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Is This the Future of VDI?

Being a gadget lover, I can't help but follow all of the news that came out of the Consumer Electronics Show last week. One thing that really stuck out for me is what Motorola is up to with its Motorola Atrix 4G, HD multimedia dock and laptop dock. I think that technology has major implications for the future of virtual desktops.

Consider the fact that you almost always carry your phone with you. Now imagine that, rather than turning on your laptop, you just slip your phone into a port on a laptop-like device (keyboard, screen, mouse). Your smartphone already has everything you need for VDI: a screen, Internet connection and numerous "clients" that can connect to a remote desktop. At the office, no problem: Dock you phone and get a bigger screen, full keyboard and mouse, connect to your office Wi-Fi (or wired connection in the dock) and bring up your desktop ... from your phone's client. This solution addresses several issues that have held back widespread adoption of VDI:

Mobility: How can you take your desktop with you wherever you go and keep it synchronized? With a standard laptop, you can either use a client (and turn the laptop into nothing more than a dumb terminal) or you can try to sync changes between a "disk" in a data center and a "disk" on your laptop. While there have been announcements about these types of solutions, I haven't seen much progress here.

Security: Motorola's solution appears to have biometric security in the form of a fingerprint reader built right in. Lost your phone? No problem, since no one else can use it. Just have IT provision a new one. Link up the phone's biometric security with your corporate single-sign on solution and you're good to go.

Connectivity: With wireless connections being available almost anywhere now (3G, 3.5G, 4G, Wi-Fi) connectivity really shouldn't be an issue. No connectivity? Use the local e-mail client on your phone to follow up on e-mails. There are even mobile clients for most products like word processing, spreadsheets and presentations; just store them on your phone's internal storage and once connected again they can be synced to your remote desktop (Dropbox or similar).

SaaS: The solution mentioned above is running the desktop version of Firefox. That means that even if my remote "desktop" in the datacenter isn't available, I can still use a Web client to log into SaaS solutions like SalesForce.com or even Web-based e-mail. Most popular SaaS solutions also have mobile clients.

What about tablets? In my opinion tablets are fine for multimedia or Web surfing devices, but a tablet will never replace my desktop, laptop or phone. That's not to say there aren't good docking solutions for tablets that can essentially turn them into laptops, but I still need to carry my phone -- I'm not going to hold a 10-inch tablet up to my ear any time soon.

Posted by Doug Hazelman on 01/12/2011 at 12:49 PM


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