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Modern Day End-User Computing Trends

Digital transformation. Collaboration in the enterprise. Millennials and mobility. Consumerization.   

How many buzzwords can I fit in an opening statement? As cliché as they may be, the truth is, conversations around these words are happening everyday throughout AHEAD’s client base and otherwise.The end-user computing landscape is changing dramatically and is estimated to change even more significantly in the future. The core framework that desktop computing was based on is seeing a shift throughout every industry and the traditional approaches seemingly no longer apply. Tools like Microsoft System Center, IBM BigFix, and Altiris are in direct competition with solutions like VMware AirWatch, JAMF Casper Suite, and MobileIron. The idea of a standard, four-year refresh cycle for the enterprise PC fleet has been disrupted by consumerization and “Bring Your Own Device” campaigns. 

Over the past few years, enterprises have been aggressively shifting away from traditional, client-server Windows applications by adopting Software as a Service solutions and other web-based options. For IT, the business has been executing on a strategy to ween themselves off a Windows-centric desktop computing model – and we didn’t even see it coming!

How does IT respond to the demand for device diversity, the need for security compliance, and the hope for a more simplistic environment? 

Here are some of the emerging trends that AHEAD believes will drive the enterprise over the next year and beyond. 

Managing Windows 10 (and OS X) Differently

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Windows remains the mainstay in the desktop services space although OSX is gaining traction in traditional enterprises. But even Windows is changing and will eventually be managed as a mobile operating system. And this changes everything. 

Leaving the drama aside, this shift for Windows definitely does change things. Windows 10 can be categorized with iOS and Android, as it now allows mobile device management (MDM) solutions to apply policies, implement security controls, manage application lifecycle, and allow for remote data wipe. Most importantly, there can be a separation of personal and company data introducing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) again.  

There are dozens of decisions to rationalize, internal processes to rewrite, and common fears to overcome before considering the path toward MDM for Windows 10. 

Desktop as a Service Use Cases Being Realized

When evaluating a virtual desktop strategy, DaaS should be a strong consideration for any organization. Historically, DaaS solutions, such as Amazon WorkSpaces, have been pigeon-holed into only being viable for disaster recovery or business continuity purposes and the argument against DaaS has been represented by operational hurdles such as desktop image management and application delivery. More recently though, these obstacles have been overcome with the addition of functionality and features to the platform, making DaaS a strong contender for a virtual desktop strategy. In addition, the DaaS environment can behave as an extension to your data center, including services such as Active Directory, Microsoft System Center, and an application manager. 

When it comes to an enterprises’ history with VDI, they typically fall into one of three camps:  

  1. Limited experience or proof-of-concept only
  2. The “tried it, performance stunk, and now everyone hates <insert vendor name here>” feeling
  3. Are currently using it, and while everything is going okay, they spend a lot of time on care and feeding

Regardless of which camp you are in, some action is likely required. While VDI or DaaS isn’t suitable for every enterprise, it is important to have at least kicked the tires on the options to be in a position to respond when the CIO knocks on your door. AHEAD has been watching the DaaS market and is intrigued by the introduction of new services, configuration options, and flexibility it can offer. Again, there are too many decision points to name or count, but AHEAD has deep experience in both DaaS and internally-hosted VDI options. We can help rationalize the best strategy for your organization.

Application Layering Technology

For the organizations that are managing a huge application portfolio or spend a significant amount of time deploying application updates with varied success, there is hope! Application layering is a fascinating approach to virtual application delivery and the big names in virtualization are catching on. Solutions like VMware AppVolumes, Unidesk, Liquidware Labs FlexApp, and unreleased Citrix AppDisks are all technologies providing solutions in the layering space. 

app_layering_DW.pngApplication layering allows IT to create a single “application layer” for one or many applications that can then be assigned to a user or virtual machine in real time. While this statement doesn’t sound earth shattering, it is a huge step forward from app isolation solutions or streamed applications that bring with them significant drawbacks. Applications that are presented by an application layering solution behave and appear as if they are installed directly into the operating system. AHEAD views this shift in application delivery to re-introduce the topic within organizations where there is a diverse and complex set of legacy applications that are difficult to manage.

The Mobility team at AHEAD loves talking about these trends, as well as other technology shifts in the industry, and keeps a constant watch on their fit in the marketplace. To showcase those discussions, we will be publishing a series of blog posts in the coming months shining light on ways to architect a VDI environment, deeper dive into MDM/EMM, and how to approach data and collaboration in the enterprise. 

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