Remember when you used to buy the magazines, buy the components, then use the components and the instructions in the magazines to build your own personal computer? Then install your own operating system. Then learn a programming language. Then write your own applications to run on your own computer? Then fix your computer because it blew up? Then bandage your hand because you soldered a component to your finger? Those days are likely gone but, back in October Intel reported strong PC and notebook sales, HP isn’t dropping its PC line. Your children may not tolerate building their own devices, but the PC will be a business device for at least the next to five to ten years.
What this also means is that for software companies focused on delivering applications and data to users, their solutions cannot be solely focused on virtualisation and the cloud: cannot be focused purely on thin and mobile. At the same time, IT departments need to be more business aware, because the business is increasingly IT aware.
At the Synergy Barcelona 2011 event last week Citrix positioned themselves to deliver on just that. Some impressive cloud announcements gave a long term strategy view. There were a number of additional previews to highlight Citrix’s commitment to appeal to The Business, and not just be about IT departmental solutions. Citrix flaunted their ever growing portfolio of services to enable organisations to have a strategy for end devices that is about delivering access to data not just in a virtualised desktop, but in a manner appropriate to device and its location. Let’s take a ramble through some of them.
This week we saw the announcement of two very similar acquisitions. Quest Software announced on October 24 that they were acquiring ChangeBASE and on October 26 Citrix Systems announced they were acquiring AppDNA. Both solutions provide application compatibility testing for the Windows platform.
Implementations of Windows 7 on both physical and virtual platforms have been hindered primarily due to concerns about or known issues of application compatibility. For 10 years, Windows XP was the platform for thousands of applications. Transitioning to a new platform is nothing less than herculean when the application set is nearly as old as the platform it’s running on. Even early implementations of Windows Terminal Server (i.e., Citrix MetaFrame) had application compatibility challenges, requiring scripts to make applications behave correctly in the multi-user Windows environment.
The User Managed Application is the IT manager’s redheaded stepchild. It may be unloved and unwanted, but it’s there and it’s not going away.The lack of enthusiasm for user managed applications is readily understandable. They are a liability, a licensing compliance headache, a drain of resources, and a security risk.
You know you’re not going to have a good day when your father, rather than offering you the chance to rule the galaxy by his side, announces your demise. In 1981 Mark Dean was part of the IBM team that delivered the Personal Computer (PC): yet Mr Dean has looked at his stricken progeny, clinging afraid and alone above an abyss and said – “do you know what, I’d prefer a tablet”.
In the past 30 years the PC has been a device that has been adopted by both the consumer and corporate markets. Back in the day, applications were supplied from a centralised cloud service, billed on usage: users accessed that service via a thin client. “Personalisation”, indeed “getting processing time” was complex. A young upstart company called Apple introduced the Apple II. It may have started as a consumer device, but the PC was rapidly adopted as a corporate IT tool to drive agility and productivity. In this galaxy, not so long ago, IT literate users railed against expensive and rigid mainframes and demanded… a PC. They got it. Arguably, corporate IT departments have spent thirty years trying to rest back some semblance of control and help the businesses accommodate the high costs of unmanaged and chaotic environments.
AppSense, a leading provider of user virtualization technology, and Centrix Software, provider of unified end-user computing solutions, have announced a strategic partnership to provide organizations with a comprehensive, user-centric transformation program. Do you need a user-centric transformation program? How could this alliance help your business manage IT beyond the ‘single-PC-for-every-user’ era? If they can help you, are they your only hope? Will it justify your CFO’s iPad?
Citrix recently announced the acquisition of RingCube, adding the vDesk solution to their virtual desktop delivery tool kit. This is a solution I have followed for some time now, and I am looking forward to seeing how Citrix integrates vDesk into the XenDesktop stack.
RingCube vDesk delivers a complete desktop environment without having to virtualize the underlying operating system. It does this by leveraging the host’s operating system files, and layering on a policy-based workspace environment that can have different applications, domain affiliation, and security and network settings than those of the host machine. When looking at how vDesk might be used, I quickly have two thoughts.
VMware’s next version of View will, should, possibly, hopefully include the Windows profile optimisation solution that VMware bought from RTO Software. The intention was to ensure VMware would, at last, have an in-house solution to make accessing non-persistent desktops less cumbersome, getting View on par with other VDI vendors who have offered some form of integrated profile management solution for some time. But since VMware’s purchase – Citrix has acquired RingCube.
Delivering a virtual desktop OS to users is a mere bagatelle. Providing a locked-down, standardized workspace to task-based users can be straight forward, but not every company just has users focused on a single set of tasks. If a desktop virtualisation project is to be successful, delivering services to autonomous users is key: those users are more likely to be the organisation’s greater revenue generators, they are more likely to be more demanding in terms of resources, they are more likely to want to access their applications and data from a range devices. They are also more likely to kick up a fuss when a solution doesn’t work. That said, regardless of the type of user it is more likely they don’t care what OS is, rather can they use the applications they need and can they get access to their data.
As we’ve mentioned before if Presentation Virtualization/Terminal services are excluded, VDI hailed as the next generation of desktop solutions from the likes of Citrix, Quest and VMware, still hold less then 3% of the desktop market. Many CIOs have been holding back from taking the plunge from moving to a virtualised desktop model. A profile management service in View would have brought parity with other VDI solutions – but would it bring a spring in sales? Will VMware’s investment in RTO justify the money, or does the solution that they have now deliver too little, too late? Is a profile optimisation solution alone good enough?
This also leads to the question – does VDI need User Virtualization, or does User Virtualization need VDI?