3 Solutions you need for Enterprise App Delivery (I)

Author: Amitabh Sinha

Publish on: Aug 25, 2015 5:00:00 AM

Here's the app delivery problem: securely deliver any app to any device. Any app includes legacy windows client server apps, web applications, SaaS applications, network file shares, hybrid, and native applications. Any devices includes PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.


Before we analyze the 3 solutions for Enterprise App Delivery, lets review the two orthogonal dimensions they all share:

Thin vs. rich clients and managed vs. un-managed devices: 
A device can be treated like a rich client, wherein an application running on the device can use all the compute capabilities of the device like its CPU, GPU, memory, and storage. Or a device can be treated like a thin client where it only displays the pixels of an application running in the data center.
A device can be managed or un-managed. On a well managed device, IT has full control over software updates, application installs and uninstalls, settings, etc. IT has full control over what actions an end user can take on the device. On an un-managed device, IT has no control over the device. 

There are 3 solutions that allow IT to solve very different use cases:

  1. Managed rich-client: This is the most traditional architecture where IT uses PCLM (PC Lifecycle Management) tools like System Center or Altiris to manage PCs.  This methodology is being extended with MDM (Mobile Device Management) to mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. The end user loses the ability to personalize the device, but can get a good user experience for the applications IT wants to deliver. Such solutions make sense for mobile field service and finance users.
  2. Thin-client: This solution applies to both managed and un-managed devices. The applications or desktop runs in the data center and the user uses a "thin" client to access the apps/desktop from their device. Solutions like VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastrucure) or XenApp fall into this class of solutions. Thin client architectures fail to deliver a rich experience because of limitations of bandwidth and latency. Such solutions make sense for off-shore developers and contractors.
  3. Un-managed rich client: This is the best-of-both worlds solution. Can a solution deliver the rich client experience while allowing a user to retain full user control of the device? There have been attempts to solve this problem with Type-2 hypervisors like Parallels or Moka5. However a Type-2 hypervisor is difficult to port across different operating systems. A new class of lightweight cross-platform rich client solutions like workspace are emerging.  Such solutions make sense for BYOx, contractors, M&A, etc.
The exact % of which solution is deployed depends on the organization and the end users. I will talk more about the solutions in each of the three classes in my upcoming blog post.
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