What Defines a True, Digital Workspace?

To empower more technology-reliant workforces, organizations must transition distributed desktop environments to cloud-hosted software aggregation services. These “digital workspaces” enable standardized business work environments that are fully customizable, easy to maintain and secure, and are accessible from any device at any location at any time.  

How do digital workspaces differ from other workspaces? In the simplest terms, a workspace is the computing environment in which users function and access the business software necessary to complete their job tasks. A digital workspace is a unique designation for a specific workspace technology implementation.  

Since the early days of personal computing, a user workspace was simply a desktop PC—typically, a Windows or Mac desktop environment). However, a true workspace is a subset of such an environment. To understand this relationship, it is helpful to think of a traditional PC as containing three components:  

  • Operating System: The primary software interface between applications and a computing device’s physical hardware  
  • Graphical user interface (GUI): An application that provides a graphical environment for users to access and manipulate applications and other computing services  
  • Workspace: A customized GUI configuration with a unique set of applications, system settings, access rights, and preferences designed to support specific end-user requirements 

On a traditional Windows or Mac PC, all three elements are integrated together, but there is no practical reason they must be. In fact, there is a distinct advantage to considering each separately. For example, an operating system can host multiple GUIs. A GUI can also host multiple workspaces. This flexibility is the key to addressing the emerging challenges of enabling workforce mobility, diverse device use, and accessibility to a distributed software ecosystem.  

Digital workspace origins  

The concept of an independent workspace is actually not new. For example, terminal services or remote desktop services have provided abstracted workspace environments since the dawn of mainframe computing in the 1960s. Modern workspace solutions, however, require a much more elegant approach to delivering distributed applications to broadly diverse, remote endpoints. There are a number of approaches available:  

  • Local desktop: A workspace environment usually integrated with an operating system (such as Windows or macOS) and completely self-contained on each remote device 
  • Virtual desktop: A desktop environment that functions independently of the physical device used to access it  
  • Workspace container: A “dual-personas” environment that allows users to switch rapidly from a personal workspace to a business workspace on the same device without violating enterprise security requirements  
  • HTML desktop: An HTML environment presenting business applications, data, and services commonly hosted on a public, private, or hybrid cloud and accessed via a Web browser from any device  
  • Digital workspace: A cloud-hosted platform that aggregates the distribution, access rights, and configuration of applications, data, and other services. Individual software components may be locally installed apps, Web apps, virtual apps, data shares, or any other public or privately available digital resource. User privileges and software settings are defined in a consolidated set of profiles.  

Digital workspaces offer the most promising solution  

Of these workspace solutions, digital workspaces offer the most promising solution to today’s most pressing personal computing challenges. true digital workspaces, when deployed correctly, can be easier to secure, manage, and update as needed than any popular alternative.  

It is important to recognize that “digital workspace” is a unique designation for a specific workspace technology implementation. Unfortunately, many providers of older workspace solutions have attempted to hijack the term to describe legacy platforms so they can take advantage of the increased media hype on the topic. However, desktop virtualization, workspace containers, and HTML desktops are already well-defined technologies. Referring to these as “digital workspaces” only serves to confuse users and IT decision makers. Organizations seeking to implement digital workspaces should be careful not to confuse a true digital workspace with other workspace technologies. 

Ivanti: here to help 

Respected industry analysts Enterprise Management Associates® (EMA™) recently conducted primary research on the current requirements, challenges, and experiences in end-user computing. Ivanti believes this research can help organizations like yours create clear, effective strategies for adopting digital workspaces, To that end, we are pleased to offer you a complimentary copy of the EMA report. To view the research, please click the link below. 

Once you’ve read and digested the EMA report, Ivanti is ready to help you to execute your digital workspace strategy effectively. Our solutions can help you to deliver applications to users more efficientlyreduce user logon timesmanage admin rightsconsolidate virtual desktop images, and prepare for and succeed with digital workspaces. Contact Ivanti today, and let us help to accelerate your digital workspace journey.