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Five things Brian and Gabe are thankful for this year

New storage technologies, advances in remote graphics delivery and trends such as IT consumerization are reasons for Brian Madden and Gabe Knuth to give thanks this year.

When asked to come up with a short list of technologies and trends we are thankful for this year, we had the unenviable task of sorting through everything that's happened in 2011 and distilling it down to five things. We passed over 10 BriForums, the shift in attention from virtual desktops to all desktops and how great it is to work from home. Ultimately, here's what we came up with.

The emergence of Nutanix
Back in August, we had a briefing with Nutanix that blew us away. The article we wrote as a result of that briefing garnered 42 comments and over 10,000 page views and for good reason: Nutanix's solution rocks!

On the surface, Nutanix looks like Pivot 3 and V3, who have put together solutions that combine wicked-fast storage and compute power all inside one box that is custom made for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

Nutanix takes this a step or two further and via a controller virtual machine (VM) on each host, provides SAN-like functionality (snapshots, clones, thin provisioning, deduplication, live migration, etc.) along with compute power that is scaled out simply by adding more hosts.

Single-instance block-level storage
Single-instance block-level storage is the Duke Nukem Forever of the VDI space, but in 2011, we finally got a whiff of it from vendors. Conversations with just about anyone with a storage solution (Nutanix included) indicate that they are working on something, although nobody is actually selling anything, yet.

What makes single-instance block-level storage so appealing is that it will allow us to take dirty, unstructured data, throw it into a storage system and let the storage system sort it out. Instead of deduplicating files at the file level, or shifting blocks around at the block level, single-instance block-level storage solutions will distill everything to the block level so that no two blocks are the same throughout the system. This makes storage faster and reduces the amount you need to support your users. Keep your fingers crossed for something this year.

We've recently spoken with and visited NVIDIA at their campus in Santa Clara and our conversations with the computer graphics company can be summed up in five words:

Someday, VDI will look amazing.

The NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Graphics Platform was introduced at VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen (you can read our analysis here). The platform consists of four components that are set to change remote graphics in the near future. These technologies range from the hypervisor-GPU integration that we see today to technology called Project Monterey that leverages NVIDIA technology to move rendered pixels to remote protocols faster than a DVI connection.

Project Monterey also goes by another name -- Quadro for the cloud. Combine that with NVIDIA's Tegra line of system-on-a-chip thin clients and we're ready to be amazed.

The consumerization of IT
We are also grateful that, finally, the world is assigning a name to the thing we've been doing since we started working in the mid-1990s -- fighting with uninformed end users. That name is IT consumerization.

Unlike end users of the '90s, today's users are savvy. They want their applications on their devices, and they have good reason to say that it's necessary to do their jobs.

Consumerization isn't just about iPads and Macs at work, though. Consumerization is about users not only knowing what they want, but how to get it. Organizations have to contend with all these new devices, but also new apps, services and connection methods (security nerds call these "vectors"), and they have to do it in a way that keeps them and their users happy.

We're so drawn to the challenges of IT consumerization that TechTarget has launched two sites within the past month. The first,, is a source of news and information on the topic. The other,, is a community built on the same platform as to deal with independent, thoughtful, opinionated analysis of the industry. We're excited to have both and looking forward to covering another force in the industry.

Industry confusion
The last thing we're thankful for this year is that this industry is still confusing enough that two guys with one-quarter of a college education between them can maintain and enjoy jobs as professional bloggers. Thank you, industry, for the job security!

While we may not be down in the weeds as much as we used to be, we spend a significant portion of our time trying to make sense of all the changes in a growing industry. When we started this, MetaFrame 1.0 had just come out and the Blackberry didn't exist. Now we have legitimate use cases for VDI and for bosses to use iPads to access their Windows apps on the golf course. Come to think of it, even that use case is starting to look outdated as we enter the cloud era…

Brian Madden is an independent industry analyst and blogger, known throughout the world as an opinionated, supertechnical desktop virtualization expert. He has written several books and more than 1,000 articles about desktop and application virtualization. Madden's blog,, receives millions of visitors per year and is a leading source for conversation, debate and discourse about the application and desktop virtualization industry. He is also the creator of BriForum, the premier independent application delivery technical conference.

Read more from Brian Madden

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.

Read more from Gabe Knuth

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