A couple of weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas for the Citrix iForum show. Citrix is best known for its Presentation Server product, nee MetaFrame. Presentation Server delivers specific business applications to remote desktops using Windows Terminal Server on the back-end. It's usually thought of in terms of thin client computing; in fact, the vast majority of Presentation Server installations deliver applications to ordinary PCs. (I describe the technology in more depth in this Illuminata research note.) However, these days, Citrix has many other products as well, variously tailored to delivering applications and full desktop images to a variety of clients.
I've been seeing more interest among IT folks in alternatives to traditional desktops over the past year since, well, ever. Traditional SMS-style provisioning and management systems never truly performed up to hopeful expectations; increasing concerns about security have only exacerbated an already sub-par situation. Nor are users thrilled with the current state of affairs. Their PCs tend to accumulate "cruft" (that's the technical term) over time and software loads "blow up" (another technical term) periodically. Furthermore, IT policies intended to keep things under some vague semblance of control tend to consist, in no small part, of long lists of "Thou shall nots" that limit what users can do with corporate PCs.
And, before the various fanboys chirp in, switching to Linux or a Mac doesn't make all these issues magically go away.… Read more