Park City; It’s not just for skiing anymore.

I think the best way to start this latest NFR blog is with a hearty congratulations to my old colleagues and friends at Microsoft. Earlier today they announced the much anticipated official Beta of a project code named “Park City”, or officially UE-V. User Experience Virtualization has been in the pipe for a long time now and with this announcement by Microsoft today it sends a clear message across the user state virtualization space. And that message must absolutely be taken seriously -or desktop modernization projects could be in jeopardy.

As you might guess, I’ll get much more verbose on this topic. But here’s the RES story in a nutshell: IT needs to become centered around the user. With hybrid infrastructures and IT consumerization all happening at once, it’s just getting too complicated to manage the user environment one device and one OS instance at a time. To make this happen, IT infrastructures have to crack the nut and get to context awareness. It’s not just what’s in a user’s profile – it’s where they’re accessing apps and data, what time of day their accessing them, and what device they’re using when they do it. Context awareness is vital because it allows security and compliance to become adaptive. If security isn’t context aware, you have to go with the lowest common denominator – either that, or lock down the device so tight the electrons can’t get out. Should every app be available from every location? Should I be able to store data on any device? Should the intranet be accessible when I am not in a trusted location? Or none of the above, ever? But let’s get back to my story.

It was but a year ago this very month that I sat with the Leadership team for Park City at MMS and discussed with them the repercussions of their planned release on the partner ecosystem. They were concerned that, if they marched forward with their product plans regarding profile management, what would the impact be on the partners that had built such mature point solutions on the concept of “Profile Management on steroids”? I clearly recall that same angst and concern literally washing off their faces after they attended the breakout session RES conducted on the Dynamic Desktop, and how Workspace Manager played a critical role in achieving this concept. Those guys left that session understanding that RES Workspace Manager is not a profile management solution – it’s a full-blown dynamic desktop solution that enables a secure, context-aware user workspace. They were very happy with the RES story. Other partners were still very much a concern.

Yes, it is true that by releasing Park City in the of MDOP that the idea of managing the user environment suddenly becomes commoditized. Am I worried? Not at all. I am elated to be able to move the conversation away from this somewhat tedious subject. I said it before when Citrix acquired RingCube, and may end up saying it again and again, if RES was only a 1 trick pony – one of those proverbial point solutions that only focused on User Virtualization – then I would be worried. As we used to say at another Start Up I was at many years ago, “If you can’t give it away for free, you can’t sell it”. Well, Microsoft is now giving it away for free and it is up to those point solution ISVs to justify their price tags. Oh yeah, and by free I of course mean as part of the subscription price of MDOP which is sold to those customers who have Software Assurance.

Now, if I dig into Park City just a touch we can kind of look at it as a bridge between the Hypervisor (Hyper-V) and the App Layer (App-V) in a VDI scenario. IT can now manage a single instance of the user instead of either a 1:1 image model of VDI images (statefull) or even different instantiations of the user depending on their device of access. Wonderful! That is a pretty good step forward. But something I ranted about while at Microsoft and while working with teams that constructed the joint Microsoft and Citrix VDI story was Data. Data, Data, Data. Don’t forget the Data. No coincidence that prior to the release of Park City RES made our own announcement about RES HyperDrive, a data storage solution that is not only a great fit in VDI projects but any Desktop environment today or tomorrow. That means Windows 7 today, or Windows 8 tomorrow when Park City’s release would be aligned.

Ok, so Park City, sorry UE-V (Man, it’s hard to switch from a code name to release name after 18 months of calling it one thing. This is like suddenly changing the name of my 2 year old son), offers the user virt solution. Again, what about context aware settings? This addresses the need to have consistency across delivery devices; but what about control? RES Workspace Manager has had context aware control for years. A user launches their desktop today on an end point and has and should have access to all their applications and data, no limits. But what if that same user launches their hosted desktop from an outside device, a mobile device, or from an un-trusted network? Park City makes the experience consistent but only Workspace Manager makes it secure by throttling back those apps and data that are inappropriate for that user, at that time of day, in that location or on that physical end point. Real Time context aware control, baby.

I am excited for what the futures holds with Microsoft and the next version of MDOP. It has been a long time coming since MDOP was “shaken up” and I think that the end of life of Asset Inventory Service and inclusion of UE-V will bring a breath of fresh air back to that suite of products. Let’s face it, when MDOP was created it was intended to be a launching pad for innovative products and solutions. That really hasn’t happened since its inaugural release back in 2006.

In fact, now that I think of it, look at the History of such MDOP releases. Just look at what happened to VMWare ThinApp and Citrix Streaming (Tarpon) when Microsoft acquired Softricity. They became a feature in a larger product offering. This is quintessential Darwinism. Only the strong survive? I say only the most diverse and powerful technology will survive. There is a reason you don’t see many 1 trick ponies in the Green meadows. Most are shipped off to the glue factory.

Also a big shout out to my dear friend Karri Alexion-Tiernan on her fabulous blog on not only UE-V but App-V, v.Next and the rest of the MDOP changes. I am really excited for DaRP’s new features. To me that was always the next best product behind App-V, but then as my readers know, I am slightly biased.

Stay Virtual, My Friends.