So why “D2” you ask? It stands for “Desktop 2.0”, which is of course, a play on Web 2.0. While there have been many predictions and suggestions, I want to take this opportunity and posit my opinion of where the corporate or enterprise desktop solutions should be heading. My poor coworkers have got to be tired of hearing my pitches and ideas on this by now!
In a nutshell, I believe Window Vista to be the last large-scale revision and release of the operating system. As such, corporations need to figure out whether they want to continue the upgrade cycle of Microsoft’s high-maintenance operating system. Or, choose to go a different path to secure their data, lower management costs of their client systems, and bring more areas of the business under the business continuity (disaster recovery) umbrella.
To accomplish this, businesses need to look at the pros and cons of both options and take a hard look at their computing needs. The solution for a manufacturing company that merely needs to track production, finance and sales does not have the computing requirements of, say an engineering firm where most of the employees require high-powered CAD/CAM software solutions.
The problem with the traditional desktop is not the initial cost for the hardware, installation, software licensing and so on. Its obviously the ongoing support costs, hardware replacement, service calls, and much more depending on how skilled your technical staff is.
In another world with the proper use of terminal services or Citrix server farms, data replication, thin clients, system virtualization, and load balancing, a company could eliminate or significantly reduce the reliance in traditional desktops and laptops. The key thing to focus on is not reducing cost so much as realizing that you can take control and secure your data. You can create an environment where all data is backed up at your central hub and backup locations that you currently use. (Just think of all those unsecured hard drives that aren’t backed up storing, in some cases, critical business data!) You can also reduce or eliminate the complexity of supporting the Windows operating system.
Yes, Microsoft has made great strides in managing and deploying the operating system, but you do know that you will need to deploy yet another server system to manage the licensing of Windows Vista – right? Did you know that the methods for deploying Vista is different than deploying Windows 2000 & XP? Yep, start planning a big upgrade budget, even if you choose to slipstream the OS, you’ll need to plan the deployment infrastructure out properly. (*Shameless plug* Contact me if you want some consulting done on this – its what I do as an Infrastructure Architect and Analyst ).
There is a better way, and it doesn’t need to be the standard Windows desktop – also think about what Apple has been doing with the Mac lately, or Linux – several distributions have really made huge usability strides in the last few years. Do I have a chip on my shoulder regarding Vista – not really, but I think there are more solutions today than when Windows XP was fresh and new and the focus of everyone’s attention. I just think that the proliferation of web-based applications, increased bandwidth, robustness of terminal services, and the flexibility of virtualization, that there can be a simpler corporate environment than we have today.