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Reality Check on the iPad

It will not change how we use computers

Do you believe the iPad will change the way we do computing? I don't.  Don't get me wrong. The Apple iPad, the HP Slate, the Notion Ink Adam, Fusion Garage's JooJoo are awesome devices and I wouldn't mind someone buying me one, but do I think they will have a huge impact on business? Not really.

I see these computing devices as another alternative, but not the only device you will need.  Gone are the days where each device only did a single thing. You remember those people walking around with pagers, phones, walkmans all attached to their belts.  Looked like a bunch of Batman superheroes walking around (without the Batman physique).   Now we have these devices that can do all sorts of things, but I don't think they can replace your work computer.

As I see it, most business people need two types of devices:

1.       The Work Device

2.       The Anywhere Device

The work device is just that, the main device you use to perform your job.  My job requires that I write a lot of documents, draw architecture diagrams, and create presentations.  I need a full sized keyboard.  I need a sensitive mouse. I need a large monitor.  Could I use one of the new tablet style devices? Yes, but I would need add on devices, which turns this into a crazy looking laptop.

How about healthcare workers? Brian Madden posted a blog on How Apple's iPad could fit into Desktop Virtualization. This might be a great place to start. Can doctors or nurses really use these devices? One would think it would make perfect sense to carry one around into different patient rooms and their charts would magically appear. This is the main point Brian was making.  It sounds awesome, but is it practical? Upon closer inspection I don't think it really works.

  • Where is the doctor going to place the device when doing a physical workup of the patient?   Do you place it on the exam table?  I see it crashing onto the floor and breaking into a million pieces.  Do you place it on the counter next to the sink? I don't think these things are water proof.
  • Do we have any concerns that these devices would transport contagions to different patient rooms?  Doctors/nurses all clean their hands when they enter, what about the tablet?   These devices will become the carriers. Talk about a new form of computer viruses. This time the viruses infect humans.
  • What happens if the doctors forgets to take the device with them? I bet it would be stolen.  Pretty easy for a patent to sneak out with one.

I know there are other devices out there that you can drop on the floor, but does it matter? Right now, most patient rooms have dedicate spots for the computer/thin client.  With tablets, there is no dedicated spot. These devices don't appear to make sense as a work device replacement, but what about an anywhere device?  Most people have these devices already. They are small and do many functions. They are called a smart phones.  You use these in situations where you don't have your work computer and you just need a quick update wherever you are at (conferences, airplane, stop light, even the bathroom).  These new tablets do not fit into this category either because they are too large. They don't fit in my pocket or on my belt!!!

So is the iPad and other similar devices going to be a bust? Not in the slightest.  I think these devices bring us to a new category: The Armchair Device.

Most people will use these devices while sitting in a chair at an airport, on a plane, at home in front of the TV, but not in the office.  They will be utilized in situations where a laptop's flexibility is not required and a smart phone is too constraining.  As I see it, if you will be mostly reading materials, or watching videos, these devices make sense.  If you are creating content, you will most likely struggle.

Being able to read  books, surf the web, Twitter/Facebook/IM with friends on a larger screen device makes these devices the true Armchair Device.  If we want to extend this further to include reading work email and work-related documents securely, that is when you look at Citrix Receiver.

If history has shown us anything, these devices will appear. They will be brought into work. They will be used to access work-related material.  They will be used to consume data but not create data.  What are you going to allow users to access? Data? Applications? Desktops?  Now is the time to think about how these devices can be integrated into your infrastructure before you are trying to play catch up.

Now if I could just get the iPad to control my TV

More Stories By Daniel Feller

Daniel Feller, Lead Architect of Worldwide Consulting Solutions for Citrix, is responsible for providing enterprise-level architectures and recommendations for those interested in desktop virtualization and VDI. He is charged with helping organizations architect the next-generation desktop, including all flavors of desktop virtualization (hosted shared desktops, hosted VM-based desktops, hosted Blade PC desktops, local streamed desktops, and local VM-based desktops). Many of the desktop virtualization architecture decisions also focuses on client hypervisors, and application virtualization.

In his role, Daniel has provided insights and recommendations to many of the world’s largest organizations across the world.

In addition to private, customer-related work, Daniel’s public initiatives includes the creation of best practices, design recommendations, reference architectures and training initiatives focused on the core desktop virtualization concepts. Being the person behind the scenes, you can reach/follow Daniel via Twitter and on the Virtualize My Desktop site.

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