IGEL sees strong momentum in IDC report showing Linux thin client growth

IGEL will be demonstrating their software-defined endpoint computing solutions around two events this week, at the Open Source Summit in Vancouver, and right next to VMworld in Las Vegas, with the latter being something of a guerilla operation.

Simon Clephan, IGEL’s Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Alliances

Linux-focused endpoint management software vendor IGEL is taking heart from the findings of a new IDC InfoBrief, “Linux and the Thin Client Management Market.” The IDC InfoBrief, which IGEL commissioned,  found that endpoint Linux operating system  shipment shares are now clearly outpacing all OSs. IDC’s emphasis on the importance of security in this space leads IGEL to emphasize that they are particularly well placed among the vendors in the space to take advantage of the growth trends.

The IDC report found that worldwide thin client revenues grew 22 per cent in 2017 to nearly $450 million. However, shipments of Linux-based endpoint devices were the only endpoint segment to actually post shipment growth between 2015 and 2017, increasing at an 8 per cent rate. This does not include software re-purposing licenses sold, which IDC says likely would have added to the Linux market share.

“This growth of Linux-based endpoint devices, and the fact that it is the only endpoint OS segment that is growing, shows that Linux really is taking over the endpoint, which augurs well for our future,” said Simon Clephan, IGEL’s Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Alliances. “

The growth is accelerated by worldwide cloud infrastructure growth. IDC sees 60 per cent of infrastructure spending being related to the public or private cloud by 2022, compared with 46 per cent in 2017, which will drive significant investment in cloud-native devices and services.

“IDC sees the public and private cloud growing at 9.8 and 9.7 per cent respectively,” Clephan said. “I think from what we are seeing that the ratio is more like 15-5. It’s hard to get exact numbers from the hyperscalers.  What is clear though is that as the cloud grows, we see more people looking at new endpoint solutions. As a result, by the end of 2019 and 2020, we see a breakout year for Desktop-as-a-Service in the Cloud.”

Clephan acknowledged that the past track record of the forecast hockey stick growth for VDI – that never happened – invites skepticism, but thinks that significant changes have been happening in the industry since then.

“We heard that ‘this is the year of VDI’ for 13 years, and it never happened, and I can’t argue against that,” he stated. “But one thing that’s changing is that we are getting to feature parity now. That has been much harder than either Amazon or Azure thought it would be.”

IDC noted that improving security remains at the top of IT executive priorities, and that endpoint devices remain one of the most frequent points of vulnerability in enterprise environments. Clephan said that this plays to IGEL’s strength.

“Security, security, security, and then maybe ease of use – that’s what’s driving our business,” he said. “Our layered Linux OS read-only file system is more secure than Dell and HP. While they both have Linux solutions, they rely heavily on Windows on the endpoint, and their ThinOS and ThinPro investments are not the full focus of their research same way that IGEL is with Linux. We aren’t distracted by trying to fix all the Windows problems.”

Clephan said that Dell and HPE are coming out with great endpoint hardware – but that that works to IGEL’s favour as a software-focused player.

“As we move to a greater focus on software and making it portable, they are coming out with great hardware,” he stated. “They are beautiful pieces of hardware and we will put our software in their beautiful hardware.”

IGEL will be part of the Open Source Summit in Vancouver this week from August 29-31, where Intel is making a major announcement around Clear Linux, their Linux Project specifically built for cloud and IoT use cases.

“Linux is coming of age,” Clephan remarked. “Even the Wintel juggernaut is behind Linux now!”

IGEL actually made this announcement today in conjunction with the VMworld show in Las Vegas – sort of. That’s because IGEL will be in the proximity of the VMWorld show, but even though VMware is an important strategic partner, IGEL is not officially at the show this year. They do their DISRUPT events at multiple locations during the year, and from August 26 to 28 they will be holding DISRUPT EUC Las Vegas, at The Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, having rented the restaurant for the days in question. The Border Grill is strategically located along the footpath from the Mandalay Bay hotels to the conference centre where VMworld will take place.

There’s a method to the madness here. Having their own event on the traffic path to the big VMware one allows IGEL to keep the focus squarely on what they do – something that can be hard at VMworld, or any large show –  where attendees can have a myriad of interests and focuses, most of which in this case may have nothing to do with endpoint devices and thin clients.

“At a big event like VMworld, it can be hard to help attendees focus on things that they specifically want to see,” Clephan said. “I don’t want to spend my time talking to people wanting to do network virtualization, or server virtualization, or many of the other things VMware does which have no direct connection to IGEL. This gives us better focus.”

Of the two major virtualization vendors who are critical partners for IGEL, Citrix has always been the most important one.  But their business with VMware is still strong, and has been growing.

“We are seeing an increasing amount of activity with VMware,” Clephan said. “Texas has become a huge market for us, and is driving our business – especially around health care. VMware is very strong there. Alchemy Technology Group, based in Houston, is a new channel partner of ours and has become our number one reseller at the moment. IGEL and Alchemy have put together a strong solution for health care which switches out from Windows to Linux. A large Texas hospital, which unfortunately can’t be named publicly, recently reported that this solution was deployed to 100 machines, and their Help Desk waited for calls that never came. No one called the Help Desk at all. They had never seen anything like that.”