It’s has been a long time since I heard about the Nirvana phone for the first time. After that, it became very quiet around it. Last week I heard about it again. In this article I want to share my thoughts about BYOD and the Nirvana phone. I used some information from Brian Madden’s article from the beginning of this year.
What is the Nirvana phone? Basically the Nirvana phone is a 1; regular mobile phone with all the common capabilities, and it isn’t tied to a specific vendor and 2; a device which can handle a USB/Bluetooth keyboard/mouse and where you can connect a monitor to and change it into a thin client/PC. With the appropriate app (Citrix Receiver/VMware View Client) you can connect to a corporate desktop. Citrix’s Chris Fleck has been writing about this concept for while now. Click here to see a demo video.
When I first heard about it I wanted to have “it”. Without thinking about it I was thrilled about the concept. Combine it with Bring Your Own Device, and the concept became even better; get your favorite mobile phone, one you like and can operate and also use it to access your corporate desktop. That’s sweet!
Then I started to think about the concept and quickly I became less cheerful.
My first concern is the docking, cabling, keyboard, mouse and monitor issue; do I need to carry all that around myself? The cables, adapters, mouse and keyboard are small and could fit in my bag but a monitor? Never. I visit customers and partners a lot and I’m pretty sure of 1 thing; I’m not going to ask for a monitor before I go into a meeting. Same with hotels though. Yes there is a TV but I don’t want to use that as my monitor. I prefer to work and listen to the TV, switch channels etc. I haven’t seen a separate monitor in many hotel rooms. Besides the monitor, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to grab a laptop or even a tablet in stead of setting up everything so you can work on your phone?
So what if I don’t have a monitor, too much hassle to setup everything or you can’t connect to your vDesktop? I could just work on my mobile phone. But that is a very small screen and basically not usable (that’s the reason for that monitor!). Let’s assume you have very small fingers and it’s very easy for you to type for an hour on your 4” screen during a meeting. Remember I combined the Nirvana phone and BYOD concept. So basically, this is your personal phone and because you can’t connect to a remote desktop you want to use your phone for work. This means you will use local apps for work. Local apps you normally use for private things. Private and corporate data will mix. IT doesn’t have control over you personal device and can’t set policies. With the Nirvana concept, I’m missing something to fill this gap. I believe that when it comes to BYOD, VMware Horizon Mobile is a must have, essential, can’t live without it. Think about it; when you open a confidential corporate document, do you want it to be cached inside a corporate vPhone or just on your private phone? You can read more about Horizon Mobile here. Again, VMware Horizon Mobile comes into play with BYOD and not specifically the Nirvana concept but I combined the 2 because I think BYO will get huge!
Also, when you do have all the gear in place to hook up your phone, how would you make phone calls. Well it is possible to be connected and make calls at the same time. However, you need to put it on speaker or use a headset. Putting it on speaker isn’t an option in many cases. People around you, noise, the nature (confidential/private) of your conversation will stop you from putting it on speaker. A headset will solve the issue but again, another gadget I need to carry around and keep charged battery wise. I don’t use a headset otherwise.
Users who don’t need local horse power and don’t need offline capabilities don’t need a laptop and a mobile phone, provided by the company. That is very true. I personally would give those users a Thin Client (more robust than a mobile phone, static setup, no hassle) and access to a VMware View Desktop with a soft phone installed inside it. Unified Communications is supported inside a VMware View 5 environment with Avaya, Cisco and Mittel. So you need 1 devices; a thin client with a headset.
Undocking and docking your phone because of whatever reason shouldn’t be an issue. Time out settings inside your vDesktop can easily handle that. Also, current mobile devices can output a high quality resolution so that shouldn’t be a issue as well.
At this moment my feeling is we have passed this Nirvana phone station. Too much hassle with gear and it isn’t a solution when, for example a monitor or vDesktop isn’t available and you need to work offline; your screen is way too small. New device like tablets are common now and will take care of tasks more easily/efficiently that could/couldn’t have been done by the Nirvana phone. It must be said that VMware Horizon Mobile for tablets needs to be available before the BYOTablet concept can happen big time though. Also on a tablet you want a secure corporate space to access/read/modify data and access apps.
The small screen will be an issue with app remoting techniques as well. Right now, Connecting to a vDesktops is part of the Nirvana phone concept. The thing is that a vDesktop won’t be the only technique to access corporate resources/application. For example, VMware also announced Project Appblast during VMworld 2011. Appblast is a application remoting technique. So basically you remote apps via HTML5 to a browser. Great stuff!! But what about my Nirvana phone? Again, without a monitor the phone screen is too small. Same as with remoting a vDesktop. Displaying a vDesktop or an app is so much easier on a tablet.
Because of all previously said I believe most people will end up with 3 devices; smart phone, tablet and laptop. This could be 2 depending on how tablets will evolve. Maybe the laptop will be replaced by the tablet eventually, who knows.