A standard operating environment (SOE) is the basic operating system and software application installation load that is generally deployed throughout an organization’s user base.
Components of an SOE typically include the OS, its standard configuration, associated service packs, common applications and their associated updates. Disk images are typically used to speed deployment of an SOE across networks to multiple clients.
The standardized base of an SOE can help maintain consistent reliability and performance throughout an organization. The SOE reduces variables that can create individual software issues that complicate diagnosis, troubleshooting and issue resolution. The standardization can also provide a compatible environment for extra software that may be required by specialized departments. The SOE’s base of approved, secure applications should also be resistant to exploits.
Sometimes SOE are simply a starting point, and freedoms granted to individual users diverge from the initial install. Organizations that have more stringent SOE constraints may also have exemption requests for use of applications outside the ones included in the environment. In either case, IT is encouraged to confer with staff about their needs and to find the most effective, yet still secure application that will fill the bill.
See an introduction to the Red Hat standard operating environment: