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Citrix putting the “Personal” back into the Corporate PC

Today, Citrix announces XenDesktop 5.5 with the addition of “Personal vDisk” from their recent acquisition of RingCube. To give credit, this story on RingCube broke earlier from folks like:

Having been a former member of the executive team at RingCube prior to re-joining Cisco’s desktop virtualization group, I’m pleased to see Citrix get aggressive about tackling this problem.  And the overarching problem has been that corporate PCs have evolved to become more cumbersome, less productive and less “personal” to work on in recent years.

Now you might ask – is it really important that “Personal Computers (PCs)” remain “Personal”? Well, actually it turns out even in a corporate setting, it makes a huge difference.  IT departments can dictate to some degree what employees can and can not use for business but each day we see an explosion of more usage on more personalized devices.  As knowledge professionals, these devices often operate as an extension of who we are, what we say, and what we do.

How did we get here?

Well it’s easy to argue that the initial catalyst of “de-personalization” of PCs was trigged by security audits, regulatory compliance, data loss reporting, and untrained/unaware employees creating significant risk to businesses and large organizations. But frankly, it’s been the responses to those catalysts from IT departments that have created the ever-expanding “system tray icon bloat” of patch management, data encryption, endpoint security, and variety of other PC tools designed to maximize security.

Enter VDI as a security response: Desktop Virtualization, specifically VDI, has been one of the fastest growing areas of IT build out. Most IT professionals agree that data protection is even better in a VDI or hosted virtual desktop (HVD) deployment compared to a traditional, distributed PC model. However, in order to make VDI cost-effective, IT will often deploy VDI in a non-persistent pooled-image fashion that is easier to maintain, patch, and keep secure. One “golden image” for a massive user population just as long as that user population doesn’t need to install their own applications and retain their personal settings.  So now, these corporate PCs with desktop virtualization are even better for IT management and security but increasingly less personal and more restrictive for end users.

What about User Experience? Did anyone contact the end user about all these changes – security tools, VDI, etc? Do users have greater application access now? Better collaboration tools? Superior communication capabilities? Are they closer to customers or business partners? Is their PC still an extension of how they work and collaborate?

The thought-process we had at RingCube was that a meaningful problem exists between these two worlds: IT Standardization vs. User Experience.

And the question we asked ourselves: can we contribute in a meaningful and innovative way to help IT deliver the best possible desktop computing experience for a variety of users, devices, and locations without compromising on all the benefits of standardization and security that desktop virtualization provides to IT?

With the addition of a very talented group from RingCube, the Citrix XenDesktop team is better positioned now to continue this journey.  And all of us here at Cisco are as excited as ever to partner with Citrix on this challenging opportunity to deliver something that is truly meaningful and innovative. As I often say, “this ain’t your father’s PC we are building.

What does this mean to the virtual desktop industry?

  • For customers: IT can address more use cases and more user populations with greater simplicity, lower storage needs (as high as 50% savings), and lower operational costs.  The fact that Citrix is providing this “Personal vDisk” functionality on all editions of XenDesktop at no additional charge is something that customers won’t hesitate to try.
  • For channel partners and integrators: the reseller practices for desktop virtualization (on-premise) and/or “Desktop as a Service” (DaaS in the cloud) will continue to move toward the mainstream as the cost of implementations and maintenance will go down and the simplicity will improve.
  • For Cisco: more narrow/niche VDI deployments today will translate to broader customer deployments across more industries. These broader VDI deployments will create more demand for superior user experiences – good enough is not acceptable. The need for immersive, rich-media application support like interactive voice, video, TelePresence, and collaboration will be another MUST-HAVE requirement by these types of users. This creates more opportunity for Cisco VXI (Virtualization Experience Infrastructure) to help the industry move forward.  Even internally within Cisco, we will see benefits from this “persistent personalization” capability on our own VXI deployments.

Overall, the industry benefits because Citrix continues to provide vision, leadership, and execution with smart acquisitions like RingCube that help:

1)      Make User Experience Better

2)      Deployments Cheaper & Simpler

3)      Address More Use Cases & User Populations

Kudos to the Citrix team on keeping the focus on User Experience with XenDesktop 5.5.  We are moving beyond basic VDI, toward the future where rich “User Experience” matters, and hopefully to a place where Corporate PCs are allowed to be truly “Personal” workspaces once again.

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