Introducing Engineers to BYOD
Mainframe mentality is back on the radar and ready to benefit your environment.
Everyone who works with technology at some point gets the “back-in-my-day” talk from their trainers and mentors. The talk is not unlike one that usually comes from an older family member, but instead of hearing about how they had to walk eight miles to school in the driving snow, uphill both ways, without shoes, and liked it, the stories are usually about how easy tech users of today have it. We no longer use clumsy slide rules, drafting is no longer done by hand but on a computer, and our calculators have more processing power than was on the spacecraft that landed on the moon. However, as with fashion, trends tend to come full cycle.
One of the topics that inevitably arises when talking technology is the reminiscence of mainframe and dummy terminal computing. In the early years of computing, not everyone had a tower on their desk or a laptop in their bag. Instead, time had to be scheduled in the library or the computing department on a command line based dummy terminal to connect back to large mainframes like the IBM System/300 series or DEC’s VAX series. Depending on the person you might hear about having to carry around paper tapes, punch cards, or 10” floppies to save their work. Computing was inconvenient and better left to those who understood it.
Thanks to the work of two enterprising young companies in the 1980’s, we entered the age of the personal computer. After a time it became routine for the everyman to have their own computer. Advancements in storage, graphics, and processing made it easier for people to leave the world of mainframe computing behind. Suddenly, what software was on the system, the data saved on it, and even how one customized the interface became a very personal choice. Of course, this era also gave rise to IT departments and the necessity for people skilled in system support. Some would joke this would be the first time that many technology enthusiasts would be forced to talk to their “user” counterparts to help them troubleshoot technology issues. It’s hard to imagine the world we live in without the ubiquitous personal computer.
With the rise of App Markets and mobile personal electronics, technology journalists are foreseeing the demise of the desktop computer. More and more e-mails and presentations are being created and edited on the go. With mobile devices, the office is wherever you can get Wi-Fi. However, those in science and design that require powerful machines to handle the beefy programs they use daily have looked on in longing while being chained to their workstations…until now.
Software as a service (SAAS) is not a new idea for a large part of the IT industry. The ability to run enterprise applications has been around for some time. The piece that was missing was how to handle applications that require a large amount of graphics capabilities, or more processing power than even the newest tablets can provide. Over the last year this missing piece has been the point of interest with the major virtualization software developers. Thanks to the mobile movement, companies like Microsoft with RemoteFX and Citrix with XenApp have been working diligently on ways to provide those high-end graphics applications on the go.
The library of graphics intensive programs such as AutoCAD, Solidworks, Creo (formerly Pro-E), etc. can now be accessed from something as small as a cell phone. The key is to put the processing back in the data center and in essence return to the days of mainframe computing. Businesses and universities are trading the cost of workstations for servers capable of providing this 3D capable cloud service. With the ability to go across operating systems and make the servers handle the heavy lifting, PC requirements are dropping. With the ability to provide access to enterprise applications with secure storage in the data center, some companies have introduced a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy wherein employees are not given a company PC and are instead invited to bring their own systems. Instead of requiring IT departments to provide time consuming desktop support, they can instead focus on keeping the corporate App Market up to date and remove software installation from the desktop support rubric. Graphic intensive SAAS is removing hardware and OS requirements, while introducing more efficient ways of supporting users on the go.
To hear more about how mainframe mentality is back on the radar and how it could benefit your environment join my discussion “Introducing Engineers to BYOD” at the PDS Technology Conference.
Computer Systems Engineer, Marquette University of Engineering, Douglas Hynes, will be presenting at the PDS 2012 Technology Conference this Sept 19, 2012 at 2:45 PM. Learn more about Hynes’ session and register today by visiting www.PDS2012.com.