Starting your Journey Towards The Cloud: Why VMware’s End User Computing Solutions Make Sense

Since joining Clearpath Solutions Group I have had many opportunities to present at company events, as well as at VMware User Group events and VMware Knowledge Series events.  I’m pretty serious about my introverted nature (I highly recommend the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking for anyone figuring out how navigate your own introversion in your professional or personal lives).  I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at my comfort and enjoyment in presenting in front of large groups, and interacting with the audience.  I’ve found that when I share my passion for VMware and how it can transform the day to day lives of technology professionals (or even transform their careers, as VMware has done for me), I come home energized and  excited to push my knowledge of virtualization and cloud technology further.

I had the honor of speaking at two VMware Summer Knowledge Series events last week, in Atlanta, GA and Hanover, MD.  The topic I was asked to speak on was ‘How to Get Started Enabling End User Computing Platform for the Post PC Era’.  I wanted to offer something beyond the standard sales pitch, and paint a picture of how adopting the VMware End User Computing (EUC) stack can help energize IT, excite end users, and provide a foundation for this radical shift towards ‘cloud’ and the software-defined datacenter.  The presentation was well-received, so I thought I would publish the transcript and slides here.  I welcome your feedback, and hope that it helps illuminate a Clear Path on  your IT journey.

Hello, and thanks for coming out to today’s VMware Summer Knowledge Series, sponsored by Clearpath.  My name is Josh Townsend.  I am Clearpath’s Virtualization Practice Manager, where I oversee all things VMware.  My role can be summarized like this – I’m responsible for delivering technical excellence in all things virtual for our customers, from initial planning phases, through sizing and scoping, implementation and on-going support.  I’ve been working with VMware solutions for 10 years.  I carry a pile of technical certifications from Microsoft, including MCITP: Enterprise Administrator.  I am a VMware Certified Professional – VCP3, VCP4, and VCP5 – and have been recognized by VMware as a vExpert in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  I lead the Washington, DC VMware User Group and am an active blogger on Clearpath’s blog ( as well as my own site,

Today’s Knowledge Series event is focusing on VMware’s End User Computing technologies, including VMware View virtual desktop infrastructure and Horizon Application Manager products.  As you’ve seen in today’s technical demonstrations, these products and the ecosystem that surrounds them provide a mature, stable, and robust set of tools to allow IT to begin managing the technologies that our end-users interact with most to execute on their mission for the business – desktops, user-generated data, and applications – in a an efficient, cloud-like model – just like how VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure has enabled us to drive efficiency and operate in an IT-as-a-Service fashion for our core infrastructures.

Clearpath: We Speak Cloud

Now everybody is talking cloud these days – at Clearpath we say “We Speak Cloud” – but I want to limit the use of the word in the rest of my presentation, step back from the technical marketecture, and paint a picture of what adoption of VMware’s End User Computing stack could look like for you.  It is my hope that this presentation will illuminate a Clear Path for you as you leverage these VMware End User Computing solutions to:

  • provide technical excellence in your day-to-day operations
  • break down barriers between IT and users,
  • and free you to deliver strategic business value through aligning IT with business objectives and user demand.

Prior to joining Clearpath, I worked as IT Director for a Department of Defense contractor, managing both internal IT systems, as well as systems located in the Pentagon.  While my mission paled in relation to that of the war-fighters my team supported, there were days that I came home feeling like I had done battle – fighting security skirmishes, wrestling with legacy technology that would not bend to my orders, and yes, even doing battle against my end users.  The end-user conflict was the most frustrating and exhausting – after all, we were on the same side, trying to do our own parts to accomplish the greater mission.  But the security requirements, supportability, and quite frankly, some of the legacy technology we had to deal with, left my team and me at odds with end users who were demanding more choices for connectivity, greater mobility, and more flexibility in when, where and how they worked.

We Were SoldiersAs I considered ways to break down the barriers that divided my group from the end users, I remembered a line from one of my favorite movies: We Were Soldiers, based on the fantastic book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam that provides an account of one of the first large engagements in the Vietnam war – the Battle of Ia Drang Valley.  The book and movie give background on the start of the Vietnam war and the development and testing of a new war fighting strategy – Air Cavalry, empowered by new technology – helicopters, to meet the challenges of a new type of enemy; an enemy that did not follow traditional rules of engagement, were highly mobile, and preferred to work, if you will, on their own turf.  Sounds familiar….

In one of the more touching scenes in the movie, a young Lt. who just had his first child finds Lt. Col. Hal Moore, played by Mel Gibson, in the base chapel just before their unit was to deploy to Vietnam.  The Lt. asked Col. Moore “What do you think about being a soldier and a father?”  Col. Moore responded, “I hope that being good at the one makes me better at the other.”

Parenting AdviceAs a young father myself, I wondered what if, instead of doing battle, I parented my user base.  What would that look like?  I’ve got two young sons that run circles around me.  Early on in my adventures in parenting, my mother gave me some sage advice.

First, be Firm, Fair, and Consistent.
Second, as a parent you so often have to say “No” – find ways to say “Yes” as often as possible.

I considered these two rules and how I might apply them to my job.  Security, regulatory, and operational requirements definitely required my team and me to be firm, fair and consistent, and often led to me having to say “No” to my users.  It was the second rule that I had been neglecting, and in discussing this with many of my IT Manager friends I found that they too (and I suspect you also) do not always look for ways to say “yes”.

Layers 1-10 The Real OSI ModelAs IT Administrators, we’re comfortable in Layers 1-7.  But, I’ve been talking Layers 8, 9 and 10 issues so far.  Layers 8 through 10 are normal parts of the human and IT experience. The problem is, legacy technologies in layers 1-7 do not lend themselves well to the new cloud era where 8, 9, and 10 gain importance.

Trying to force legacy technology on top of layers 8-10 is like forcing the old square peg through the round hole, and often leads to the blame game. When you stop fighting layers 8 – 10, and instead manage or <gasp> even embrace them, the right technology can shine.The IT Wheel of Blame

That said, let’s look at how VMware’s end user computing technology can help you meet the challenges of the new cloud era – specifically:

The Challenges of the Cloud Era

  • New (Cloud) Delivery Methods
  • New Devices, leading to a more mobile, independent workforce.
  • New Applications
  • New Real-time, collaborative Work styles

Welcome to the Post-PC Era

In the past several years, we have seen a paradigm shift, driven by these New methods, devices, apps, and work styles.  We have now entered the Post-PC world, where the focus shifts from IT servicing devices, to IT Delivering Service in the form of Data and Apps, to users, on any device, anytime, anywhere.
Let’s look at how we tackle the challenge of this Post-PC World.

Step 1 - Take control of apps

The first step in adopting this new post-PC world mentality and starting to break down the barriers between IT and users is to take charge of the applications in your environment, and begin to offer Apps as a Service.  VMware offers several solutions that enable IT to reign in legacy applications, provision new SaaS applications, and allow users to self-provision the apps that they need, when they need them.

VMware ThinApp and ThinApp FactoryThe first solution is VMware ThinApp.  ThinApp is an application virtualization solution that allows IT administrators to repackage legacy applications into simple, portable, self-contained apps.  Once apps are thin, we can eliminate compatibility issues, Windows version dependencies, application conflicts, IE versions, etc.
Packaging ThinApps is quick and easy, and now more automated with the release of VMware’s latest ‘Fling’ – ThinApp Factory.

Once your applications are thin, deploying and updating them is as simple as dropping a file in a share.  When users launch an application, they are guaranteed to use the latest IT approved and provided version of that app, reducing support calls, eliminating security risks, and eliminating complicated application patching mechanisms.
ThinApps can be injected directly into VMware View virtual desktops for an even greater degree of simplified management.

VMware Horizon Application ManagerNow, take the solution further – rather than pushing ThinApps to users and hoping you’ve given them all that they need, or risk over deployment driving up licensing costs – think self-provisioning.  VMware Horizon Application Manager is an enterprise app store that presents both ThinApps and SaaS apps to users so they can self-provision.  SaaS apps managed by Horizon gain Single Sign On capabilities, so users have a seamless experience in authenticating to apps, and security teams have fewer passwords floating around to worry about.

VMware Mobile Management, Horizon Mobile, VMware SwitchWe’ve talked about how mobility changes everything.  With the decline of Blackberry, and increase in user-provided devices, the tools to manage mobile devices have been limited, and often upset users when IT ‘takes over’ their personal devices.  With VMware Mobile Management Platform and VMware Switch, IT can allow users to bring their own devices, preserving user choice, portability and security.

With VMware Switch, mobile devices take on a split personality – one for personal, one for work.  IT manages the work profile – apps, data, and policies – and can destroy the virtual work smart phone in the event of loss or attrition.  Users keep their personal device with the personality they choose.

VMware View Persona ManagementNow that we’re in control of apps, let’s look at the desktop.  Before we talk about boring old Windows, let’s think again about the concept of the post-PC world.  If Windows is Windows for Windows sake, then why are we using it?  Because it is a portal for interaction with legacy apps, and a file management system for our users.

We’ve virtualized legacy apps with ThinApp, and now, with VMware View Persona Management, we can abstract user profiles and the data they contain from the desktop OS.  Once we do that, IT controls where data is, when it is backed up, where it is replicated to  – all while allowing users to access their data, their profile, their persona whenever they log in.

With Apps and Data abstracted from the desktop, we can start to think about the stateless desktop.  Windows for Windows sake until we don’t need it any more.  Then, we’re left delivering the services – Apps and Data – that our users really want.The Goal: Stateless Desktop

Let’s look now at a few of the driving factors for desktop virtualization.

Reasons to Virtualize Desktops

  1. Desktop virtualization is the beanstalk in the cloud-provided end user computing environment.  Rooted in today, climbing to the cloud of tomorrow.
  2. Desktop virtualization acts as a decoupling agent between the OS and apps/data that users really want.
  3. Desktop virtualization provides a reset button for IT, allowing us to reimagine, reclaim, and redeploy IT assets (people, equipment & budget).
  4. Desktop virtualization changes the economics of end-user computing from CapEx to OpEx, preparing way for consumption-based cloud models.

Virtual Desktop Benefits with VMware ViewNow, some more practical benefits of Virtual Desktops – benefits specific to the IT administrator’s day-to-day life – the things that keep us awake at night:

  • Security
  • User Data Control
  • Operational Efficiency

Bottom line: We can control more than we could with physical desktops, roaming laptops, and unmanaged mobile devices.  We can be the Colonel in charge, we can be the parent who is firm, fair and consistent.  But with View, we can allow users to choose how, when, and where they access these IT controlled resources.

VDI - Reduce SneakerNet, Please the Corner OfficeBut wait, there’s more!  With increased operational efficiency, we cut down on sneakernet, deliver faster and higher quality of service to our users, all while pleasing the corner office!

User Freedom, Bring your Own Device (BYOD)Once we achieve secure, stateless desktops on VMware View, with IT controlled applications and user data being delivered where ever users need it, we are free to begin saying “yes” to our users.

  • User Freedom is now the norm.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) can be a reality.

Now that we have control of our apps, with ThinApp and Horizon, are enjoying the benefits of stateless desktops with View, and sleeping better knowing that we are in control of mobile devices – all while balancing our need to be firm, fair, and consistent; but saying yes to user choice and new ways of working, let’s look at how this all fits into your VMware environment.

VMware Solution PlatformsFirst, build a flexible, scalable and efficient infrastructure based on VMware vSphere and automated with vCloud director.  Then, ThinApp and Horizon and ultimately look at modernizing those legacy apps – VMware offers SpringSource and vFabric application fabrics and data fabrics for this.  Finally, layer on secure desktop and mobile devices that empower your mobile workforce.

VMware Goal: IT TransformationIt boils down to this: VMware offers Multiple Platforms with one Common Goal: to deliver a broad range of technology and services to transform how we build, deliver and consume applications in the Post-PC, cloud era.  With these platforms in place and working together, we can drive IT Agility to increase business value through:

  • Reduced Complexity
  • Dramatically Lowered Costs.
  • Enable Flexible, Agile IT Service Delivery

How Clearpath Can Help You Realize Your End User Computing Vision

With an understanding of how these technologies fit together and promise radical change for IT and the users we support, let’s look at how Clearpath can help propel your adoption forward.

Clearpath Virtualization Areas of Focus

Clearpath offers a portfolio of Products and Services focused on the virtual datacenter, with key competencies that include desktop and application virtualization with a highly qualified staff.

Clearpath's Virtualization Experts Clearpath VMware EUC Services, ThinApp Packaging, View Health Check, View Performance Tuning

Clearpath’s Cloud Hosting can help you get started with VMware View by hosting a custom pilot environment, or we can continue to host your production VMware View environment in our cloud, either as a dedicated environment for you, or in a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering, depending on your needs.

Clearpath Hosting for VMware View Clearpath invited into your IT lifecycle

By inviting Clearpath to be a part of your IT lifecycle, we can help you bring these new technologies to bare as you evaluate, design, deploy and operate your own private cloud platforms.

Your Next Steps in the Post-PC, Cloud Era

The Journey to the Cloud Fluff

First (Repeat after me…), start the journey towards the cloud.

Practical Steps towards desktop virtualizationNow, how about something a little less fluffy – take these very practical steps towards implementing your own post-PC environment.

  1. Review your real user needs; Identify technology options
  2. Repackage applications; Virtualize all you can, upgrade/replace others; Establish “rules” for new  applications
  3. Rationalize desktop image builds; Begin pilot of virtual desktops
  4. Start virtual desktop deployment; Synchronize with OS migration
  5. Identify “local” requirements; Extend virtual desktop deployment through use of desktop personas
  6. Device independence for all virtual desktop users

Finally, reach out to Clearpath for help in designing and implementing your modern end user computing environment based on VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure, VMware View & Horizon, Cisco networks and servers, and EMC storage.

Contact Clearpath on Social Media

In the end, as IT professionals, we have play the role of both Colonels and fathers in our support and enabling of our end users.  Being good at one will make us better at the other.  But by leveraging the VMware technologies we’ve seen today, we’ll spend much less time fighting with our end users.  Instead, we’ll find that we can deliver the best of both worlds – security, stability and supportability on one hand, and flexibility, mobility, and freedom on the other.

I hope my presentation provided inspiration and clarity for you.  I look forward to my team and I at Clearpath engaging with you and your team  to design and deliver VMware’s end user computing solutions to enable and inspire your IT group’s delivery of agile services to your business – without fighting with your users, but empowering them.

Escape to the Real Cloud

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