I had a chance to speak with Chris Fleck, Citrix’s VP of mobility solutions and associated alliances, for episode 14 of our Virtualization EUC Podcast a while back. Our conversation focused on mobility, naturally. Talk revolved around some of Citrix’s newer acquisitions, such as Zenprise, which is an MDM solution for managing apps and data, not just devices.
With the number of mobile devices in use now surpassing that of desktops worldwide, the application virtualization requirements of business mobile users continues to grow exponentially. Whether these users access their business apps from a smartphone, tablet, or—the latest buzzword—“phablet,” their common denominator is their demand for more and better business applications on the go.
Although the Citrix Synergy 2014 agenda focuses on mobility, the newest and largest sponsors instead seem to be entrenched in storage and add-ons to the traditional XenApp/XenDesktop offerings. While mobility does have a growing place in business solutions, is the market headed in one direction while Citrix attemps to lead us down another path?
Businesses today waltz with the end of the PC. AppSense’s Jon Rolls wrote an interesting blog post on how the Windows desktop has not ceased to be in the post-PC era. For many businesses the corporate PC and the corporate laptop are increasingly supplemented by a personal tablet, personal laptop, personal smartphone. Perhaps if corporate IT moved faster (or depending on your viewpoint, businesses were willing to invest more in IT), then the rising reality of users believing they must bring in personal devices to be productive would halt, possibly even recede.
Yet, even if the organisation can wrest control back from tablet-wielding users by providing appropriate devices, given consumer device trends today those devices will very likely be touch capable, and this trend will increase. I attended an Intel event recently where the speaker reported that at a recent innovation environment held at a school, 99% of the submissions from the innovative teenagers expected any IT interaction to be touch/gesture control rather than a keyboard; not voice either—you can tell Star Trek hasn’t been on TV for a while. Kids today, eh?
Virtualised desktops have one fundamental advantage over physical desktops: they can be transferred between devices. Every other value point for VDI (availability, manageability, security) has a counter point with a physical desktop. For many, transference is a significant productivity benefit, especially if that transference is to a personal device.
If the interaction interface changes so dramatically, if your tablet virtual desktop experience is poor because that interface isn’t designed or can’t accommodate touch, will that hamper VDI dominance?
Could it lead to an early demise?