Welcome to the new IT: Every end point is 'enterprise class'

The bottom line: Enterprise class is in the eye of the beholder and no one size fits all.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

There are $199 Windows laptops, Google's Chromebooks and tablets from the likes of Amazon, Apple, HP, Dell, Samsung and even RCA (yes RCA). As this wave of cheap computing is unleashed, there has been a great deal of discussion about whether any of these devices are "enterprise class."

The debate is somewhat amusing since enterprise class isn't an official certification and can be easily dispatched to the buzzword bin. The concept — and marketing speak — behind enterprise class is alive and well. For the record, enterprise class generally refers to a package hardware and software that is reliable, strong and scales across a large company.

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Enterprise class as a term matters in the datacenter — for now you can't go without routers, servers and storage gear that doesn't have the horsepower. As for the endpoints, enterprise class is becoming a bit of a joke. Enterprise class for PCs, smartphones and tablets is basically anything that that suits your needs.

For instance, I'm testing out the Fire HDX 8.9 and the Nexus 9. Both are fine tablets. Both could be used for work. Both have keyboards. The gating factor is the apps. Do you need Google Play's broader spectrum of apps? And given that enterprise apps are also iOS first in most cases it's possible that an iPad is a better choice. Maybe Citrix software makes all of them work for you.

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PCs get even trickier when it comes down to defining enterprise class. Yes, Intel has extra security features for corporate PCs, but in many respects corporate machines aren't much different than their consumer predecessors. If your company runs on Google Apps, a Chromebook may be fine. Citrix or VMware can bridge the rest. And guess what? A cheap Windows machine is fine too. The cost differential often comes down to memory and components. As most enterprises go browser-based the extra horsepower may not be needed.

The bottom line: Enterprise class is in the eye of the beholder and no one size fits all. I'd lobby that we ditch the whole enterprise class jargon. Enterprise class really means any device that happens to work for you.

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