IGEL seems poised to make some big changes

Over the last year, IGEL has made some key hires that would seem to indicate they are working on big things, but what could that be?

Things are happening at IGEL. You probably know them as a thin client company, and the current messaging from them is basically the same as it has been for many years: thin clients that support just about everything, a desktop-to-thin-client conversion tool, and a management platform. They could have existed in that space indefinitely with the personnel that they had, but lately they’ve been branching out.

In the last year, though, IGEL has made some key hires that would seem to indicate that they’re ramping up their operation:

  • In May of 2016, they hired Jed Ayres as their North America CEO and global CMO. Jed was CMO at MCPc before joining AppSense as their SVP of Marketing, a role he held until AppSense was sold to LANDESK (now Ivanti).
  • In January of this year, they hired Simon Clephan. Simon was also at AppSense through the LANDESK acquisition, where he was VP of System Integrator Alliances. He’s now the VP of Business Development and Strategic Alliances at IGEL.
  • Also in January, IGEL made perhaps it’s biggest splash by bringing on Doug Brown. If you don’t know Doug, he’s a bit of an icon in the desktop virtualization world. A former Citrite (he was one of the main guys behind the Methodology in a Box), he’s run DABCC.com for many years, which he continues to do while also assuming the role of IGEL’s Global Technology Evangelist.

Those are just a few of the hires IGEL has made, and all of them are for highly visible positions. It seems like a lot of activity for a humble peddler of thin clients, so what gives?

IGEL today

Today, IGEL is still focused on thin clients and adjacent technologies. They have their line of hardware-based thin clients that is routinely upgraded as you would expect. IGEL’s claim to fame has always been their ridiculous amount of flexibility in terms of peripheral and software support, which also translates into management. Basically, if it can be configured on the device itself, you can manage it centrally via their Universal Management Suite (UMS).

The same OS they use for their thin clients, IGEL OS, has become a focal point for IGEL. For many years they’ve offered their UDC, or Universal Desktop Converter, as a way to repurpose existing desktops or x86-based thin clients. Installing UDC on a device replaces the OS and makes it manageable via UMS, and though most thin client vendors have this today, with IGEL’s UDC you get the same management capabilities as their thin clients.

Their latest product, UDPocket, is a USB stick that has IGEL OS pre-installed on it. It’s nothing fancy (i.e. no blinkenlights), other than being so tiny that I lost my eval unit about 18 seconds after receiving it (seriously, I put it in my pocket because that’s what it’s called and then…gone). It’s a USB thumb drive that’s only slightly bigger than the USB port it’s supposed to plug into, and IGEL has seen lots of interest from companies that use them either for repurposing existing devices or for roaming users. Though they have the UDC to convert devices to thin clients, that product requires re-imaging the device. With UDPocket, all you have to do is plug the USB stick in and go.

All of these products are managed through IGEL’s Universal Management Suite, even the remote ones that connect through UMS’ Cloud Gateway. While remote desktop connections are made through your platform’s normal route, IGEL needed a way to manage the devices remotely, so they created the Cloud Gateway to handle that.

Finally, IGEL has put a lot of effort into their management capabilities. UMS can now manage Windows 7 and Windows 10 devices. They continue to add features to the Windows management components in an effort to consolidate endpoint management down to a single interface.

What’s coming?

During this period of hiring big names, IGEL has also ramped up a messaging campaign that talks a lot more about how they’re a software company instead of a thin client manufacturer. Looking at the products above, UDPocket and UMS have received the lion’s share of the attention of late, and that looks to continue. With that in mind, we can begin to formulate an idea of what IGEL might be up to.

For one, no “Universal” management suite would be complete without some sort of mobile device management, and though I haven’t gotten any confirmation from IGEL, I think it’s safe to assume that they’re looking at the area to see if there’s a fit. I doubt they want to jump into MDM altogether (both Jed Ayres and Simon Clephan know what happened to AppSense when they jumped in feet first), but it’s possible that they’ll provide some rudimentary mobile device management functionality that doesn’t compete with their big partners like VMware and Citrix.

I also noticed in Doug Brown’s introductory blog post, “Why I Joined IGEL” (an early frontrunner for the “Most appropriate title of 2017” award), that he mentioned IoT. IoT management is something that seems to remain just past the horizon, but as IoT begins to find its place in the enterprise the need to manage the insane number of devices that are forthcoming becomes more apparent.

In the blog post, Doug says, “IGEL’s infrastructure was designed for this type of growth and devices. They are far from just a thin client vendor as you might think of one from the late 90s or 2000s.” That alone would lead me to believe that IGEL has their sights set on IoT, or, at the very least, being ready for IoT when the time is right.

We should learn more about this at Synergy, where I’m looking forward to catching up with the team. There are a lot of potential directions that IGEL can go, so it will be helpful to get a look the roadmap and hear a more focused description of their plans moving forward as a “software company.” Stay tuned.

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Thanks for a great article here Gabe. IGEL looks forward to seeing lots of customers and partners at Citrix Synergy in Orlando. Come by our booth (#207) to see all of our latest innovation and a chance to win a Tesla P100D.
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