Comms Business meets up with Chris Tate, Director of Product Strategy at GCI, to ask the question, ‘Is 2015 going to be the year of the hosted desktop?’ The answer might be found in the origins of the application. He explains.
Is this the year of the hosted desktop? I’ve been asked the same question for seemingly years, to me it’s the same as ‘Is this the year of cars running on hydrogen?’, ‘Is this the year of 3D?’ or ‘Is this the year a Brit will win Wimbledon?’
Well, one of those has come true, and I believe the hosted desktop may be arriving in the mainstream finally too.
Let me add a little background, I have been fortunate enough to be in this industry since 1988 (Thanks, I know I don’t look old enough) and I think I have been working with hosted desktops since the very first day.
The company I worked for operated a time sharing (multi-tenanted), hosted (cloud), application server (SaaS) that presented desktops to users that dialled into it.
The difference in 1988 was the server was made by Digital, long since acquired by Compaq and then HP, and the connection methods were 1200/75 Baud modems, but I think it qualifies as a cloud based hosted desktop nonetheless.
At this time, computer networks were centrally managed and backed up, everyone was happy with their green screen terminal and 1200/75 was plenty of bandwidth to play with.
But things were about to change.
PCs were beginning to appear on peoples’ desks and users began to expect more processing power locally and more management of their own devices. This hunger was fed by Novell who launched the first major version of Netware in 1990 and the game changed.
Network managers began to lose control of the network, the rise of the Client/Server applications saw the need for ever more powerful machines to process the data. (…and expensive engineers to keep them running)
What is not commonly remembered outside of IT circles is that multi-user functionality was added to Windows NT Server 3.51 as early as 1995, but it didn’t gain massive adoption because of functionality and bandwidth problems until later versions of Windows Server when the product had eventually become Citrix and Microsoft Terminal Services.
Gradually however, I think the shift started to move the other way. The unstoppable rise of the Internet meant people were now running more and more applications as a service and the processing power that local PCs required started to diminish at the same time that the servers became ever more powerful and bandwidth cheaper.
It meant that finally IT Managers and IT Services companies could begin to take control again, to be able to manage applications and data in a far more efficient manner than in a distributed world.
We are now in 2014, 26 years since I first connected to a remote server that presented me with a desktop, albeit a green one. Now that does make me feel old.
Back to the original question…
Of course, where are we with that? Is this the year of the hosted desktop? I think it might be. The difference now is the fantastic tools that make the deployment of hosted desktop services simpler.
The desktop too has changed; a modern hosted desktop can offer an experience as rich as on a local PC. Things like HD video streaming, touch interfaces, integration with local peripherals etc. are now perfectly possible.
A hosted desktop isn’t a compromise.
It’s also easier as a channel partner to work with hosted desktops. The GCI Channel Gateway enables you to sell, deploy and support a wide range of hosted services and generate great margin percentages.
So, Andy Murray won Wimbledon and he’s British (at time of going to press), 3D is finally in the mainstream and Hosted Desktops are ready for business.
I just need that hydrogen car now.