iPads. Xooms. PlayBooks. ChromeBooks. (And more.)

DropBox. SalesForce. Google Apps. CloudFiles. (And more.)

There’s so much IT going on today, with so much choice being exercised by users and departments – the enterprise datacenter walls are bursting. And so are the quotas, security policies, and service level agreements that IT organizations have enforced, victims of opportunity and choice.

Some IT organizations have fought to assert control by reinforcing the “walls” – continuing the “we buy it, we build it” agenda, restricting devices to the approved short-list list, obstructing SaaS usage under cover of security and performance concerns. And that pits them against the users who want to use their own devices, and lines of business that adopt web-based best-of-breed solutions to get their work done. It’s rarely out-and-out combat, of course – it’s more an “IT cold war.”

Another wall, that one in Berlin, should remind us how those turn out.

More doors

Ironically, the best way to end the “IT cold war” and meet the requirement of choice is by being open (glasnost) and embracing change (perestroika). Moving from “we buy it, we build it” to “made anywhere, delivered by us” should be the mantra for the new IT.

IT needs to make it easy to avoid the damage that will result from crumbling walls… by putting in doors… Specifically, a “front door” to the enterprise datacenter that makes it possible for users to use any device to get to any app they need – whether it’s a corporate web or Windows app, or a virtual desktop, or an app delivered by a SaaS provider – and for IT to provide the level of visibility and control that lets them guarantee delivery. And a “back door” that connects the enterprise datacenter seamlessly to one or more provider clouds or hosting environments, with the same visibility and control.

NetScaler Cloud Gateway: the “front door” to all your apps

Think about securing and providing access for your apps – the workspace – the same way you think about the workplace. Workshifting aside, if you need to get to your office or a meeting, the first challenge is getting in the door. If you only ever enter one building and one office, and you’re the only person who does, you could carry just one key. But if you’re like me, you need to get into multiple buildings and multiple rooms — and, for rooms like labs and demo areas, you’re not the only one. Even if I carried a ring with twenty-seven keys on it (obviously not something I would do), that still doesn’t help keep track of who’s going where. And if anyone who has access to the same buildings or rooms leaves, the lock-changing party begins.

So like most businesses, we use badges, with lock systems coded for the buildings and rooms I can access. One key, lots of buildings, lots of rooms .. with single point of control. And if someone leaves, their badge is disabled in the system, and suddenly it’s a useless piece of plastic.
NetScaler Cloud Gateway: one front door, one key, all your clouds

Think of our new NetScaler Cloud Gateway as that card key system, but for your apps and desktops — not only in your datacenter or a hosting provider’s dedicated resources, but the public cloud apps you touch every day.

A single pane of glass — any device using Citrix Receiver — can be used to access any app or desktop, and to sign on once and let the infrastructure manage the morass of usernames and passwords you have trouble keeping track of. No more monitors half-covered in password Post-It notes. You can request new apps by self-service through the same interface. And all without compromises to the user experience.

And IT organizations get the same kind of control that the badge system gives. Centrally provision access to new apps, in the datacenter as well as the public cloud, and manage users’ credentials for them automatically. Track users’ access. Audit license usage. Monitor and manage service levels. Equally important, revoke access automatically and centrally on termination. (Even while they’re working there, if users don’t know their actual credentials for a public business-oriented cloud service, they can’t use a “side door” and put your data at risk — they can only get in through the “front door” your Cloud Gateway provides.)

Two questions users will never have to ask

“How do I get to my app?”

“Why’s my app so slooooooow?”

(And the question you pray they never ask: “What happened to the database?”)

There’s lots of compute power to be used in the cloud – for extra capacity, for business continuity, or just for the sheer economics of not adding capital equipment. But few businesses would consider talking their sensitive data, from their databases to their repositories to their employee directories – and moving them across the Internet to a cloud provider.

The best-of-both-worlds approach seems like it would be to keep the data safe within the enterprise, with the compute power anywhere – datacenter, cloud provider, or some of each.

But that approach brings its own risks. Does moving the compute part of the app require users to learn new URLs and pathnames – and if the app keeps moving, do the paths keep changing? Does putting a WAN link between the app and its data expose the data to hacking even if it doesn’t live in the public cloud? Does that WAN link make the apps unacceptably slow?

NetScaler Cloud Bridge: the door for secure, infinite capacity

Just as using Cloud Gateway as the “front door” eliminates the confusion of any-to-any access for users while securing app and desktop access, so too does NetScaler Cloud Bridge deliver secure, seamless any-to-any access across the enterprise datacenter and public clouds, as the “back door” providing infinite capacity on demand.

You’ll get secure, encrypted tunneling between the datacenter network and provider networks, so sensitive information is never at risk. Simplified addressing hiding the network addressing differences, plus bandwidth and performance optimizations for WAN connections, will mean that users and apps won’t know where data is kept and where compute is happening – and won’t need to.

One size doesn’t fit all

You can implement Cloud Gateway and Cloud Bridge in the way that’s right for you — as a security-hardened NetScaler physical appliance, as a virtual instance that’s easily installed on the platform of your choice (no “our hypervisor or the highway” jive here), or as a service on a multi-tenant NetScaler SDX service delivery controller. (And, in the spirit of the clouds, you can use Cloud Gateway as a service from one of thousands of service providers.) You can see the visual tour of Cloud Gateway here and also get more details on Cloud Gateway and Cloud Bridge.

“Mr. CIO, tear down this wall!”

While the quote this is inspired from is sensational (Reagan to Gorbachev), the fact is that the silos that isolate apps within the enterprise datacenter and the cloud confuse users and limit their choice; ironically, while they seem at first to make it easier for IT organizations, they actually drive up costs and limit responsiveness. By opening the doors between users, datacenters, and clouds, you can get beyond these limitations. You can put an end to the “IT cold war” – and everyone’s on the winning side.