Today’s announcements around Project Avalon at Citrix Synergy Barcelona are a continuation of the momentum that began with the demos Joe Vaccaro and I lead during the day 2 keynote at Synergy San Francisco earlier this year.  Following up on that early sneak peek at internal Avalon code, we are announcing today that Project Avalon will be delivered in two phases – Projects Excalibur and Merlin; each with its own exciting Tech Preview.

Central to Project Avalon is Self-service for user provisioning (IT administration of user assignment to IT services) which drives the underlying layers of the Avalon stack including Orchestration, XenDesktop/XenApp and the CloudPlatform (CloudStack) VM orchestration layer.  Our Citrix Service Provider (CSP) partners have been using Self-service tools and techniques in the form of Citrix CloudPortal Services Manager for a couple of years now.  They know the power of a Portal or “Control Panel”, which enables their various tenants to on-board users in a self-service fashion, with app, desktop and data services that are hosted by the CSP.  With this crucial, self-service technology, CSPs do not need to worry about day-to-day adds/mods/deletes of users or the addition of IT services they require, because they offload those formerly manual and time-consuming tasks (that do not require their level of expertise) to “sub-administrators” that are located at the customer site.  The sub-administrators are created by the CSP and they have only the rights that have been assigned to them.  They have the ability to add or delete users associated with their organization plus the ability to add or delete a service to which they have access, on behalf on their users.  Security and confidentiality are preserved as customers have no visibility into other tenants’ users or the services to which they have not subscribed.  They also have no idea (nor should they care) how the IT services are actually instantiated, provisioned or managed and maintained by the CSP.  This arrangement is great for the CSP administrators because they do not have to worry about simple, day-to-day tasks that are being off-l0aded and they are free to devote most of their time to the mission-critical task of running the underlying cloud infrastructure and maintaining SLAs.  The CloudPortal self-service layer also doubles as an interface for service providers themselves to be able to manage tenants and initially on-board users for tenants who have recently signed-on to their services.  This portal enables CSPs to manage the services they provide in a segregated, multi-tenant fashion and it allows them to track usage in order to generate billing statements for tenants.

This is all applicable to Enterprises as well!

So, what if you’re an Enterprise customer?  Does any of this apply?  And why are you reading this blog?  Don’t worry!  You are not wasting your time!  One of the main goals of Project Avalon is to bring this level of self-service and multi-tenancy to the Enterprise customer.  To enable Enterprise customers to build true desktop and app clouds, Citrix is working to expand CloudPortal Services Manager to handle all FlexCast models and to drive the App and Desktop Orchestration layer to create the proper type of app or desktop platform for the given use case.  For the Enterprise customer, each tenant is a department or geographical region that will be enabled with the self-service capabilities described above.  The CSP admin maps to the “Central IT” admin who runs the desktop and app cloud infrastructure and ensures SLAs are being met between Central IT and the departments they service.  Even the usage reporting and metering capabilities apply to organizations who wish to bill-back departments for IT services they deliver.

The end game for Project Avalon is to enable customers of any type, CSP or Enterprise, who leverage the CloudPortal self-service capabilities, to off-load end-user provisioning/de-provisioning to tenants or departments.  The self-service layer will route a service request through a built-in workflow, which will allow for approval of the request by higher-level management or Central IT.  Once approved, the self-service layer will request the service creation from the orchestration layer.  Orchestration will then automatically take care of anything from adding/dropping users to creating new XenApp farms or XenDesktop sites in order to, for example, fulfill a request for thousands of new desktops.  All without any knowledge of “how” by the sub-administrator and automatically generated from the bare metal or VM layer all the way up to apps, desktops and data services.  Sounds complex and difficult but that is the beauty of the Avalon system – all this happens autonomically and on-demand based on the self-service request.

Project Avalon truly ushers in a new era for Citrix and our customers.  As we transition to delivery and management of true desktop and app clouds, self-service will be a key component that enables your internal customers to consume the IT services you provide.  To learn more, see the rest of the Avalon blogs posted today as well as the Project Avalon site.