2008 ended with a resounding call for change. It became the slogan as we entered 2009 and continues to hold true across political, social, and technological themes.  

Over the past few months since my last post, I’m beginning to see more and more change occurring; customers adopting virtual desktop technology as they look to really drive down the cost of desktop ownership associated with users. 

But let’s be honest, isn’t the utopia for companies to deploy technologies that can reduce costs and still provide flexibility and business agility anyway? And, corporate desktop has overtime become the biggest culprit – expensive, slow, & rigid.

In September 2008, I posted “Virtual Desktops, Mobile VDI and Client Hypervisors – Oh My!“.   As I reread that earlier post, I may have accidently over-polished my crystal ball back then.  This week saw us release two very strategic announcements that I’d like to share a few of my own personal thoughts – very similar to my predictions in September, don’t you think?

Here’s a link to the two announcements on Citrix.com in case you hadn’t seen them: Citrix Collaborating with Intel to Deliver Xen-based Client Virtualization Solutions, Citrix Unveils Vision to Transform Desktop Computing with Project Independence.

I may not be the next Nostradamus, but in this post, I’ll give my take on what I believe will change fundamentally in desktop computing – something that is over-due.  At Citrix, we are hard at work at enabling this change.  I believe that Citrix Delivery Center and now Project Independence will become the catalyst for this change.

Change #1 – Your company will no longer own your laptop.  

Finally, as a user I can buy the machine I want, not just assigned by corporate!   Whether it’s a 12″ mini or a gaming powerhouse, I get to pick and choose based on my personal tastes and needs. 

At Citrix we implemented a BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) program and we are on track to have 20% of our laptop users on the program in the next 12 months.  Sure, as a user I’m happy but our CFO and CIO are ecstatic – instead of dealing with constant capital expenditure we can have predictable expense on our income statement just like any other service or employee benefit on a regular basis.  

We are marching forward with this but our goal is to broaden this with our leading customers.  The client hypervisor developed in collaboration with Intel will become the foundation of our solution.

Change #2 – Your company will spend more on coffee and office supplies than they do on desktop management.

Companies have been talking about reducing IT support and management costs since the days of the first networked PC.  Today’s desktop management is like creating a house of cards and giving one to every employee everywhere. To make any change is like moving a wall in thousands of these houses of cards distributed everywhere.  Citrix’s approach to enable IT to manage OS, apps and user data/settings separately and centrally changes the economics entirely.  

We’ve already seen customers reduce total cost of ownerships in early XenDesktop implementations for office-based workers, specifically around the areas of IT helpdesk costs, updates/refreshes, and administration.  

Project Independence gives IT the flexibility for mobile workers.  Add/move/remove become mundane, updates & rollbacks can be done by anyone centrally and packaging/compatibility testing can finally scale.  Not to forget many tasks such as data backup/recovery and PC inventory management are entirely eliminated.

In this independent world, cost of desktop management will be similar to any other expense that a company makes for serving an employee – such as coffee or office supplies.

Change # 3 – You will access your corporate desktop from whatever device is most convenient at the time.   

I truly enjoy the opportunity to travel around the world to meet customers and partners and talk about Citrix’s vision around both application and desktop delivery.  During these trips, I get to test our technology from all locations, various connection bandwidths, and increasingly across multiple devices.  With hosted virtual desktops, I’m able to securely access my corporate desktop on any Internet connected device – whether it’s my own laptop, an Internet kiosk, or a mobile device (click here to view iPhone demo.

Project Independence extends this so an employee can access their personalized desktop from any device, online or offline. And if their personal laptop is unavailable for any reason then they can use whatever PC/Mac/iPhone they may have access to and still get their personalized desktop deliver to them instantly.

Gone will be the days when we still think that we can get our personalized desktop from only one laptop that we were given from our company.

Change #4 – You will switch back-and-forth between work and personal desktops on the same device without thinking twice. 

I was just thinking about how only a few years ago, corporate and commercial users were waiting for an all in one device that delivered on email, phone, music, photos, etc with simplicity.  A device that enabled me to unify work and personal items together to make life easier. From Blackberry devices to the iPhone, manufacturers delivered. 

I see a similar convergence of my personal and corporate desktop as well.  If I’m buying my own PC for work and personal use, I would expect access to both desktops to be seamless and still deliver on computing flexibility and usability.  I have read that 75% of users use their corporate machine for personal use (OK, so we all have iTunes install and aren’t comply with corporate policies… let’s keep it our little secret).

The current environment is not just rigid but also hard to enforce and insecure. Project Independence will address this – you could be working on your own media gallery during the weekend and switch to quickly refer to their customer information excel worksheet with a single click to respond to a quick business call. 

Change #5 – You will never complain about your PC being too slow again. 

I can’t remember the last time I had to call IT because my machine was running slow, since running on a virtual desktop – I love the smell of a fresh machine in the morning.   It’s great to get a nice clean, fast image running knowing that I can’t really get myself into trouble.

That’s the experience any user should expect from any virtual desktop solution whether it’s local or hosted. Project Independence will free those laptops with all the gunkware – all the mish-mash of OS, apps and personal data/downloads that makes the PCs slower within few months.

IT is under a lot of pressure – budgetary, user satisfaction and new technology adoption.  Virtualization has helped IT in the data center already – it is time to give IT some freedom for desktop computing.  Project Independence is not just about giving IT freedom to centrally manage desktops with a single instance, but it will liberate businesses from huge capital expenses on their balance sheets, and give employee the flexibility of picking the best devices possible.

I can’t wait for the Independence Day – I know it is coming,  2H’09…