Horseshoes, Hand Grenades & VDI: Close Counts!

SANTA CLARA: The oft-proclaimed ‘Year of ’ has yet to arrive, but much like its take on ‘The Death of The PC’, – and quite a few others, including the market research leaders Gartner and IDC – isn’t ready to throw in the towel for the (or device). In a day-long set of briefing sessions, the only vendor still committed to offering a device-to-datacenter product portfolio extolled the virtues of VDI, or the newer tag, cloud client-computing.

Dell offers a complete portfolio of solutions, said Steve Lalla, VP and GM of , Dell. The top objectives for C3 are to deliver: the most cost-effective solutions for VDI; the easiest to plan, deploy and run VDI solutions; and the broadest portfolio for . “We are going to lead the industry to high-performance VDI.”

Offering a complete portfolio of products and services is an important differentiator [i.e. from VDI competitor HP], said Lalla. Referring to Michael Dell’s keynote at last month’s Dell World 2014, he said you “can’t say you’re end to end if you’re missing one of the ends.”

The pundits have been predicting massive adoption of VDI and/or Desktop as a Service (DaaS) for years. Gartner estimated that there would be as many as 20 million virtual desktops in place by 2014. In 2011 CDW reported that 90% of businesses were considering or implementing client virtualization projects, most of them within the next 12 to 24 months. A Forrester Consulting study found that the number of virtual desktop deployments would grow from 27% to 46% by 2013.

Those bombastic forecasts never materialized, but that’s not to say there isn’t a solid market here, one that is expected to continue to grow in the 10-11% per year range, according to both Gartner and IDC, said Lalla. The thin client/VDI market has been growing for the last five years, he said, with no end in sight.

Cloud/Client Computing was one of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015. It said the convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. “Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style,” said David Cearley, VP & Gartner Fellow.

IDC calls it Virtual Client Computing, but it is equally optimistic about VDI’s future. Global numbers weren’t available, but it forecast that just the EMEA VCC market is growing at a 7.5% CAGR through the 2013-2018 period, from $804.9 million to $1.181 billion during that period.

Whatever you call it, it’s also been a good business for Dell, said Lalla. “This is about where IT is going, and we’re an important part of that.” There really isn’t any other company in the world that does it quite the way Dell does, he said.

The end-user computing (EUC) market is growing at a 20% CAGR and is expected to reach $8 billion by 2016. According to EMC, the market for cloud-hosted desktops will grow at 85% CAGR over the next 5 years and near $1 billion. That’s substantially lower than the forecast from Visiongain, which predicted growth in cloud-based VDI, particularly in the DaaS submarket, putting last year’s cloud-based VDI market at $13.4 billion.

Dell (28.8% market share) just moved into first place in the thin client device market. “As expected, enterprise client device shipments expanded from the previous quarter by 9 percent, with Dell being the major player with 14.3 percent sequential growth,” said Keerthi Maganti, research analyst, worldwide enterprise client device trackers at IDC. HP (26.5%) fell slightly to the number 2 position, with NComputing (11.6%) holding down third place.

Worldwide thin client and terminal client device shipments totaled 1.4 million units in the second quarter of 2014, an increase of 10.8% from the same quarter a year ago. The market is expected to continue growing over the remainder of the year with 5.8 million units forecast to be shipped in 2014, representing 6.2% YOY growth. By 2018, these devices are expected to reach 7.6 million units shipped worldwide.

Jeff McNaught, Executive Director of Marketing and Chief Strategy Officer, Dell Cloud Client Computing said half of the company’s shipments are ThinOS-based (90% at banks), and 30% are Windows Embedded OS. Mobile is still relatively small, accounting for just 5% of the business, he said.

McNaught spent 26 years with prior to its acquisition by Dell in May 2012. He and a partner invented the first thin client back in 1984.

It may still be early days for mobile users, but McNaught believes high-performance virtualization solutions could really take off, calling HPV the “next frontier”. It was very important for Dell to broaden the footprint, he said, not only for engineers and other power users, but for business units looking virtualize their workforces and streamline IT operations.

The company introduced a new reference architecture in March, the Wyse Datacenter for Virtual Workstations, with support for Citrix, Microsoft and VMware brokers. “We wanted to take everything that was great about Dell Precision… and marry that with what we do here in cloud client computing,” said McNaught.

The briefing was held at the Santa Clara , one of 12 such global centers. The centers allow customers and prospects to kick the tires of VDI, and examine their various options. For most customers and cases, McNaught advises baby steps. “So often, start smart, start small.” They can always scale once everything is proven out and they’re comfortable.

In addition to the centers, Dell has spent over 100,000 engineering hours developing 16 reference architectures for the major platforms, vertical markets and different company sizes. “When they come into the Dell Solution Center, the first three words out of our mouth are Citrix, Microsoft and VMware,” said McNaught.

According to the second Global Evolving Workforce Study just released by Dell and , the office is no longer defined by a desk within an employer’s walls, stated Lalla. “With constant connectivity blurring the lines between professional and personal lives and devices, it’s essential employees have seamless access to data when at the office, at home and on the road so they can stay productive, and IT secures and manages the data and user wherever it goes.”

The survey of almost 5,000 employees of small, medium and large organizations in 12 countries identified six key trends for business leaders, IT managers and human resource professionals to consider when recruiting, supporting and retaining their workforce:

-One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Wherever and whenever they are working, employees are using multiple devices, rather than just one to get their jobs done.

-The Office Is King, but it’s a Jungle Too: As employees conduct work in different locations, the office still is the primary place of work.

-The Productivity Debate: Office Workers vs. Remote Workers: Perceptions of at-home workers are shifting as 52% of employees believe that those working from home are just as productive or more productive than those in the office.

-Work Life Plus Personal Life = Life: As innovations in technology continue to advance, people have increasing flexibility to choose when and where they meet their professional obligations.

-The Secret to Happy Employees? Technology: One out of four employees globally report they are influenced by the technology provided to them at work and would consider taking a new position if provided better technology that helps them be more productive.

-The Future of Tech in the Workplace is Bright, But Not Fully Automated: Employees are generally optimistic with the future of technology, believing it will keep evolving and will provide different benefits and capabilities to the workforce, but will not fundamentally change the way in which people work.

In addition to the survey, Dell also announced the upcoming release of Wyse vWorkspace 8.5. With general availability scheduled for next week (December 9) and a list price of less than $100 per seat, the updated high-performance desktop virtualization software features easier access and configuration, and increased speed and scalability.

DISCLAIMER: While no longer a shareholder, I do occasional projects for Dell, which looked after airfare and accommodations for the Dell Cloud Client-Computing Reviewers’ Day.

Author: Steve Wexler

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