Attracting over 100 telcos from 65 countries, the Telco Cloud World Forum took place 28-30 of April in London, at which Colt participated and held a couple of sessions. The event is focused on the development of Cloud-based services from the perspective of telcos…

While it is clear that most network operators are now already offering some kind of cloud services, the type, strategy and maturity still varies greatly and many are in the early stages of developing their offering… hence many of the event sponsors are orchestration providers and marketplace platforms.

One of these sponsors, Canonical, the company behind the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, were promoting the open-source cloud infrastructure platform OpenStack which they support. In a conversation with them, they were very surprised to learn Colt are already using a similar open-source platform CloudStack, as they highlighted that most network operators don’t have a clear cloud strategy yet, let alone a defined stack manager, and praised the advanced stage at which Colt is in this respect. This was also made clear by some of the presentations held during the event.

One of the presentations that stood out for me was from a Dutch operator, who presented the “Online workplace” solution. Marketing names aside, this is a VDI solution practically the same as what Colt offers today and that we use internally. One that offers a “desktop in the cloud” under a consumption-based model so that customers only pay for the storage and CPU that they use, and which they can access from any connected device.

The presentation included a video which highlighted the many benefits of the service and showed smiling people accessing their Windows desktop in the cloud using their Laptops, iPads and iPhones… yes that means using Windows on an iPhone. I hope I was not the only one in shock at this… why would anybody want to push a traditional desktop to a mobile device? Windows was designed for large screens, a mouse and keyboard, while the main success of mobile platforms like the iPhone is their simplicity and usability with a finger. I understand it is technically possible to use Windows on an iPhone, but just because it’s possible doesn’t mean that users will love it.

I also couldn’t avoid thinking of the other challenges of VDI that weren’t mentioned… such as the need to be online (and with a decent connection), the limited support for voice and video, for instance and all this makes me wonder, there must be a more user friendly way to enable workers access to the apps and data they need?

Although VDI solves many issues, we are currently exploring “what happens after VDI”. We call this prototype the Enterprise Workspace Evolution, an umbrella name for all the technologies that could support the shift from a device-driven IT to a user and information management focus.

The prototype is looking not only at how to improve the user experience of current VDI services, but also at how to enable new scenarios where users need to work offline or from mobile devices, i.e. through workspace managers that are context-aware and provide secure access to information and corporate applications depending on the platform being used.

CIOs we met at the conference and at other events are showing a great interest in the journey that we’re painting. You can view my presentation on the future of the Enterprise desktop below.

The future of the enterprise desktop from Colt Technology Services