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2010 Prediction: Becoming Smarter about IT and Desktop Virtualization

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2010?  Find out in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Harry Labana, CTO, Desktop Division, Citrix Systems

2010 Prediction: Becoming Smarter about IT and Desktop Virtualization

Closing out 2009, I clearly remember the early years of my IT career. So many job shortages were predicted, and all around me people were trying to get into IT in some way. Then in the Oct 30th WSJ online article, I read that for the first time since 2003, the H1-B Visa cap designed for skilled foreign workers was not filled. Is this just because of the tough economic times or is a more fundamental shift occurring within IT?

There's also been a lot of buzz about desktop virtualization, particularly with the two primary players in the market releasing new solutions in the last months of the year. InfoWorld recently identified desktop virtualization as the #2 emerging trend in enterprise technologies.

CIOs will have to wrestle with these dynamics and face the reality that employees are also consumers who will demand choice from their IT providers. Just ask yourself: who doesn't want a supported iPhone solution? For CIOs to continue to add strategic value to the organization and their end users, they must develop new strategies that leverage technologies to create greater efficiencies, simplicity, choice and cost savings for their organizations. So let's discuss these trends in some more detail.

IT will Become Smaller While Still Facing Pressure to Innovate

Certainly, regardless of one's political views, jobs have moved overseas and I have seen almost every company I speak to investing in outsourcing or off-shoring to some extent. This strategy of labor arbitrage has certainly been popular for many years, but is it a sustainable strategy as the cost of labor continues to increase on a global basis?

Companies have cut IT staffing numbers during this economic downturn, and I don't see any compelling evidence to suggest those jobs will return anywhere close to the same numbers. Why is that?

People are still people and they are only so efficient, and quality, experienced, skilled resources are finite. As a result, I believe thought leaders will invest even more in automation and new architectures that reduce the need for manual labor. The percentage of IT budget that is spent on operational tasks will continue to be driven down, just as it has in other industries like manufacturing. This will directly result in savings, and/or a shift toward funding new innovation to better enable business  using technology that matters.

In effect, the commoditization of IT is taking place. Irrespective of location and cost, it will no longer make sense to continually throw bodies at commodity tasks. The finite skilled resource pool can be put to much better use performing higher-level tasks. Pragmatically, I believe that 2010 for most people will mean using their best people to enable this reality through investment in automation and architectures that are forward-looking while continuing to drive down operational costs. 

CIOs will Become Smarter about Desktop Virtualization

Having just come off of the XenDesktop 4 launch, desktop virtualization is clearly top of mind. 2008 and 2009 have been about pilots, proof of concepts and seeing relatively immature technology come into its own. In 2010, people need to become smarter about desktop virtualization and what it can and cannot deliver to an organization. Unfortunately, "desktop virtualization" has become interchangeable with "VDI" or virtual desktop infrastructure. Yet, these are two terms that mean very different things. VDI is just one form of desktop virtualization and it only serves one use case within an enterprise. Now this may be fine for your organization but many people will want to deliver tiers of service based on use case requirements, maturity of technology and the cost of the delivery model.

Understanding which of the six models of desktop virtualization make sense for diverse organizations is critical to avoiding disappointed users, poor TCO and failed projects. It's equally critical to understand the cost and impact of continuing with the current distributed computing model that hard codes configurations, reduces flexibility, and is complex and expensive to manage.

For desktop virtualization to be a successful enterprise-wide initiative, it needs to be flexible enough to address unique user types with specific delivery models that provide across-the-board service delivery - whether those users are task workers using a shared desktop or a BYOC user with his/her own laptop accessing corporate resources. One delivery model will never be able to satisfy all users all the time. With Windows 7 available, now is the time for CIOs to take a hard look at how they are managing the thousands of desktops across their organization. The new OS and resulting PC refresh is an opportunity for IT to use this budget to enable greater business agility, reduce complexity and optimize desktop organizations with desktop virtualization.

Self Service will Become the Way Enterprise Computing is Done

IT-as-a-service is going to become more and more important in 2010. We are beginning to witness a new era of computing where users and organizations are taking more control of and consuming traditional IT functions and services on-demand, freeing up resources to take on more strategic initiatives. The so-called consumerization of IT will force more change over the next 10 years than any other trend. The combination of a younger, more computer savvy workforce and the skyrocketing costs and complexity of managing IT will force enterprises to look to more web-centric cloud models for delivering IT services. This will allow users and organizations to self-select services depending on their individual needs, to access them from any location and any device they choose, and ultimately, giving them more control over their work styles.   

As this trend continues to gather steam, we will see vendors across the industry innovate as the rules of the game change. The concept of how and where security is applied will have to change, and this will impact the role of the network. New consumption-based pricing models for services will be enabled. Choice will force consumption of different architectures from service providers. Hypervisor diversity will become the norm; there is an assumption that you use only one hypervisor for everything but as companies take advantage of cloud workloads, they will want to have flexibility in hypervisors (e.g., Amazon EC2 uses Xen). They will also want the ability to manage multiple hypervisors in any given infrastructure, making workloads independent of the hypervisor. In addition, multi-tenancy support and cross-platform security will become reality.

A leadership test

Recognizing change is one thing, taking advantage of it requires strong leadership. As pure labor arbitrage, the cost of hardcoded inflexible desktops, IT as an on-demand service and the unstoppable force of consumerization are debated. There will no doubt be those who will want to maintain status quo and there will be those who will want to innovate. It will be up to the leaders in organizations to resist the cynics who will only continue to increase IT costs, further diluting the value of technology as a business enabler.

Darwin taught us that the species who adapt survive. I'll add that CIOs can't just survive. They need to enable their organizations to prosper in a changing world. Desktop virtualization is here now as an enabling technology if you understand how to apply it to your organization. This is a big step towards turning IT into an on-demand service and an architectural foundation that will allow you to embrace consumerization as it, no doubt, will begin to infiltrate organizations.

I am looking forward to an exciting 2010.

About the Author

Harry Labana, CTO, Citrix

Harry Labana joined Citrix in July 2009 as vice president and chief technology officer for Citrix desktop and application virtualization. He is a member of the leadership team that charts the technological direction and product roadmap of Citrix’s $1 billion flagship product line. As CTO, he is also responsible for helping to communicate the strategic direction of the company’s desktop virtualization solutions to internal and external audiences.  As part of the Citrix Office of the CTO, Harry collaborates with other Citrix CTOs to drive the company’s overall technology direction and product strategy and advises the executive management team.

Published Friday, December 04, 2009 6:51 AM by David Marshall
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