BriForum London kicked off yesterday taking place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the ETC Venues conference facility. Once I stopped trying to follow google maps to get there (Which was trying to take me somewhere about a mile away) I joined the registration queue and quickly headed into the opening keynote by Brian Madden. The first part of the keynote was a review of what was said last year during the keynote, with the end concentrating on the improvements that have happened since, that are starting to make VDI a more cost effective and viable solution from where we were in the past. These included hardware offloaded graphics processing and single instance block storage.
Brian was keen to push that VDI only works in persistent mode, as users want to customise their desktop and install their own apps as they always have done amongst other reasons. I don’t agree fully with this sentiment, whilst having a persistent desktop is certainly an easier option to get you VDI project off the ground we won’t be making full use of the benefits of a VDI solution and moving forward when we are looking to allow the user to become decoupled from one device (or desktop source) the movement of data, apps and customisations will be increasingly important. Admittedly if you are a power user and need to be installing your own applications that aren’t part of an enterprise app store like Horizon Workspace a persistent desktop maybe your best and only option unless you are going to look into solution like Liquidware Labs Flex Apps, but most task and knowledge workers in companies from my experience are not concerned by not being able to install applications (or potentially have ever been able too) or only being able to select from the enterprise catalogue. With the wide variety of persona management solutions around there is no reason why user customisations shouldn’t be persistent between non persistent desktops. By having a non-persistent desktop configured correctly with persona management and application layering technologies we are able to refresh the base image for security and consistency on a regular basis without issue and the desktop itself becomes worthless meaning there is no requirement to back it up, unlike a persistent desktop which presumably is persistent because it has some worth to an individual or the business.
After the keynote we were given the opportunity to engage with the vendors attending the conference, I was very disappointed to not see VMware and Citrix attending this year, this event is a great showcase for these companies especially when there is so much focus on end user computing from VMware at the moment. I really enjoyed chatting with a number of vendor’s especially, AppSense regarding their DataNow and MobileNow products, Atlantis ILIO, nVidia with their GRID GPUs, Nutanix with their block based compute and storage platform and Xangati with their Virtualisation monitoring product. The vendor hall in my opinion could be 2 or 3 times the size for this event, what better opportunity is there for End User Computing focused vendors to have a dedicated audience of End User Computing professionals to talk too and wow with their wares, where are the likes of Dell Wyse, DevonIT, Liquidware Labs amongst others?
A key part of any BriForum is the breakout sessions, where industry experts share their knowledge, in the morning I joined Jack Madden’s session regarding Enterprise Device Management (EDM) this is a relatively new subject area for me so I was pleased to learn more as Jack walked us through his new book that will be out shortly. My next sessions was AppSense’s Bring Your Own Dad (Device, Application, Data) session. I was keen to attend AppSense’s session after enjoying theirs so much last year, they seem to know how to engage the audience and mix knowledge with live demonstrations, a lot of vendors need to learn from these guys, as when talking to a technical audience the sales pitch won’t cut it. My remaining technical sessions of the day were regarding RDS 2012 and Storage improvements in vSphere 5.1 which I really enjoyed and I am hoping to catch up with presenter Jim Moyle today to discuss further how Atlantis ILIO assists in VDI solution as Jim works for Atlantis. I also attended the vendor session by Nutantix and Streamcore, I’m not sure what went wrong in this session as it appeared to finish 45 minutes early and I would have loved to have seen a live demo by Rob Tribe during the Nutanix presentation as his passion for the product and technology always comes across really well. The StreamCore presentation was just that “a number of slides” and unfortunately wasn’t very engaging.
Overall I had a good first day and even managed to pop into the new Giant bike shop downstairs during a break, I know Brian is a cycling fan (after discussing over beers at the last BriForum) and would recommend he pops down! Today I will be looking forward to attending Ruben Sprujit’s from PQR’s sessions as they were amongst my favourites last year.