The Future of Cloud Workspaces at IGEL Disrupt Nashville 2020

Last week in Music City itself, Nashville, Tennessee, along with 500 end-user computing (EUC) friends, I attended the IGEL Disrupt event. Apart from this being my first visit to Nashville, this event was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, while this was an IGEL event it also wasn't just an IGEL event. Instead it was very much a EUC conference with a focus on virtual desktops (or Cloud Workspaces) that recognizes the value in the ecosystem.

While IGEL software and hardware are what users interact with first, a VDI / Cloud Workspace solution (whether on-premises or desktop-as-a-service) is built on solutions from several vendors and partners. Thus, Disrupt is very much an event about the entire stack, top and tailed by the IGEL story.

The IGEL Story

I'll come back to what kicked off this event, but let's first discuss the IGEL story. Jed Ayres, [CEO of IGEL], covered the IGEL story in the first keynote — while IGEL has its founding in 1988, the recent change to focus on software is having a huge impact in sales and growth. Jed is confident that IGEL is on its way to becoming a $1B company by hitting 10 million seats.

IGEL sees Windows Virtual Desktop as a key driver of growth in the virtual desktop space. An observation that we see shared by Citrix.

Windows Virtual Desktop

WVD presence at Disrupt was huge. At least 7 technical sessions were dedicated to WVD, including a Windows Virtual Desktop master class held on the first day of the event. Clocking in at 4 hours and with about 150 attendees, this was great session with the audience being highly engaged throughout the entire session.

Additionally, Scott Manchester - Group Manager, WVD and RDS, at Microsoft covered WVD history, features and futures during the technical keynote session.

Attendance by senior Microsoft staff and IGEL announcing the availability of the WVD client, provides validation of IGEL's strategy and their importance in the WVD ecosystem.

Key Breakouts

Disrupt hosted several, primarily technical, sessions across the breakouts. Some key sessions that stood out for me included:

  • The Nextgen Desktop-as-a-Service Solution for Multi Clouds - Nutanix have a very interesting DaaS story with support for on-premises (on Nutanix kit) and multiple public cloud platforms
  • IGEL Cloud Gateway on Azure - IGEL software provides a baseline across any x86 device, so being able to manage these devices regardless of location should be high on your list
  • Mastering Your Windows Virtual Desktop Deployment - I've been consuming as much info about WVD as I can, and this session added some details even though
  • AMD and IGEL - Thin Client Innovations. AMD are doing some impressive things with their current CPUs, so I was quite interested to understand the thin-client story. AMD CPUs provide some impressive performance and features for multi-monitors, video encode and decode and low power consumption; however, my key take-away from this session was AMD's Secure Hardware Boot and Transparent Secure Memory Encryption. While IGEL provide great value proposition when converting existing devices to run the EDGE OS, IGEL UD7 thin clients that run with AMD CPUs protect against such vectors as cold boot attacks making them ideal for highly secure environments
  • Lessons Learned from Designing & Implementing a 30K user VMware Horizon RDSH & VDI environment with Dane Young. In this session Dane provided some great insights into two projects - one successful and the other not so much. Dane may even follow up with another 2-hour video with more content.

These were just a few of the breakouts, there were plenty more. IGEL has a bunch of videos on their YouTube channel where I expect the Nashville sessions to be made available in the coming weeks.


Microsoft was very present of course with lots of WVD info and sessions, and Disrupt was well supported by a plethora of sponsors. Those of note to me included:

  • Citrix and VMware - mainstays in VDI / virtualisation
  • AMD and Nutanix, as I've already discussed
  • CloudJumper with some great management tools for WVD
  • ControlUp demoing their amazing toolset
  • Valued Insentra partners, Login VSI
  • Lakeside, Liquidware and Tricerate - all well-known vendors in the virtual desktop space
  • Liquit - providers of digital workspaces, but what's most interesting to me is their Application and Service Catalogue capabilities
  • Last, but not least - OnLogic demonstrating the how IGEL adds value to their line of industrial PCs and IoT devices

Closing Keynote

IGEL closed the event with a fantastic speaker - James "The Iron Cowboy" Lawrence. James regaled us with his story of completing 50 iron mans, across 50 US states over 50 days. His story was extremely moving and inspirational. If you've not had the opportunity to learn of James or hear him speak, the Iron Cowboy documentary on Netflix is highly recommended.


This week, we have announced our exciting partnership with IGEL to bring IGEL software and solutions to the Australian market. Next week, we will be at the Microsoft Ignite Tour in Sydney demonstrating how IGEL endpoints can be managed to securely access Windows Virtual Desktop and Citrix Cloud delivered desktops and applications. Come see us at booth 515 - look for the team of barbers.


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