A standard operating environment (SOE) is a standard implementation of an operating system and its associated software. Associated names and concepts include:
- Managed operating environment (MOE)
- Consistent or common operating environment (COE)
- Managed desktop environment (MDE)
- Desktop managed services (DMS)
- Standard desktop environment (SDE)
- Standard desktop configuration (SDC)
- Unmanaged operating environment (UOE)
- “Standard image”
Administrators typically implement SOE as a standard disk image for mass deployment to multiple computers in an organisation. SOEs can include the base operating system, a custom configuration, standard applications used within an organisation, software updates and service packs. An SOE can apply to servers, desktops, laptops, thin clients, and mobile devices.
The major advantage of an SOE in a business environment is the reduction in the cost and time taken to deploy, configure, maintain, support and manage computers. By standardising the hardware and software platforms used within an organization, an IT department or service provider can deploy new computers and correct problems with existing computers quickly.
A standardized, repeatable and automated solution creates a known, expected and supportable environment. A standardised solution ensures maintaining known outcomes, with automation fostering speed, repeatability and standardization.
The introduction of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and the significant increase in employee-supplied devices has led many organisations to reconsider the use of an SOE. A number have implemented an unmanaged operating environment where users manage and maintain their own devices, subject to policies enforcing minimum standards.