Virtualized Mobility

Mobile World Congress is in full swing in Barcelona, Spain, this week. This year, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and numerous other devices were added to the myriad options that users can purchase. While there have been many announcements about new mobile devices, manufacturers are making it clear that this year won’t be as robust as last in terms of sales of new smartphone and tablet devices. Nevertheless, last year was the turning point when the number of mobile devices worldwide exceeded desktop devices, so as expected, mobility continues to reign as monarch.

Depending on how the statistics are sliced and diced, Apple or Android take the top spot, with the other the close second. However, from the standpoint of virtualization and corporate use, the user’s preference for a specific device type, form factor, operating system, and feature set are irrelevant.

Mobility BYOD is the norm in most organizations. The integration of mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) technologies extend the power of that smartphone or tablet from a corporate standpoint by enabling that little device of your choosing to allow you to work all the time.

Mobile device management has become a commodity at this point. Cisco offers Meraki, VMware offers AirWatch, and Citrix offers XenMobile. They all provide the same basic services: lockdown of the user device, policy-based control of security and other aspects of the device, access control, and more.

However, the distinction for VMware/AirWatch and Citrix/XenMobile now and in the future will be mobile application management, as well as integration with virtualized applications, in order to provide a great user experience. There have been significant technical strides in this area, and we can certainly expect more in the future. For example, during VMware’s Horizon 7 launch earlier this month, mobility integration with AirWatch was specifically shown. We can expect to see one-upmanship between VMware/AirWatch and Citrix/XenMobile going forward.

Users Don’t Know and Don’t Care about the Back End to Their Applications

Let’s step back to the applications on those mobile devices. Users don’t understand the technology that comprises their applications. They don’t know and don’t care about the back end of their applications. They just want to be able to click on an application and have it “automagically” work. That’s it.

Users often aren’t technically savvy, and they have little appreciation for the servers, networking, security, storage, and other components that factor into the user experience. Users who are purchasing the newer mobile devices expect virtualization vendors to fully support any device, no matter whether it’s a tiny mobile form factor or a huge screen.

And from a business standpoint, the easier it is for the user to access their corporate applications, the more hours that employee will likely work. We’re all guilty of having been out to dinner with a significant other and remembering that customer order that needed to be updated. Be honest: you didn’t dash off to the restroom for the standard reasons. You needed quick, easy, and secure access to a business app.

User Experience

Like physical mobility device users, mobile virtualization users are playing catch-up with the technology that’s available. The market is taking some time to consume what’s currently available, and as such, huge technology spurts and purchases may not continue at the same pace as last year. For example, if you’re a Samsung Galaxy 6 user, you may or may not feel that your existing device is good enough for now, and that determines your need to upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy 7. The same is true with the marriage of mobility and virtualization. It’s already quite seamless to access business apps from a mobile device, especially with VMware/AirWatch and Citrix/XenMobile. MAM apps, virtualized applications, and virtual desktops are all presented side by side, with the user not knowing or caring about the back end. So, yes, users can access corporate resources, but what about the user experience?

The technologies that will drive virtualization and mobility in 2016 and beyond will be based on the user experience. If the user experience from a mobile device is so poor that it takes the user several minutes to access that CRM application to make what should be a quick adjustment to a customer record, it might otherwise wait or be forgotten. Citrix introduced Framehawk last year to address the deficiencies of wireless networks, and it’s on the right track: make the user experience better, and they will come.

Hey, one last tidbit from Barcelona this week: While the new internet-connected trashcan may seem like a really cool idea, how many of you realistically have thoughts of purchasing one?

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