Brian Madden: Why I became an investor in FSLogix

Posted by Brian Madden on Nov 14, 2016 5:27:07 PM

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As many of you know, after 21 years in the industry, this past July I left the daily grind of blogging and being an industry analyst on BrianMadden.com. When asked “What will you do next?”, I answered, “I don’t know.” (Because really, I didn’t know!)

The past three months have been great, and I’ve gotten involved in a bunch of non-IT projects (pinball, indoor golf simulation, real estate data feeds, and more pinball).

Today I’m happy to announce my first IT-related project, that I have invested in FSLogix and will be an outside advisor for them.

This came about over dinner one night when Kevin laid out the plans and vision for the company and wanted to run some ideas past me for a pitch deck they were going to use for the VCs. My response was basically, (1) “This is awesome”, and (2) “Can I be one of the investors?” :)

So in this blog post, I’d like to explain why I did this.

First, from the investment standpoint, I believe that FSLogix could become a billion-dollar company. Their technology and vision is not limited to one of the smaller “tools” vendors in the Citrix/VMware/Microsoft orbit, rather, they have the potential to become a major player.

Just as Citrix became a $3B company making Microsoft servers enterprise ready, FSLogix can become a $1B company making Windows apps, data, and user profiles cloud-ready.

The reality of cloud-based desktops in 2016

FSLogix is building all the things that are stopping you from moving from physical, static, Windows desktops to the cloud. (When I use the word “cloud” in this post, I’m talking about remote-delivered Windows desktops and apps, which could be VDI, app publishing, RDSH, or DaaS, in either on-premises or off-premises datacenters.)

The biggest limiting factor to moving Windows desktops to the cloud in 2016 is the applications. This hasn’t always been the case. I spent 15 years blogging on BrianMadden.com about the other sticking points, like graphical performance, bandwidth limitations, costs, and storage performance. But the industry has slowly and surely knocked each of those limitations down.

So today we’re left with the apps. (Specifically the traditional Windows desktop applications that enterprises are built on.) In today’s world, it’s easier for a CIO to sign a rec to order 6,000 new desktops and to continue doing things “the old way”. They do that because the alternative is too hard.

The problem with this is that those users become static.

FSLogix’s vision is to reach into those static, physical Windows desktops and to containerize the apps, data, and profiles. (A2V? D2V?) Then when the company is ready to move their desktops to the cloud, everything will be there waiting for them.

This was the vision of things like ThinApp back in the day, though those never took off because they were limited in which apps they could support and they were too complex. Instead it needs to be a button to push.

Even if we never get to the point of 100% of Windows desktops in the cloud, we can still get many orders of magnitude more than we have today. What’s it today, like 95% physical / 5% cloud? Certainly the desktops that can “never” be virtualized are only 5-10%, meaning we’re looking at something like a potential of 85-90% more of the world’s enterprise desktops that could move to the cloud if it were easy? That’s a billion desktops!

So when a CIO pushes a button to order 6,000 new desktops, do all 6,000 of them need to be static? Certainly not.

The problem is that CIOs look at the complexity of moving static physical Windows desktops to the cloud and say, “F that!”, and they push that button, 6,000 new static desktops show up, and they ignore the problem for another four years.

FSLogix wants to make it so the “F” in “F that” is “FSLogix”, so it’s still easy to say “F that” and push a button, except the we’re saying “just FSLogix that,” push the button, and make the Windows apps, data, and user profiles show up in the cloud.

To be clear, FSLogix is not trying to compete with Citrix. Instead, FSLogix is making traditional Windows desktop applications, files, and profiles ready for cloud delivery, and then Citrix can come in (with things like XenApp “express”) to do the actual delivery.

Microsoft is on our side

Microsoft is making it ridiculously easy to get a Windows 10 desktop. (Heck, you can go into the Microsoft Store now and buy a Surface which you pay monthly for.)

At first we thought it was idiotic that Microsoft was giving away Windows 10 for free. But over time we’ve come to realize Windows 10 is like iOS 10 (which Apple gives away for free). Microsoft views Windows 10 as the free platform that they want to be in everyone’s hands which they can use to sell additional services and which they can tie to their own hardware.

Just like iOS 10 and MacOS only run on Apple hardware, Windows 10 will only run on Microsoft hardware. However, the “hardware” in this case is not physical hardware, rather, it’s the Microsoft platform like Hyper-V.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like, “You can use all the Windows 10 you want if you’re running Windows Server and Hyper-V.”

This is a huge boon for Azure. And for companies like Amazon who would like to host Windows 10 desktops, Microsoft would be happy to allow that as long as Amazon installs Hyper-V on those servers. :)

(Some will say that Microsoft can’t do this for antitrust reasons, but how’s this any different than what Apple is doing with iOS and MacOS?)

The point is that if Microsoft makes it so easy to get Windows 10 in the cloud, they’ll still have to figure out how to get those billion static PCs into the cloud. And that’s where FSLogix comes in.

Stay tuned. We’re just getting started!

As you can imagine, I’m ridiculously excited about where the enterprise desktop industry is headed, what FSLogix is doing, and my (albeit small) role in making it all happen.

Just as I wrote when FSLogix came out of stealth years ago, here you have a company founded by the guys who literally invented app and profile virtualization, coming together to create a product designed for today’s Windows world and tomorrow’s cloud-based Windows world.

FSLogix has grown to multiple products (Office 365 Container, FSLogix Apps, FSLogix Profile Containers) with happy customers all of the world who are saving millions of dollars while also making cloud-based desktops a reality. This is awesome, I’m happy to be part of it, and we’re just getting started...

Topics: Citrix, Brian Madden, Cloud Desktop

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