Digitization of Desktop

Posted by Jobi George on Saturday, April 14, 2007

Virtualization driven desktop consolidations are very much in the news now. VMware with VDI got it started, but others are rallying and catching on to the bandwagon very quickly. Though late to the party,Citrix, Microsoft and others are not sitting idle and are quickly catching up. Recent news on the licensing changes from Microsoft to support Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD) looks like the tipping point for the adoption of desktop virtualization by the mainstream.

The technology solution to bring true Server Based Computing (SBC) finally seems to be mature enough. Things that were bad with old Server Based Computing models, such as bad response times, shaky audio, rigid architectures & application incompatibilities, are giving way to more nimble and performant solution offerings.

The newer version of MS RDP and Citrix ICA protocols has come a long way. It is now possible to do full-duplex audio, video streams, local port redirection, a local printer and drive support, multi-display, and much more.

And on the end-user side, the client devices have also been getting better with advances in new System-On-Chip (SOC) form factors like ChipPC. We are getting all flavors/forms of devices that scale and adjust to the experience the solutions expect.

In my opinion, this will start changing the landscape as newer and newer usages come under the grips of SBC. I think the move towards the virtualization of physical entities will change the desktop ecosystem forever. The implications are profound-stateless devices and digitized desktops. I know cellphone have been doing this for some time, but I am talking of PC-like devices.

I. Rise of Stateless Client Devices

This is continuation of some of the trends I highlighted in my blog earlier on changing role of PCs, and the client devices start continuing on their accelerated path towards becoming stateless devices. I am working on a follow on post on how the trend is fundamentally causing a divergence in the PC architecture both on the consumer and enterprise side.

II. Digitization of Desktop leading to new uses

The digitization of the desktop is the next excellent field of opportunities. It will take us to a world of new players and a new ecosystem. The analogy I give is that of the music industry and CDs' introduction. Digitized music meant the tape player and CD players became obsolete, and we had the rise of mp3 players. But not only could you listen to music, but now you could have playlists, audio streaming at track level, easy mixing, and yes, a new marketplace like Apple iTunes. Also, the old players and ecosystem control points got replaced by new ones like Apple, Microsoft, and Bittorent.

As value moves around New usages and new applications emerge, new usages and new applications emerge, which were not possible before. For example, take the case of IXIS corporation. They spoke in the last IDC conference on virtualization about their adoption of VDI. They are considering VDI as an approach for their heavy trading users who had six PC Servers under their desktop. The decision to go the VDI route was not driven just by the functionality of hosted desktops getting closer to an actual desktop but because of new usages. The traders in IXIS created sophisticated models, and the need for more horsepower was always there. In the new model, they don’t have six machines, but 100s of them and they can provision new ones instantly. Also, the flat file format of VMs (virtual machines) means a trader can go and pull out a model that he did 30 days ago in a blink of an eye - that my friends is real power and real new usages.

….does she care what server the desktop really ran on….or where the compute really happened?

Originally posted at Blogspot on 2007-04-14 11:37:00 +0000 UTC