The technology landscape is continually evolving; 2009 has seen cloud computing begin to emerge from the hype phase and the concept of consumerisation start to become a reality.
Virtualisation is entering the mainstream and server virtualisation especially has seen rapid adoption, with Gartner predicting that "the server virtualisation software market will grow at a compound annual rate of 28 per cent from 2008 through 2013 (from $1.8 billion [Dh6.6bn] to $6.2bn). As a more mature technology, server virtualisation has proven to be popular. Yet it is desktop virtualisation that has yet to achieve its true potential. At the same time, virtualisation, crucial as it is to the future of the enterprise IT infrastructure, should be viewed as an enabler for the next big thing on the technology landscape.
Taking a step back from virtualisation for a moment, Citrix believes that over the next five years two key trends will emerge and drive enterprise IT. CIOs must be willing to analyse and plan for cloud computing and consumerisation. Although somewhat conceptual at the moment, these two trends will begin to provide new ways to manage desktops, networks and datacentres and are likely to sit at the heart of, and be a direct result of, a new IT infrastructure ecosystem.
Current and future CIO strategic objectives will focus on reducing total cost of ownership, enhancing productivity and providing end users with greater choice and flexibility. Desktops and applications are already under increased scrutiny. The current, and most widely used, approach to desktop management involves providing end users with a hardware device upon which IT departments install a "standard" image. It has been estimated that desktop hardware and software acquisition expenditures typically account for only 20-30 per cent of the total cost of the device, while the remaining 70-80 per cent consists of IT maintenance. Furthermore, if local equipment is destroyed, lost or stolen, sensitive corporate or government data disappears along with the PC.
Over the next five years, the CIO focus will continue to be on reducing total cost of owernship of applications and desktops, as well as adopting a "self-service" model to IT applications based on the concept of existing consumer applications such as iTunes. For applications, the cost has two components: maintenance of applications and deployment and delivery of apps. For desktops, organisations are still keen to tackle the initial upfront outlay for hardware as well as reduce ongoing maintenance and management.
By 2014, desktop as a service (DaaS) will become commonplace, using a manage once, deliver anywhere approach to offer operational scalability and a secure working environment on all devices. DaaS also offers increased performance and productivity by giving each user a 'brand new' desktop each time they login. Employees will no longer see their system deteriorate over time – the desktop will never get old. At the same time, the "Instant On" desktop will always be up-to-date and available at any location. Gartner believes by 2011 there be at least give major vendors offering DaaS as a means for enterprises to get predictable and consistent pricing and service.
A move towards cloud computing is a direct result of the internal changes that organisations are making to their existing technology; implementing virtualisation and aligning servers. The long-term result will be that enterprise datacenters will in effect become internal clouds, while SMEs will move towards external clouds to manage their IT services. Virtualisation, crucially, is an enabler of the cloud.
The glue that will tie together cloud computing and consumerisation is the internet. In order to deliver this new vision for enterprise IT, enterprises will need to anticipate significant increases in internet usage, especially with video-based applications. In fact latency, rather than bandwidth, will be the biggest problem as the internet becomes integral in the delivery of IT services across the organisation.
Consumerisation and cloud computing will, no doubt about it, become integral to the future enterprise IT environment, forcing organisations to consider new ways of managing desktops, networks and datacenters. Virtualisation will underpin this shift in the enterprise IT landscape, enabling the concept of desktop as a service, self-service applications, internal and external clouds and the dynamic datacentre. As server virtualisation continues to surge in popularity, desktop virtualisation will not be far behind it – underpinning a reduction in costs, increased flexibility, improved productivity and a truly flexible, on-demand working environment in the enterprise. The result, in the long term, will be the emergence of consumerisation and cloud computing as the norm, come 2014.
n The author is the regional Director-ME at Citrix. The views expressed are his own
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