There are three fundamental difficulties facing any hosted desktop solution. They are :
1. What to do with the desktops that can’t be virtualised?
2. What to do with the desktops that can’t be virtualised?
and, most importantly,
3. What to do with the desktops that can’t be virtualised?
Of all the vendors in the hosted desktop space, Citrix has been delivering desktop virtualisation solutions the longest. As such, perhaps they are the most aware that an enterprise desktop strategy isn’t about delivering a single solution. A solution needs to be flexible enough to present a variety of services to a range of devices. This isn’t just about having different client support, but about delivering applications and data either to different environments: secure and insecure, managed and unmanaged, fat and thin.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Citrix’s product portfolio is its FlexCast model. Other hosted desktop vendors have a similar option. Some do not.
What is FlexCast? Why is it important to customers? Can a hosted desktop vendor survive without having something similar?
I had an interesting discussion with a customer around prioritisation of their services prior to Windows 2003 and Windows XP going end of life in 2014. As we saunter nonchalantly to the start of 2012, what must the focus be next year? You may well be having the same conversations. Let’s be honest, corporate change isn’t as dynamic as we’d like. This has it’s own positives, it’s own negatives.
Back to my customer. There is a business-influential Citrix XenApp estate hosted on Windows 2003. It has a reliable history: and if it ain’t broke…The client has a sizable user-base in central London, this estate is scheduled to be expanded to accommodate more remote working due to the Olympics: which will cause the greatest mass of people in one place that you can get in peace-time.
Granted, there was an understanding that the XenApp environment had a limited shelf-life. Granted, there was an understanding that because this was an external facing service, End of Life (EOL) and the subsequent lack of ability to at least security patch the service could not be tolerated.
So, we have an interesting question. Windows 2003, Windows XP EOL is 2014. For all Citrix XenApp versions other than the most recent 6.5 release, EOL .. End. Of. Life.
With a little over 28 months left until Microsoft ends all support for Windows XP and with Internet Explorer 6, the time to consider their replacements is long overdue. While Microsoft and others have acted to deliver tools to assist with Windows 7 migration activities little effort has been made to address the challenge of IE 6. One of the others, Quest, has released an IE 6 rescue package. However, if anything, Microsoft’s only visible response has been to act stymie the actions of those withing to offer a solution.
When VMware announced its new management strategy (monitor – fix automatically – notify the humans), at VMworld Las Vegas, that strategy was incomplete. It was incomplete because the thing that needs monitoring to ensure service quality is the applications that deliver those services. At VMworld Europe, VMware completed the strategy by announcing vFabric Application Performance Manager (APM), and clearly tying issues with applications to automated remediation in the infrastructure.
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.