When I talk to customers about virtual desktops, it’s interesting how personally detached IT managers and systems administrators are from the conversation. No matter how hard I try explain that we’ve continued to broaden applicable use cases, and how we can handle even the most demanding workloads, it’s as if we’re only talking about ‘those other people’, or those ‘task workers’–the ones that sit and do ‘data entry’ for 8 hours a day. It’s time to realize that using a virtual desktop is broader than some people using one “8 hours a day” rather it’s now about everyone using one “8 minutes at a time”.
The multi-device workspace is here
Despite working for VMware and thinking Fusion is amazing for testing out new software, whenever I fire up a Windows VM on my Mac, I feel like I have somehow failed. Why couldn’t I get whatever file it is someone sent me to open natively in OSX? Why hasn’t IT upgraded that crummy Oracle app to work with Safari/Chrome? When am I going to take the time to learn a scripting language other than VBscript? These are the questions that typically go through my mind while waiting to resume a Windows VM.
Seeing a need for this functionality crossover from consumer to enterprise is further evidence of the trend. As an avid home theater guy, I’ve been using similar solutions for years to remotely manage SageTV running on Windows from my mobile devices. I bought Wyse PocketCloud the day it hit the app store, and still today I use LogMeIn to turn off my HTPC when I’m on the road.
From a work perspective, it’s gotten even easier for me with the View Client for iPhone. When a ‘Windows-only’ situation presents itself, I jump quickly onto my virtual desktop located on the opposite side of the continent. While traveling, I do nearly all my expense reports from my virtual desktop via an iPad, and when I schedule a WebEx, chances are that I’m using my virtual desktop because I can use the more robust meeting scheduling features of the WebEx plugin for Outlook.
This is all about ease of accessibility. I am either talking on or within inches of my iPhone 24 hours a day. I’m with my iPad as a companion device about 8 hours a day and carry my OSX laptop whenever I travel. That means the chances of finding me when I don’t have Windows running locally is pretty good. But for me, a virtual desktop is just right!
Newsflash: YOU too are a “Task Worker”
We’ve spent so much time talking about how to identify the right ‘use case’ for VDI over the years. We continue to gravitate towards the lower-end user workloads as the easiest candidates for virtual desktops. In doing so we’ve overlooked a much larger and underserved population–those that wouldn’t be defined as task workers based on what they do all day long, but rather have certain “task work” still tied to a legacy Windows environment.
It is the information/knowledge workers that mostly likely have started to abandon Windows from their laptops and tend to spend more time on mobile platforms. Sure, there will be the hours when you’re reviewing business data that you might be classified as “an information worker”, or when you install a new fancy USB peripheral–that might get you labeled as a “power user”. Very few can complete all their business tasks without requiring good ol’ “Windows” to get the job done.
My ask is that you consider expand your perspective as to where virtual desktops may play a continuing role. Not for a subset of your workforce, but for a subset of tasks for everyone. I vividly remember rolling out PC’s across the globe in 1996. At that time my mix was 80/20 Desktops to Laptops. In 2000, it flipped to 80/20 Laptops to Desktops. Today, I’m 80/20 Mobile to ‘PC’. When it comes to supporting the long tail of Windows in the enterprise, virtual desktops are great – even if only for 8 minutes at a time.