The need to support remote and homeworking has been good to cloud companies, with a rush to adopt flexible cloud-based services. So does that mean that business are becoming essentially client agnostic, with all work performed through a browser?
Not a bit of it, said Jeff Kilford, UK Client Compute Group director at Intel. For one thing, not all applications and services are suited to the cloud, and for another it ignores an important counter-trend - the move to the edge.
"Thirty-three per cent of engineers we spoke to already do machine learning at the edge, and 20 per cent of data centre workloads are expected to come out of the data centre and onto the edge in the next four years," Kilford said.
So, while the cloud is great for storing all this data, the processing is better done on the client, particularly at present with analysts and data scientists working from home, but this trend is unlikely to reverse.
"I think we're the most exciting transition in the IT industry that I've seen for decades and people don't know yet," he said, during an interview for Computing's Deskflix Remote Working II event last week. "We're seeing certain workloads migrate out of the data centre onto the client."
These workloads include machine learning and other forms of compute-heavy advanced analytics, through which organisations are seeking to achieve advantages through better use of data.
"We're creating a ton more data, but we're analysing almost nothing," Kilford continued.
This means we will see more powerful laptops with integrated GPUs that can process ML-type workloads quickly and efficiently, and it will also mean that the software industry will move in that direction, perhaps starting with gaming, he proposed.
The move to more home working will be another driver, with user-operated controls of client-based collaboration and video conferencing software becoming more advanced, with UX becoming a competitive edge, Kilford added. Plus, there will be more utilities and security software specifically designed for the GPU. It is a tipping point, he claims, and one which will enable organisations to manage the often opposing forces of security, access and performance more effectively.
Stuart Dommett, enterprise client and technical solutions specialist at Intel Client Computing Sales Group, said organisations need to learn to balance these competing issues in the light of ‘grey areas' which have arisen as home life and work have merged.
This has meant rearchitecting services, so that physical callouts of IT support are minimised, which has brought home the importance of remote management software as well as the need to improve the sorts of services that have suddenly come to the fore, such as collaboration tools.
Dommett pointed out that IT admins in companies that deploy Intel's vPro platform technology, available in Intel-based business laptops and desktops today, can avail themselves of free remote management tools such as Intel Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel EMA), which makes use of the Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) built into all vPro chips. Intel EMA enables remote desktop management and has features that allow service management staff to remotely manage PCs all the way down to the BIOS level from the cloud.
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