Recent changes among vendors show that the desktop virtualization market is shifting slowly toward a focus on mobility.
A few weeks ago, Citrix announced it is canceling Citrix Synergy in London this October in favor of a series of smaller mobility shows scattered around Europe. I believe this is the latest indication that Citrix is altering its mind-set from desktop and application virtualization to mobility. You could call it "Citrix 2.0."
This doesn't mean Citrix is moving away from desktops (it clearly occupies a huge role in that market and is still innovating), but it does reinforce the perception that desktop virtualization companies are spreading their wings.
Look at all the solutions Citrix has, outside of XenApp and XenDesktop. The company has Podio, ShareFile, all the Citrix Online components and, of course, CloudGateway. Plus, it's taking advantage of Citrix Receiver to the point where that product suite has become a platform all to itself. In just a few years you'll see people deploy Citrix Receiver to mobile devices without even considering it to be a remote desktop product but simply a mobile application and information management tool.
Vendors take on mobile
There are many other desktop virtualization companies adopting a decidedly mobile focus as well.
VMware recently repackaged its Horizon Suite as an end-user computing suite that includes physical desktop, virtual desktop and mobility management tools. VMware manages mobile devices in one of two ways: On some Android devices it can actually virtualize the OS and provide two distinct containers, one for work and one for play. On Apple iOS devices, it creates sandboxed containers for wrapped applications, much like other mobile application management offerings do.
Mokafive, a company known for its layering and client hypervisor management tools, also released a mobility package aimed at mobile information management (which, I might add, is expertly poised to do mobile application management also, should the company decide to go down that road).
We see companies such as Dell (plus Wyse Technologies and Quest Software before them) acquiring software to manage mobile devices and going so far as to include those device management features into Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. All of a sudden, we can manage our devices from the same place that we manage our physical and virtual desktops.
What does all this mean to the desktop virtualization market?
Our worlds are blending in ways that we couldn't predict a few years ago, but our roles aren't changing much -- even if the technology is. We still primarily care about delivering applications to devices. We still care that users access data and websites securely. These principles apply to the same group of people, regardless of whether the device used to access the apps and information is on the desktop, in the data center or in their pocket.
A high-ranking Citrix employee once told me to get to know CloudGateway as well as I know XenApp and XenDesktop. Even if you're not responsible for applications, data or security on mobile devices today, change is in the wind, and they could fall onto your plate any day now. Perhaps delivering Windows desktops to mobile devices is the way you're going about it now, but when it comes time to find a more appropriate methodology, you'll certainly need to be involved.
If you don't believe me, just look to the desktop virtualization companies that you care about today. There are the ones that I've mentioned already (Citrix, VMware, Mokafive, Dell), plus other big names including AppSense, Symantec and RES Software. Even antivirus companies such as McAfee and BitDefender are pivoting into this space.
If you want more evidence, be sure to watch the keynote at Citrix Synergy in Los Angeles next month. What used to be a 90-minute showcase of new Windows desktop virtualization features has become a cloud and mobility expo. There is still talk of Windows desktops, but the energy in the room comes from mobility topics, and I expect mobility to bleed further into our desktop virtualization lives, too.
Industry shifts from Terminal Services to VDI
Desktop virtualization terms you need to know
Desktop as a Service options grow