Today, Citrix is introducing its first Workspace Cloud Labs service, the Workspace Cloud Browser Apps Service which offers a simple, secure, way to deliver high performance remote access to any internal or external web application.
The Browser Apps Service offers secure remote access without compromise and is the fastest way to securely deliver Web and SaaS apps to end users.
Redefining the End-User Experience
With typical remote access solutions, there is an elastic compromise between Risk, Cost and End User Experience.
Scenario 1: No remote access. In this scenario, you don’t allow any remote access to web apps. It reduces risk and doesn’t have any capital cost, but it has a very poor user experience, not to mention a high productivity cost.
Scenario 2: Deploy VPNs. In this scenario, organizations started to deploy VPNs in an effort to improve user experience. It wasn’t too expensive, and while it increased risk by extending the internal network to the end user’s device, it was an acceptable risk – when it worked. I’ve stopped counting how many times users have complained to me about their VPN.
Scenario 3: Enable SaaS applications. In this scenario, you might not think of SaaS apps as remote access, but it’s just like any other web application. IT certainly thinks about the security implications of hosting data in the cloud — data that can be accessed on any device in the world – it’s a scary proposition that they’re still getting used to in many organizations.
You optimize user experience, it increases risk and cost.
You keep costs down, it decreases the user experience and may increase risk.
With some solutions you could reach a relative bargain by achieving 2 goals, but you’ll never be able to satisfy all 3.
A New and Better Scenario: Browser Apps Service
With the new Browser Apps Service, Citrix offers secure remote access without compromise.
A customer enters a publicly available URL (i.e. xyz.mydomain.com) that is then linked to a SaaS application (i.e. login.salesforce.com) and in an upcoming update, an intranet URL (i.e. xyz.myintranet.net) into their browser of choice, like Apple Safari or Google Chrome (or any web browser that supports HTML5). Automatically, Citrix Receiver HTML5 will transparently open the linked web application in the pre-defined browser – in essence, a browser within a browser that’s transparent to the end user. This web browser can run in a cloud of your choice or on your internal network.
Redefining the Administration Experience?
When you think of Citrix, you may think of one of our products – like GoToMeeting, NetScaler or XenApp. If you think of either of the latter two, you might associate a Citrix product with the need to be deployed and managed by central IT.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Browser Apps Service is that it is built on top of Citrix Workspace Cloud. For this initial preview, it’s a simple 3-step process after you have your free Workspace Cloud account
- DEFINE – Point to a publicly available URL (internal URLs behind a firewall will become an available option later this year)
- TEST – Click the item in the Web App Name column to bring up the launcher. Then click “Launch Web App”.
- DISTRIBUTE – Click clipboard icon to copy Web App URL and send it to your users.
Currently, only Google Chrome is available as a published browser option. However, additional options such as Internet Explorer and Firefox will follow soon.
Why Would I Use This with a SaaS App?
SaaS applications are supposed to be external; why would I try the Browser App Service with a SaaS app? Two reasons: Network Access Control and Data Loss Prevention.
Network Access Control – Many organizations limit certain SaaS applications to certain IP addresses to cut down on security threats, yet still make them available externally via a VPN. The Browser Apps Service gives better security than a VPN because the end point device is not directly connected to the intranet and gives a better user experience than a VPN because it is transparent to the end user.
Data Loss Prevention – Because the end point is not directly accessing the website, an organization can explicitly prevent any data from touching the end point.
There is always the issue of browser compatibility. Just about all SaaS applications can work on any of the major browsers today, but not always equally. You may want to provide the best possible user experience by publishing a specific browser for a specific SaaS app.
Already a Citrix XenApp Customer?
If you’re already using Citrix XenApp and have continued to read this far, you are probably thinking “I can do this already, this isn’t for me.” AND YOU ARE RIGHT! But, one of the things we’ve heard from customers is that new departmental users sometimes need convincing to do things in a new way. Have them go here to check out a short video and ask them to try out the new Browser Apps Service and you may actually have users begging you to replace their VPN access with this or XenApp.
The Citrix Workspace Cloud Labs is a place where we will put our latest and greatest ideas out there for the world to see and play with. This is just Citrix’s initial preview and not all planned features are currently available. The benefit of the Citrix Workspace Cloud is that it allows us to be fast and agile, to come out with new innovations and capabilities very quickly. There are no feature packs or service packs or upgrade cycles – it is a cloud service and will be continuously updated. In the next few months you will see new features like the ability to deploy the web browser in your internal datacenter, have additional browser options like Internet Explorer and Firefox, and the choice of which plug-ins you want available for a specified web application.
We want to hear about what else you would like to see! Please leave a comment with your suggestions and ideas. What apps would you use this for? Are you a part of IT and would like to enable this for a line of business? Create your own custom short URLs? Are you in a line of business and want IT to get out of your way? Do you want single sign on and two factor authentication integrated? Let us know.
Anyone with a free Workspace Cloud account can try out this new service. Share your experiences with your friends and colleagues!