My 2019 predictions for enterprise mobility, desktop virtualization, and EUC

No, it’s not too early—2019 is just around the corner!

It may seem a little early for 2019 articles, but hey, it’s November 12th already. With all the holidays, travel, office parties, your kids school plays, and other end-of-year chores coming up, realistically, you only have about 20 good work days left to get anything done in 2018. So with that, here are my predictions for 2019!

(By the way, I’m sticking to industry trends here, rather than vendor predictions. Maybe I’ll do that one later.)

In 2019, even more customers and vendors will get on board with identity management, conditional access, and “zero trust.” Plenty of people still haven’t implemented modern SSO/federation or MFA, so there will be a lot of those projects happening; those that have already done this will move on to things like connecting on-premises apps to cloud-based identity providers. Identity will continue to be integrated with security and endpoint management products, enabling conditional access, “zero trust,” and BeyondCorp concepts. (More important, hopefully the industry will agree on a single term for all these concepts!)

2019 will be crunch time for Windows 10 migrations. Windows 7 end-of-life is looming on January 14, 2020, and it was just last month that Microsoft said that enterprise Windows 10 adoption ticked over 50%. At the same time, we’re still going to spend all year debating Windows as a Service. We have the Windows 1809 debacle and 30-month support cycles on one side, versus “always up to date operating systems are the way of the future” on the other.

After years of pushing Office 365, now the crew in Redmond is pushing Microsoft 365, which comprises Office 365, Windows 10, Intune, Azure AD, and more. For 2019, update your talking points and marketing materials if you haven’t yet.

Among EUC vendors, the talk of “workspaces” will continue in 2019, along with talk about advanced security policy engines, under names like Intelligence and Analytics. There’s not going to be a single point when everybody does this, and it’s going to take time. Really, this is what should almost happen organically as you take EUC and security silos and connect them together with an underlying identity layer. Bring it on!

If there will ever be a year of DaaS, 2019 will be it. 2018 was already a big deal, with lots of vendor activity and plenty of anecdotes about usage, especially in high-end graphics use cases. Windows Virtual Desktop will throw more fuel on the fire, since thousands of customers are entitled to use the management plane for free. Microsoft also sees this as a big way to sell Azure compute—at Ignite, they said that RDS already made up almost 10% of all compute hours on Azure.

The RDSH versus VDI conversation is worth having again in 2019, though it has evolved because Microsoft is debuting multi-user Windows 10, and withholding some features from RDSH 2019. In a related prediction, after saying, “this is the last time I’m going to talk about RDSH versus VDI” several times over the years, Brian Madden (the person) will technically be correct if and when he presents a session called “RDSH verus multi-user Windows 10 versus VDI.”

Windows management from the cloud (whether pure MDM, or a mixture of cloud, MDM, and traditional management) is getting a lot of attention, and some initial adoption. Hopefully 2019 is the year that it becomes “real.” Not real in that everybody is doing it—that’s going to take at least five years—but real in the sense that enough people are doing it that it that it feels “real.”

In 2019, we’ll keep on talking about making Windows apps easier to manage, and how to modernize them. I think we’ve said the same thing about Windows apps every year for as long as I’ve been writing here, so I feel safe making the prediction once again. Sometimes it was layers, sometimes it was Centennial... this time around, all eyes are on MSIX.

In 2019, Android Enterprise will become the standard way to handle Android management, not only because it’s way better, but also because the device admin APIs will be depracated in Android 10/Q. Along with that, hopefully the out-of-date idea that Android is hard to manage and secure will go away completely.

Device choice (i.e., Windows-centric orgs decide to officially support Macs, Chromebooks, and other devices) is completely doable in 2019. If you don’t want to do it, that’s on your corporate policies or IT plans, not on the technology.

Somehow, unfortunately, BYOD will still generate buzz, but to me, it’s been a non-issue for years. There are a lot of ways to do it. Sometimes you have to do it (like for contractors and gig workers). And sometimes you just have to say no to BYOD. Either way, it’s business as usual now.

The one place where BYOD might be interesting will be if Apple finally decides to make iOS BYOD better in 2019. Today, it’s far behind what Android Enterprise offers, and it needs some work.

Mobile threat defense will be fairly mature in 2019, but barring any catastrophic events, I still only expect organizations with very advanced mobility and security strategies to adopt it. Mobile phishing might push more customers to act, though.

We’re entering the long-tail of EMM adoption. The growth of Microsoft 365 and G Suite will get quite a few more organizations to consider mobile management for the first time (and they’ll get a lot of value, even if they’re just doing the basics) but aside from that, by this time next year, it will just be the laggards that aren’t doing anything about it.

Finally, no set of yearly predictions would be complete without mentioning IoT, edge computing, digital assistants, voice-based interfaces, augmented reality, and virtual reality. The hype machine will run full steam on all these topics in 2019, but the reality on the ground for EUC pros is much more pragmatic. Nothing has yet matched the EUC changes ushered in by iPhones, iPads, Android, and shadow-IT SaaS apps. IoT devices with human interfaces are getting pulled into EMM platforms; but low-level sensors and devices with real-time operating systems are generally the purview of other IT departments and management products. Things like the Apple Watch and Amazon Alexa are quite popular, but again, this still isn’t an “iPhone circa 2010” type of event. Companies will experiment to find appropriate enterprise use cases for these technologies, but in EUC, we can worry about more important things.

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