As of late, indicators are starting to point to the beginning of a recovery in the economy. As the economy picks up momentum and credit markets thaw further, the next mergers and acquisitions movement will start gaining steam. Question is, is your enterprise ready for the next business cycle? Can your infrastructure adapt to the rapid fire pace of change that is going to happen?

I had a discussion with a CIO of a major insurance company a while back and I asked him, “what are the top five technology priorities for 2009?” His answer was, “Expanding IT infrastructure to keep up with growth.” He was being told by the CEO that IT needed to be more “agile” to keep up with what was going on in their industry. I asked him what he was currently doing around that priority and he mentioned virtualization in general terms and some other ancillary items, but not once did expanding their current Citrix environment get mentioned. I asked him about this and he said that it didn’t even register with him that Citrix could do more than just “remote access to applications”. This is truly the typical response I get from most executives around the “Citrix question”. Winners in these economic times are the companies that are making judicious investments to prepare for the upturn. In the past, the greatest changes in companies’ relative positions in their respective industries have occurred during times of economic turbulence.

This company was already a significant user of XenApp but was just stuck at that one product, using Web Interface to facilitate external access, etc. They had no idea what to do or where to go after that. I asked him if “delivery of IT services” was a strategic priority within his environment. The answer I got wasn’t surprising, but he said “partially”. I asked him how fast they moved the last time a new application had to be rolled out, how fast could they bring on the latest acquisition the company just completed, how were they handling an ever-increasing mobile workforce? I got the “tilted head” look. I knew he was thinking at this point. His answer again wasn’t surprising.

This meeting quickly went to the discussion of operating IT “like” instead of “as” a business and that using his current investment in Citrix technologies and expanding the usage of the platform can help meet the demands of the CEO. One of the key challenges for most CIOs is the need for their organizations to achieve excellence as a mainline business service delivery organization. Many IT organizations are already quite proficient at providing infrastructure and application services; far fewer are equally proficient at providing business services, except to the extent that these are embedded in applications. But when business services are embedded in applications, there is typically limited flexibility in reusing these services as part of end-to-end business processes that cross organizational boundaries.

Operating IT as a service-delivery business means providing clear and compelling value to the enterprise and includes:

  • aligning IT priorities dynamically with business priorities and demonstrating timely progress against commitments
  • taking the initiative to propose IT-based solutions to new business challenges

To make the service delivery organization a success companies need a few things to put it on the right track. One of those first steps is to establish an Enterprise Architecture initiative. The overall goal of the enterprise architecture is that it must enable IT’s capacity to adapt quickly to changes in business strategy, processes, and environment. It must encompass an enterprise’s business goals, strategies, processes, and information, as well as the IT system that supports them.

In order to build anything of great substance you need a solid base from which to start building. You can see by this graphic that Citrix plays in the base level of EA:

From XenServer to XenDesktop, you have everything you need to create a dynamic IT organization that can provide the following benefits for your organization:

  • Simplicity: reduce IT complexity and associated operational costs
  • Agility: adapt in real time to business needs, drive change, and accelerate time to market
  • Value: reuse assets, free up resources for innovation, increase revenues and profitability, and use change as a competitive weapon

In order to ensure that your IT infrastructure is ready for the next upturn is to make sure that you are using your current investments in technology in new innovative ways to make IT dynamic and create that competitive advantage. In an increasingly nonlinear world, only nonlinear ideas are likely to create competitive advantage.