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Consumerization of IT: What's VDI got to do with it?

As more desktop virtualization vendors and users turn their attention to the consumerization of IT, we examine the technology's relationship with this disruptive trend.

It's no surprise, really, that IT pros and vendors alike are talking about consumerization in the same context as desktop virtualization.

Desktop virtualization is often the place organizations turn to embrace the devices and services associated with consumerization. Plus, services such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and app streaming can help improve BYOD security and administration.

VMware talks about consumerization, and Microsoft dedicated an entire keynote to it at the Microsoft Management Summit last month. This week's Citrix Synergy 2012 conference is sure to be no different. Here's how and why the consumerization of IT and desktop virtualization fit together:

What is consumerization of IT?

Many people think consumerization amounts to bring your own computer (BYOC, which really means "users want to use Macs at work") or bring your own device (BYOD). They're partially right, but it's not limited to that. Some also think the consumerization of IT means iPhones, iPads and Android devices, and they're partially right again, but it's more than that, too. Consumerization also includes all the cloud services that end users turn to in order to work more efficiently, such as Dropbox, Gmail and Google Docs, among many others.

But what drives consumerization is that users are becoming more savvy and more in tune with their devices. No longer do they have two devices, one at work and one at home. Instead, they have phones, laptops, desktops and tablets -- all at the same time!

What does desktop virtualization have to do with it?

All the things our users can do, of course, bring management and BYOD security concerns. We now have the possibility of users running around with corporate data and applications on their personal devices, unsecured and outside the corporate walls.

That's where desktop virtualization comes in. Some companies are developing native or Web-based applications for use with these devices, but they are primarily early adopters with large departments of coders or dedicated, niche use cases. The vast majority of organizations are still coming to terms with the consumerization of IT, and the fastest way for them to deliver business applications to all these devices is to use desktop virtualization.

More on VDI and the
consumerization of IT:

BYOD FAQ: Answers to IT's burning questions

BYOD security: How application streaming and VDI can help

Take a look around and you'll see that all the desktop virtualization vendors have clients for all the major device platforms. Citrix Systems, VMware, Quest Software, Ericom, Virtual Bridges, Oracle, Wyse (now Dell) and many others have clients that work with their systems and even some others.

There are limitations to using desktop virtualization in tandem with consumerization, of course. VDI certainly won't solve all your BYOD security issues. Plus, in terms of performance, Windows wasn't made to be used via a touch interface. In fact, most vendors have spent a lot of time coming up with creative solutions to use your toolbox of devices in interesting ways. Some of them even let you use your docket iPad as a display/keyboard and your iPhone as a virtual trackpad. That's pretty slick, but it's not exactly ideal.

Still, there's a lot of innovation in the desktop virtualization market solely for the purpose of enabling the consumerization of IT.

Interested in learning more about consumerization at a live event? Find out more about TechTarget’s Consumerization of IT Seminar with Brian Madden, coming to multiple U.S. cities in 2013.


The future of consumerization

These are interesting times in IT. Two separate worlds -- desktop virtualization and consumerization -- are working together and breathing life into each other, and we're at the nexus of the two. Desktop virtualization is a small part of the overall consumerization picture, but it is a very important part.

We're seeing traditional desktop virtualization companies such as Wyse, Citrix and VMware deliver products and services that not only manage the apps but also secure the devices themselves. Companies such as RES Software and AppSense are throwing their hats in the ring, too, with efforts to secure the data that travels between devices and the data center.

That all promises to continue this week at Citrix Synergy 2012, so stay tuned to,, and for complete conference coverage.

Gabe Knuth
is an independent industry analyst and blogger, known throughout the world as "the other guy" at He has been in the application delivery space for over 12 years and has seen the industry evolve from the one-trick pony of terminal services to the application and desktop virtualization of today. Gabe's focus tends to lean more toward practical, real-world technology in the industry, essentially boiling off the hype and reducing solutions to their usefulness in today's corporate environments.

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