need
to be managed, vary greatly from organization to organization.
Though it is difficult to take every element into consideration
when calculating the cost, it is possible to use a smaller
set of variables known to significantly influence cost.
Understanding how these variables affect cost allows
organizations to intelligently and effectively deploy
Benefits of Server-Based Model
organisations have understood the impact of a carefully
done cost analysis before selecting a computing model
or migrating to another one, they can visualise the
other benefits that accrue from a server-based computing
environment. These benefits typically include:
Improved centralized management of IT infrastructure.
Unification of disparate and fragmented network infrastructure.
Demonstrated cost benefits for organizations of all
sizes that increase with the size of the organization.
Seamless desktop integration of the user's local and
Using a server-based application computing model, most
organizations should see large returns in the first
year of deployment. They will also find that support
and desktop-related costs drop off quickly. Other major
savings will result from reduced application downtime
and diminished need for user support and training.
Generally, customers of server-based computing cite
ease of deployment, reduced overall cost, and centralized
management and control among the top benefits they have
Organizations can realise significant benefits by moving
to a server-based solution, particularly those relying
on client/server applications to conduct business. In
this day of tighter spending and more focused technology
investment, server-based computing keeps costs low and
manageability high. Customers will be able to mange
their bottomlines more efficiently.I certainly see a
shift to server-based computing among enterprises who
are serious about its budgets. In the maze of expensive
complexity, that should come as an easy way out.
Soutima S. Das is Managing Director, Citrix Software