Much akin to the medieval knights and their steeds, we ride together; similar to a World War II fighter pilot, we go through many a dog-fight; similar to a cowboy and his pistol in a standoff. Yesiree… this is a relationship fully worthy of such romaniticization. (Except that I am not sure if I am the knight or the steed; the pilot or the aircraft. For example, I am yet to figure out if I use the laptop to manage my time or if my laptop has colluded with the rest of the world to use my time to meet its own objectives.)
Be it whatever, this is one partnership that has meant a lot to me. Whether it be to look up for information, a serious discussion that meant success or failure in a project, or, simply a question of entertaining myself when stuck in some woebegone motel in a far-away land over a long weekend, the proximity of my laptop computer has made me feel omniscient, omnipotent and blissful respectively. Many a meeting, many a presentation have I gone through – armed only with the laptop.
We are one invincible team – my laptop computer and I!
Anyone who has tried correcting a document or a presentation content on the laptop computer of some other person knows how different an individual each laptop is. In case you haven’t noticed it, just as there are distinct patterns in the stripes of tigers or the spots on leopards and cheetahs (so said the YouTube video that I watched the other day on my laptop!), there are very distinct patterns formed by the “Enter”, “Del”, “Insert”, “Home”, “Page up”, “Page dn” and “End” keys on every computer. Loading an OS on the machine improves individuality – OS, it appears, is some AI stuff that brings out the mood of the computers.
Aye… we are a perfect match of mood and mind – my laptop computer and I.
So – imagine my surprise when I first heard about Virtual Desktop Environment (VDE)!
A computer in a VDE is not a full-fledged computer, equipped with its own hard-disk, OS, etc., to be the individual it should be – it is just a hollow shell! A central pool of storage, somewhere in a data center, contains an image of the computer and this gets loaded whenever the user logs in. Hard-disk capacity from the central store is loaded with a filesystem containing previously stored files of the user.
First they took our our friends and made them icons on Social Media web-sites and now… the unthinkable… the computer is going to be rendered virtual!
The individuality is gone… the actual desktop contraption appeared to be no better than a TV playing out video coming over a cable! It is like going back 25 years… when we used a dumb-terminal connected to central computers via phone lines! It was like Neo and Morpheus living in the Matrix.I felt that it was a terrible thing to happen… it felt like watching Woody Allen in the movie “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” – some crooked hypnotist, calling up over a phone and hypnotising long-distance.
Then recently, I saw a demo of VDE.
I realized that the concept of VDE is great! Although I don’t have figures, I can understand the kind of cost saving it can provide a company that employs 100s (or even 10s) of desktop machines in its operations. The savings on electric power and air-conditioning needs would make the idea an environmentalist’s delight. With added features for security, disaster recovery and licence pool mechanisms, instead of individual licences, the VDE also combines floorspace related efficiencies too. Team members need not have any assigned seats where their computers are deployed. They could sit in the first available cubicle and do their regular work; may be even from home. Software upgrades and patches/service packs become less irritating and even browsing the Internet may be a better experience, as all these actions would take place centrally at the data center and would not be required to be done at individual stations. PLUS – I couldn’t really make out that it was actually a virtual computer and not a real one!
So, now my view has changed. Most of the modern Management Gurus talk about the concept of virtual teams as the “in-thing” in 21st Century Organizations. I guess, in line with that, there goes the last of my team mates – into the virtual world!
But wait… The VDE is presently good to go for desktops in a LAN environment. Because the broadband connectivity is not ubiquitous enough to support a VDE whenever/wherever one would want to use their laptop computers, it is going to be some time before my laptop sets off to live in the Matrix.
I have decided to enjoy to its fullest the last few years I have left to be with this dear friend who is getting into terminal (pun intended) stage.