This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Citrix Synergy 2017 conference coverage

IGEL CEO talks shift to VDI endpoint management software

As thin client vendor IGEL expands beyond hardware, CEO Jed Ayres sits down at Citrix Synergy 2017 to talk about the future of the desktop virtualization market.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- As end-user computing has evolved to focus on the applications and data that IT must deliver to endpoints, instead of on the endpoints themselves, the market has turned its attention toward software.

IGEL Technology, best known for its thin and zero clients, has put more emphasis on its VDI endpoint management software, the Universal Management Suite (UMS), as well as the IGEL OS, a hardware-agnostic operating system that works on desktop, laptops, tablets and thin clients.

The company also continues to update its line of clients, including adding thin client support for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise and zero client support for VMware's Blast Extreme remote display protocol. IGEL also offers UD Pocket, a small USB device that lets users access virtual desktops and apps from any computer.

Here at Citrix Synergy 2017, IGEL CEO Jed Ayres spoke with about the shift away from hardware, where cloud fits in and the future of VDI endpoint management software.

How has IGEL's business changed?

Jed Ayres IGEL TechnologyJed Ayres

Jed Ayres: A year ago, if you would have gone and looked at IGEL's website, you would have seen a lot of hardware. But what made the hardware special was the operating system, the converter software and the management console, and so unfortunately that message didn't come across.

We ... are starting to look more like a software company. Today you can buy the software without the hardware, and that's the fastest-growing part of the business.

Can organizations use UMS to manage clients other than IGEL hardware?

Ayres: Yes. We have converter software that can go to any x86 device that's been built in the last 10 years and squeeze extra life out of them. So we're taking old Windows machines, anything that has two gigs of RAM, and converting them to a very secure, manageable IGEL operating system.

Will IGEL move into mobile device management?

Our biggest opportunity right now still is all the on-prem, traditional VDI and people that are moving from [Windows] 7 to 10.
Jed AyresCEO, IGEL Technology

Ayres: We've looked at it. We're definitely going to add some kind of ability to see and manage them in more of an asset management capacity. We aren't going to go and try to compete against AirWatch and Intune and MobileIron, but there are certainly some basic features that our customers want to be able to see inside that pane of glass.

Do you see more demand for thin or zero clients?

Ayres: We see very little demand for zero clients. What we sell in the U.S. is either the software-based approach, and then on the hardware side where we have the most success is with the quad-core, Intel-based UD6 [thin client] or our quad-core UD3 that's a cheaper of version of that with an AMD chip. People that are buying this stuff still need to do graphics, and I think that with zero clients, the performance level is ... It's about user experience.

Citrix announced Workspace this week, where users can access web, SaaS, mobile and Windows apps from one secure cloud-based portal. Is that an indication that companies might move away from on-premises virtualized desktops and apps?

Ayres: People are always going to want streamed applications, and the types of those applications are just going to vary. Where you're still going to see the value that we provide with Citrix is healthcare, finance, insurance, government -- regulated environments. That's where we see our customers. Our biggest opportunity right now still is all the on-prem, traditional VDI and people that are moving from [Windows] 7 to 10. We see this cloud consumption model maturing as [organizations] move out of building data centers. IGEL will certainly participate in that, and people are still going to want a manageable endpoint solution.

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