The future of end user computing: Two visions

Personal computing as we know it is changing as hordes of workers arrive with their favorite new tech tools and demand access to corporate resources.  We ask two companies likely to play key roles in the flexible new world of end user computing – VMware and Citrix -- to spell out the future as they see it.  Who do you think is better positioned to deliver on the promise? Cast your vote.

The Experts
Brian Gammage
Brian Gammage

Chief Market Technologist at VMware says the way to accommodate shifting end user computing demands is to attack the problem at the point where resources are accessed, which will break the inertia of “configuration standardization” and allow us to accommodate change. View debate

John Fanelli
John Fanelli

Vice President of Product Marketing, Enterprise Desktops and Applications at Citrix says it is all about building Personal Clouds, enabling employees to use any device to access their collaboration tools, data and applications. View debate

Brian Gammage

Manage the point of access

End-user computing is undergoing its most significant transition in 30 years as focus moves from technology to the business results it delivers. This shift is driven by market maturity and by the realization that current approaches are no longer sustainable. Add the explosion in expectations for mobility, collaboration and user-choice and we see IT organizations today caught between a rock and a hard place: seeking to maintain the function of what they have now and responding to new demands.

Over the next decade, IT organizations will throw off the shackles of the static management methods that have made end-user computing environments so costly to run and difficult to adapt. In doing so, they will embrace approaches that change the relationship between business results, technology assets and how users work:

•    Ownership of applications and devices will become increasingly optional for organizations and users
•    Technology diversity will become the norm, not an exception
•    Operational cost and complexity will fall sharply
•    The focus of management will shift from platforms to applications

These changes will only occur through the supply of new capabilities, but also because our businesses and economies require it. Thanks to the rapid emergence of cloud-based approaches, most organizations already expect this. They also expect transition to be challenging, because change can never be wholesale. It will be a journey, completed in multiple steps.

Some facets of end-user computing today are simply no longer sustainable:
•    Asset-level processes: Configuring, maintaining and securing each device, platform or application through a separate process is a non-scalable approach when diversity in all three is increasing - it creates barriers to adoption of assets and drives a “one-size-fits-all” mentality.
•    High operational costs: End-user computing is one of the highest cost areas in IT, with most expense driven by operational overhead.
•    Zero marginal benefits: Most investment in end-user computing is consumed in updating hardware and operating systems – by the need to replace end-of-life assets, rather than embracing new capabilities that deliver productivity or revenue benefits. The money is spent to stand still, not to move forward, so end-user computing is seen as a “cost of doing business”.

All these facets are driven by how we manage end-user computing today.  Only by standardizing management processes and tools can we contain operational costs and maintain acceptable levels of security.

Today we standardize the assets deployed. This drives a one-size-fits all approach to how users are equipped, which in turn leads to inertia and high costs of change. Implicitly it drives a desire, on behalf of IT organizations, to resist change – otherwise cost and complexity will rise.

In the future, processes and tools must be standardized across more diverse assets so applications of different types can be accessed and managed in the same way, irrespective of the type of device being used. This will break the inertia of “configuration standardization” and allow us to accommodate change, rather than resist it. Achieving this critical goal requires that, instead of managing the devices used and the resources accessed, we manage from the point at which resources are accessed.

In VMware’s vision for end-user computing, this central point is called Horizon - a hub to which users connect and through which access to resources is managed. One of those resources might be a virtualized desktop delivered through VMware View, where legacy applications can be run for as long as they’re needed.

The legacy applications accessed through such a virtualized environment would still come at some cost of complexity, but less than in today’s tightly coupled world of physical devices and operating systems. New applications will exploit web-based or SaaS type approaches and be connected directly to the hub with no cost of integration. As applications are replaced and upgraded, they will move from the legacy container to the hub, driving reductions in operational costs.

This approach will have far reaching implications. It will:
•    Enable more granular control and audit
•    Expose direct associations between the cost of resources and the results they deliver, changing perceptions of marginal benefit
•    Significantly reduce the costs of new applications
•    Eliminate traditional barriers to non-owned and non-standard devices
•    And drive dramatic improvements in elasticity, simplifying the processes of business change like expansion, contraction, and M&A.

The focus of users, IT organizations and the people who pay for end-user computing will shift, from the technology being used to the results delivered.

VMware is the leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure solutions that enable businesses to thrive in the Cloud Era. Customers rely on VMware to help them transform the way they build, deliver and consume Information Technology resources in a manner that is evolutionary and based on their specific needs.  

John Fanelli

The Personal Cloud Powering Mobile Workstyles

The future of end user computing is here today… and it’s in your pocket.  And your house, your office and your favorite seat on the 8 a.m. train.  It’s wherever you are.

The future of end user computing begins and ends with you. There is little debate that mobile workstyles powered by the cloud are rapidly becoming the new normal for computing. This does not mean the personal computer is going away - it simply means that it is becoming part of something much bigger. Something that parallels the transformation the PC itself ushered in some 30 years ago. At Citrix, we believe a "new PC" is taking center stage - the "Personal Cloud".


The personal cloud represents a new way of interacting with information that is free from the limitations of traditional PC-centric computing. It provides secure, instant access to the apps, data and people necessary to get work done from any device, anywhere. It means that we don't have to leave our child's soccer game and drive to the office to get meaningful work done. It means we can collaborate with teams of engineers across multiple sites and see, speak and engage with one another in high-definition. It also means that we can create, review and edit documents, then share, synch and secure those files on any device.

IT, however, is struggling to reconcile the conflicting priorities of maintaining control through standardization vs. enabling users with the freedom that consumerization offers. Today's systems, designed and built for the PC era, are based on the assumption that most people work in an office using a corporate-issued PC that is primarily attached to a wired network. Most of the current systems and policies are built on this assumption, making exceptions like mobile users and personal devices difficult to manage. In the cloud era, a new IT is emerging. Instead of treating mobile workstyles as an exception, successful IT leaders will design systems and policies assuming that everyone is mobile, using multiple personal devices connecting over wireless networks.

They will assume that apps will increasingly be delivered as cloud services - whether private or public - and that many of those apps will be micro-apps because simpler is better, faster and cheaper. And they will optimize for self-service apps, delivered through enterprise app stores, where every worker's files and apps are easy to access, share and secure on any device. (See related story, "How to go hybrid.")

By designing and building to this new set of assumptions, something amazing happens - when employees do come into a physical office, sit down at a company-owned PC and connect to a corporate network, it doesn't cost one incremental dollar more. Those services are effectively free because IT has designed everything assuming a mobile workstyle. This approach also means that IT no longer has to place bets on which devices, platforms or app types are going to win - in the Cloud Era, "any-ness" becomes the new standard.

At Citrix, we see the future of end user computing being comprised of three PCs. Personal Clouds are emerging to enable a highly productive, mobile workstyles, and Private Clouds and Public Clouds are converging to ensure that every IT service will one day become a flexible, powerful cloud-based service.

The personal cloud is where the user's collaboration tools, data and applications reside and are accessible across any device. Key technology components of the personal cloud include:

• A universal client like Citrix Receiver that enables true device independence and a high-definition user experience

• Real-time collaboration with high-definition voice, video and document sharing as provided by Citrix GoToMeeting and HDFaces

• Sharing, syncing and securing of files on any device from a robust service like Citrix ShareFile

The converged private and public clouds must contain the following technologies to deliver on the promises of the cloud era:

• A single point of control that unifies the provisioning and security of Windows, web, SaaS and mobile apps through an enterprise storefront like Citrix CloudGateway

• Desktop and app virtualization technology like Citrix XenDesktop, that transforms Windows desktops and apps into an on-demand service available to any user, anywhere, on any device

• A bridge to public clouds that transparently enables infinite data center capacity, like Citrix CloudBridge

• Cloud orchestration technology such as Citrix CloudStack and CloudPortal, that enable building Amazon-style clouds services within an organization's data center

Mobile work styles are here today and here to stay. Citrix is already delivering on the concepts discussed above. Underlying all of our efforts is our core philosophy of optimizing for the end-user experience. During our 23-year history, we have been focused on delivering the best possible user experience, and we will continue to lead with that goal in the post PC/3 PC era. Oh, and you don't need to buy bigger pants. The future of end-user computing fits quite nicely in the pockets you have today.

Citrix Systems is the company transforming how people, businesses and IT work and collaborate in the cloud era.  With market-leading cloud, collaboration, networking and virtualization technologies, Citrix powers mobile work styles and cloud services, making complex enterprise IT simpler and more accessible for 250,000 enterprises.

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