BriForum is a desktop virtualization engineer's dream. This is definitely not a marketing conference. In fact, independent speakers are not allowed to discuss their companys’ products. They are to present only on the concepts and issues they came to talk about. Some of the best minds on the subject are present. The sessions range from broad philosophy about how virtualization fits into enterprise organizations, to technical deep dives into how page tables are modified by vendors, such as MokaFive, to provide layering of OS, App and User layers, and the problems that can result from doing it wrong.
Intel had a strong presence at BriForum. We had our own booth, where we showed demos of MokaFive Suite,Citrix XenClient Enterprise, and Wanova Mirage all running on Ultrabooks™ from Asus, Acer, and Toshiba. The idea was to show how these solutions each address a different aspect of the Consumerization of IT. But it didn’t stop there! Several desktop management ISVs,such as MokaFive, RES Software, Citrix, Wanova,AppSense, and Scense, also ran their demos on Ultrabooks™. Speaking of Ultrabooks, for many attendees (and even exhibitors), it was the first time they had ever seen or held an Ultrabook in person, which elicited many comments about its weight, size and performance. Some compared it to an iPad, saying that it was lighter than their iPad with the cover on it. Another commented that his employees were leaving their iPads and MacBooks at home and bringing their Ultrabooks to work. One attendee who owned an Ultrabook said that his favorite thing about the Ultrabook is its 6 – 8 hour battery life and that MacBook Air only gives him 2 – 3. Watch the videos of ISVs talking about their favorite features of the Ultrabook here, here, here and here.
As for Intel’s session, it was very well received. In fact, other presenters referenced things from our presentation when they were making a point—in a good way, not as an example of how to do it wrong. Of particular interest were the workspace composition architecture and the idea of Trust Levels. Some others had hinted at both of these, but I don't think anyone presented it with the clarity we did, and with the work in progress to make it a reality.
There was a lot of conversation around FUIT (if you don't know what that is, just spell out the letters and it will become clear). The clear message is that if IT doesn't deliver what the users want and/or need, users will go around IT controls, sometimes in creative ways, to get things done. One such example was a company where there were very solid firewalls between development, pre-prod and prod environments. No connections
allowed. So the guys in the lab took EoP (Ethernet over Power) adapters that give you a wireless connection from the power in your house, and created a bridge between the production and development environments. Pretty ingenious, and very cheap.
Another subject that came up often is how virtualization in general, and VDI specifically, may have a negative ROI, but has definite "value." You can't try to justify these solutions based on hard ROI. They are justified based on the value to the user, and ultimately to the company. Things like employee retention, work flexibility and industry leadership become more important than the dollars being spent to implement the solution. It is also clear that, like we see, VDI and virtualization are for niche use cases, and not a broad solution for every user. It is important to understand your use cases then build solutions that fit those use cases. I think Intel IT does this very well.
Of course, BYO was a big topic, and the general consensus—fromlarge organizations to SMBs—is that we all need to do it, but any way we do it is going to suck. The controls IT has to put in place make the user experience frustrating, but without that, we create too much risk. Things like remote-wiping the entire device when we should just be able to wipe the work-related apps and data, making users switch back and forth
between work/home environments, and requiring complex passwords on SFF devices are killing us!
Security was also a big concern. It was postulated in one session that security on VDI is not only as bad as a native environment; in some cases it is even worse. For example, we separate the environments by putting the corporate workspace in the data center. "Smart thinking," they say – put your clients, where users can install apps, including viruses, in the data center where you have the ability to infect production servers, and where you have them all concentrated to make a DoS attack easier.
What was really interesting was hearing from the audience about how they were doing, how implementations were going, what capabilities they had enabled, etc. I would say that Intel IT is very much ahead of most of the companies represented.
Overall, BriForum is a great conference for those who want to hear the latest, cutting edge, independent thinking on desktop management.
The Intel booth
Our friends running their products on Ultrabooks.
Ryan Ettl, Intel (left); Roy Ubry, Intel, (right) giving the Intel session presentation
Bob Ludwig (right) showing off our Ultrabooks to a captivated BriForum attendee
Good attendance at the Intel session!