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Citrix WorkspacePod localizes distributed data

Centralizing applications and their data has management benefits, and IT shops have been doing it for a long time. But Citrix’s WorkspacePod de-centralizes data, distributes it across data centers and makes it feel local.

ORLANDO -- For some companies with multiple locations, virtualizing XenApp and centralized data and applications...

at one location has been the modus operandi, but Citrix's WorkspacePod seeks to make that obsolete.

When companies have their headquarters where all data is centralized and also have branch offices to support, the branches gain access to the centralized data via a WAN link. But what if the WAN encounters a problem or breaks? Workers at the branch office no longer have access to the apps and data they need, and therefore they can't work.

"If we centralize the applications, we need to centralize the data, and that's a pain," said Daniel Feller, lead architect of desktops and apps at Citrix, in a session here at Citrix Synergy 2015 about the merits of Citrix's converged infrastructure offering.

The centralized model is easy to deploy and manage, and it uses less infrastructure. But de-centralizing applications and data takes less time and it's more available. When companies use WorkspacePod and manage their stacks (through Citrix Workspace Cloud) at their HQ, all the data feels local, according to Feller and co-presenter Momchil Michailov.

Michailov, a former Sanbolic exec, became the vice president of storage technologies for Citrix after the company bought Sanbolic for its software-defined storage product Melio in January.

Moving forward with WorkspacePod

The old reasons people virtualized XenApp are just that -- old -- Feller said. With WorkspacePod, shops can realize the benefits that came with virtualizing XenApp, such as scalability, flexibility, manageability and availability without actually having to virtualize it.

Feller and Michailov showed a diagram of what three stacks might look like under the WorkspacePod architecture. The stacks were each slightly different, but all were based on HP SL4540 servers with a combination of spinning disks, SSD and Melio allocated for storage on each stack. WorkspacePod is based on HP's Moonshot architecture.

It creates unified stacks across branches with one management plane, and no single point of failure because the storage is geo-distributed.

To give attendees an idea of the user experience with WorkspacePod, Feller gave a short demo. He logged into two sessions, one in HTML5 and one in regular Receiver; one from a data center in New York and one from a data center in Santa Clara. He opened a PowerPoint in one session, made a change to it, and then clicked over to the other session, where the change displayed immediately.

"It's not replication, it's distributed," Micailov said. "It's two different pods unified through NetScaler," Michailov said.

One conference attendee asked Feller for the IP addresses of each session, and Feller showed the audience that the two sessions were indeed on different subnets, which seemed to satisfy attendees.

Melio is available as a standalone product and pods are licensed per client.

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