Enterprises are rapidly thinking about cloud—and the latest industry announcements about the future of cloud are putting next generation cloud planning front and center for 2015 and 2016 enterprise roadmaps.

Recently Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Azure RemoteApp cloud based offering. This marks a great move by Microsoft to extend the benefits and economics of cloud computing on their Azure platform for customers.

Microsoft Azure RemoteApp – A Closer Look

Azure RemoteApp is a cloud based service that enables customers to host windows applications on Azure and is licensed on a subscription based model. Prices start at around $10 per user per month for 40 hours of access time. Customers who are cloud curious would have an easy way to sample cloud services in some simple ways.

Microsoft is offering 3 different template images (called app collections) to accelerate customer’s ability to use apps on Azure. These include templates for Server 2012 R2 for those who want to host their own apps, an Office 365 Pro trial template and an Office 365 Pro shared activation template. I should note that these templates do not change the licensing of Office 365 Pro or provide the ability to host Windows Desktops (think 7 and 8.1) in the cloud.

XenApp, XenDesktop and RemoteApp – Aligned for Enterprises

RemoteApp is an exciting announcement that complements the existing work Citrix has completed to leverage Azure for XenApp. Azure has tremendous benefits for cloud computing — the elasticity, on demand deployments, scalability and cost benefits are very compelling for XenApp and XenDesktop customers.  Read the XenApp on Azure deployment guide for more details around standing up XenApp on Azure[PG1] .


Scenario: XenDesktop, XenApp and Azure RemoteApp

Although there are limitless use cases for XenDesktop and RemoteApp, here are a couple that we have already seen start to gain traction. First is as an on-demand disaster recovery/business continuity solution. This past year has seen its fair share of weather calamities – and we’ve heard of businesses of all sizes creating contingencies to use XenApp on Azure for their critical apps in the event of an emergency – no need for up-front capex, just spin it up when needed.

Another example is a university, where the IT organization on-boards thousands of new “users” every few months, and then has to de-provision them again when they graduate. In addition, the usage fluctuates dramatically when school is in session vs. summers. Without cloud computing the university IT team would need to invest massive CapEx in new hardware, software and services for the peak workload all year round. They would also need to manage the reclaim and retirement of the same for the exiting students.

But this doesn’t have to be a dark cloud over their data center. Instead if they leverage virtual desktops and apps in a cloud based solution, then all they need to do is spin up new sessions for these “seasonal employees” on demand, using the cloud provider infrastructure, and pay for only what they use. Plus the cloud provider, Microsoft in this case, is on the hook for uptime and must meet set SLAs.

And by leveraging XenApp and XenDesktop in the cloud, you still get all of the enterprise scale and manageability you’ve come to expect, even across multiple cloud platforms like Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The result is an enhanced user experience by leveraging any device, anywhere on any network and any cloud. You even get native touch-like experience with applications that were not developed for mobile devices such as iPads and phones. Imagine providing a touch experience for an enterprise app on your CIO’s Android. And that Android can also now support enhanced security measures such as smart card access.

The Reality of a Cloud Ready Application Portfolio

When talking about modernizing the way we approach our desktops and data center we should always consider our application portfolio. The fact of the matter is that not all of our applications may be cloud ready or Server 2012 R2 compatible. But by leveraging Citrix AppDNA you can quickly and easily discover and assess your application compatibility across your entire landscape. The resulting reports will give you clear insight into what apps are and are not ready for the move to a modern age.

Citrix Workspace Services and Azure RemoteApp

But this is all available today. What would a cloud blog be without some future thinking statements? At Synergy 2014 we announced Citrix Workspace Services, which has been in limited tech preview for the past few months. Citrix Workspace Services is a cloud based platform that also extends Azure and other cloud platforms, enabling partners, enterprise customers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to quickly and simply design and deliver mobile workspaces that allow people to work better and increase productivity, agility and efficiency.

With Citrix Workspace Services, partners and enterprises can rapidly build and offer Desktops-as-a-Service (DaaS), virtual app delivery and mobile services from any cloud. Sure AWS may be the right cloud choice for you last month, but maybe next month Azure is the right fit. The Citrix Workspace Services approach is steeped in the Citrix “any cloud” approach to versatility in an on-demand world.

Microsoft and Citrix have been partnering for over 25 years

Citrix will enhance and extend the Microsoft platform and cloud offerings such as Azure RemoteApp (see video on Microsoft and Citrix partnering around Workspace Services). By combining XenApp, XenDesktop and Workspace Services, partners and enterprises will get the return and economics they demand in a cloud economy.

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