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The desktop virtualization market was chugging along at a decent albeit unspectacular pace before Apple's iPad arrived and helped crystallize the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept. Since then, the iPad has become the main onramp for companies looking to mobilize their work forces through the use of virtualization.
Executives were the first to bring the iPad into the workplace, but before long all types of employees were clamoring for the ability to access corporate desktops and applications from the devices. The phenomenon, and the speed with which it took hold, surprised solution providers. "People are demanding access to their applications with the device of their choosing," said Dan Weiss, CEO and co-founder of Varrow, a virtualization solution provider in Greensboro, N.C.
Windows 7 migrations were expected to be the coming out party for desktop virtualization, and the iPad is now one of the primary devices contributing to the festivities. "The single greatest driver for desktop virtualization right now isn't Windows 7, it's the iPad," said Mike Strohl, president of Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based virtualization VAR. "IT departments in many organizations are responding to a massive wave of iPads in their user base."
Companies are now well acquainted with the productivity gains to be reaped from the combination of iPads and virtualization. Citrix Systems last December polled nearly 5,000 iPad owners who use the devices for work and found that 46 percent said they're more productive. And 13 percent of respondents said the iPad is a mission critical component of their job.
Entisys sold "millions of dollars" of desktop virtualization technology in the last quarter alone, the majority of which has been driven by iPad related services, according to Strohl. One Entisys customer recently signed off on a desktop virtualization deal that included the purchase of 6,000 iPads for use by the company's mobile employees. Another customer, a major East Coast financial firm, is planning a project involving iPads and some 15,000 virtual desktop users.
The single greatest selling point for both customers, Strohl said, was Entisys' ability to show running full desktops and applications running on the iPad using virtualization. "Pretty much every scenario we go into involves a demo that includes an iPad. They're extremely effective conversation starters and deal closers," he said.
Hogan Consulting Group, a Chesterton, Ind.-based solution provider with a large healthcare practice, is also seeing a growing tide of iPad related business. "Almost overnight, we started seeing hospitals getting requests from doctors that want to run their apps on the iPad when they're walking around the hospital, said CEO Mike Hogan."We had existing projects on the table that suddenly got amped up because of the iPad's arrival."
Next: The iPad's appeal spreads