The death of the desktop in the corporate world

15 Jun 2010

The adoption of consumer electronic devices as work tools from the smartphone to the iPad will drive radical changes in the corporate IT world, with mobile phones predicted to overtake PCs as the most common web tools.

As predicted by Google Europe boss John O’Herlihy in March, who said in three years or so desktops will give way to mobile as the primary screen from which most people will consume information and entertainment, leading enterprise software vendor Citrix said that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device in the corporate world.

Citrix said that businesses must be prepared to adjust their IT infrastructures to allow employees to work on their device of choice, anywhere, without a threat to security.

With newer and better devices such as the iPad now available, and Android devices from Google gradually entering the workplace, employees now want their Windows desktop and business apps delivered to any device, quickly and easily.

“The gap between what people want from IT and what IT can give them is getting further and further apart,” says Niall Gilmore, country manager for Citrix Ireland.

“People have a better user experience from their personal devices and are becoming increasingly disenchanted with slow and stationary company desktop PCs. They want to be able to do their jobs efficiently and conveniently, no matter where they are.”

Cost limitations

Traditionally, security networking and infrastructure costs have limited IT departments, forcing them to keep control of assets, issue standard PCs and lock down access to corporate data. Removing the use of consumer devices is becoming more difficult and unrealistic in the workplace and IT need to adjust the infrastructure accordingly without putting corporate data at risk.

“It is possible for IT departments to have a secure and reliable infrastructure which can deliver Windows desktops and apps to users,” continued Gilmore.

“Desktop virtualisation allows IT to centralise data, the operating system, desktops and applications securely in the data centre which can then be delivered to any device by using Citrix Receiver. Employees are connected to the corporate network, no matter what device they are using.”

Trends show that devices such as the iPad will be a game changer for businesses. A recent survey of Citrix customers has indicated a high adoption rate and anticipation of the iPad as a business tool with 84pc of organisations saying they will support the iPad for business use.

Of these, 90pc said a significant benefit would be increased mobility with the option of working from anywhere and 74pc indicated that using the iPad will improve productivity and satisfaction.

Citrix recently announced the next step of advancing desktop virtualisation at their Synergy event held in May. Citrix XenClient, a new client-side virtualisation solution developed in collaboration with Intel, which allows users to run more than one virtual desktop on the same corporate-owned laptop, even when disconnected from the network.

With the highest levels of security, manageability and flexibility, this is ideal for companies who want to maintain a secure corporate desktop for each user, while still giving employees the freedom to run their own personal desktop and applications on their device of choice.

Citrix have also added a Receiver for XenClient, a lightweight client that lets users create and manage their own local virtual desktops, or access centrally managed corporate virtual desktops.

Available for use on any device including the iPad, PCs, Macs, Windows Mobile, Android and Apple smartphones, it provides everything needed to run Windows desktops and apps, keeps apps current and even speeds up the connection. Citrix Receiver for the iPad is currently the No 1 business app in the iPad app store.

Photo: Niall Gilmore (above) of Citrix says that consumer devices are making their way into the corporate world and firms will need to adapt their IT strategies accordingly


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years