Citrix builds out offerings in cloud and mobile

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19 October 2012 | 0

The consumerisation and industrialisation of IT are creating an experience and capability differential for enterprise IT. As a result, IT departments are struggling to meet the demands and expectations of users and the business, said Mark Templeton, CEO, Citrix at the Synergy 2012 event in Barcelona.

Citrix is tackling these pain points for enterprise IT under the headings of the mobility imperative, enterprise cloud evolution and cloud services build out.

Templeton said that businesses need to be more agile to allow them to spot opportunities earlier and take advantage quicker, and this can be achieved through more intelligent networks, increased virtualisation and cloud implementation. Citrix had previously announced improvements in XenServer 6.1 that now allows live migration of Virtual Machines (VM) to increase agility. There was also an announcement around increased VM density within XenDesktop on Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V.

 

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Templeton also said that the application delivery application, Citrix Receiver for Windows RT, would be available early on the Windows Store for the Atom based Windows 8 tablets. Emphasising the close partner ties to Microsoft, Templeton said that "Azure would be the next partnering platform."

On the client side, Citrix has been working closely with Intel and OEMs to optimise XenClient for ultrabooks. Templeton announced that as result of this close cooperation, certain Lenovo laptops would come preloaded with XenClient.

The mobile imperative was further addressed by the use of secure applications for mobile platforms that would ensure data control. These are @WorkMail and @WorkWeb.

With Citrix MDX technology having been integrated into the CloudGateway product line, these new apps can now be delivered securely to Android and iOS and are HTML5 compatible. These mobile apps can be containerised for work data. Data controls allow information to go from personal to work environments, but not work to personal. The controls provide secure app containers, on demand micro VPN and lock and wipe capabilities for apps and data.
XenDesktop has been "redesigned for the cloud era," said Templeton, who said more than 120 users of the virtual desktop delivery system have 10,000 or more licences. He said that there were two new releases in this area under the name Project Avalon, namely Excalibur and Merlin.

The Excalibur release, available from 10 November as a tech preview, will feature advancements in simplicity, scalability and rich multi-media services needed to deliver Windows applications and desktops "to millions of new consumer style mobile devices" Citrix said. There are specific improvements for video delivery as it now features Super CODEC that promises 10 times bandwidth reduction for HD video, through the use of adaptive technologies that react to available bandwidth.

The Merlin release, which is scheduled for tech preview in early 2013, will focus on Windows as a cloud service, "simplifying and automating infrastructure deployment and management across virtual infrastructure, private clouds and public clouds, while enabling self-service subscription for users and departments."

While there had recently been speculation that Cisco might be looking to acquire Citrix’s NetScaler WAN optimisation business, Padmasree, Warrior, CTO and strategy officer, Cisco, joined Templeton on the stage to outline a new, deeper partnership between the two companies. Working closely for the past two years, the new focus will be on cloud networking, cloud orchestration, and mobile workstyles.

As part of the strategy, Cisco and Citrix intend to jointly integrate the Citrix NetScaler application delivery controller (ADC) to coexist with other Cisco network and security services, such as Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) and Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA). The companies also intend to integrate the Nexus 1000V with XenServer to enable enterprise and service provider customers to build clouds based in part on key open source technology.

The companies will develop an integrated cloud solution for enterprise and service provider deployments based on their respective portfolios, to include the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), Nexus Series switching, and Open Network Environment (ONE) components, as well as Citrix’s cloud orchestration solution, CloudPlatform, which is powered by Apache CloudStack. When developed, this integrated solution will help enterprise and service provider customers deliver highly efficient public, private and hybrid clouds, according to Citrix.

The companies also intend to develop "mobile workstyle and BYOD" solutions that give mobile users a unified way to securely access business apps, data, voice and collaboration services from any device, anywhere.  This is a central plank for Citrix, as Templeton said in his keynote, "This is not a tagline, this is our belief: People should be able to work and play from anywhere."

The joint solution will link Cisco collaboration technology, such as Cisco Jabber client, with the Citrix Receiver self-service mobile access client and Citrix CloudGateway for enterprise mobility management. It will also include Citrix ShareFile for secure, cloud-based "follow-me data" services across any mix of user devices. To enable an optimised, monitored and managed rich-media experience for accessing virtual Windows apps and desktops from mobile devices, Citrix will incorporate Cisco MediaNet into XenDesktop and XenApp. To secure mobile workers, Cisco and Citrix will link Citrix Receiver, Access Gateway, and CloudGateway with the Cisco secure access portfolio including AnyConnect, Cisco ASA, and the Identity Services Engine (ISE).

Improvements to Citrix ShareFile provoked a strong reaction from many in the audience and also from customers. To address what Templeton referred to as the "Dropbox problem", the existing ShareFile service gets new capabilities in StorageZones.

It provides users the ease and flexibility of popular cloud-based data sharing solutions, "while providing IT with the ability to choose where data is stored, including on-premises within their own secure data centres".  Citrix describes this as a "best-of-both-worlds" approach that gives users true "follow-me data" services across all corporate and personal mobile devices, while meeting strict security, data sovereignty and compliance requirements.

ShareFile with StorageZones also allows IT to take advantage of the economic benefits and effortless management of a cloud-based service. Additionally, there is now the ability to provides a single point of access to user data residing across various data platforms and a new sync feature optimised for virtual desktops.

Among a customer panel made up of a Dutch university, a French facilities services company, a US Infrastructure as a Service provider, a UK air traffic control service provider and Dublin based LeasePlan Information Services, ShareFile featured highly as a salve to the problem of Shadow IT. Ronan Murray, infrastructure manager, LeasePlan IS, said that the new capabilities of ShareFile were a highlight of the announcements made and would go some way to addressing the tendency for people to try to store corporate data in unsecured cloud services.

Overall, there was little in the way of ‘big bang’ about Synergy 2012. The range of announcements are all incremental changes, in response to customer needs and market forces that place Citrix as a more complete technology vendor in various spaces. Though encroaching somewhat on its own ecosystem partners with certain product features, there was little negative in the response from the attendees or partners. The deepening ties with Cisco and Intel strengthen the company’s hand when dealing with the likes of VMware and other competitors, but anecdotally, some distributors have suggested that pricing around XenDesktop may still be too high for smaller companies, acting as a barrier to entry. Citrix has strengthened its position in the market with the latest round of announcements, and remains the market leader in application delivery, it still has a long way to go in terms of market share in hypervisors. However, with maturing technologies and evolving capabilities, Citrix has ensured that its technology remains competitive in an increasingly commoditised environment.

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