Desktops Anywhere, Smartphones, and CISPA


VMware Inc. announced new products to help enterprises extend services to the cloud and a variety of traditional and new platforms. First quarter smartphone and tablet activations prove that Apple is gaining further ground as the preferred enterprise platform. Lastly, cyber-security legislation CISPA has moved one step closer to law.

Focal Points:

  • VMware has announced version 1.5 of its Horizon Application Manager to allow employees to access internal Windows applications and online services using a single portal. While Horizon Application Manager was available only as a hosted service previously, version 1.5 provides companies with the option of internal hosting. The upgrade is accompanied by a new View VDI (virtual desktop interface), version 5.1, for shared file storage. When coupled together, the new applications allow employees to access a corporation's Windows services using their preferred access devices running Apple Inc. Mac and iOS, Google Inc. Android, Linux, and Microsoft Corp. Windows.  Elsewhere, Piston Cloud Computing, Inc. announced it is working to support VMware's open source platform as a service (PaaS) offering within its OpenStack open source infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform.
  • Apple smartphones and tablets were on the rise in the first quarter, at least according to the device activations reported on mobile device vendor Good Technology, Inc.'s platform.  Good's findings show that Apple devices, iPads and iPhones, were activated at a rate of four to one over Android. This is a move from the previous quarter when the Apple/Android split was 70 percent to 30 percent.  Among total activations, all of the iPhone devices represented about 60 percent while the combined iPad versions tallied approximately 20 percent. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and Research in Motion, Ltd. devices are not supported by Good. Enterprise tablet activations also showed Apple's growing strength in that arena as the iPad accounted for 97.3 percent of new enterprise tablets, up from 94.7 percent the previous quarter. Conversely, Android tablet activations slipped from five percent to slightly less than three percent. Financial services, professional services, and life sciences companies were reportedly the top three sectors for tablets during the period.
  • In the wake of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by a margin of 248 to 168. If signed into law, the bill would allow broadband providers and online services to voluntarily share customer-related data with the government to aid in cyber-threat prevention. The bill shields those companies providing with the government under CISPA from customer lawsuits. Supporters argue that the bill is necessary for protecting the interest and intellectual property of companies with an Internet presence as well as national security. Opponents have questioned how voluntary the law would be and questioned the soundness of sidestepping both the issuance of warrants and the potential lack of oversight.

Experton Group believes VMware's updated applications will be well received within corporate environments where employees are demanding greater access to enterprise services. By deploying the new Horizon Application Manager and View VDI, employees will be able to access Windows desktops, shared storage, and numerous enterprise services across devices and networks. Along with the potential boon to productivity come the typical security concerns, which IT executives must counterbalance by upgrading enterprise frameworks and policies to safe usage and secure resources. The IaaS products are little more than the means by which PaaS solutions are offered; thus it is logical for IaaS frontrunner Piston Cloud to work to secure its position and future by working with VMware's OpenStack. IT executives considering and/or adopting PaaS solutions should watch this space as the combination of the two products should be compelling once operable. Though Good’s data is mostly U.S.-based and ignores two mobile platforms, it nonetheless is a good indicator of current enterprise behaviors. Despite Apple smartphones being potentially more expensive to purchase, Android fragmentation has been costly and challenging for IT departments. As a result, the market is seeing what may be the beginning of an extended slide in Android market position until and unless Google can better wrangle Android implementation, quality, and support to ease enterprise burdens. On the tablet front, the iPad remains the only compelling product at its price point – which now starts $100 lower than before given Apple's decision to sell the iPad 2 along with the new iPad. Though other products are less expensive and available in other screen sizes, the iPad remains the most usable platform for enterprise employees and IT administrators.

IT executives should fear the continued pushes from U.S. congressmen, senators, and members of special interest groups to encourage corporations to more readily share information with the government. Though CISPA is likely to die at or before it hits the President's office (the White House Office of Management and Budget has recommended it be vetoed), this modified version of SOPA is not destined to be the last of its kind. The wording of this, and potentially future versions of similar legislation, calls for voluntary sharing of information. Unfortunately, such sharing of information could easily be coerced from vendors participating in government contracts. Further, the implications of this type of legislation could impact cloud initiatives by requiring cloud providers to share enterprises data with government authorities. IT executives should keep appraised of this and future legislation and work with senior legal and business executives to lobby accordingly and ensure the government respects corporate privacy.