srinivaskrishna
Contributor
Contributor

Client Computing 2.0

Welcome to the CTO Community! Many of us who work in our CTO’s office will be sharing more information about our respective focus areas to keep you abreast on the latest thinking within VMW. I look forward to having an active and on-going dialogue with you all.

Before I jump into my first note on how client computing is evolving in the enterprise market, I wanted to jot down a few things to introduce myself. I’ve been with VMW for almost seven years and been fortunate enough to work on a wide variety of initiatives during my career here. I started off on our developer-focused initiatives and led our efforts for VMware Workstation, VMware Server, VMware Player, VMTN and Virtual Appliances. I then led a cross-company Linux Strategy team and was responsible for launching VMware Fusion 1.0, which is our first consumer product. Now as a member of the CTO’s office, I’m heading up a new initiative where we are addressing mobile phones and other emerging devices such as the iPads and other Android-based tablets and smartbooks. For a high-level overview of our three-prong approach, check out my previous post on this topic.

I’m starting to notice a small but significant change in terms of how my colleagues are using computing devices. In almost every meeting that I attend lately, at least 30-50% of the attendees are using an iPad to take notes while the rest are mostly using smart phones. Hmm, where have the laptops gone? I believe client computing (PCs, mobile phones) in enterprises is undergoing a significant change so in this first post, I wanted to examine this trend and its implications for enterprises.

Client Computing 1.0

Enterprises have traditionally favored homogeneity since it enabled them to easily manage a huge fleet of devices deployed to their users. This meant that enterprises typically standardized on as many aspects of their client strategy as possible including the hardware, OS, applications, application development frameworks, and management frameworks. The management paradigm was around managing the device and its contents. Unfortunately, the homogeneity that enterprises crave is slowly but surely disappearing.

Client Computing 2.0 - CIO’s worst nightmare


Almost every single vector in client computing is changing:

  • Applications: Gone are the days of enterprises building Windows applications in VB or .Net. Many enterprises are starting to embrace web applications, either hosted internally or in a SaaS delivery model. This trend towards more web applications is expected to continue at the expense of local thick-client applications. However, for the foreseeable future, Windows applications will coexist with web applications in many enterprises.

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    On the mobile phone front as well, application use is changing dramatically. In the past corporate mobile phones (RIM being the predominant vendor) were synonymous with accessing email and calendar anytime anywhere. While this paradigm led to productivity increases, enterprises are realizing that more applications could and must be mobilized to give employees the freedom to use mobile phones for more than emails/calendars - employees are even more connected and do even more work when they are not supposed to. 🙂 Case in point: Our own vCMA is another popular mobile application that allows administrators to manage their cloud infrastructure from a mobile phone.

  • Devices: Consumerization of IT is here and it is here to stay! Employees are buying cool and capable PCs, phones and other emerging devices for personal use and actually preferring to use them instead of the corporate-issued device. Consequently, Macs, iPhones, Android phones and iPads are now entering the enterprise. Many of the CIOs and IT folks we are talking to are realizing that this is not necessarily a bad thing since it reduces their capex as along as they don’t compromise security of the corporate content. It is important to note that these devices will use x86 and ARM processors with x86 trying to move down to mobile phones and ARM trying to move up to tablets, PCs and maybe even servers.

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  • Operating Systems: As multiple devices enter the enterprise, each of these devices is potentially bringing yet another operating system into the enterprise.

  • Usage paradigms: In Client Computing 1.0 era, most employees were allocated just one device - either a desktop or a laptop. Today many employees are also given a mobile phone and tomorrow, employees may also carry a tablet (probably personal-owned). The expectation is that they will use these devices interchangeably to access the applications they need at any given point in the day. They may use the desktop at work, cell phone during long, boring meetings, laptop/ tablet during the train ride to/from work.

    Consequently, CIOs are faced with having to manage a very complex and heterogeneous environment that includes different device types, operating systems, processor architectures, sizes and shapes.

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    As if the above matrix is not complicated enough, the additional dimension is the ownership of the device - corporate-owned vs. employee-owned. The one thing that has not changed is the need to comply with various government requirements (SOX, HIPAA, etc.). The old management paradigms of managing the device just do not work in such a diverse environment

The Aspirin


A solution to the above mess must offer the following capabilities to a CIO:

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  1. Application Access: how do I provide the right set of applications to users irrespective of the device?
  2. Security: how do I secure enterprise applications, services and data, especially when an employee-owned device is used?
  3. Security: how do I manage so many different end points in a scalable manner?

Does this resonate with what you are seeing today or expect to see in the near future? Is this a fair description of the problem statement? I welcome your feedback.

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