Citrix, VMware, thin clients, printing, DaaS, and Windows 10: Six things I'm watching in 2018

Predictions are overrated! Here are the expectations I have of Citrix, VMware, thin client vendors, printing vendors, DaaS, and Windows 10 migrations as we begin 2018.

I tend to stop short of making predictions this time of year, not because I'm scared of being wrong, but because it seems silly to spend time coming out with outlandish declarations on the fate of products, technologies, or companies. Nevertheless, there are certain things I'm looking at as we begin 2018 that I'll be watching carefully as the year goes on, and I wanted to hit on a few of the ones that are the top of my mind in the first week of the new year.

Citrix

It's easy to pick the low-hanging fruit and say that Citrix will be bought this year, but if we look at it a little more closely, Citrix might not be any closer to being bought in 2018 than they were in any prior years. They recently announced their intent to repurchase shares throughout the new year, and though I'm sure that can be interpreted in different ways, it seems that they've decided to focus on themselves.

What I expect from Citrix in 2018 is a continuation of what we saw in 2017: positioning themselves as a trendy, cloud-first, security company that also happens to have a top tier desktop virtualization platform. I would hope that they keep the existing customers happy while retooling the direction of the company, if for no other reason than VMware is ready to scoop up those that are unhappy.

We haven't heard a Unified Endpoint Management message from Citrix yet, which you'd expect given their history and the fact that they have XenMobile. With all the movement around UEM in 2016 and 2017, Citrix is late to the party, and they're dangerously close to missing it altogether. If Citrix is going to get involved beyond leaning on InTune, it's now or never.

A lingering question will be Citrix's support for RDmi, which they've so far been mum about. We may hear more about their plans (if there are any) at Summit this year. If not, we'll certainly know more by Synergy.

VMware

On the desktop virtualization side, I don't expect VMware to do much besides continuing to build out their Horizon Cloud for Azure product while also checking off any remaining feature gaps that remain between Horizon and XenApp/XenDesktop. I don't think they're getting complacent–I just don't know how many large mountains are left to climb in desktop virtualization.

The EUC efforts from VMware are around Workspace ONE, and I do expect to see an increase in development there. As customers warm up to the concept of Unified Endpoint Management, there are still technical and mental challenges that need to be overcome to get them to switch from traditional approaches, so any investment VMware makes into helping customers migrate is money well spent.

With regards to RDmi, VMware has also been quiet, so expect some developments here as we begin 2018.

Thin Clients

Thin clients are still boring, but Igel is continuing their campaign to make them less boring. (This reminds me of the Farmers' Market episode of Parks and Recreation where a vendor tries to make chard seem exciting). They've done a good job, especially with UD Pocket which, despite it being little more than a pricey, bootable USB stick, is useful as a tool to repurpose PCs as thin clients.

Stratodesk took over the Raspberry Pi relationship with Citrix in 2017, and they're talking internally about adding support for MDM platforms, so you'd be able to manage Raspberry Pi clients from the same platform you manage mobile devices and (someday) PCs.

2018 could very well be the year we finally get to see legitimate Android and Raspberry Pi thin clients. CLI has released an Android x86-based thin client that actually behaves like it belongs on a desktop (as opposed to other attempts that were more like a plastic box wrapped around a tablet with a keyboard and mouse hot-glued to the side). Since it's Android, it can also be managed via MDM, which I think will be a growing trend. It's possible we'll even see the likes of HP, Dell, and Igel add these MDM management capabilities.

Printing

For a few years we've been seeing increased interest in PrinterLogic's approach to printer management. Their message, "Eliminate Print Servers," is catchy, and their product allows you to centrally manage your users' printers without having to worry about the server component. They simply create (and configure) the printer object for each user and connect it directly to a network printer.

As you can imagine, this approach directly competes with classic printing vendors like ThinPrint and Tricerat, and at VMworld we saw ThinPrint's first serverless printing product, called ezeep Dash. I would suspect that other long-time printing companies will also jump on board, so I expect to see news out of the Tricerat and Uniprint camps sometime this year, perhaps as early as Synergy.

DaaS

For the last few years, DaaS growth has been steady, but slow. I don't see anything that would jump start a wave of mass adoption, but with all the work Frame has done, including their partnership with VMware Workspace ONE, not to mention the ITaaS platforms from Dizzion and Nerdio, I can see more SMBs moving in this direction.

At an enterprise scale, DaaS will be more about applications than desktops, but I don't foresee anything in 2018 that will jump start that migration. After all, we're just two years away from my last topic:

Windows 7 migrations

We started talking about the end of life for Windows 7 on April 9, 2014–one day after the end of life date for Windows XP. Of course, back then it seemed like it was ages away, and we were completely exhausted from the marathon Windows XP to Windows 7 migration we'd just completed. Well…most of us anyway. Here we are, nearly four years later, and it's time to start ramping up for the final push to migrate to Windows 10.

On one hand, this won't be as big of a deal as the last migration. App compatibility is good, and though there are some nuances that require our processes to be altered, the migrations themselves aren't that big of a deal. One the other hand, Windows 10 presents a slew of new things that must be taken into consideration, like the various editions of the product and their corresponding service branches. In this model, updates are more frequent (and in many cases larger than past years), so deploying them through traditional means may prove challenging to large organizations.

We'll dig into this more as the year goes on, but you can expect 2018 to the year that we all start paying more attention to Windows 10 migrations and ongoing management.

I've barely scratched the surface of what's going on in the industry and what we have to look forward to in 2018, so if you have more thoughts feel free to share i

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