Our journey with devices.. what will the future bring us, what will our workplace be?
I remember the time that I walked around in Finland and wondered about the sheer numbers of mobile phones. That was in during the ’90s when over here not many people had a mobile phone at all. People growing up in this age think mobiles always been here, my kids are no different. As I had a youth with no mobile, got my first mobile in the 90s in one of my first jobs, worked and had several devices I thought an article about the past, the present and the future would be interesting.
The 90s, where it all started
Any article about the future should include a look in history. Without understanding history we are bound to make the same mistakes again. I started in IT in ’93 and my second job included a lot of travelling so I got my first mobile. My first mobile was a Greenhopper 500 and I was able to make a phone call at gas stations, busstations and some spots on the road. At that time calling in the car was not forbidden so when you saw the connection was there you frantically called planning at the office to get an update before the signal dropped. It was a system introduced to be an alternative for the expensive carphones.
The system had 60000 active users at it’s hight and it stopped in 1999.
Meeting my wife in 1990 and travelling to Finland in the 90s (she is Finnish) was a revelation back then. Lots of people there walked around with mobiles and seemed to be calling without being stuck to a spot. I remember being amazed by that, we didn’t have that back home then. Of course that changed pretty soon with the Nokia flooding the market here.
Both the Nokia 5510 and the 3210 where pretty damn good phones back then. Of course we didn’t really have any apps but we were mobile.
From local deployment to …
Around the same time mobiles became more popular another way of working was introduced. Citrix introduced the ability to work from any device, any time, anywhere with an application not running locally. Before that (not talking about mainframes here) working in the office was done with locally installed applications and little flexibility.
I got introduced to Citrix half way in the 90’s and it was breathtaking. Since then I’ve been involved in End User Computing. The first years were fun with all the projects they worked on and we tested which eventually led to what they are now.
Working with an application published with Citrix WinFrame (1995) was done most of the time on a laptop or desktop. Laptops and desktops those days were massive. I remember my Toshiba laptop that would take ages to start and weight as much as
my fridge at home. We were mobile but mobility came with a cost back then. Of course the IPAQ’s and so on were there. We thought we were rocking the world but looking we realise that ws just the start of long journey.
How do we do our job?
Mainly in the 90’s we work at the office from a desktop computer, some have a laptop but that only really caught more ground half way the decade. working with a mobile was not really a thing, the first tries there would take a few years. Cloud computing was not on our minds yet, we mostly had to solve crashes those days as they seem to happen far too often. The world at that time was not 24/7 on, Around when I started to work companies would slowly get access to Internet and E-mail was not streaming in like it is now. to add users you had to bring down the system completely (CCMail). Things would change soon.
Dates to remember:
- 1995, Citrix releases WinFrame
- 1996, Microsoft releases Windows NT4 Terminal server (big fight with Citrix)
- 1997, Citrix releases MetaFrame
The 00s, things got more serious but still be are just fooling around
The 00’s are a decade where Nokia lost touch of the market, Apple dictated the market (after first iPhone launch) and our mobile experience changed. It was the decade were touch screen, colour screen and apps were introduced. No more clunky devices but stylish designed devices that would attract people.
The 00’s saw a dominant position for Citrix as well still fighting with Microsoft. Both had a remote desktop solution and primary Citrix saw the potential of that. Microsoft more or less saw the financial benefit as every Citrix customer still needed Microsoft for the OS and licensing. Server farms where physical and only in 2002 (only 15 years ago) Citrix, VMware and IBM announced a partnership so you could deploy Citrix on a virtual environment. Massive change, BOOM the future starts. Having lived through all this time you realise that we live on a rollercoaster and man it’s a thrilling ride.
With going virtual (even though back then more obstacles had to be fixed) environments eventually would become more flexible, scalable and more Enterprise ready. 6 years from that time VMware would storm the Citrix fortress and claim their spot in the application/desktop delivery field.
I could write about the naming changes of Citrix but let’s say we are moving from WinFrame to MetaFrame to Presentation server and so on. They released one kick ass technology after the other, not always working perfectly but awesome nevertheless. Worked with awesome guys back then on cutting edge technology. Little did we know it was still going further and further. farer then we ever good imagine.
most customers at that time still worked primarily in the office, you had road warriors but as data connections were bad latency was a big issue. Printing from home would clutter the line for everyone. Laptop devices became more common and devices in general got more stylish. One thing to note looking at the 90’s and 00’s is that we slowly got more devices. In 2007 the first iPhone was introduced by Apple and it was the first of a number of devices. It would lead to us having even more devices, a phone, a laptop / desktop, soon an iPad and so much more. With the evolution of how we work the devices change with us, not sure who is following who.
Windows XP to 7
In this decade we also switched from Windows XP to Windows 7, both very important operating systems which enabled the modern way of working. There of course were different Microsoft operating systems but let’s keep it at that they failed big time. Windows XP and Windows 7 did very well in the virtual environment, they still are the backbone of all the virtual desktop environments. From a server side we’ve seen the move from Windows 2000 to 2003 to 2008 (R2). the R2 release was released in 2009 forcing us to move from 32bit to 64bit offering more memory in the server environment. For the Remote desktop environments this was a big thing, more memory meant more user, more scalability.
The rise of Apple
The rise of Apple lead eventually to the death of Nokia. They really missed the boat on mobility in the 00’s. Around 2007 / 2008 next to publishing applications a new solution emerged, virtual desktops. One of the players back then was Ardence later acquired by Citrix and still going strong as Provisioning services. Multiple vendors were competing in the marker then and still are, Citrix and VMware are most known there. Microsoft never really made a name there, they had their RDS and VDI solutions but most enterprises back then preferred other vendors due to better protocols and so on. Our mobiles in the late 00’s became more usable and people even tried to work form them on virtual environments. Panning and scaling was a burden back then, trying to fit an application in a 320×480 resolution is hard.
How did we do our job?
The 00’s were pretty crazy and started with the millennium bug that kept us busy for a while. Vendors rapidly developed new and better techniques but still it was a little like learning to ride a bike. We fell of often and got hurt. Cloud was slowly starting to show it’s head, Amazon started in 2006, Azure in 2008. The first steps of Cloud were not al that successful, it took a few years to mature and perhaps we still are maturing. Companies moved more to thin clients and laptops as Citrix got more traction with the server based computing model. The whole world got in a rollercoaster and things moved faster, access to data became as important as access to food and water. Apple contributed a huge deal here bringing access to the masses with very usable devices.
Dates to remember:
- 2000, Office online is announced, office apps ran from the web by ASP’s. sound familiar?
- 2001, Microsoft releases Windows XP
- 2003, Citrix releases Presentation server
- 2006, Citrix releases DDI (Dynamic Desktop initiative) – Citrix VDI
- 2007, Apple releases 1st iPhone
- 2008, Office online is re-introduced
- 2009, VMware releases VMware view 3, VMware VDI
- 2009, Microsoft releases Windows 2008R2
- 2009, Microsoft released Windows 7
the 10’s – we get serious but a lot of work before we are there
Only three years later the 1st iPad came to life, it was a new change to the way we work. I remember designing a virtual desktop environment and suddenly people walked in with an iPad demanding to work at home. As VMware in the beginning had no client for iPad we’d look for 3rd party solutions. Apple took us by surprise several times, the adoption by end users of their devices went fast. Vendors had a hard time keeping up with that. It led I think to the adoption of working on any device, any time, anywhere the message Citrix had in the 90’s already. Finally the devices were offering us the ability to work like that.
Apple is strong in those years but next to Apple others also came to market. Samsung has been growing strong as well. Samsung and many other thrived because they had access to Android from Google. Because Nokia held on to their own platform they were loosing a battle faster than they could imagine. From this time on Samsung and Apple would dominate the market and the future for many computer hardware vendors may be a Nokia fate if they don’t adjust soon.
Since we entered the 10’s we saw a lot of improvement in IT enabling a modern workplace. I think the biggest improvement I’ve seen in the first half of this decade is that a lot of things got more stable. All Microsoft server versions went from 2008R2 to 2012R2 and improved a lot. The time of blue screen on servers is far behind us, finally we can build a predictable Enterprise environment. Stable Enterprise environments are needed as in the 10’s we see a rise of people working in the spirit of Citrix’s 90’s message. companies go global more and more, employees travel all over the world.
VMware started closing in on Citrix when it comes to virtual desktop solutions, Citrix is fighting a hard battle to keep top position. VMware also works on server based solutions but never really battles Citrix there. Half way the decade they are on par on most features offering similar solution for end users only differencing on price and little features. VMware on the other hand fights a battle in the hypervisor field where Microsoft with hyper-v, Citrix with XenServer and Nutanix with AHV fight them. Their comfortable lead in the 00’s drops to around 50% where hyper-v went up from 0 to 30% but seems to stall since then, XenServer from Citrix seems to do a steady job for desktop solutions even outnumbering Hyper-v there.
All these improvements by vendors have brought us solutions where we can work on many different devices. Devices are rapidly changing from the big laptops and desktops to more versatile devices usable in many ways. Macbooks are common in companies and many companies deploy some sort of thin client to access central solutions.
How do we work?
We live in the 10’s of course and as we look around we see that most people carry at least one device with them. Two or more devices are not uncommon. companies have virtualised most of their environments these days, more scalable, more high available than ever before. products from vendors like Microsoft have matured, server crashes are rare these days. Desktop operating systems are still mainly Windows based although perhaps in the past we thought Linux would catch on. The lack of one Linux distri to stand out has killed that I think, Linux is still strong in different areas but not in desktop operating systems in companies.
We work on thin clients, laptops and desktops although the later on is loosing ground fast as companies need flexibility. employees work where-ever whenever they want to work. Work is not a place is a statement heard often at conferences. Growing concern is heard over management of all these different devices. Employees have company owned devices (multiple often) and BYO devices and expect similar user experience on all of them. Private and business life are mixing faster and expectation grow. At home they click on an app and it is installed so why does it take ages to get the app when in the office.
Cloud taking off
Cloud really took off in the 10’s, if your not in the cloud with a business somehow you are one of the few in the world. Amazon really is the leader in the cloud, every major business is running something in Amazon. Google is a big player there and Microsoft is a runner up trying to get traction. Microsoft and Citrix partnered to offer Server based computing and desktops from the Cloud. This grows the Azure market percentage in favour of Amazon. All vendors are looking to put functionality in the cloud or create hybrid solutions. It’s a hectic time to live in as products are announced and changed faster than Dutch weather.
Windows 10 was released and was not the big success Microsoft hoped for. Due to the way it was released and the massive changes with every release together with the resource usage companies are reluctant to change from Windows 7. Windows 7 still stays the work horse for most companies and only as they are forced to upgrade by software only supported on Windows 10, they will move on.
Companies are struggling for over a decade to get their apps to the web or to get a SAAS offering with the same functionality. The effect this has is that a lot of companies still have tens or hundreds of (legacy) old Windows 32bit apps that can’t be ported to a cloud solution. Virtual desktop solution offer relieve here and applications are deployed in an old fashion way there provisioned to users in a desktop.
Windows Phone dies
Windows Phone dies in 2017 and only Android ad iOS are on the market. Nokia is bought back from Microsoft and releases new phones based on a pure Android. Samsung and Microsoft bring docking stations on the market (Microsoft one was for Windows Phone) to make the mobile a device to do all your work on. samsung DEX is only availbe for one series of phones.
Dates to remember:
- 2012, Microsoft releases Windows 2012R2
- July 2015, Microsoft release Windows 10
- 2017, Samsung releases DEX – a docking for a mobile workplace
- Juli 2017, Microsoft Windows Phone dies
- 2017, Nokia brings out Android phones
..and here we are 2017 is nearing its end, we got zillions of devices connected. We can work on virtual desktops, use virtual app or web-apps. get apps delivered from the Cloud or God know where from. We use all kind of devices from desktop to laptops, from mobiles to smart glasses or holo lens kind of devices. Things we used to get annoyed with like not enough IOPS is a thing of the past, memory is cheap, all seems fine… but…
All those devices are a burden for us and a burden for IT. We don’t like to walk around with too many devices one for each task, IT doesn’t like us to use to many devices as they have to manage them. We use a mobile as powerful as a laptop, tablet or desktop but used just chat, call and install apps on. Samsung now shows us with the DEX that you could use your mobile as a replacement for the other devices. We could today walk around with just one device, the Samsung S8 series and call, chat and work on the same device. Will this do for all of us? surely not but it is a very attractive option, if your company has a virtual desktop or a server based computing solution you could work like this. If you just use office apps you could certainly work like this. If you today work on a desktop with local apps this concept is nothing for you, yet..
What will the future bring?
Looking back like this shows we made big improvements and it shows that during the last 7 years massive changes did occur. We made huge progression in possibilities to work flexible, fast, with a lot of freedom. What will the future hold for us? will we have a mobile with a DEX like station or are we gonna use some sort of smart Google-like glasses to do our daily work? Technically of course you wouldn’t need a device to hold on to do you your job, glasses could connect you and so on but the question is whether that is nice to work with.
I think that we will move to less devices to take with us, not less devices at home but less devices we work with. Less but smarter and more powerful devices. The challenges ahead for these devices will be the battery, power and usability. If you mobile (or what we will call it in the future) is gonna be the workhorse it will need more battery life. I still look back at the seabird of Mozilla, a concept phone, it beamed a keyboard and track field on your desk projecting a screen to work on. If we want to be independent of where to work and how to work, the DEX is just one step in the right direction. More development will be needed and coming our way.
The next big step to take is to get all those legacy 32bit Windows apps in the Cloud and out of the desktop. We need to be independent of a Windows desktop. Without this step we will never reach utopia in our workplace, we will always be dependent on a desktop running somewhere. With all your apps in the Cloud you would be independent on your choice of device.
Things wil go slower than expected as companies have a hard time changing habits, new companies will adopt the new way of working faster. If I had the budget I’d work with the Samsung S8 and a DEX today as I think that is the way forward. Let’s see what the future bring us, like me I think you are also interested.
I started to write about mobiles, my first one was a Kermit, my current one is a Nokia Lumia 930 Windows Phone and my next one will be an Android one, brand unknonw so far.. I’m orientating to see what is interesting. Not the S8 due to the price. If you see the seabird in stock (in a 2017 model please) give me a call, that might be worth the money.