2023 Gartner® Market Guide for Desktop as a Service

Digital Workspace Management

A small time travel into IT’s past shows that there is a lot more behind the term “Digital Workspace“ than an empty, trendy buzzword which merged almost everything that the IT department required to reach its users. This included the hardware, the user interface, the app provision and integration, files, security and configuration containers as well as everything concerning identity. Besides other factors, the success of Windows is based largely on this traditional client management technology.

In addition to Windows applications and desktops, information workers nowadays work with Software as a Service (SaaS), web apps, mobile devices, mobile apps, Macs, Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions and app stores. A central location for all these applications, files as well as settings is missing. Fortunately, the developers of these tools, who are involved with these new technologies, have recognised this shortage. Therefore, mobile devices and apps are administered using Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), EFSS offers access to files across all device boundaries and Identity Management guarantees secure access to SaaS and web apps. Even though these management tools are known, there are individual products that do not use them, which is detrimental to IT management as well as user experience.

Collaboration between EMM, EFSS and Identity Management

Workspace delivery and management products integrate as many of these different management technologies as possible to standardise end user experience and IT management. They strive to continue to provide the integration and comfort that Windows traditionally provided. When EMM, EFSS and Identity Management work together, the IT department benefits from many time-saving advantages. For example, if the IT department provides a user with an application, it is possible that many things are taking place at once and automated: The application creates a new user account, the user receives single sign-on access with his familiar login credentials and the software installs suitable client apps on all devices that the user has in use.

Standardised Security Guidelines on all Devices: Workplace Management

Thanks to the digital workplace management, the user accesses a file from any device and, after switching to another device, can continue seamlessly working in the file. Users receive access to all their apps and files, no matter if they are working from a company or private device. The operating system or form factors are incidental. Users also benefit from a portal app, which allows them to log-on, access files and use additional apps. The IT department benefits from the enforcement of standardised security on all devices. This creates a context for access regulations, for example which can become important during a trip to an overseas country, where stronger authentication rules for devices and applications are in place.

The Journey to the Workspace Concept

The objective of the workspace concept is to guarantee a uniform structure for apps, files, identity and security, which covers all devices and situations. However, this is precisely where there are currently shortcomings in many areas. There are integration examples from Citrix and VMware as workspace management is a natural development of the “Work Anywhere“ idea, which is to be embodied in their virtualisation products. VMware Workspace One and Citrix Workspace Suite currently comprise Desktop Virtualisation Management, EMM and EFSS with an Identity Management supplied by VMware. Both vendors are still working on standardising their products within their suites, for example by providing an appropriate conditional access to applications and standardised app catalogues and portals. They have not yet achieved the objective to be able to offer a comprehensive digital workspace management.

Identity and access management products are another important integration point for workspace management. Through connections of user directories with standardised implementation protocols and APIs, these technologies can recognise who the user is and which applications and files he is accessing from his various devices. End user computing happens nowadays almost everywhere. Digital workspaces will help to gather and keep it in check. Only this way, device and user management can then become as simple as it used to be once in the times of desktops.