Today at Synergy 2017, Citrix announced a new cloud-based service called Citrix Workspace, which changes the way end users access their apps and data.
Through this post, I hope to uncover the business challenges that Citrix is trying to solve with this offering, initial thoughts on the vision, and some of the use cases that this solution will address short term.
The need for a Unified Workspace!
One of the most common requests brought to my attention during my conversations with customers and partners alike is around the need for a unified workspace. Most IT organizations struggle having to maintain and secure multiple access portals to provide their end users access to the apps and data that they require. These include SaaS-based apps, Windows Apps, Internal web apps, mobile apps, and the user data, to name but a few. IT needs to make sure that all the resources are accessible and secured, no matter what device the end user decides to use. On the flip side, the user experience is not consistent across devices, applications and services are often not integrated. This leaves the end users finding it challenging to consume these resources, impacting productivity and often times just finding non-standard alternatives that creates a significant security concern.
Another common request is Workspace Automation — the ability for users to request for specific services that then initiates an approval workflow and automates the provisioning of these resources.
While Citrix has been busy churning out XenApp/XenDesktop and Storefront releases, a large number of customers are still running legacy versions of these products; XenApp 6.5 and WI 5.4 still remain very popular. In the past, feature parity was a major reason that customers chose to remain on these versions, but it’s fair to say that the feature gaps have been addressed over time. Large enterprise customers can sometimes take many years and tie multiple resources to these upgrade projects only to find out that by the time they are done, it’s time to upgrade again! More and more customers want to consume cloud based services and move away from having to maintain and upgrade infrastructure on premises. With that said, customers still want complete control of their apps and data and where the intellectual property is stored.
Citrix Workspace is a cloud-based service that helps deliver an adaptive unified workspace for secure delivery of ALL apps and data and not just Citrix resources. This new service will replace the existing StoreFront service that is part of Citrix Cloud, and support not only the Citrix Cloud hosted services but on-premises XenApp and XenDesktop deployments, as well as the Azure based XenApp and XenDesktop Essentials offerings. Self-service capabilities to allow users to request and then automate the approval process and provisioning of resources is an important goal.
From an identity and access management perspective the vision is to support the most commonly used identity sources like Active Directory, Azure AD etc and also support the most commonly used credential types and authentication protocols (password, SMS, Azure MFA etc) for direct login. In addition all major IdP product and services will eventually be supported for federated login (Azure AD, Netscaler, Ping, Okta..). Features like Self Service Password Reset and Account Lockout that are available today through Storefront will be part of Citrix Workspace.
The users workspace will be adaptive in nature based on credentials, where he is and what device he is connecting from (conditional access) ensuring a secure yet highly customized and usable environment.
A Prudent Approach To Upgrades
On premises customers no longer have to worry about migration from WI 5.4 to Storefront and leverage Citrix Workspace instead. Customers can choose to keep their XenApp and XenDesktop deployments on premises, but in the future if they decide to migrate to a public cloud, Citrix Workspace in conjunction with Citrix Cloud makes that transition seamless. Also for customers on XenApp 6.5, the move to Citrix Workspace can serve as the first step in the upgrade process as Citrix Workspace can be used to deliver XenApp 6.5 resources as well.
Build Your Digital Workspace At Your Own Pace
For existing XenApp and XenDesktop customers looking to consume additional services (Apps and Desktops, XenMobile, Sharefile, XenApp/XenDesktop Essentials, Gateway Service) to build upon their digital workspace vision over time, Citrix Workspace simplifies both the on-boarding and aggregation of these services. It gives customers the flexibility to grow at their own pace with the assurance that they are not locked in to any service and have the freedom to opt out when they please.
Workspace Is For One and All!
In the future, Citrix Workspace could very well be applicable to not just existing Citrix customers but organizations that need to deliver plethora of Web and SaaS apps to their end users, simplifying onboarding, and consumption of these resources and doing so in a cost effective manner.
Citrix Workspace will be rolled out over multiple phases with the capabilities growing over time. I plan on following up with blog posts as we launch the next phases in this evolution.
For those of you who missed it, here is a recording of the “surprise session” at Synergy by Craig Hinchliffe and Andrew Innes providing an overview of Citrix Workspace Service!