Two fundamental changes in enterprise computing has challenged us to look at the ‘follow-me apps’ concept with a fresh pair of eyes:

Device heterogeneity:  Be it a rapid increase in the number of Macs in use in  a business context or the  the tablet and smartphone mania. the device landscape has changed over the last 2 years.   Hence, the follow-me experience needs to be tailored to the device at hand.

Content heterogeneity:  As seen in the pie-charts below (source: Citrix survey of 400+ IT organizations), the relative proportions of apps within an enterprise is changing with mobile  apps and SaaS gaining significant ground.  This too impacts the follow-me experience profoundly.  Besides, it’s not just about apps.  The follow-me experience needs to encompass documents as well.

          

However, the core principles of ‘IT control’ blended with ‘end-user consistency’ have not changed.  With the release of CloudGateway 2, we have introduced 2 key concepts to cater to the changing landscape as it relates to the ‘follow-me’ behavior:

Account services:  Available as part of the StoreFront services module, Account services enables IT to setup ‘Accounts’ – which is a bundle of apps/stores, connectivity services (VPN), and update services (citrix.com or mechandizing server).  When users login to a particular account, they automatically get whatever is needed based on the device they are connecting from – on a windows/mac machine they will get a VPN plug-in, on an iPad they don’t.  Similarly, apps that cannot function on a particular device (iOS app on a Mac) are greyed out.  It also provides access  to the actual service that persists and manages end-user subscription to apps.  Thus, account services introduces the notion of device context to the ‘follow-me’ behavior.  In future, this model can be extended to push device/platform specific configurations as well.

Follow-me data: CloudGateway can now act as a control point for ShareFile too, and this means users can enjoy follow-me data behavior- and have access to all their documents from any device. In its current incarnation, follow-me data function is manifested via a ‘docs’ tab in Receiver. Going forward,  the ShareFile clients would also piggyback on the control features of CloudGateway – stay tuned for more info on this front over the coming months.  See my earlier blog on this for more details.

Follow-me apps has evolved with the launch of CloudGateway 2 in two ways.  First, it has become more contextual from a device perspective; secondly it has gone beyond apps to include data and services such as VPN as well, and should rightly be called ‘follow-me enterprise’ going forward.

Finally, it was interesting to see VMWare announce very similar concepts at VMWorld 2012 with the Horizon suite. Glad to note industry players coalescing around the same concepts. and even happier to have CloudGateway 2 out in the market in general availability now.  Take it for a spin and let us know what you think!