Having worked with multiple startup companies, I have been involved — many times over — with the design and implementation of engineering office spaces. This is always a challenging exercise given each engineer has a different idea of what the ideal workspace looks like and the business is always looking to manage costs.
My team is currently in the middle of two new office space renovations in Boston and Florida. As we were debating open office floor plans, desk density, noise control, lighting, space personalization, it struck me that, like a change in your physical workspace environment, a change in your computing workspace environment is highly personal and incredibly disruptive when someone else changes it.
Humans are creatures of habit and most of us prefer the status quo over change. Therefore, when the IT department rolls through the office and replaces your trusty old PC, that you have spent countless hours customizing and tweaking, with the silent, tiny, beautiful thin client and new monitor, we are first excited, but then quickly anxious about the change. Similar to moving from a sort-of-private cubicle, to a new open space floor plan, the move from local computing to server-based virtual desktop computing is a scary proposition that requires adjustment and some change in behavior but, ultimately, leads to a more productive and more enjoyable work experience.
Each of us has different personalities and different opinions of what is “comfortable.” Some of us enjoy the new standing desks, some do not. Some of us like the free flow of communication brought about by the open floor plans, some prefer the privacy of an office. And, when it comes to your digital workspace, the same rules apply. Each of us configures our digital workspace in a different manner that is “familiar” to us, for example, changing the background to one of the family photo. A truly functional digital workspace must be customizable by the end-user, yet fully managed by the IT administrator. As a user, I want to add applications that make me more productive, but I don’t want to deal with the drudgery of managing Windows updates.
The real “win” comes when we get more in the New World than we gave up in the old, “comfortable” world. In the new world of cloud-delivered digital workspaces, we get “Desktops as a Utility” service (think power grid). By this, I mean we get a highly reliable, invisibly maintained, and continually improved Windows (or Linux) workspace that we can access from our phone, our tablet/iPad, our Google Chromebook or our traditional Windows PC/laptop. Any of these devices connected to a network brings us right back to where we left off. Not only this, but we get the ability to easily have multiple desktops at our fingertips, allowing for separation between development/ test environments vs. corporate communications and applications (MS office, Slack, etc.)
Yet, for this workspace to be truly mine, I need the ability to customize and add applications. If your IT department cannot provide a level of customization/personalization, you are right back to the open office space problem where everyone feels exposed, less productive, and not as happy as before. Unfortunately, most Hosted Virtual Desktops and many corporate VDI implementations are the “one-size-fits-all” version that people hate!
Here at Citrix, we have invested heavily in the technologies necessary to deliver the vision of “virtual desktops without compromise,” in fact, “VD with benefits” (pun intended). We continue to extend and enhance our User Profile Management (UPM) to provide a robust profile optimization service that enables IT to maintain a single user profile that follows the user as the user roams between physical and virtual devices. Any change you make that affects your profile, is reflected onto every desktop you log into whether it’s physical or virtual.
In 2016, we acquired Norskale, which gave us User Environment Management (UEM), which allows us to dynamically assemble a virtual workspace based on the ideal combination of user profiles, personalization application settings, system policies, and system resource consumption providing fast application launch and increased scalability. And, most recently, in January 2017, we acquired Unidesk for its industry-leading layering technology giving us the foundation for User Layers. Citrix App Layering allows the user to install applications of their choice (company policy permitting) into a user layer that allows IT to centrally manage the base operating system and corporate provided applications separately from the user installed applications. This layering technology also allows us to manage an application once and delivered to any user, any desktop, and both on premises and across clouds, providing IT with true choice.
All of these technologies together provide an unmatched user experience, giving the user more than what they had before IT rolled through the office. Much like the new office environments which provide cool spaces for collaboration, pool tables for recreation and yummy snacks for the employees, sometimes change brings goodness.