It has been a month since the release of XenMobile and the Mobile Solutions Bundle and in this past month, the number of customer conversations that are focused on mobility has skyrocketed! In the Citrix Executive Briefing Center, the top requested topic from our largest, most strategic customers is now mobility. Now, I do many of these customer briefings, as well as our press and analyst briefings, and while everyone I talk to is very excited about the Citrix mobility solutions and the direction we are going, there is one point that is often misunderstood because of the rich history that Citrix has delivering virtualized apps from the datacenter. So, I am here to set the record straight:
Citrix delivers native mobile apps directly to mobile devices…and these apps are installed on the device and can be run offline
Ok, so let me now take a step back and explain. For about 5 years, Citrix Receiver has been the mechanism for IT departments to provide their users access to Windows apps and desktops on any device – apps that they would not have otherwise had access to from non-Windows platforms. This single application, available on more than 3B devices, allows users to self select all the Windows apps they need and then have instant access to these apps to get their work done. And, as a testament to its success, Citrix Receiver has won numerous awards for delivering this productivity to users anywhere. The upside is unparalled access to apps from any device, but the downside is that you need a constant Internet connection and XenApp to publish the apps.
Then, when CloudGateway was released last year, Citrix created a solution that delivered the best of both worlds. Let me explain why. With CloudGateway, we added full mobile application management capabilities to deliver native mobile apps (iOS, Android, and HTML5) to mobile devices. This means that Citrix provides access to more than just access Windows apps – we can also deliver all of your native mobile apps to mobile devices (See Figure 1 for how I use Citrix Receiver from my iPad to access my self-selected Windows, web, and mobile apps like SalesForce and Outlook). But if you are like many of the folks that I have spoken to, you are likely thinking, “do my users have to open Receiver to get access to their mobile apps?” In short, the answer is No.
Citrix Receiver is the unified app store, which enable users to self-select all of the apps that they need to get their job done. These apps can be Windows (if a XenApp customer) or web, SaaS, or native mobile (if a CloudGateway or XenMobile MDM customer). For users that self select mobile apps, those apps will be delivered directly to the mobile device and installed like any other native mobile app. When users want to access their mobile apps, they can go directly to their springboard and open those apps. (See Figure 2 for how I access all of my business mobile apps that I self-selected via Receiver. Notice, they are all installed on my device and accessable via my springboard for easy access).
IT still wants to ensure security when delivering mobile apps to users, especially as a majority of the business mobile apps will be delivered to users’ personal devices. Given this, IT wants to be able to set policies around application use and have those policies enforced directly on the device. This is where Citrix Receiver comes back into play – it is the policy broker in the background . When IT wraps a mobile app for distribution to a user’s device, IT can set a variety of policies around the use of that app. For example, App_1 can only run on devices that have not been jailbroken, App_2 can only run on a WiFi network and not a 3G/4G network, and copy/paste actions must be disabled when using App_3 as sensitve data is used within this app. These policies are enforced by Citrix Receiver. This means that on launch of a mobile app, it will do a check with Receiver to ensure it is “allowed” to run – if it meets policy, the app will run; if it doesn’t, Receiver will prevent the app from running. It’s that easy – apps that are secured via policy will get approval from Reciever to run; apps without any security policy will run without Receiver interactions. But it’s important to reiterate that Receiver isn’t the access method in this scenario – the apps are running natively and accessible offline; it’s just playing the role of the enforcer.
It’s that simple. So, next time someone asks you what role Receiver plays you can clarify. Citrix absolutely delivers native mobile apps along with other Windows, web, SaaS and data center apps that are not normally available to users on all of their devices. And yes, Citrix Receiver is a great part of this delivery value chain. But, it is important to remember that Citrix Receiver is transparent to users when providing access to mobile apps. Direct access to these mobile apps from the device is what users expect and exactly what Citrix delivers.