User expectations of their business computing environments are changing, being driven by their experiences as consumers. New state of the art devices and user interfaces, Cloud computing and the associated SaaS-based applications, ubiquitous connectivity. These trends are converging and when combined are profoundly influencing the direction of End-user client computing.
What are some of the benefits of this consumer cloud experience? A better user experience – Simplicity!, Instant gratification, multiple devices. Always available, my apps and data are backed up, replicated or synched, ubiquitous access!. Its personalized – small, engaging applications (at least the client part is small)! Pay as you go, excitement and anticipation. In the technology sense, what does this mean? Self-service, easy, encapsulation and isolation between applications. Data protection. Sound familiar? It should as these are VMware’s core competencies.
The challenge for enterprise IT will be to meet these expectations in the corporate environment while maintaining corporate policy, delivering on SLAs and flexible delivery at low cost. And to do so at the appropriate user and application granularity. Delivering this consumer cloud experience for the enterprise is our mission at VMware’s End User Computing Products Group and our vision for User-Centric IT.
The first step on this vision is to modernize the windows desktop – encapsulate and isolate the elements of a windows environment to make them more manageable and user centric. In my vision blog from September 2009, I spoke about the notion of composited desktops. To reiterate and provide context, both Server and Client VMs achieve much of their value through encapsulation and isolation from the physical hardware used to execute them. However, Client VMs also differ from their more static Server VM cousins in that they can be more complex to manage; running lots of different applications, many ad-hoc and stateful. I postulated that separating such a Client VM into a set of isolated virtual layers would ultimately be a better architecture for managing them. Well this abstract idea of how to modernize the Windows desktop is necessary to build a bridge to our cloud vision and is ready to be put into practice. Please watch here for exciting news from VMworld.
How will this concept evolve in the future? Well Windows isn’t everything. And in the future, I expect to see more and more diversity in devices, operating systems and applications in the future. Just look at the impact of the Ipad and smartphones, or MacOS, Android, Chrome, and other Linux Desktops. Not to mention SaaS applications delivered via from the cloud. It’s certainly not a Windows only world today and I expect these client and application innovations to continue. However, Windows also isn’t going away. The fact is we need to seamlessly unify and deliver these multiple experiences in the future. This diversity means we need seamless access to many more different platform types from our client devices and I predict we will expand the definition of virtual desktops towards the realm of what I will call Virtual Workspaces – a metaphor for the collective devices, services and content to which we subscribe and use. A virtual workspace exists in the cloud and must be accessible from any device with native device specific controls, displays and semantics that are appropriate for my device(s). And on my disposable client device of choice, I will be able to access any application in my virtual workspace, Windows apps, smartphone apps and SaaS apps. At anytime, from anywhere. And I won’t have to care how these applications are delivered to my end point, or what’s behind them, whether that’s client execution, server hosted VDI, application streaming, application publishing, a hybrid or something completely new. Whether they’re local, delivered from a private cloud, public cloud or some hybrid. And expect each of these components in my virtual workspace to be both isolated and independent, but also capable of safely communicating and sharing data as appropriate. And independently manageable as a service.
I hope this vision resonates with you and excites you, as we begin the journey to user centric IT backed by cloud-based applications and services. Please follow our VMware End User Computing CTO Office blog where we’ll be discussing more of our vision, as well as product updates in the months ahead.