A Virtual Desktop Analogy – Rooms and Properties

One of the techniques that I like to use when discussing technology with customers and colleagues is analogy. I find that it helps to break through the barriers of technology terminology and acronyms. It creates a picture in people’s heads that they can relate to.

Granddad wonders what a virtual desktop is?I’ve recently really enjoyed reading the analogy for Virtual Desktops put forward by Andreas Groth on IBM’s Thoughts on the Cloud Blog:

The virtual desktop arena is particularly mired in terminology and acronyms. For starters, what is a desktop anyway? Is it the top of this desk I’m sitting at? Is it the device that’s sitting on top of the desk? Is it the layout of the things on the screens that I am looking at? Well, of course, it’s all three of them depending on the context, even though the device that I’m currently using is a laptop. What does virtual really mean anyway? So when we start talking about shared virtual desktops, persistent virtual desktops, dedicated virtual desktops, local virtual desktops, pooled virtual desktops, etc. it just adds to the confusion. Virtual applications anyone?

Andreas’ analogy uses different residency types (hotels, private residence, etc.) as a parallel for the different virtual desktop types.

  • The hotel is analogous to the basic pooled virtual desktop approach. It has all of the basic capabilities you require. It’s the same every time you go into it because it’s serviced. You’re allowed to take some of your own stuff in, but you have to take it with you when you go.
  • The private residence is analogous to the dedicated virtual desktop approach. It’s yours, you can do what you like inside it. If you break it then you’ll have to fix it yourself, or hire someone in to do a professional repair. You may check into a hotel room while it’s being fixed, but it won’t be home.

He then extends this parallel to look at the different perspectives that people have about the residency – the occupier sees things differently to the property manager.

A really good analogy isn’t there to provide all of the answers, it’s there to help you get a different insight, and this one does.

It provides the insight about why people don’t really like the hotel approach (pooled virtual desktops). They generally have no technical reason, or even a functional reason for disliking it, it’s just that the desktop experience has become personal to them and you can’t really personalise a hotel room. Likewise, some people will, given the choice, always live in a hotel, because they like the way it’s serviced.

Another insight is the difference in costs and charging models. You generally pay for a hotel on a per-night basis, but you take out a longer term relationship for a private residence. Perhaps we are doing ourselves is disservice by viewing them as the same in the virtual desktop world.

I suppose that in this analogy a local virtual desktop on a  laptop is a gypsy caravan. It’s where you live, you can do what you like to it, and you carry it around with you. What do you think?

Cisco Connected World Techology Report

Over the last few years Cisco have produced a report on the changing attitude of people to being permanently connected.

This years report – 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report – has just been released. The report is based on two surveys, one looking into the attitudes of Gen Y, and the other looking at the attitude of IT Professionals.

At the heart of this year’s study is the smartphone and the constant connectivity it provides to work, entertainment, shopping, and friends. There are 206 bones in the human body, and the smartphone should be considered the 207th bone for Generation Y. They view smartphones as an appendage to their beings — an indispensable part of their lives, and yet they are concerned about data management and Internet security.

Who knew that 43% of British Gen Y always check there smart-phone as part of their morning ritual alongside brushing there teeth? It wasn’t much of a surprise to me having seen how many of them check their smart phone while stood at the latrine at work! The French are far less bothered about such things with only 29% always checking. It’s interesting that women are significantly more driven to be connected with 85% of them being compulsive checkers; it’s only 63% of men.

There’s a fun visualisation that enables you to calculate your data footprint, I apparently have a highly connected lifestyle. As you might expect there’s also a report highlighting some of the statistics and drawing some conclusions along with the seemingly mandatory set of Infographics including an interactive one showing the results for the different countries that took part.

The world is changing fast, there are a lot of people who don’t realise how fast.

Because it's Friday: Visual News

Back to the regular Friday them of how we make things more visual, today’s example is – the news.

Newsmap has been around in beta for a little while, but I’ve never written about it. Here is the news for today (4th November 2011 at 8:20) for the UK in visual form:


It’s not the only visual news site out there, but I like this one.

I have to admit though, it always makes me slightly sad, while many of these things are really important, some of the things that get people attention are not important at all.

On a lighter note: It always manages to highlight something I hadn’t seen, and that’s exciting for an information addict.

What motivates?

If you still think that carrot-and-stick is still a good metaphor for how to motivate people then you should watch this 10 minute animation of Daniel Pink giving an overview of his book Drive:

Daniel Pink: Drive

A 40 minute version of the who talk it’s available here.

If you think that Daniel is being a bit idealistic in his interpretation of the science then you should also watch Clay Shirky’s presentation to TED on Cognitive Surplus.

That’s right – money doesn’t motivate other than in the very basic of activities.

I love the way that these animations are a bit like an active rich picture.

That's Amazing

For over 25 years now I’ve worked in an environment that has meant that I’ve regularly seen something new that has got me excited about its possibilities.

I’ve become a bit more discerning about the things that I invest my time and energy in, but I continue to be amazed by the ingenuity of people.

Long may it continue.

Life in the Long Tail

This blog lives in the Long Tail.

If you are reading this blog you too are dwelling in the the Long Tail.

The concept of The Long Tail was popularised by Chris Anderson of Wired. There’s even a book, and it’s been around for a while now.

Here’s a really clumsy explanation of the concept. The top 20% of a probability curve of popularity are very popular, but there is more volume in the other 80% of the less popular. In other words, for those watching in colour, the yellow bit is bigger than the green bit.

I know that some people get millions of visitors to their site, and still others get tens and hundreds of thousands.

I’ve been writing it for years, and I enjoy doing what I do, but I don’t get tens of thousands of visitors. On my busiest month I got 1261 visits.

There are some pop-star blogs, this isn’t one of them, but there are a set of regular readers and I get comments from all sorts of people. I’m not invisible, I’m just out there in the Long Tail.

The other day Seth Godin talked about being Famous to the family:

The way my family plays 20 Questions is that one person silently chooses a famous person and then everyone in the car has 20 yes or no questions to figure out who it is.

A variation that was briefly popular was to redefine "famous" as "famous to the family." You could announce that you had chosen this variation and then pick, say, Ziggy the painter. Zigmund might not be known to the public or the history books, but in our family, he’s famous.

I’m fascinated by a new category, though. "Famous to the tribe." Is Xeni Jardin famous? Merlin Mann? What about Anne McCrossan? Never mind that Warhol thing about 15 minutes…

Everyone is famous to 1,500 people.

Welcome to the tribe folks it’s great to have you along for the journey.