The growth of mobile in the enterprise is clear, but the management and security of mobile users — and of devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops — is still a bit hazy for some IT professionals.

Today, the majority of enterprise IT departments work in silos between traditional computing devices (desktops and laptops) and handheld devices (tablets and smartphones). In most companies, handheld devices are almost always purchased by the user rather than by IT. Even companies that purchase handheld devices for their employees typically buy them from a carrier instead of from a reseller or distributor as their IT departments do for desktops and laptops.

One of the clear strategies that companies should follow is looking holistically at end-user computing needs. This includes not just which devices, desktops, laptops or handhelds that users want, but how and where users access data, and how that data will be secured and managed. Although mobile users and devices have specialized needs that are different than desktops and laptops, most users have both types of devices, and support should be centrally managed across IT.

More and more there is a convergence of needs and technologies to address both mobile and fixed usage. By centrally managing users, data and devices, enterprises can reduce efforts, optimize environments, eliminate unneeded redundancies, and address users’ needs holistically. Enterprise IT should assess these needs specifically in their own company, and look at technologies that can address their main issues. Users want flexibility and access to data, but IT needs security and management to protect important corporate intellectual property, as well as the ability to scale and support its user base.

In successful enterprises, a key imperative for users is being able to work anywhere on any device, and to have access to any data. Whether managed on-premise, or in the cloud, or outsourced to a DaaS provider, desktop virtualization increasingly plays a key role, providing users easy access to apps and data from work, personal or even public devices. Some of the key features that IT should address around end-user computing are:

  1. Data encryption
  2. Remote management
  3. User segment-based profiles
  4. Access to data online and offline
  5. Anti-virus/malware
  6. Remote support and diagnostics

Recognizing these needs, Citrix developed XenDesktop with FlexCast technology, which was purpose-built with holistic thinking around optimal end-user computing in the enterprise. It covers the key features listed above with a comprehensive set of integrated technologies that support every use case — from the office worker using a desktop PC tethered to the network, to the mobile worker using a MacBook away from the network.

The MacBook user is an interesting use case, and one that is becoming more prevalent in the enterprise. Forrester reported in 2012 that nearly half of large enterprises were issuing at least some Mac OS computers to their employees. Executives and other employees are choosing (even demanding) a MacBook as their primary computing device for work, which they also want to use for personal computing and for accessing corporate Windows apps and data. Additionally, many consultants, contractors and other temporary staff are bringing their personal MacBooks into enterprises to work on projects that require access to corporate Windows applications and data.

These MacBook-toting mobile users create multiple dual challenges that push the systems, resources and policies of enterprise IT: two platforms (Mac and Windows); two computing preferences (business and personal); two work locations (office and remote); and two network conditions (online and offline).

XenDesktop addressed all of these challenges for MacBook users, except for one: when they needed to work offline due to low-quality connections, congested Wi-Fi hotspots, or when no connection was available. That has just changed with Citrix’s announcement of the new DesktopPlayer for Mac, a XenDesktop add-on.

DesktopPlayer enables users to access a centrally-managed Windows virtual desktop on their corporate or BYO MacBook with no network dependency, all with the same management features of the other devices. Mobile devices for multiple purposes with guaranteed access to secure desktops and data-blending both the worlds of business and personal. That’s the kind of thinking IT needs for end-user computing—and for managing to the whole enterprise.

This blog article was co-written by Phil Redman, Citrix’s VP of Mobility Solutions and Strategy, and Dan Cote, Citrix’s Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Client Virtualization. This post was originally published at The Citrix Blog.