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Virtual offices on the go

Virtual offices on the go

When virtualisation goes mainstream.

Sumit Dhawan, vice president, desktop virtualisation, Citrix Systems, leads strategy and plans for Citrix's desktop virtualisation product line, Citrix XenDesktop. Dhawan has been one of the key leaders in driving product, marketing and go-to-market strategy for XenDesktop product and has positioned Citrix as a leader in the desktop virtualisation market. In his current role, Dhawan is also responsible for key strategic alliances for Citrix in the desktop virtualisation market, including partnerships with Microsoft, Cisco, NetApp, Dell and HP.

In an exclusive interview with MIS Asia's online editor, he talks about the state of virtualisation, the impact of tablets on virtualisation and Citrix's growth in the Asia Pacific region.

Between last year and this, what will happen so magically that desktop virtualisation will go mainstream? What is the basis for this enthusiasm?

In the Asia Pacific, organisations are increasingly turning to desktop virtualisation to change the game in security, continuity and business agility. A worldwide survey (Gartner, Inc., Report Highlight for User Survey Analysis: Desktop Virtualisation is Top PC Investment Priority for 2011, 19 October 2010, ID:G00208354) conducted by Gartner among IT decision makers in companies with 1000 or more employees from June to August 2010 indicates that desktop virtualisation is still among the top investment priorities for 2011.

Coming into 2011, Citrix sees three trends that are driving desktop virtualisation mainstream: IT is being transformed into an on-demand service, enterprise IT is becoming more consumer-led, and hybrid clouds are expected to dominate enterprise cloud computing adoption.

As the adoption of cloud computing becomes more widespread, and organisations begin to better understand the business advantages of infrastructure-as-a-service and desktop-as-a-service, we will see cloud computing and virtualisation become an accepted part of the enterprise toolkit.

In addition, the growing number of consumer-based devices being used in the enterprise today is forcing organisations to consider new ways of delivering IT services, such as desktops and applications. A survey conducted with Citrix customers earlier in December 2010 found that almost half of all 4,951 respondents were already using the iPad daily at work. The end-user is increasingly driving IT adoption, blurring the line between corporate IT and consumer devices.

As access to applications and data from all devices becomes a business imperative, desktop virtualisation will be the key.

The new year has started with a tsunami of announcements on tablets. Do you think this will weaken or strengthen the push for virtualisation?

The huge growth of consumer technology like tablets, combined with a new generation of tech-savvy workers who increasingly demand to run company software and services on personal devices will progressively command more of the IT managers' attention and spur desktop virtualisation.

While the traditional desktop environment remains an important part of enterprise IT, there is no reason for it to remain just on the laptop. Many employees are already accessing enterprise systems from a variety of devices. Desktop virtualisation frees the desktop from its traditional physical confines. The desktop of the future is becoming rapidly more cloud-enabled, centrally maintained, and accessible from any device, anywhere, anytime.

So yes, Citrix definitely sees this new wave of tablets as a positive push for enterprises to adopt virtualisation.

A research conducted by Citrix in May 2010 found that many people want to use their iPads for work. Up to 46 per cent of the respondents depend on and use an iPad daily, while 62 per cent of those who had not yet purchased an iPad for work planned to in the future. This change is one of relevance and choice. Employees now have a wider range of options from which to select the best hardware for their task, and desktop virtualisation is the enabler.

Which are the verticals where you think the new changes will take effect first, and why?

By creating a virtual office on the go, enterprises can help to improve employee productivity. With full access to business applications, data and documents, users can view and edit a presentation, approve an expense report or join an online meeting on the iPad or any other device regardless of their location.

At Citrix, we see the desktop virtualisation market as multi-dimensional, across virtual clients, desktops and applications. As such, we have seen broad adoption across a wide variety of customer scenarios. In general, companies with a large mobile workforce or partners located in other countries are more inclined to leverage desktop virtualisation to bridge the gap between remote users/offices and critical applications or information stored in the data centre, while ensuring secured access regardless of physical location or device.

Industry verticals such as FSI and manufacturing, which typically have a large team of mobile executives and sales representatives, are some of the early adopters of desktop virtualisation. Citrix customer, a Fortune 500 food and beverage manufacturer, deployed Citrix XenDesktop to reduce costs, simplify management, enable iPads, and make it easier to open new branch offices.

Healthcare and education are also examples of industry verticals that have successfully integrated the iPad using desktop virtualisation to reach new levels of mobility, flexibility and productivity, while giving users a more modern, convenient computing experience.

Kaweah Delta Health Care District in California, the US, successfully integrated mobile devices such as laptops, iPads and iPods, into their daily health care services using virtual computing from Citrix. Desktop virtualisation delivers the full range of clinical applications and data, from patient X-rays and EKG telemetry to a labour and delivery monitoring system, to any Internet-connected device doctors choose to use, in any location.

Your CEO said last year that Citrix is young and immature in Asia. What kind of growth for Citrix do you see this year? Will it top the barrier of seven to eight per cent of total revenue contribution?

Citrix has just recently announced our 2010 fourth quarter and fiscal year financial results and we are very proud of what we've achieved.

Asia Pacific emerged as a frontrunner in Citrix's global revenue growth in 2010. The region reported the highest increase in revenue for the fiscal year, up 21 per cent, and ahead of the Americas (20 per cent) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (eight per cent) regions. This solid performance was aided by strong growth and performance in the second half of 2010.

Citrix's fourth quarter results for fiscal 2010, saw revenues of US$530 million, a 17 per cent revenue growth compared to the same quarter in 2009. Taking into account the whole of 2010, our annual revenue for the fiscal year grew by 16 per cent to US$1.87 billion.

We see good growth opportunities coming out of the Asia Pacific in the year ahead. Strong economic growth in the region places Asia in a prime position to leverage today's technology to enable public and private clouds and drive mainstream adoption of desktop virtualisation.

Citrix continues to grow from strength to strength within the region, capturing stronger market leadership positions in desktop virtualisation, web collaboration and application networking. In Q4 2010, we had some great customer wins across the region, most of which had increased in size and scale across various industry segments - proof that customers are increasingly placing strategic value on desktop virtualisation within their infrastructure.

For example, an Asia-based financial services customer with an extensive branch network replaced its first generation virtual infrastructure stack with a full XenDesktop stack. The company signed a deal for 2,500 seats, inclusive of Citrix networking products to ensure a secure, available and fast end-to-end user experience.

Citrix is seeing growth in all of our primary businesses and we expect total global revenue to be in a range of US$470 million to $475 million for the first quarter of 2011.

What are your priorities for the Asia Pacific region this year?

Moving into 2011, Citrix intends to continue delivering product innovation that will leverage our full range of virtual desktop, application, networking and server technologies to help enterprises in Asia transform their desktop to an on-demand service.

Virtual desktops are going to be high priority for many IT teams as desktop virtualisation becomes more commonly acknowledged as a strategic element of overall IT spend and a budget line item. Hence, our top priority this year is to drive mass market adoption for desktop virtualisation in the region, focusing particularly in market segments where security, business flexibility and central management are most critical - such as banking, telcos and government.

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