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Prospective Citrix Cloud shops eye hybrid approach

Citrix Cloud's management plane has broad appeal, but organizations still aren't sure about moving XenApp and XenDesktop out of their own data centers.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- IT pros are interested in cloud-based management, but many want to keep their desktop and application...

delivery infrastructures on premises.

Citrix Cloud has appeal because it provides one console to manage all Citrix virtual desktops and apps, no matter the underlying infrastructure, and it updates their services, such as XenApp and XenDesktop, automatically. Many IT professionals are hesitant to abandon their existing infrastructure, however, because of concerns about the cost, control and security. If they were to adopt Citrix's offering, they’d use its cloud-based management component in conjunction with their on-premises workloads.

"We are on premises right now because it's more cost effective for us," said Hampus Dellenstedt, vice president of information technology at ITS Nordic AB, a telecom service provider in Solna, Sweden. "It's hard to get a feel for how much [cloud infrastructure] costs monthly compared to on premises. Depending on how much users use apps and store data, it can go up."

An IT director with a large distribution company in the Midwest shared those same concerns and expressed others as well.

"We're wary of cloud integration in general and have not embraced the cloud yet," he said. "We've had performance issues with SaaS applications. And there are always security concerns."

We're wary of cloud integration in general and have not embraced the cloud yet.
Hampus Dellenstedtvice president of information technology, ITS Nordic AB

The distributor virtualizes applications for remote workers across the globe, from India to Canada. The apps handle a large amount of sensitive company information, including customer and supply chain data that needs to be secured.

"If we lose any of that, we're toast," the IT director said.

Security is a common reason organizations give for resisting cloud computing. Here at its annual user conference, Synergy, Citrix showcased Citrix Cloud's new Secure Digital Workspace, which includes the Citrix Analytics Service. This service gives IT administrators more control and visibility and automatically checks for abnormalities and vulnerabilities in user behavior.

The hybrid Citrix Cloud approach

Citrix Cloud provides cloud-based management of XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler, whether those products live in a company's data center, in the public cloud, private cloud or a mix. The service supports any public cloud provider.

Despite IT's concerns, there are also clear benefits to running these services in the cloud, said Robert Young, research director at IDC. Organizations can more easily scale and move virtualized applications to remote locations, such as foreign countries. It also takes away the management and IT expertise needed to run these products on premises, and it reduces the costs associated with buying, maintaining, powering and cooling data center hardware.

It can be complicated to calculate these potential savings, but they need to be considered, Young said.

Many Citrix Cloud shops minimize the amount of workloads they run in the cloud -- and therefore minimize their costs -- by taking a hybrid approach, Young said.

"The hybrid model is neat because it allows IT to keep heavier workloads, such as graphics rendering, on premises, but lighter workloads can be [in the cloud]," he added. "Citrix Cloud has capabilities to make sure when you deploy workloads on cloud infrastructure it's optimized to make sure you consume as little infrastructure as possible, so it doesn't work as much compute power."

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