I just read an interesting blog post over on ZDnet, entitled The Changing Face of IT: Five Trends to Watch. As I read through the article, I was struck by how Citrix solutions can enable IT organizations to deal with these trends. Consider:
- The consumerization of IT – “Workers are bringing their own laptops and smartphones into the office and connecting them to corporate systems. More people than ever are telecommuting or working from home for a day or two a week. And, the number of Web-based tools has increased dramatically…”
Yep. In fact many companies are instituting “BYOPC” (Bring Your Own PC) policies, because in the long run it can be less expensive to give employees a fixed allowance and allow them to buy whatever they want than it is to issue – and maintain – a company-owned laptop. Citrix themselves instituted this policy a few years ago.
If you’re using XenApp or XenDesktop to provide access to your key line-of-business applications, you don’t care what the endpoint is. If your employee prefers a MacBook, fine. Want to use an iPad? No problem. Connecting in from your home PC because your kids are sick? We’ve got that covered, too. Just install the Citrix Receiver and you’re good to go.
- The borderless network – “…today’s IT security model is more about risk management than network protection. Companies have to identify their most important data and then make sure it’s protected no matter who’s accessing it and from wherever and whatever device they’re accessing it from.”
Citrix likes to say that their products are “Secure by Design,” meaning that security is built into them from the ground up. First of all, when you’re accessing your virtual desktop remotely, or running a published application from a XenApp server, the data never leaves the data center. The remote endpoint (whatever it is) is just sending keystrokes and mouse movements to the data center and getting back pixel updates. On top of that, we can encrypt that data connection using the Citrix Access Gateway.
Citrix also gives you very granular control over whether files can be copied between client and server, and/or whether print jobs can be directed to a client-attached printer. In fact, using Advanced Access Control policies, those controls can be context-sensitive, i.e., you might allow files to be copied to the client device if the client device is a company-owned laptop, but not if it is a home PC; or you might allow client-attached printing if the client is connecting from a branch office, but not if the same user, using the same client device, is connecting from home, or from a hotel.
- The cloudy data center – Let me go on record as saying that the most cloudy thing about the cloud is trying to understand what someone means when they say the word. Not unlike the word “portal” a few years ago, the first question that usually needs to be asked in any discussion about cloud computing is: “When you say ‘cloud,’ what exactly do you mean?”
But the point to remember is that when you’re delivering applications via Citrix, users don’t know and don’t care where the data center is or where the applications are being executed. It doesn’t matter. Want to move your entire infrastructure to a co-lo? Fine. Want to have multiple data centers with automatic failover from one to the other? We can do that, too. By some definitions of the term, we’ve been building “private clouds” since the release of WinFrame back in the mid-90s.
- The state of outsourcing – “Outsourcing is thriving in many different forms, and it’s reasonable to expect that it will accelerate.”
We made the point above that users don’t know and don’t care where the data center is. The fact is, for about 90% of what they need to do, neither do the administrators. Virtualization in general, and Citrix products in particular, make it very easy to administer, troubleshoot, and repair issues remotely. We built the entire Evans Fruit Company infrastructure without ever having our engineer set foot on site. In fact, actually dispatching an engineer to a customer location is now the exception rather than the rule.
- The mobilization paradigm – “While PCs still make sense on the desks of knowledge workers, for all of these other workers who regularly move around as part of their daily job, the stationary PC often changes the natural flow of their routine because they have to stop at a system to enter data or complete a task. That’s about to change. Mobile computers in the form of smartphones and touchscreen tablets (like the iPad) have taken a big leap forward in the past four years. They are instant-on, easy to learn because of the touchscreen, and they have a whole new ecosystem of applications designed for the touch experience…”
Very true…but these same users are going to still need to access your traditional line-of-business applications, which will not be transformed overnight into touchscreen enabled apps. It is axiomatic that, in IT, nothing ever actually goes away – instead, new technology just gets layered over the top of old technology…which is why you’ll still find applications running on big mainframes in a lot of enterprises. So how do you manage that transition?
Once again, Citrix comes through. There’s a Citrix Receiver for the iPhone, one for the iPad, one for Windows Mobile phones, one for the Android, and just a couple of months ago, Citrix released a version of the Receiver for BlackBerry devices. And, of course, Receivers for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs have long been available. I don’t know of any other product or technology that offers this kind of flexibility in delivering applications to users regardless of location, connection, or endpoint device.
So a big “Thank you!” to Jason Hiner for an excellent post. You’ve just described, in a nutshell, why ManageOps is still excited to be a Citrix partner after all these years. Just remember, as you work to adapt to all of these trends that are indeed changing the IT landscape, we’ve got your back.