Two Worlds!

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Enterprise IT and its users live in two different worlds.

Users live in a world with many devices – iPad, Android phones, iPhones, PCs, and Macs. Some even use Blackberries.

Meanwhile, enterprise IT runs a desktop environment that is 95+% Windows. My guess-estimate is that close to 50% still run Windows XP and IE6, and the only reason they will upgrade to Windows 7 is that Microsoft shuts off all support for XP in 2014.

One big question that CIOs have is how they make the transition from the current enterprise desktop world to the world in which their users live. They cannot abandon Windows desktops, and yet they have to support all these devices out there.

Re-writing apps is out of the question. Many of them are Line of Business custom Windows apps, and too much work needs to be done to re-write these apps to be device independent. Even with all the great cross-platform tools out there, such as Appcelerator, PhoneGap, etc., the amount of work to re-write 100s of applications in a large enterprise is enormous.

They cannot replace all the apps for obvious reasons.

If they had virtualized their apps using tools like XenApp (aka Presentation Server, MetaFrame), then they could deliver it to any device. However, most organizations have virtualized  a small chunk of their applications in the previous decade. They  focused on apps like SAP that were used by a lot of users and it was far easier to centrally manage and deploy them. So the vast majority of the apps remain un-virtualized.

Newer app virtualization technologies, like App-V, are far too Windows-centric to solve the current problems that CIOs are trying to solve.

It is in this context that desktop virtualization, VDI or TS desktops, solved a critical problem. All the desktop administrator had to do was put all their apps into a Windows desktop (virtualized or not),  and then deliver it to their users on whichever device they used. Problem solved. Over time you optimize it by virtualizing more apps.

Three years ago, in 2009, this wasn’t easy or cheap. A typical desktop virtualization deployment needed desktop, server, and network skills. The overall cost of the solution was more expensive than the cost of a standard desktop. It was a whole new management paradigm that had to be learned by a desktop team that had spent the last decade using ESD tools. And yet, it was the best way to deliver desktops to remote users and to all devices.

But today, desktop virtualization costs about the same or less than regular desktops. It is still a new management paradigm and needs collaboration between different groups inside enterprise IT. Luckily, a lot of consultants and system integrators are now trained and ready to assist the next generation of enterprise IT virtualize their desktops.

Paraphrasing Winston Churchill: “Desktop virtualization  is the worst form of desktop delivery, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Today there is no better alternative than desktop virtualization to delivering enterprise apps/desktops to all users on many devices.

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