The definition of a “desktop” has changed, with a plethora of new devices, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies, desktop and application virtualization architectures, Windows upgrades, and consumerization of IT all driving a major transformation. Desktop and application virtualization solutions and best practices have matured and are now gaining traction, with many projects succeeding where past efforts had failed. However, IT continues to struggle with time-consuming, costly support and upgrade issues, and now faces BYOD challenges, while users clamor for increased mobility, new device support, and an increasing range of requirements. Knowing your user base and their range of requirements is the first step towards successful transformation.
In order to meet the wide range of user requirements, most organizations will require a combination of technologies and vendors. Successful transformation will involve more than VDI, with combinations of VDI and hosted/published desktops and applications, and layering of application virtualization, and personalization as part of the mix. In addition, most organizations will likely be a hybrid environment in terms of vendors, combining solutions from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and others.
With many of the barriers of the past eliminated, re-evaluating desktop strategies today can bring huge benefits. If done well, centralizing and modernizing desktops and applications can dramatically reduce desktop management and support costs AND improve user satisfaction. The caveat is that if done badly, it can drive up the cost per desktop AND make for very unhappy users. However, by carefully planning, implementing and managing a well-thought-out desktop transformation strategy, you can provide costeffective, secure desktop and application access from any device, anywhere. Leveraging the best of today’s technologies, learning from mistakes of the past, and paying attention to the considerations and recommendations described in this white paper can help ensure your successful desktop transformation, and help you start right to end right.
Introduction: Defining the New “Desktop”
The definition of a “desktop” has changed over the last ten years from a Personal Computer sitting on a desk to a virtual computing “workspace” where tasks are accomplished, regardless of the device, operating system, location, or connection. This workspace still includes traditional desktop and laptop PCs but has now evolved to include myriad new devices from thin/zero clients to smartphones to the ever-growing world of tablet devices.
In addition, desktop and application virtualization technologies have matured, enabling the abstraction of virtual desktops and applications away from the underlying devices. This allows centrally managed virtual desktops and applications to run remotely on a variety of devices, delivering a broad set of options for integrating corporate and web-based applications across the growing range of devices. IT organizations are working to leverage virtualization to better integrate these new devices, support Bring your own Device (BYOD) initiatives, and implement/integrate Enterprise App Stores to allow users to connect from the device of their choice, and download approved, appropriate apps for their devices. All of these technologies are still evolving, with new approaches continually emerging, such as client and mobile hypervisors, applications running within the browser itself, data/file sharing and synchronization in the cloud, and more.
Overall, this transformation involves a shift from the traditional focus on desktops with applications, to focusing on applications that run on desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, kiosks, and whatever devices come next. The term “desktop” has become a metaphor for the collective devices, applications, technologies, services and content to which users subscribe both within the enterprise and in the cloud.
Desktop & Application Trends
There are a number of key trends relative to desktop and application delivery that are working together to shape this desktop transformation.
Consumerization of IT
The term “consumerization of IT” often is used to describe this new onslaught of consumer devices – iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and phones, etc. Although these devices are clearly a part of this consumerization, there is much more to it. All the cool new devices also tend to offer a wide range of user preferences, along with instant-on, immediate access to applications and data, with real-time information and fast response time. Users looking for a new application have only to go to the app store of choice, search, click and download that app, and they are off and running.
In fact, a recent survey showed that a majority of employees under 30 feel they have better technology at home than at work. The new generation of workers has never lived without computers, and many have never lived without a smartphone – they are “born digital” vs. the previous generation who were “taught digital.” This trend brings with it something much more important than new devices; that is, the expectation of immediacy – of finding and loading new applications, accessing real-time information, changing user settings and more. The risk here is that if corporate IT cannot deliver solutions that match their level of expectations, users will simply circumvent IT and go directly to the public cloud for their solutions.
Endpoint device choices
Over the past decade, the number and types of endpoint device choices has skyrocketed, and consequently, the number of user devices within corporations has as well. As users began connecting from various computers at home or on the road, corporate IT began experimenting with Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC) initiatives, allowing users to connect from their own PCs. This grew into Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC), and eventually with the plethora of new mobile devices to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The advent of the iPad and its popularity amongst corporate executives in particular, has increased the urgency for IT to support the emerging BYO trend.
In addition to mobile devices, thin client options have expanded from their early days to include many varieties of devices and embedded operating systems, as well as new zero client devices, with no operating system at all. Unified communications and VOIP have gained new traction, with possibilities of merging communications, and collaboration into desktop and application virtualization strategies.
Estimates today are that there are 1.4 billion user devices, with the average corporation having over 1 million unique user configurations. The average user has three to five devices. As a result, IT needs to shift from a device-centric (desktop) focus to a user-centric focus, supporting desktop and applications across whatever devices users may have.