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Desktop Transformation Projects – Synergy Round-up

Synergy Barcelona 2011 - what you missed in the desktop transformation space

What a week at Synergy Barcelona! Some major announcements such as the App-DNA acquisition, demonstrations on some very interesting cloud-based tools, real-world migration examples such as Fujitsu’s 55,000 desktop in a year VCS transformation for RBS, and, of course, the usual overload of marketing. The main message – it’s all about the PC (public cloud, private cloud) and your organisation should be moving to it using Citrix technologies.Desktop transformation Juriba

But what does it all mean to you, the company stuck on planning or architecting your current desktop transformation solution?

Well, let’s start with the major news in the desktop transformation space, the Citrix acquisition of App-DNA. Interestingly, this announcement was usurped only a couple of days ago by the ChangeBase acquisition by Quest. Related events? Who knows, but it does throw out the interesting question of what happens now?

In the Citrix release, App-DNA will continue to operate as a separate product. But for how long? AppTitude is a great enabler for Citrix but does it make any sense for them to sell it to you? I suspect not. “Buy our Citrix product(s) and we’ll help you migrate faster by showing you which apps should work on which platform – one of the major hurdles currently to desktop transformation.” That sounds like something I would be giving away with Citrix licenses. Microsoft already does this with their ACT tool – only it just does Windows 7. For Citrix pre-sales, “Here is a tool that will show you how easy it is to deploy ZenApp/ZenDesktop in your environment.” With application independence to platform high on the agenda, this strategy would make perfect sense. My only question is whether, for their money, Citrix wants a revenue stream payback? We will see in the next couple of months.

The Quest release is just as interesting. I suspect that ChangeBase will sit snugly within their extensive suite of enterprise desktop migration tools, providing a good entry point into a wider toolset play. Again, it may make a lot of sense for it to become a free giveaway with other software, but it could also be a longer term revenue play. Quest have a huge customer base and already cite most of the major worldwide organisations as using their software. Maybe the AOK software is the precursor to a wider play on desktop transformation management tools, and a wider strategy in cloud desktop hosting.

So what about Synergy 2011? Well, attendance is up by 40% on Berlin. What does that tell us? It shows that IT departments are starting to take the impending April 2014 Windows XP countdown clock seriously. Solution architects are taking a more active interest in technology options, best practice process and real-world migration experience.

But in reality, the number of technology choices is quite small, based upon the number of exhibitors. Of course, there may be many, like us, who have chosen to spend their money elsewhere but I suspect not. The desktop tools economy has been a barren landscape since the completion of the XP rollouts all those years ago. Many companies have fallen by the wayside and the banking system has shunned all but the most successful of startups. Only organisations with a good product and established customer base are left. So, Lakeside, Centrix, Liquidware, HP, Dell, RES and Matrix42 on discovery. Established vendors still rule on inventory. AppDNA, ChangeBase and Microsoft on app compatibility. Juriba and the service integrators on project data warehousing and user readiness tools. Established vendors on deployment. RES, AppSense and Liquidware winning on profiles. RES leading the way on orchestration and automation. Citrix, VMWare, Symantec and Microsoft on virtualisation platforms.

The Citrix story is certainly evolving at pace. A mixture of published desktops and VDI desktops from the same vendor. A seamless experience, whatever your end user device, including the popular BYO story. A well-established Citrix receiver enabling access from anywhere at any time. And now, application compatibility analysis through App-DNA. Their partner ecosystem is driving value with the Citrix Ready program and a consistent desktop transformation message. Fair play to Mark Templeton. Having met him years ago when Citrix was just about to release the precursor to presentation server, it’s absolutely amazing to see him now, really driving innovation forward.

Synergy has been great for honesty as well. There is an acceptance that this next desktop transformation will be complex. Healthy debates on best practice from inventory to application management to platform solutions to virtualisation ROI. All have been discussed at length. Is this old head any the wiser? Not really – there was no silver bullet flying my way at this particular conference. It’s still going to be hard for your organisation to transform, but at least the experts are now admitting this! Still no one technology size fits all, but at least with solutions such as Fujitsu’s VCS, you can see how a dual provision strategy could work and as the technologies and process evolve I’m sure we’ll start to see some good repeatable paths to desktop transformation.

So the summary – well, in my opinion, it’s been a very good conference. I have learned some new things about desktop transformation, and validated much more. The Citrix vision is clearer, but still feels a while away and a huge cultural and technical leap for many corporates. The private cloud is a sensible first toe in the water. Bring your own (BYO) – maybe I’m too long in the tooth, but I’m still sceptical for large corporates, at least in the immediate future.

So where does this leave us? Tools, Techniques and process are starting to mature as more companies enter the desktop transformation planning and execution phase. Platforms are expanding rapidly and the management tools are catching up. With April 2014 looming, it’s time to get your project moving, and to ensure you don’t leave it too late, when the market of skills and resources will be close to saturation point. Put it this way, if there are 300million corporate PCs left to migrate and 900 days left to do it, that’s 333,333 PCs per day. Scary, huh?

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