The Disappearing Desktop

The mainframe computer debuted in the 1960s.  These machines were very simple in nature, but took up an entire room and required a tremendous amount of power.  I’m sure the engineers behind them never would have imagined that the same technology would become a commodity and also end up in the palm of a person’s hand. The smartphone, and certainly now the tablet, have changed the way business is done. Subsequently, now that Internet availability is so common, it’s hard to imagine that the desktop would potentially be rendered unnecessary.

As a network admin, infrastructure planning and scalability preparation is of the utmost importance. Products such as VMware©, Citrix’s XenApp© and Microsoft’s Hyper-V© technologies have made virtualizing servers and desktops easier to manage and more accessible. It almost seems cost prohibitive for some businesses, particularly smaller start-ups, to invest in desktops.  The industry is paying much more attention to application devices that utilize a monitor port, mouse and keyboard ports, and Ethernet.  Agents then log in to a portal and do everything within the LAN.  There is no need to worry about the user backing up data locally, and control of the user’s access is more structured and more secure.

That may seem a bit scary to some, as there are concerns about bandwidth and server availability. Having that kind of structure requires maintenance times to be planned well in advance, and also requires constant monitoring, to ensure that all agents have access to the servers that they require to conduct their tasks.

Although companies certainly aren’t going to call a recycling company anytime soon to come claim their desktop systems, the industry is continuing to move toward the direction of the mobile worker. In my last post I discussed the increase in the remote worker base. With added mobility and access to corporate data, the remote worker’s tools are even more powerful and there is little downtime in opportunities to respond to work-related requests. This also allows more administrative ability to monitor company-wide network usage. With social media and its popularity gaining tread, this has caused detraction from work duties for some businesses. It is more efficient for companies to employ methods of restricting access to certain websites, or to disallow random browsing to avoid viruses and malware. This can obviously decrease productivity even more, if the user’s machine is taken offline, due to misuse or infection.

Have you experienced the “disappearing desktop”? How did you go about implementing this new infrastructure? I would love to hear from you as always.

–Travis W. Gillison