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HTML5: The Holy Grail for bring your own device (BYOD)

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The BYOD concept

For a while now in the workspace area, the BYOD concept has been a big buzz, but what does this actually mean? The way it used to work was that basically a company used to give every user a centrally purchased device that the company had selected for you: a desktop, a notebook, or even a thin client for that matter. That was it, you got it and you where stuck with it for as long as the company wanted you to use it.

The BYOD concept was about to change all that. It would no longer matter what the user brought into the office: notebook, PC, tablet, smartphone, and others.  The users would receive either a personalized budget for this device, or were allowed to buy and use something on their own.

Delivery models

This way was a challenge for the IT department, because it meant that people could not only bring in their secured, company-built, Windows machine, but also bring their Macbooks, Ubuntus, Windows XP netbooks, iPhones, and Android devices. So, for controlling the security of the end points, the usual answer for this issue of users bringing their own devices is to provide the user with a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or server-based computing solution. In this way, the user can still connect to a virtual workplace similar to what the user previously did, except it is running on the company’s internal network in a secure zone and runs isolated on the user’s device, whatever that may be. The only requirement to run this VDI solution would be a client or web session that can connect to the VDI environment.

There are a lot of well known advantages for this VDI solution; the business cases for VDI and server-based computing solutions are easier to create these days because of new and cheaper technologies. But still, these solutions have down sides. Users still have to take an additional “step” before accessing their applications. Plus, in the users’ perspective, all they care about is having a device they like, but most of all be able to access their business applications. That’s it, they are not interested in application delivery techniques or the storage mechanism behind the infrastructure.

So wouldn’t it be nice if we can skip the whole desktop and just deliver what matters to the user: the application.

Is HTML5 the solution?

So what’s out there that will work on all devices? Whether iOS, Windows, Linux, Android? Well, web-based is the obvious answer, but unfortunately most enterprise applications do not yet have a 100% web-based user interface. So we would need something that could, dynamically when needed, transform legacy applications to something Web 3.0, if you will.

What if we could transform all legacy business applications to HTML 5 while running it? That would be great right? It will no longer be an issue what platform someone is running, no question of compliancy, application delivery methods, and so forth.

Most people familiar in the virtualization space will, by reading the title of this blog post, already know what I’m talking about: VMware’s recent launch of AppBlast and project Octopus, which as far as I’m concerned, is a very cool announcement in our area that could actually change the way we deliver our application landscape.

What will the cloud bring us?

In my opinion, VMware is really onto something. These questions will become important in the near future for workspace management. Companies will start to use SaaS offerings, such as Salesforce.com and SAP, from the cloud. But companies will always be using parts of their core business applications locally. The question will be: How can they combine all these services without creating a web of different ways to approach all these services?

The real challenges will be in delivering and integrating all these various environments and delivery methods to the user without the user having to worry about anything, and to keep things simple and straight-forward and still be able to secure everything.

Eventually, in my opinion, we will look at a workspace completely delivered through web technologies where the user only has to sign in once and connect to public cloud SaaS offerings that integrate with the companies’ local applications, storage, and collaboration technologies without hosting anything locally on the device brought in by the user.

What do you think is the way you will be working in the near future?

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