It’s Time to Redefine End User Computing

I think we should get this out of the way: “You probably aren’t going to like this article or agree with my view on EUC.” Now, we can have a real talk. The bucket that is known as End User Computing is becoming a bit out of control. It sort of reminds me of when Chris Rock talks about how Robitussin can fix anything.

Today, we are going to look at what the real definition of End User Computing actually is. We will look at the ways different companies define EUC, aggregate the results, and try to think critically about its true definition. The pandemic hasn’t made things any better. I think a term that was defined all the way back in 1987 can be re-evaluated at this point.

The History of End User Computing

The oldest reference that I found about EUC was back in 1987. Richard Hackathorn defined EUC as “an information processing activity in which the person has direct personal control over all stage of the activity.” Analyzing that on its own is sort of humorous since that definition of EUC is non-existent today.

Howie Goodall would refine his thoughts on EUC a decade later calling them “systems where non-programmers can create applications.” That definition is closer to what people think of today although he was thinking of stuff like Microsoft Excel or other simpler applications. I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought it would involve stuff like VDI less than a decade later.

We can even breakdown the term “End User Computing” to simply mean end users leverage technology to complete a goal-oriented task. With simplicity, that is what EUC truly means. At this point, we have gone through an evolution where it’s become a catch-all for everything. My personal opinion is this hurts many of us as technologists. People are now starting to make assumptions that if you do one aspect of EUC you must do all of them. Even at VMware, you can see how people in Professional Services now must know their ENTIRE EUC stack. That damages the talent pool sort of how you dilute something with water.

Let’s shift our focus toward looking at how several companies around the world define EUC. Maybe we can collectively agree on a new definition of EUC that makes more sense. Simply, we have many technologies that don’t belong in EUC but we have lazily placed them there. It’s 2021 and it’s time to be a bit more progressive and logical in our thinking.

How Technology Companies Define End User Computing

Now that we took a look at a brief history/definition of EUC, let’s take a look at how different people/companies define EUC in a basic table.

Person/CompanyTheir Definition of EUCComments
Howie GoodallSystems where non-programmers can create applicationsI felt like this was the best interpretation of EUC.
VMwareEUC encompasses user access to enterprise applications and data anywhere, anytime, using one or more devices to access virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) located either at the enterprise’s premises or in the public cloudI sort of feel like this broad interpretation of EUC is a problem that hurts all of us.
NetAppEUC refers to computer systems and platforms that help non-programmers create applications. They also touch on related technologies like VDI that play a part in things.I think their definition is a bit more effective
TechTarget/Jack MaddenEUC encompasses desktop and mobility management, identity management, security, and productivity tools.This is the sort of broad definition that I think is well-intentioned but FAR too broad. It’s clearly influenced by what many technology companies see is EUC.
NutanixA set of technologies used to deliver, manage, and secure the desktops, applications, and data that everyday workers utilize.Similar to others, but still too broad.
DellEnd User Computing pertains to how users, with multiple devices, are able to access their applications & data from anywhere at any time.I really like where Dell is going with this. It’s probably one of the better views from vendors, but I still think VDI is misplaced.
Mobile JonTechnology that empowers users to complete tasks.My view, which I will touch on more below is that end user computing is more about the applications and technologies that deliver tasks and not the vehicles themselves.

Some Thoughts on Technology Companies Definition of EUC

We defined what some people think about EUC to vendors, to industry experts, and more. I know that my views are likely not what everyone thinks, but the overarching point is I think we’re at a point where we are over-reaching on what EUC is today.

Primarily, people have settled into an idea that EVERY technologies that a user touches is EUC, but that isn’t realistic anymore. EUC makes sense for a number of areas, but in my opinion EUC is closer to the way that AWS views Compute. I am now settling into the idea that EUC should house the application platform as a whole that empowers users to do amazing things. I would say these sorts of things could be viewed as part of the EUC stack:

  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
  • Back-end Applications
  • Containers
  • SaaS Services
  • Identity Services

I’m certain there are many other examples, but in our final section we will discuss what I think should modernize and shift to a new concept. Evolution is inevitable and is a necessary aspect of life. Without evolution, we would have never made it to the cloud or discovered new platforms like Office 365 or Google Apps.

The Evolution of the End User Experience

As we discussed, I believe that a new technological area called Modern Workplace Services is about to give birth. Modern Workplace Services is the culmination of unified endpoint management, applications, and security tools that impact the user experience e.g. Splunk, Office 365, Crowdstrike, etc. A new super power is emerging to unite and empower users.

power rangers 90s GIF

The Modern Workplace which covers our shift in evolving the user experience, which many companies like VMware are making substantial investments in is expansive. The technologies that power the overall user experience, such as just-in-time management, application delivery, and intelligence deserve their place. Therefore, some partners have identified this nicely.

What is the Modern Workplace? | A new culture and way of work - MODEX

VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft are doing a great job on identifying the need to evolve modern workplaces. They have done well by investing in AI-powered workloads and partnering with leaders in the space to deliver pliable experiences.

Some Examples of Vendors Delivering and Improving Modern Workplaces

Below, you can see how VMware is addressing the employee experience in their dedication to a modern workplace:

From Ignite, Microsoft also covered how they broach the idea of the Modern Workplace:

Final Thoughts

As you have seen, this article today has been about building a conversation about what EUC really is. Above all, we need to empower our technologists like we do our end users. For instance, let’s give the people building special experiences in UEM and user-facing application their due. This pandemic would have crippled every company without our modern workplace technologists. In addition, adding emphasis to the Modern Workplace builds credibility and focus toward onboarding, analyzing the user experience, and evolving our IT strategy. In conclusion, I welcome you to challenge my ideas because its time to evolve.

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