Next year will be the year of the virtual desktop, according to Raj Dhingra, vice-president and general manager of desktop delivery at Citrix Systems Inc.
Speaking at a press event in Budapest, Dhingra outlined trends he expects to take place between 2009 and 2012.
· Desktops will no longer be a device, but a service
· Corporate PCs will become consumer devices
· Image and deploy will become a self-service experience
· A move from fixed access to dynamic access
· A shift from allocated costs to usage-based costs
The biggest change over the next five to 10 years will be the consumerization of IT, according to Dhingra, who believes “the tug of war between IT and users can be broken by virtual desktops.”
With virtualized desktops, both sides benefit. IT gains more control, maximizes security and lowers costs, while users receive flexibility, choice and self-service, he said.
IT controls all desktops centrally for maximum security, only needs to install, update and patch once centrally for all desktops, and can perform changes or additions within minutes, he said.
Going virtual from the user perspective means the ability to access desktops from whatever device is most convenient, as well as access multiple desktops (such as one for corporate and another for personal use) from the same device, he explained.
It also means the ability to change an OS “in minutes with no changes to apps or data.”
He also anticipates a general increase in people either working from home or telecommuting and for one device to double for both corporate and personal use.
Device, time and location “will no longer matter” as users will be able to access corporate data from anywhere, he said.
The power of desktop virtualization, according to Dhingra, is the ability for users to access their desktops, applications and data from any device that’s available to them. In other words, moving “from device to on-demand service.”
Dhingra expects users are already accustomed to self-service in the consumer world and “will be happy to adapt” this to the corporate environment. While the notion of self-service is new to corporate IT, the idea isn’t news to end users, he pointed out.
“Consumers at home don’t have IT departments,” said Dhingra.
Citrix launched an internal Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) program for U.S. employees in Q3 of last year. The plan is that 20 per cent of Citrix employees will be able to participate in BYOC by the end of 2009, he said.
Virtual desktops are “self-service from millions of PCs, Macs, laptops, netbooks and smartphones” with Dazzle and Receiver, Dhingra pointed out.
Arriving mid-December, Dazzle will provide end users with self-service access to apps 24/7 through an interface that resembles Apple Inc.’s iTunes Store. Dazzle is basically a way for IT to enable self-service of application delivery, he said.
“With Dazzle, the user never calls IT to install the application. They connect to the portal that the company provides and they self-service the deployment,” said Dhingra.
This not only empowers the user, but helps cut application and administration costs for IT. “They can now effectively reduce their desktop administration costs because now they don’t need to go and worry about doing application installs,” said Dhingra.
Receiver, a free software download that allows end users to connect to their virtual desktops and applications from PCs, Macs and smartphones, is already available for iPhone users. Support for Blackberry and Android users “is on the way,” he said.
Citrix’s milestones in 2009 include HDX technology for breaking the “high-def user experience barrier” and FlexCast, a key feature in XenDesktop 4 that provides six different ways to deliver virtual desktops, three of which are non-server based.
XenDesktop 4, scheduled for general availability on Nov. 16, will be “the first ever complete desktop virtualization” product, according to Dhingra.
FlexCast takes virtual desktops “far beyond” virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and provides what is needed for widespread adoption across the enterprise. “VDI alone will never transform desktop computing,” he said.
Citrix hopes to fulfil another industry need with XenClient, a bare-metal client hypervisor currently under development with help from Intel.
The hypervisor is “going to be embedded into the laptop that uses the vPro chipset” and will provide another option for working offline, said Dhingra. Citrix is planning to have the product available in early 2010.
Another milestone leading up to 2010 is the fact that “over 10,000 products from 200 vendors are now verified to work with XenDesktop,” he pointed out.
Desktop virtualization is becoming mainstream due to Windows 7 deployments and VMware Inc.’s efforts to play catch up, which is “positive from the market perspective,” said Dhingra.