Cloud desktop tool provider, FSLogix, continues to announce
new investors and technical advisors from the Citrix community. I spoke with recent investor, Steve
Greenberg, founder of Thin Client Computing, to get more information on why he
thinks FSLogix is a great investment.
let's start with a little background about you and Thin Client Computing. You've been quite involved in the virtual
desktop space for a long time. What got you started and what keeps you so
focused on this space?
Steve Greenberg: I started Thin Client
Computing in 1997 after working with early products from Citrix, like Winview
for remote access and then Winframe for published desktops. The "client server" revolution was still
growing at large enterprises, and the robust, reliable, centralized computing
model that had been used for so long, was being disrupted by PCs being put on
remember it well. The flexibility of the
PC and the lure of new GUI based apps was pushing IT into new technologies
without a long term roadmap or full scale plan.
The PC was promising a revolutionary amount of new productivity.
Greenberg: That's right. And in the mid-90's, Citrix started building
a vision that could combine the best of both worlds, centralize the complexity,
but leverage the Windows based environment for rapid app development and
customization, allowing companies to seriously enhance their productivity and
use IT as a competitive weapon, while still being able to manage and predict
the cost and complexity of their IT operations.
Our company has grown out of that vision, in providing leading solutions
for our regional customers, both large and small.
about thin client devices? Are they a
part of the strategy?
Greenberg: We certainly include thin
client hardware in the mix, but in the mid-90's the published desktop space was
called, "thin client computing." After
that we had server-based computing, "application service providing" or "ASP",
then utility computing, and many other variations as the providers and
platforms evolved and morphed. But the
public cloud desktop of today is very much what we envisioned early on. We've had a ton of technology improvements
that were predicted in 1997, including everything from storage to
networking. We've just begun to scratch
the surface in migrating people into the world envisioned by companies like
ours, and the big solution providers like Citrix, VMware, Microsoft, and
Amazon. And I'm more of a believer now
than I was even back then.
mentioned all the technology improvements - who would have imagined in 1997
that I could buy a 512GB flash drive to carry on my keychain, and use my
virtual desktop on a flight from Austin to NY?
So with all the improvements, why do you think the virtual desktop space
is lagging or has yet to hit their stride in the market?
Greenberg: Well, the amazing thing is
that it's taken off so much, even while so many of the critical
pieces were still in their infancy. I
think that really demonstrates the power of the model. A great
contemporary example is Netflix. Back in the early 2000's I don't think
seriously believed that Hollywood Video would be put out of business by
streaming video, or that Blockbuster would start shutting down brick and
locations. We all kind of knew it would
happen someday, but for a long time the internet was just not a serious
watch movies. PC hardware and software,
larger format displays, reliable high speed networking, it all had to
happen. Then one day the Netflix client
was embedded on every Blu-Ray player and smart TV being shipped and that
off the tipping point.
you saying virtual desktops are at that tipping point?
Greenberg: I think they are, both for
enterprises and maybe even an emerging consumer model. CIOs understand the potential cost benefit of
implementing BYOD, having a remote workforce, going to cloud infrastructure,
and moving IT from "one to many" back to more of a "one to one" support model,
while maintaining all the benefits of the last 20 years of app
development. The perception is that
cloud is brand new, but many of our customers already have cloud based HR,
cloud based payroll, CRM, development and storage, and many other critical
functions. The workspace environment is
the final piece, and the interface where all business productivity occurs, and
we are very, very, close to moving that piece, and that's one of the reasons we
started working with FSLogix.
transition. Let's talk about your
interest in FSLogix and how they fit into the vision.
Greenberg: The executive team at FSLogix
has a long, in depth history with application virtualization and virtual
desktop technology, including solutions like TScale, AppStream, SVS, and
products from Wyse. I've worked with
different solutions that they've been a part of for almost as long as I've been
doing this, and I've seen how they've continued to positively impact the move
toward a more ubiquitous world of virtual desktops. A problem in the enterprise is that
implementing PCs and traditional computing models is still the default, or fall
back - a perceived way to eliminate risk.
But at this point, the real risk is in doing business as usual. We're using solutions from FSLogix to make it
a no-brainer for CIOs to move their end users into the next frontier of
enterprise computing. FSLogix has been
rolling out a steady stream of releases that dramatically improve the cost and
complexity model, and exponentially improve the productivity for end
users. Considering our background and
vision, investing in the company just seemed like a natural fit.
know many of the folks there and I completely agree. A great team,
doing great things. So, are you predicting that that technologies
like FSLogix will shift everything to the cloud and eliminate the need
for the PC
Greenberg: No, actually just the
opposite! There will always be a place
for local computing, but cloud computing allows you to slide the dial of what
goes where. As an example, when new
games are introduced, you generally want very fast local processing, even
though most of the game environment lives in the cloud. As the technology evolves, last year's
features transition to the cloud, but the latest and greatest, leverage local
computing resources. The current
iteration of enterprise apps can do very well with cloud resources, without
sacrificing local performance and productivity for your employees. That's another big benefit FSLogix provides.
interesting. So you believe in a long
term hybrid model?
Greenberg: Definitely. We have an old saying, "Good technology never
goes away, it just moves to the back of the data center." We still have terminal emulation on the
client because we still have some incredibly useful apps running on mainframes. So if we know we're going to be digital
hoarders to some degree, let's architect the support and management
infrastructure in a way that reduces cost and complexity, gives businesses
maximum agility, and lets them focus their spending on strategic and innovative
projects. The cloud workspace is the
obvious and immediate answer for many different classes of applications, even
for those that maintain a local computing component. What I am suggesting though, is that the
primary parts of the enterprise workspace move to the cloud, and I think for most
companies, that's possible today. Even
with Citrix, you may be using some apps locally and some on XenApp, like
Outlook 2016. And by using Citrix with
FSLogix, you get the cloud benefit of Office 365, the virtual desktop benefits
of Citrix, and local performance.
change gears a little. We've seen some
pretty interesting, and maybe even unexpected acquisitions lately, maybe
starting with AppSense, then Norskale, the "LANDesk HEAT" announcement, and now
Unidesk. What does that mean to the
Greenberg: Great question. First of all, the amount
we're seeing around physical and virtual client computing is really
heartening. A lot of investment is being
made because people see that we're at the beginning of a very big
shift. Like the Netflix example - all the technology
is coming into place to change the way we've done IT at the endpoint
this last client-server chapter. In a
few years we might look back and say, "remember when we used CDs to
software and all your apps were installed on your personal device? That
was weird." Our grandkids will ask, "What happened when
you lost your laptop? Did you lose all
funny. I have friends with younger kids
who don't really get the whole "CD" thing, and have only grown up with
streaming. But that's a topic for another time. So, what role do you see
companies like Citrix playing in the future? Given their recent acquisitions,
how do you think it will affect their partnerships and the overall space in
Greenberg: Citrix is a great partner. They've
done far more than any company to bring this vision to bear. It's no secret that they've had a lot of
changes to work through in recent history, but I think Norskale and Unidesk
were both homeruns that show they're seriously on track with their vision, and
the larger vision of the other giant companies now competing in cloud
computing. Unidesk brought a great set
of technological enhancements to the Citrix stack, making them more competitive
in the app layering area, and substantially increasing the footprint that
FSLogix can compete on top of with their solutions.
you see it as all additive?
Greenberg: Absolutely. We are a big fan of Norskale as well, and were
their largest reseller in the US before the acquisition. We've been lucky to be early in the market
using some of these vendors. There are
always going to be a few overlapping features and marketing messages with
acquisitions like this, but I'm looking to the future when Unidesk and Norskale
are fully incorporated into Citrix and I have that set of tools along with
solutions like FSLogix. It's actually
does FSLogix specifically fit?
Greenberg: Well, today there are some
definite "no brainers." What they're
doing around Office 365 Containers is helping enterprises move all their users,
including their RDSH and non-persistent VDI users. The newest release lets you enable and roam
search indexes for Outlook. Pretty cool
stuff. The virtual workspace needs to
perform better than a local workspace, and that's what we love to see. FSLogix Profile Containers are getting rid
of folder redirection, and optimizing login and application start times - and
they're doing it alongside all the popular profile management solutions, to
help enterprises extend the value of their investments there. But remember, on this journey to the cloud,
we're touching a billion desktops, and creating an environment for the next
billion. FSLogix addresses many of the
core issues you have to fix on traditional PCs, and in the process,
"cloud-ifies" the environment to allow portability of applications and data. FSLogix is a big part of our strategic vision,
for its flexibility, overall value, and also immediate ROI for our customers.
is exciting Steve, and very insightful. I'd like to close the interview if I could by asking for future predictions. What's something interesting you think we'll
Greenberg: Well luckily, it's too late
to give my predictions on the election or the Super Bowl, so how about Kevin's
Atlanta Braves still won't win in 2017.
Cloud, in terms of a desktop world, is still probably out in the 2018
time-frame as a major player, although in 2017 I think we'll see some nice
progress toward that. As for the upcoming Star Wars film, "Force Awakens," my
prediction for the last Jedi.... wait for it.... Supreme Leader Snoke!
a great one! We'll have to circle back
with you in the near future and see if you were right. Steve, I want to thank you for taking the
time to talk to us and share your insights about the market, and your recent
investment with FSLogix. Can't wait for
a follow up to hear how it's going!
Greenberg: You're welcome Dave! It's been great, and we're really excited
about 2017. Thanks for having me, and
looking forward to doing it again later in the year.