BOSTON -- BriForum's namesake Brian Madden is known as an opinionated, independent desktop virtualization expert, but he wasn't the only person at the conference spouting words of wisdom and technical tidbits.
The sessions were full of valuable information, sage advice and glimpses into the IT world today: play your vendors, design for failure, offer graphics support, and above all, know your users.
Check out some of the best quotes overheard at BriForum 2014:
"Even if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Citrix customer, call your VMware rep and get them to fight [on pricing]."
Brian Madden, independent industry analyst and blogger
In his refreshingly brief keynote -- 25 minutes, to be exact -- Madden noted that it doesn't really matter if VMware's new application remoting feature in Horizon 6 is better than Citrix XenApp or not. What matters is that XenApp has competition now. Despite the fact that Remote Desktop Session Host in Horizon 6 is a version-one tool, it will improve as VMware tries to crush Citrix and learns what customers want. And as VMware improves, it forces Citrix to do the same.
Perhaps most importantly, it puts IT administrators in a position of control. Even if you have no intentions of switching from XenApp to Horizon 6, Citrix doesn't have to know that. Just telling your sales reps that you're considering a transition can help save your company some change. Competition is a very good thing.
"Design for failure [in the cloud] instead of for 'never fail' like you do in the data center"
Elias Khnaser, CTO, Sigma Solutions, Inc.
In his session "Showdown: AWS vs. Azure for Desktop Delivery," Khnaser outlined the major differences between Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. But he also pointed out that running desktops in the data center and running them in the cloud are inherently different; it's not a matter of if the clouds will suffer an outage, it's when.
Because that outage is beyond your control, it's important to plan for it and understand your service-level agreement (SLA). Some providers say you need two downed availability zones for them to consider it an outage. If you put all your desktops in one cloud and it goes down, your SLA won't help you get things back up and running.
"3D graphics is a de facto standard in remote desktops now."
Dan McCall, vice president of Citrix products and former CEO of Virtual Computer
GPUs have been limited to power users who need access to graphic-intensive applications, such as CAD. But more and more workers need access to graphics-heavy or 3-D applications, even if they're read-only. GPU cards and GPU virtualization technology have seen significant advances recently, and now shops can choose to implement dedicated GPUs, shared virtual GPUs and GPU pass-through.
"Many people say, 'Oh, it's just users; I know what they do' and then they don't…. Don't write a line of code until you know users' workflows"
Steve Greenberg principal architect, Thin Client Computing LLC
Greenberg presented a session with Jared Cowart on building a virtual desktop infrastructure for an aerospace company with high security requirements and various kinds of users. He went on what he called a "rant" about figuring out users' needs before you implement VDI, but what he said was not a tirade.
Across the Web there are lists of ways to make your VDI deployment fail, and disregard for users' needs tops them all. Even if you think you know what workers need or what their workflows are like, you can't get a real sense of how they interact with applications and data if you don't sit down and ask them. Cowart noted that even when your VDI deployment does fail, that's an important time to talk to employees and find out why the products or strategy you chose didn't work.
"We are unapologetically single hypervisor."
Ben Goodman, lead evangelist for VMware Horizon
Goodman explained that Horizon 6 is only available on VMware's hypervisor. That way, vSphere and Horizon 6 can work together to give customers advantages that aren't out there for other hypervisors. One example is that View Storage Accelerator can improve virtual desktop performance during boot storms by using the content read cache in vSphere.
"If there's a device out there, chances are somebody's going to want to find a way to have access to their information on it, and they're going to make it happen one way or another."
David Stafford, director of product management for end-user computing, VMware
During his session on the "data ingestion problem" that comes with the consumerization of the enterprise, Stafford said workers today find new ways to access the information they need, and those processes are often outside of IT's control. That means the data IT shops are trying to protect isn't always where it's supposed to be.
Madden echoed these sentiments in his keynote saying that employees will find ways to access data, and if admins don't enable that access, workers will go around them with applications and services such as Dropbox.
Senior News Director Bridget Botelho and News Writer Jake O'Donnell contributed to this report.