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The standardised PC served its purpose, but IT changes have rendered the approach obsolete

Paul Whimpenny is the Senior Officer for IT Architecture in the IT Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) | Jan. 27, 2015
How to change the desktop paradigm in a large organisation.

While the latter has been helpful in enabling access from a wider range of devices, it still ignores the elephant in the room the 10,000 traditional desktop PCs that are now considered second-class devices, running out-dated versions of software (and usually slowly), and limiting user productivity because they are locked down.

This is where we need the paradigm shift. Here's how we hope to make it happen:

-   We will set up the legal and administrative framework to encourage staff and consultants to use their preferred devices for work

-   We will set up a virtualized desktop infrastructure, but in the long-term this is intended only as a fallback option for those who are unwilling or unable to use their preferred devices.

-  We will change the way we write information systems(((What does that mean?))) to make them as platform independent as possible, with a particular emphasis on usability across different device types.

-  We will change the focus of information security; instead of attempting to equally protect every device in every location, the focus will be on protecting the core corporate applications

To move this forward, we have setup a pilot to rollout in the IT Division in the first quarter of 2015, purchasing hardware and licenses to expand an existing virtualized application infrastructure. The intention is then, in the second quarter, to seek funding for startup costs and flagging expected areas of savings. By 2016, we aim to be well under way in implementing this change.

As the first major United Nations agency launching such an initiative we will look to share our findings with our sister agencies in the United Nations system who may then be interested in observing our progress or launching similar initiatives of their own.


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