End-user computing – the state of the union 2023
About a month ago I hosted the keynote at the Citrix User Group Norway conference and talked about what has happened within EUC the last year, and in which direction is it headed.
Therefore, I also wanted to write a short blog post as sort of a summary of that session, since I needed to empty my head and share some reflections on it.
Now looking back to 13 years ago (in 2010) when I had my first introduction to Citrix, the ecosystem was WASTLY different!
- Office 365 was still one year away.
- Windows Intune was just released.
- Very few had heard about Azure.
- MDM was still a few years away.
- Citrix had just released XenApp 6.0
- VMware released ESXi 5
- And we have these MAJOR release cycles from the large vendors, remember back in the days with Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 and then 2013. (I do not miss those upgrade processes there)
Of course, new releases meant LARGE changes which everyone (or at least mostly everyone) hated with every fiber in their body. Citrix was the “dominating” VDI/TS service and some were running Horizon and fewer was running RDS in large scale at least in the Nordics.
Now in 2023, all VDI providers are now available as a cloud service as its own management plane, you can now even get a cloud based VDI from most of those vendors as well (looking at you Windows 365 and AWS Workspaces)
In addition, the BIG pieces like Lync, SharePoint and Exchange are now just available as a SaaS service instead of these big building blocks on-premises. Easier? At least when it comes to managing availability and upgrades, but now we have close too 2,000 changes that we need to understand every year and how those impact the organization.
However, we have also seen an interesting trend. In the latest DaaS like a pro report, we see now that the majority now is looking into using or have started to use Azure Virtual Desktop as their main platform for hosting virtual apps and desktops (Releasing the #DAASLIKEAPRO state of EUC 2022 – 2023 Report – #DAASLIKEAPRO)
Well not that strange, I believe that we have gotten to a point where AVD is good enough for most use-cases, Internet connectivity has gotten a lot better and therefore the protocol is good enough for many normal use-cases. Secondly all that value-add that most vendors have had before to be able to provide “all apps” in a single UI has also been replaced much with native cloud iDP and Office 365 (also including the ZTNA/SASE vendors) which are now occupying this space (Cloudflare/ZScaler and others)
Also, with more and more organizations moving to Public Cloud, it makes also more sense to use a “native” service from the provider especially if you now are using IaC to build your cloud infrastructure and services.
In addition, we also see that more and more legacy systems are now either being modernized as new cloud-native apps or replaced by a SaaS service. Meaning that in most cases they will be available as a native web application and therefore available via these ZTNA services.
This will continue to grow, but we will still have those 10% of apps that will never be modernized or are not able to run natively in a browser that either require a TCP/UDP direct connection or running as a native Windows application (this is such applications that require drivers or native hardware features such as GPU or others) that will still require another VDI service to handle those workloads.
What is EUC becoming and what are the biggest challenges?
It has always been about the ecosystem, ensuring that users get a good user experience across services and platforms regardless of which device they are using. Of course, with even more focus on security than ever before, meaning that security is much more done directly on the endpoint compared to the more centralized security that has been done for a long long time.
The ecosystem is also becoming quite wide, with perhaps more standardizing on Windows based endpoints often combined with Intune and Azure AD based devices (removing the dependency on Active Directory (finally) however the increase of SaaS apps across wide range of different 3. party vendors and combining that with cloud platforms where you need a wide range of different connectivity options such as VPN and VDI.
While the endpoint is one thing in the mix, there is more and more work to be done within the identity space! And this is to ensure that users are created/deleted/synchronized etc. across all the different SaaS services that are used, but also ensuring that the users get SSO and hopefully using the same identity provider across all those.
Now in 2023 we can also throw CoPilot into the mix! While at the moment CoPilot is more of a marketing term than anything else, but I do believe that users will be seeing a chat based interface more and more in all the different user interfaces that they are working on.
Microsoft alone has now introduced this into Windows, Bing Search and working with it for Microsoft 365 as well. Google has already added it to their collaboration suite and is working on adding it in their other services as well. Well, what does this mean for the end-users?
I think that we will soon be seeing more and more virtual assistants that the users will be “chatting” with to get things done, this will also apply to Ops systems as well, meaning that from an EUC perspective we can get a virtual assistant to help troubleshoot systems (can be kind of nifty) This is also going to replace/enhance the way that we get information as a end-user, I for one hate to search I just want to get a hold of the information that I’m looking for and I think that these systems such as CoPilot/GPT is going to be an important part of that.
For large organizations this means that we will need to more work on optimizing search and ensuring that data is indexed properly. This also means that we will need to work more on data governance aspect as well to get it to work properly. I know that there are a lot of organizations that needs to do a lot of work there as well.
Well time for this blog post to come to an end, probably not that summary that you were hoping for but to give it a few short sentences as the highlights.
- More and more are moving to a cloud based VDI (Standardizing on cloud native services)
- More will be looking towards using Azure Virtual Desktop (Good enough for more use-cases, easier management)
- More will be building services using IaC compared to “static workloads” also within EUC space.
- ChatGPT/LLM will be integrated into most collaboration products and more SysOps products and will become a more virtual assistant for end-users.
- Since many will be in a hybrid model for a long time, where they have workloads across, more will be looking into ZTNA/SASE services to solve access to those workloads.
- Specialized workloads will still require the larger VDI vendors to solve performance/access.
- Identity is becoming more and more native Azure AD, still AD is the main identity provider for most cases.
- The rate of changes every year is increasing and increasing, meaning that we need to spend even more time understanding the impact on license costs/changes or just new features.
Now if you want to read some more in depth on whats going on from a technical perspective on Citrix or VMware you can see the presentation here mycugc/CUGTECH-StateoftheunionFinal.pptx at main · msandbu/mycugc (github.com)