Delightful Animation Brings End User Computing to Life

Artists explain the inspiration behind the animation about virtual desktop and desktop as a service technologies changing how people connect with business, creativity and communication applications.

By Ken Kaplan

By Ken Kaplan December 11, 2020

When breakthrough technologies work, they often diffuse quickly and fade into the background. They make things easier, free up time and become the new normal until new innovations come along. Then the cycle continues, each time reshaping the future.

Often, many people reap the benefit of new technologies without knowing much about them or how they work. That’s what’s happening with end user computing, an umbrella term for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), desktop as a service (DaaS) and other technologies empowering people to work from home. These are not brand new technologies, but during the COVID-19 pandemic they’ve proliferated. And there’s no turning back.


The Tech Supporting Remote Workers

The Forecast regularly reports on end user computing, including how these technologies keep students connected to teachers and classmates during the pandemic. There are examples of how wealth managers run remote workstations from their homes, so they can trade in fast-paced stock markets. These technologies are allowing IT departments to remotely update and deliver business apps and services to employees.

While IT professionals understand the inner workings of VDI and DaaS, the people – the end users – who benefit from these technologies may not grasp the wonders of streaming business applications from a company’s data center or cloud service. This is a big leap from running and managing applications on each and every employee device, according to Ruben Sprujit, senior technologist at Nutanix. The Forecast connected Sprujit with storytellers Cecil Noldus and Jason Lopez. Together they created this animation that brings these invisible technologies to life.

“When we interviewed Ruben about remote worker technologies, he stopped for a second and said, ‘I just need to get this out,’” recalled Lopez, executive producer of Tech Barometer, the podcast outlet for The Forecast.

Sprujit’s remarkable stream of consciousness became the narration for the video animation, Streaming Tech That Powers Remote Work and Learning.

“It’s something he perfected in his mind, and just needed to put it in words,” Lopez said. “As he described what end user computing was and how it worked, the words he used, his intonations and pacing, for some reason, made me feel like I was in a cafe with jazz playing in the background.”


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That’s when Lopez knew there was a nifty story, ripe for animation. But he also knew it needed to be told in a non-technical way. It would have to pull viewers into a fantasy world that was familiar, informative and delightful.

“When Ruben said “end user computing is an umbrella term,” I knew we could start the story with a twirling, colorful umbrella that transported viewers into another world,” said Lopez.

Another storytelling element crystalized when Sprujit talked about The Broker, a term he used to describe how software in a datacenter or cloud service pivoted to deliver apps and data to the user.

“I knew if I could create the right character that embodied The Broker, it would allow us to keep the visual story moving while Ruben described how VDI and DaaS works with a private or public cloud,” said Lopez.

“I knew we needed The Broker to be a character who helped keep the visual story moving while Ruben described how VDI and DaaS works with a private or public cloud,” said Lopez. “But I was a bit stumped on who The Broker could be.”


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That character was created by Noldus, who sketched a computer monitor with arms and limbs akimbo. The Broker starts off in a static position then it begins moving and pointing at icons related to what Ruben is saying. To keep this part lively, Noldus infused moonwalking moves she learned from watching Michael Jackson music videos.

“Michael Jackson is so smooth, it’s difficult to see all of the little moves it takes to dance like that,” said Noldus. “I had to find other videos that explained all of the intricate movements.”

The Broker is just one of a handful of animated characters in the story, each with life-like movements and expressions. Noldus said these characters made the story accessible and invite viewers to follow and actively participate in the story.

“It’s a technique that meets our desire, as people, to see ourselves in the story,” said Noldus.

The story is about accessing things that are streamed to computing devices like internet experiences rather than having applications running from a laptop or desktop computer. But for Noldus, the crux of the story is about unleashing people to be more creative and get more out of life.

“For me, the technology gives a sense of freedom and liberty from the old way of doing things,” said Noldus. “I researched and read about it and I think it's genius. It’s very mobile and makes things easy.”

Her passion for drawing and visual storytelling goes back to her childhood. She grew up in what she called a “normal village” in the southern part of Holland. Deeply inspired by her hometown hero, Hieronymus Bosch, she went to art school and discovered an artform she refers to as animated puppets, which blends real life, fantasy and movement.

“When I was a kid, I roamed the forests near my home in Brabant, in the Netherlands,” she explained. “To me, plants, stones and insects all have animistic souls. They tell me stories. They always have.”

Now she takes photos of real people and uses stop-motion software on her computer to make people move like puppets. She said stories that blend real life, fantasy and movement transport viewers.

“It makes people trust that dreams can mean a lot,” she said. “You don't have to always be in the present. You can go to a fantasy world and feel like it's sort of real. It gives you some space to think and let your imagination take over.”

Animation transcript:

Ruben Sprujit: End user computing is an umbrella term and this umbrella term means different things to different people. But part of this umbrella term is access to applications, windows applications, mobile applications, web applications.

To deliver windows applications there are in essence two ways how you can do that. You can install these applications on physical PCs. Or what you can do, you can virtualize these applications and run these applications in a data center and just present these applications to the end point. The end point doesn't execute these applications; it's just displaying these applications and interacting with these applications.

In this space of virtual applications and desktops there are two main concepts. One concept is desktop as a service. And the other concept is VDI virtual desktop infrastructure. Both can deliver apps or desktops. You can have a full windows desktop interface in front of you and then run applications inside this desktop. Or what you can do is just run applications in an interface. You don't see this windows desktop interface and just run an application.

The core difference between VDI and desktop as a service is the platform to deliver these applications or desktops. And this platform is a broker, the component, which is responsible to decide, "Hey, who get access to which resources." Part of this platform is a remoting protocol. Part of this platform is load balancing. Part of this platform is image management. Part of this platform is capacity management. So there are many elements in the platform.

With VDI, this platform is designed and operated and maintained and supported by often the IT department, the managed service provider. VDI is I would say more focused in an on premises data center setup, not public cloud friendly, requires people with skills to design and operate and maintain an VDI platform.

Desktop as a service is delivered as a service by a vendor by Nutanix or by other vendors in this space. As an example, Nutanix frame is a desktop as a service platform. And Desktop as a service platform needs to communicate with infrastructure to run applications and desktops. So Amazon, Google, and Azure in public cloud or on premises resources through Nutanix AHV. That's the key difference between VDI and desktop as a service.

From a consumer perspective, he, she, we don't care about VDI or desktop as a service. The only thing we care about is access to my applications and my data, securely on any device.

Ken Kaplan is Editor in Chief for The Forecast by Nutanix. Find him on Twitter @kenekaplan.

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