November 22, 2011

VDI vs. Web desktops vs. BYOD

I was reading this blog post from Ken Hess over on ZDnet. and it got me thinking. That’s not too unusual, since I spend 3 hours a day in the car so I have lots of time to think. I pulled out a few thoughts from it though and wanted to comment on them.

Connectivity isn’t a concern

The traditional IT guy in me cringes with this. I mean I spend a lot of time in central Maine where coverage is spotty. I also spent four months using only a Chromebook and never had an issue. So while I don’t agree connectivity is everywhere, I also think this is less of an issue than we really think it is.

Of course I also didn’t realize that my Chromebook didn’t have a caps lock key for 3 months either. When I read somewhere that they didn’t have one I remember thinking “That’s stupid of course they do”. They don’t, people just don’t really use caps lock that often. The need for a caps lock key is one of those “Self evident truths” that aren’t….

VDI will cost more money than regular desktops

I don’t think anyone argues this point now. Even when people come in and try to sell me VDI now that don’t try to hide this fact. In fact unless security or the ability to reload back to a known state (like in a training lab) is important VDI probably doesn’t make much sense.

Application virtualization though I think is huge. This lets you take a single application and essentially run in in your data center (or someone else’s) and display it on your device. With some of the new HTML5 versions this device can be almost anything.

BYOD is really the future

Ok this is my thought not Ken’s….

I used to think, and by used to I mean like ten months ago, that web computers like JoliOS or Chromebooks were the future, and while I still think those are very cool and a great option, I’ve come to the point that I don’t really care what people use for clients.

Let me explain. We, Enterasys, host many of our business applications in the cloud,, BigMachines, Google,, and Coupa, are some examples. They generally work with any web browser. I say generally because some work with Chrome, some only with IE some with Firefox, but that’s another whole argument….

Anyway, since most of our applications are already web based, why do I even care what client you use to get there. Now not all of our applications are that way of course, and for some users a desktop is going to be required at least for a long time but those users also understand that.

Security is always key, but since I run an architecture based upon OneFabric, I have granular control over every device on my network. I can even treat the same user with different devices differently and I can assess the device for compliance and if its’ not compliant, simply restrict what it can do. I can let people use any device to get access to whatever they want while not allowing non-compliant devices on my network. For “standard” devices I can even help people self-remediate them without IT having to get involved.

So got an iPad? Go for it. Want a Mac Air? Cool. Using a 486PC running windows 95? Well good luck with that one, but you get my drift….

I don’t think it’s a matter of end user device, I think the argument (or the question) is can your network allow you to not worry about end devices? If not, shouldn’t it?
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