These days you can’t go long without running into another product intent on making it easier to convert legacy applications into some new mobile-enabled form. These are interesting products that no doubt will have a place in our future, but today there are a lot of questions. Will they be the next “big thing” in our space? Is this industry ripe for acquisitions and consolidation? Or will the complexities of application transformation slow everything down?
We’ve been certainly spent a lot of time looking at application transformation already. We can trace this all the way back to Citrix Project Vertigo, but more recently we’ve been looking at things like Citrix HDX Mobile (formerly XenApp Mobility Pack, formerly project Golden Gate) and Capriza; plus we saw Powwow exhibit at BriForum, and Gabe recently wrote about Reddo Mobility.
We’re actually talking about many different technologies. There’s remote desktop-based Windows application refactoring as well as web app refactoring. But besides that, the various mobile app development platform technologies are crossing into this space, too. These include backend resource connectors, “API-ification” for existing resources, multi-platform app creation tools, code-less app creation tools, and more. The bottom line is that no matter what type of existing applications you’re dealing with or what you want to get done, there’s a product out there that will help you transform it. Seriously—there are too many options to keep up with them all.
Application transformation seems poised to take off, but how long will it really take? There are several difficulties:
First off, it’s just plain early. Most companies aren’t thinking about mobilizing apps yet, or are just deciding what the next step is.
Second, application transformation is complex. This isn’t just a plumbing issue. Mobilizing a legacy application is about way more than just transforming the user interface so it’s touch-friendly—it’s a whole new state of mind.
Third, dealing with all the different application transformation options could become unwieldy. It’s good that there products for all the different scenarios that you have in an environment, but then you end up with a lot of different point solutions for different applications. Managing and securing all those client apps and back-end silos could get really complex.
Because of all the different options this space could be ripe for consolidation and acquisitions. It’d be great to have multiple techniques available but with a common management framework and from a single vendor.
Taking this thought further, Citrix, VMware, and other EUC vendors could be a natural aggregation point. There’s a whole spectrum of technologies involved here, ranging from remote desktop-oriented products on one end to mobile developer-oriented products on the other, and naturally Citrix and VMware will stay closer to the former, but the line is blurring and it could make sense for them to keep expanding. They’ve already going down that route anyway: Citrix bought Framehawk and has HDX Mobile. VMware has worked a bit on Unity Touch features in the View mobile clients and announced the AirWatch Appshield program to work with MADP vendors.
So when will this happen? As I said before, it’s early and this is complex stuff. I’m thinking out loud here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the major EUC and EMM vendors paying even more attention to this going forward.