In the year ahead, IT desktop managers will feel the "Eye of Sauron" sweep over them.
A battle for control of the end-user workspace will sharply escalate in
2011. Big players from Microsoft to VMware, along with a pack of cloud
applications, drove advances in desktop productivity throughout 2010. In the
year ahead, IT desktop managers will feel the "Eye of Sauron" sweep
over them. Whether that gaze is felt as a threat or an opportunity will depend
on whether your organization clings solely to a traditional physical desktop
deployment model or lays the groundwork today for the introduction of virtual
and Web-based desktop productivity.
For starters, VMware pushed ahead with a full-court press on virtual desktop
products for developers, end users and applications throughout 2010 with
stepped-up capabilities in Workstation, View and ThinApp. The challenge in 2011
will be to see if and how VMware can drive down hardware, implementation and
license costs. This is going to be a challenge for a number of virtual desktop
vendors. IT managers need to see these costs go below the traditional
physical-only deployment model so that hard-to-measure benefits including
centralized patching and maintenance can shine through.
Adding fuel to the desktop debate is Windows 7. Desktop managers will be
buffeted by the drive to upgrade end users from Microsoft Windows XP to Windows
7. VMware is already pushing its View offering as one way to make the desktop
OS transition. Microsoft ships Windows XP mode in Windows 7 to enable
application compatibility and wear down migration resistance. Microsoft's
decision to enable Windows XP downgrades from Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise
and for organizations that have a Software Assurance contract is an important countervailing
force against my predictions.
For those organizations planning to transition to Windows 7, a move to a
virtual desktop environment in which to host the new operating system is a valid
option. Because of the wide-scale impact of server virtualization and cloud
computing, desktop managers must use 2011 to prepare a strategic go-forward
plan for both the operating system and the operating platform.
Watch for Citrix to push the envelope of desktop virtualization from the
desktop to mobile devices in 2011. The past year saw developments across
XenDesktop, XenApp, XenClient and Citrix Receiver. In the year ahead, I'll be
watching to see how well protocols such as HDX from Citrix help move high-performance
workloads from dedicated physical systems to the virtual desktop
infrastructure. In 2010, Citrix used HDX (VMware used PCoIP and Microsoft used
RemoteFX) to batter audio and video performance roadblocks. In particular,
Citrix used its prodigious application delivery experience to show that
compute-intensive applications can be used in a virtual desktop. In 2011, high-performance
workloads will be an interesting area to watch for virtual desktop advances.
Thin clients and the reuse of existing hardware will morph from "ho-hum"
to "let's see" in 2011. The convergence of Windows 7, desktop
virtualization and the increasing use of cloud applications such as Salesforce
will put these hardware considerations at the top of my watch list in the
The changes I've predicted for 2011 mean no
business-as-usual for corporate desktop managers. The platform and
implementation choices I predict mean that day job functions in the desktop
ecosystem are going to change. There will likely be less need for desk-side
assistance and more need for technicians who are comfortable with data center
operations. It's time to brush up on data center networks, storage and compute
to ensure you have a space in managing the desktop workloads of the near