Here at Citrix, we’ve been telling people for a few years that when you build to—and plan for—mobile workstyles, you by default also allow for a traditional environment at the same time. The same infrastructure geared toward allowing users to work from home securely on their own computers or tablets will also support wired enterprise/agency owned desktops in an office. Something Citrix doesn’t emphasize as much as we can is that building for mobile workstyles goes a long way toward enabling a solid business continuity plan. The best part about it is, as much as our mobile workstyles help with government agency and corporate productivity during business disruptions, they also keep users working smoothly when life throws twists and wrinkles their way.
Making sure that mission critical operations continue through disruptions has been a concern long before consumerization and mobility, and agencies have been building back-end infrastructures to make sure applications and data are available in case of an IT disaster. Having multiple datacenters and disaster-recovery facilities has been a fact of life for a decade or more. On the client side, traditionally if there was a disaster (natural or man-made) that caused disruption keeping you from your office, you might’ve had to travel to an alternate facility where an endpoint may or may not have been configured, or if you were lucky you had a laptop and a VPN client from which to work. When the disruption wasn’t severe or was temporary (as with a snowstorm) you either used a VPN client that opened up your entire device to the network or took liberal leave and didn’t work. In either case, no matter how much failover there was in the datacenter, access to applications and data wasn’t consistent with the office experience, working (or not) from your issued computer away from the office was a disruption more often than not.
The technologies that power mobile workstyles for Citrix erodes the distinction between the process for accessing user workspaces on a normal day and days when an organization faces disruption to operations. Our mobile and virtualization technologies have been put to the test on more occasions than we would like: Being headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, hurricane preparation is part of our plan and contingencies for datacenter failover, alternate work facilities and work from home plans. These plans are reviewed, updated on regular basis and are ready to be put in place when needed. Over the past couple of years Citrix business continuity plans have been tested by earthquakes in Japan and Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey; and, in all cases thanks to virtualization, access to applications and data were quickly restored if they were ever down at all. While work locations may have temporarily changed for some employees, thanks to mobile workstyles how they accessed their applications and data didn’t.
When you build your infrastructure to support mobile workstyles, the client side of business continuity is taken care of, and for the end user the process is no different than any other day. As a Citrix employee I experience this firsthand—if we’re hit with the second coming of Snowmageddon, my child’s daycare provider takes an unexpected sick day and I have to work from home, I go about getting my applications in the same way that I did yesterday or the day before. Through WorxHome and Citrix Receiver my apps and desktops can be accessed from any device, whether I’m at the office on my laptop, at home on a Chromebook (thanks to the HTML 5 receiver), or at the doctor’s office from a tablet when my kids are sick—and all my data follows me and is synchronized from device to device with ShareFile.
Building for mobile workstyles enables many options for federal agencies and doesn’t preclude a traditional office computing environment. Mobile workstyles helps you support more use cases better (heavy travel, developer use, knowledge workers), and facilitates the client side of your business continuity plan. Every time I log into my virtual desktop, applications, and data, I’m in effect testing Citrix’s business continuity plan, especially if I log in from different devices and different places.