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December 12, 2016

A CTO’s Top 5 End-User-Computing Predictions for IT Organizations in 2017 and Beyond

Ruben Spruijt - Atlantis


What is on the horizon for end user computing? Wondering what is hot and what is not in 2017?  It's time for radical changes in your workspace strategy, so get started now by reading my top 5 insights to ensure you and your workspace are ready for 2017 and beyond.

1.   Windows 10

Windows_10_Logo-svg.pngMicrosoft is the new Apple. The energy is back at Microsoft with solutions such as Azure, Office365, HoloLens and Windows 10. With more than 400 million Windows 10 deployments, consumer and business combined, it’s clear that Windows 10 adoption will ramp-up in 2017. More than 52% of recent survey respondents made it clear that they are evaluating Windows 10 requirements or are seriously thinking about the transition to Windows 10 in 2017, especially when they understand extended Windows 7 support is ending soon.
Do you think you are ready for Windows 10? Do you think user profiles and user environment management is easy with Windows 10? How do you manage the device and applications? Will you use the same tools as with Windows 7? Do you understand the impact CB, CBB, LTSB has for your application landscape, for your (slow) processes to adopt rapid changes?

Think DevOps and apply this to Windows 10 for continues improvements #VDIOps.
Note: Check out this book about DevOps ‘Phoenix Project’.

2.   GPU – Graphical Processor Units

GPUs are everywhere and they are awesome! GPUs are used in high performance computing, machine learning and high-end workstations. They are also used in our mobile devices and Macbooks / Ultrabooks.  GPU and Solid State Storage are the standard devices in  workspaces and will be the baseline moving forward in 2017. Why settle for less when we (re)design our Virtual Workspace/VDI and Application Remoting solutions or when we use Desktop as A service (DaaS)? Do you think GPU enabled VDI is only for high-end CAD/CAM, PLM, 2D/3D designers? Think again. Modern applications such as Windows 10, Office2016/365 and browsers require GPUs. Without the GPU, the user experience will be poor and it will have additional loading on the CPU as it tries to emulate a GPU. The amount of users running Windows 10 compared to Windows 7 on the same hardware can be 40% lower.  NVIDIA is leading the pack with GRID hardware and software.  Intel and AMD are the runners-up. More competition is a good thing for customers as it increases vendor speed of innovation and lowers the solution price.
I expect NVIDIA to lead in 2017 and beyond while Intel is (slowly) entering this market with IrisPro solutions and new more powerful APUs with good server OEM support on the horizon delivering an interesting solution for the knowledge workers using virtual desktops and apps. Where is AMD with their FirePro MultiUser GPU solution? In a better place than 2016 for sure, hopefully they gain more traction in the community and industry in 2017.

3.   Hyperconverged

hcis.pngHyperconvergence is quickly moving to become the mainstream platform for virtual workspace and is the fastest-growing segment of the overall market for integrated systems. Hyperconverged appliances are important for end user computing because they solve the historical challenges with virtual workspace - namely: cost, complexity and performance. They deliver a great user experience by leveraging memory, flash and rich data services such as in-memory, in-line on host de-duplication with built-in machine learning technology.  I expect to see strong alignment and product integration with HCI and workspace vendors such as Citrix, VMware and upcoming vendors such as Workspot. HCI vendors will have deeper integration into the platforms, leveraging for instance, Citrix Director, Studio,  and Life Cycle Manager and VMware vRealize Ops.  

Hyperconverged Infrastructure and software-defined storage will be more and more integrated into virtual workspace delivery and management platforms. This approach of integration will become one of the key differentiators of HCI and SDS solutions and from IAAS to application converged platform as a Service (PaaS). Also, expect strong connections between on-premise and public cloud with workloads running on hyperconverged and software-defined storage solutions.  These will drive new opportunities opportunities for customers and partners. Great opportunities ahead! 

4.   Cloud, Containers and Software-Defined Everything

Software-defined is a great opportunity for many of us in the industry. It ranges from storage, infrastructure and networking to applications and security. When building or delivering clouds, fogs, containers, infrastructure or ‘Workspace as a Service,’ the key is to be able to have the flexibility and speed in order to adapt to business requirements. Software-Defined Storage (SDS) solutions have been used in world’s largest virtual workspace environments for many years already so there’s no reason to wait. Vendors like Atlantis and VMware clearly see the fast ramp-up of Virtual SAN which demonstrates a strong track record.  Flexibility, infrastructure as code, RESTAPI, PowerShell, Python support and the use of commodity hardware with local memory and (flash) storage are a few of the reasons why SDS is gaining fast market ground in datacenter and virtual workspace. 
In 2017 I expect many more customers to choose HCI and SDS for workspace, especially when their traditional ‘status quo’ storage solution are near or at end of life. Hybrid and all flash 3-tier legacy appliance vendors are here to stay but will lose market share fast due to SDS/HCI solutions and public cloud solutions like as Amazon and Microsoft. 
The virtual infrastructure layer is becoming a commodity and customers are looking for alternatives for existing virtual infrastructure solutions.  
Integrated Workspace and container solutions to solve cost, complexity, user-experience problems while delivering high-performance.  Consistent and persistent storage  is a great asset to deliver the promises of the cloud 1st strategy.  There is a clear interest to run application workloads, both cloud native and legacy applications, in containers. This is currently a very nascent market, I expect more interest and adoption beyond developers late 2017.
Imagine a world with SDS, containers and rich-data services combined with Cloud offerings – awesome customer benefits and endless possibilities here – stay tuned!

 5.    Application and Device Management

With the shift from mobile device management to mobile application management, unified device management is something happing now. With the rise of identity management (as a service) various management and access platforms are merging together as well. Vendors such as VMware and Microsoft have a strong outlook to become the strongest in this space. Microsoft, with their strong strategy and solutions such as Azure, Office365 and on-premises usage of Active Directory and Exchange, is winning the battles from more traditional MDM and MAM vendors. VMware with their strong vision, strategy and smart acquisition of AirWatch and new solutions build in Horizon One.  A very interesting race between two great enemies who could become friends in the EUC future as well.

The average IT Professional responsible for the workspace often doesn’t have a clue what applications their business-consumers actually use and how often they use them. With the adoption of Windows 10, the DevOps mindset is needed to handle the immersive flood of new services for me it is clear that things need to change . Application usage insights and smart monitoring/management solutions are needed to retain insights and deliver the best UX and AX possible. Know what you have in your infrastructure and being able to adapt with the right processes, people and technology is the full battle. Be ready for this battle in 2017, learn fast, remove the ivory towers and firewalls in your organization, use new and smart (point) solutions to make your workspace the ultimate workspace.

Final Comments

There is so much more to learn and to share, but I’ll keep that for other blog posts. End user computing is a great and crazy world with awesome developments that impact us all along with our business consumers.  There is never a dull moment in this fast moving industry. Why it’s so awesome? Simply put - because the end user computing industry is as close as it can get to the business consumers which includes you and me.    
Will the impact of end user computing will change and decrease with the use of mobile, cloud, AI, AR/VR, IoT, big data and data insights? I don’t think so. These acronyms do actually mean something for our consumers as they add value to the end-user-computing industry now and in the future.

Do you want to know how to be a hero to your end-users?
My advice is to:

  • Think big, start small and move fast with technology and processes
  • Hire smart, energized people who understand technology and can translate it into business solutions
  • Begin your project or change with the business consumer in mind.  
  • Take a look at the “dinosaur vendors” in your solutions portfolio.  It’s probably time to add one or two smaller technology vendors into the mix

Ruben Spruijt | Field CTO – Atlantis Computing | @rspruijt |
Member of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, Citrix CTP and NVIDIA NGCA community.

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