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Law Firm Science Fiction: De Sktop, The One

Law Firm Science Fiction De Sktop The One

Note:  The following is a guest post by Jeffrey Brandt.

De Sktop Image stars in this science fiction thriller where he seeks to hunt down all variations of himself across the organizational universe. By killing off all of the other Images, his other selves, (becoming the last version) and absorbing their energies, he believes he will become an immortal godlike being called “The VDI.”

[Opening: a vortex appears and his body pixelates and disappears from the room only to reappear in a grassy field]  De Sktop has traveled between the multiverses and finds himself on yet another alternative world.

He searches for his alternate self here.  He sees his counterpart across the cable.  He is similar but irritatingly different.  This alternative version of himself is a farmer, working at the Citrix Farm. His silver gray turtle neck has a logo of a fruit with a bite out of it.  His buddies call out to him, “Hey Remmy.”  De Sktop gets closer and reads his name tag, “Remo Teaccess Image.”  After his friends leave, De Sktop tosses his USB at him and watches as he explodes.

De Sktop calls the portal and he’s off on yet another trip through the multiverse.  As he gets to this universe, the first thing he notices is that everything seems smaller.  Nothing looks or operates the way it does in De Sktop’s world.  He races down a street similar to one he lived on in his own world.  He spies a mailbox that reads “M. Obile Image,” he’s located this universe’s version of himself!

Peering through the window, De Sktop notices that this copy of him is smaller.  The version of him here is stunted.  As he turns, he sees that this Image is missing an arm.  Compared to De Sktop himself, his counterpart’s abilities seem limited.  After dispatching this version, De Sktop is off on his search for yet another version of himself.  [The end?]

IT has evolved in such a way that we have ended up with a plethora of images.  Work was initially restricted to the office, so there was a desktop image.

As people wanted to work from home, or a remote location, various technologies were developed to allow users to use a remote image, often with fewer functions.  As laptops became more popular, a new image was created to support its unique capabilities.  It was easier for IT to develop multiple images and users were happy enough to have these new capabilities that they were willing to put up with all the differences.

Enter the age of BYOD and we’ve added yet another image, a fractured one for smartphones and tablets that contains bits and pieces of the full offering as some of the legal vendors app-ize parts of their offerings.

But times have changed.  Technology is advancing at an even more rapid clip.  Users get frustrated more quickly with IT because the shiny new laptop they have at home runs OSX or Windows 10 – something other than what the firm offers. With nearly ubiquitous high speed Internet and WiFi access replacing slow speed modems, users aren’t satisfied with compromises anymore.  And given the level of technological advancement, IT doesn’t have the number of excuses they used to.

We need to keep in mind that the various images we subject our users to aren’t just an issue of annoyance and frustration – it is a hit in productivity and assures a poor user experience is had by all.

So does a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) resolve the issues?  The answer to that is still unclear.  On the one hand, proponents tout the access, mobility, efficiency and support possible with VDI.   They say you can “cloudify” some legal apps that aren’t very likely to move to the cloud in the near future.  The mobility angle is really about that consistent desktop image regardless of where you are or what you’re using.  The efficiencies and support come from using and supporting that one virtual image.

Opponents counter with the VDI experience, complexity and excessive cost.  The claim is that the virtual image, despite the advances in technology, is still not as good as a local desktop (it somewhat mirrors the HTML5 vs native app argument had on smartphones and tablets.  There is also the idea that the legal image is too complex, for many reasons you can’t virtualize it all and so the local desktop is still required.

Many vendors haven’t thought through their virtual licensing, sometimes making it quite expensive, but always making it confusing.  There is also the issue of what do I do when the ubiquitous Internet access isn’t quite so ubiquitous?  I guess this is best summed up in the 2014 ILTA Technology Survey, “So much interest, so little adoption.”

So perhaps you’re not quite ready for VDI (or VDI isn’t quite ready for you).  But even without VDI, you can reduce the number of images you use, making each of the remaining ones more “powerful.” You’ll be amazed how providing users consistency in their interface goes a long, long way toward a happier overall experience.

With apologies to Jet Li, Glen Morgan, James Wong and fans of “The One” everywhere.

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Jeffrey Brandt is the Chief Information Officer at Jackson Kelly PLLC and the editor of the PinHawk Law Technology Daily Digest, a free industry newsletter that’s essential daily reading.

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Photo credit: Flickr, Marco Verch, Sony: Project Morpheus (CC BY 2.0)      

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