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ORLANDO – If Citrix Workspace Cloud is as simple as its test drive version makes it out to be, this new approach...
to desktop and application delivery could make IT admins' lives a whole lot easier.
Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC), to be generally available in Q3, provides a cloud-based control plane to deliver, manage and update desktops and apps. Citrix made a test version available here this week at its annual Synergy Conference to give IT a feel for the simplicity of the platform it introduced a year ago.
"It is a different way to deliver infrastructure apps and services," said Bob Egan, founder of the Sepharim Group, a mobile industry research and consulting firm in Boston. "It gets IT out of the way and gets to the meat of what people are looking for, with reliability and no worry about the device."
Those who have tested it say it truly is as simple to use as it appears in the uncomplicated workspaces created for the test drive.
But the most common response to CWC from IT pros here was a shrug, followed by adjectives such as cool, innovative and different. It is so different from anything they've used that it's hard for administrators who are just focused on keeping things from breaking to say they'll deploy it.
"We like it, it makes sense, but will [companies] adopt it?" said Adam Gamble, EUC practice lead for Sigma Solutions Inc., an IT services provider in Itasca, Ill.
For a platform Citrix pins its future on, that open question could be a problem. In the first of eight conference sessions about the Citrix cloud, there were a number of empty seats.
That could change as more people test the platform and learn how it makes desktops and apps simpler to deliver, manage and update. But getting conservative IT managers to understand this new approach and why it is necessary is a big hurdle.
"The key for Citrix is to communicate the concept of the control plane, that it is a hybrid approach," Egan said. "[CWC] is quite novel in that organizations can choose on-premises or a cloud provider…it provides a lot of agility, and I think organizations need time to digest this level of agility."
Citrix CEO Mark Templeton spent time during his keynote explaining the need for Workspace Cloud.
"For years, [the PC] was awesome, it was a great workspace, but it is the workspace of yesterday because it doesn't contemplate …the needs of a born-digital workforce," Templeton said.
The solution to the problems of managing multiple devices, operating systems, apps and environments is to stop building technologies for specific scenarios, he said. CWC is one platform to deliver a workspace for all scenarios. It is a desktop, a Windows app, a mobile app, a collaborative space, a Web app – it's whatever kinds of digital tools employees need to accomplish their tasks, independent of the device, according to Templeton.
How Citrix Workspace Services works
In the CWC interface, IT can click on resources such as ShareFile, email, VPN or third-party apps to create a workspace and make it available to end users within minutes. The end user receives an email alerting them that their workspace is available, and with a click they are brought to Citrix StoreFront (via Citrix Receiver) where all their apps and desktops appear. Users access those resources via their Web browser.
"Citrix hit the easy button with CWC," Gamble said. "It gets people from A to Z without having to deal with all the [letters] in between."
CWC also includes a Citrix Lifecycle Management tool to help IT manage every step of the workspace lifecycle, from design to migration to the next version of an application.
The simplicity will likely appeal more to small and mid-sized companies with limited IT resources than large enterprises, said Steve Greenberg of Thin Client Computing, an IT services firm in Scottsdale, AZ. He's tested the platform and sees it as a positive step, but cautions against believing that with a few clicks, IT can create workspaces for everyone in their company.
Still, IT shops that want to use cloud services will enjoy the flexibility to choose cloud providers, and that choice could mean significant cost savings, Gamble said.
"If AWS drops its price a few cents per gigabyte, that could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for some companies," Gamble said.
In addition, the apps and desktop services in the control plane are versionless. Capabilities are updated by Citrix continuously, and administrators can apply those updates on their own timetable, a Citrix representative said. This may mean significant time savings for IT shops, which will translate into operational cost savings, Egan said.
Bridget Botelho is senior news director of TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization and End-User Computing media groups. Follow her on Twitter@bridgetbotelho.