Cloud computing gets a lot more personal

I’ve just bought the biggest smartphone that I could find and have been using it for the past couple of weeks with great results. I’ve had both admiring looks and a few sniggers due to its size. It’s kind of a cross between a tablet and a phone.

I’ve never put it up to my ear however, as I think it’s a bit too much, I use a hands free kit instead. I don’t really want to be seen looking like this now do I?

At the moment I’m really happy with my purchase because it means that not only do I have a new phone, I now have a phone with a big screen and cool functionality. One of the reasons I decided to go for such a hybrid is so that I can read e-books on it without squinting to see the text.

It also means that I do not have to take my iPad around with me when I travel, which means one less device to manage. So how is this related to the blog post title you may ask? Well, I wanted to take this a little further to see if I can use only my mobile phone as my primary computing device. I say primary but this little guy still needs help from his friends in the cloud. So I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I could hook up my phone to an external monitor, connect some peripherals and see what happens…

Well this is the result:

The image above shows my Galaxy Note connected to a 24″ monitor using a HDMI cable for full 1080p resolution. I’ve connected my Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Mouse to it, and also installed VMware View Client for Android. It’s running a VMware View session using PCoIP over a WIFI connection to my View desktop in one of VMware’s datacentres. How awesome is that?

So why would you want to do this? Well, for one thing it’s pretty cool, the simplicity and usability is amazing and it feels quite natural. Why wouldn’t you use a small personal device such as a mobile phone as a thin client for accessing cloud resources such as a remote desktop hosted on VMware View?

It’s simple yet solves quite a few issues regarding end user access points. We’ve all seen those reports and calculators that justify thin client devices over traditional fat PCs. I’m not an EUC/VDI guy so I just typed “cost of thin client” into Google and went to to take a look at the report.

A report by Bloor Research states that moving over to thin client computing could save costs of up to 70%. I’m going to be a little lazy and quote directly from the web page:

*1 Explanation of savings on administration

These were calculated at $1000 per PC. Many research studies indicate that the amount is between $800 and $1,700 per year. Beyond day-to-day maintenance of installation of patches, software upgrades, etc, there is also the 3 year upgrade cycle which requires an administrator to move all the data and profiles to the new PC. On average this will cost $300 per PC, making for an additional cost of $50 per year (over a 6 year period). Since administration is simplified, an enterprise will require fewer IT staff to perform the same number functions. This means lower training costs and fewer salaries to pay. Bloor Research estimates that the number of helpdesk staff needed can be reduced typically by 50% and often by 75%.

*2 Explanation of savings on client hardware

These were calculated to be $208 per PC per year. You can get an adequate thin client for $250, in contrast with the average price for a PC of about $750 – this results in a saving of $500. Since PC hardware has to be upgraded approximately every 3 years as opposed to a thin client which only needs to be replaced every 6 years, the savings increase to $1250 over a span of 6 years ($1500 spent on 2 PCs as opposed to $250 on 1 thin client device). This amount is then divided by 6 to calculate a yearly saving. If you are using existing PCs instead of thin clients, the hardware savings can still be applied because you would be extending the life span of the converted computers. Furthermore, the MTBF of a thin client device is higher and it uses far less energy.

*3 Explanation of extra server hardware costs

These were calculated at $50 per user. Because all processing is done on the server, when using thin clients you will need to buy additional servers to act as terminal servers. On average 30 users will need a dual processor server with 4 gigs of RAM and SCSI hard disks. A brand name server should cost around $4,500 and will depreciate on average in 3 years (in reality you can use them for longer than that).

So that’s a 70% saving according to Bloor Research for just using thin clients over traditional PCs. But hang on, what about further savings? How about ditching the thin client concept altogether and allow users to use their smartphones?

With the popularity of BYOD (bring your own mobile device: expense the monthly costs for calls and line rental) programs, could be the coup de grâce for thin clients everywhere. Most smartphones nowadays are a lot more powerful than the average thin client and for the average office application and e-mail worker, a smartphone may be just the right device to use.

Some other benefits I see since using my smartphone to access my View Desktop:

  • It’s my device, I look after it, I clean it, I never spill coffee on it. No one else can touch it. It’s my personal device so I sure as hell am going to take care of it. Do you ever clean your thin client or work computer?
  • I can take it with me when I go to make coffee, or to the printer, or to a meeting. My office and most of my customer’s offices have WIFI everywhere, so my View session does not disconnect. And when I return to my desk, I just plug the HDMI cable back in and everything is still there. No work is lost as everything just resumes.
  • I can take my device anywhere, it’s a smartphone, it’s got my e-mail, calendar, messages, contacts, Twitter and a web browser. I can use it to communicate when I’m out of the office, I can continue working when I’m out and about. And when I return to my desk or home, I can just reconnect it to an external monitor and paired input devices and my session is still there and I can continue where I left off.
  • It’s secure, no-one is going to attempt to log into my session if there’s nothing to log in to! I don’t even have to ‘lock my computer’ anymore, as it’s safely secured in my jacket pocket.
  • Oh and it can still make and receive calls.

Coupled with VMware Horizon Mobile, I think we are onto a sure winner. Click on the image below to watch a short video of what Horizon Mobile is all about.

Let’s just see if this little idea kicks off and makes 2012 the year of VDI… again.

Eye candy below… Comments always welcome, video guide to follow.



Author: Hugo Phan


4 thoughts on “Cloud computing gets a lot more personal”

  1. Nice post Hugo, I have to ask though, is this post in response to the grief we have been giving you over the size of your phone? 🙂

  2. have you used this setup for a full days working , i need an option to do remote work and would love to go with just my galaxy note and then buy the monitor and wireless keyboard , mouse etc when i arrive in the country I am potentially going to work in and access my work computer over VM ware

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