There’s been a fair amount of blog and Twitter traffic today around the concept of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and how it impacts IT. I thought of this as well trodden ground and, while reading it, was thinking that perhaps TweetDeck, like me, was a little sluggish after the long weekend and showing old tweets. Even if the impact of BYOD is still news, I think focusing just on the impact and not on the opportunity to drive change inside the organization is missing the forest for the trees.
I’ve talked about my research around how mobile strategies should enrich, engage or empower the target audience, and, in the case of BYOD inside an enterprise, entrust is the proper vector for strategy. When thinking about BYOD, and tablets in particular, the use case for tablet-as-primary-computing device provides an interesting use case in how to use mobile strategy to drive business processes – in this case the complete portability of the workspace – through unified IT initiatives – client virtualization in this example.
In managing mobile devices, as in managing users’ access to data, there are concentric rings of access that correspond to user actions. There are four levels of access from basic access to information where nothing resides on the mobile device to full featured collaboration where an entire computing environment must be made available securely on the host device and available offline to fully replicate desktop functionality.
In the world of client virtualization, similar levels of control exist. Grossed up, there are three primary paths client virtualization can take place on the tablet:
- Application streaming: Using the local device as the presentation layer, regardless of platform (given support for it) the user can access applications in a stateful way from anywhere with a network connection. No data resides on the device itself.
- Desktop streaming: For users requiring a bit more horsepower in terms of access to applications, shared data stores and other elements of a more fully built out computing environment, streaming the entire desktop to the presentation layer of the device a user has in-hand is possible. Data will not reside on the device in traditional form but some local processing, such as for video rendering, may take place on the client side.
- Application virtualization: Allowing users to take applications with them to use on a client-provided machine if working at a client site, take work home by making use of those same applications off hours and coordinating access so that work can be created anywhere the application is supported with a single license.
- Local desktop virtualization: Few workers are truly blessed with consistent connectivity everywhere they go and there are times when access to a full desktop environment is required, thus going beyond application virtualization and checking out a desktop image complete with local settings, applications and access to files and data is required, but will run inside of a secure environment on a client machine.
So, in a fashion quite similar to how mobile policies evolve from simple to complex, low-value to high-value, so does client virutalization.
The two worlds are being brought together through work of enterprise-class virtualization vendors such as Citrix, actively adding features to its Citrix Receiver that are likely to culminate in enabling all levels of access on the tablet, not simply an interactive snapshot of the remote PC as the product was known for at its inception. The ability to take such steps is not limited to the enterprise, as evidence of a business model catering to the mobile consumer that wishes to interact with their PC via tablet, one needs look no further than LogMeIn’s Ignition and the ilk of complex next-generation virtual network computing (VNC) tools designed to support popular tablets.Increasingly we’ll see the user-provisioned device, whether smartphone, tablet or other device act merely as a platform.
This change will bring about a renewed focus on how vendors like those mentioned above can secure the footprint upon which the virtual workspace rests and take the emphasis off of securing the entire device, where the focus has been of late.
What is your ideal portable computing scenario? Has the advent of tools like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Apple’s iPad 2, or even the Kindle Fire got you thinking about taking the “office” with you?