I had the good fortune of being in the audience at Citrix Synergy 2018 a few weeks back, listening to Citrix Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Minahan, interview former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush and former United States Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. She is one of the 20th century politicians I most admire. Dr. Rice would have gotten my vote for a presidential bid. And don’t get me started on the attempt to draft her as NFL Commissioner. Her topics were far-ranging and gripping — even provocative. I am sure nearly everyone present left having learned something. Read Tim’s blog post to see what moved him.

I left thinking about dichotomy. Dr. Rice spoke of current global problems and possibilities. About huge, profound challenges and opportunities. These included the use of technology for good and bad. Examples for the latter included cyberwarfare and manipulation. As I processed what she had said, a quote from one of my favorite authors came to mind:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” — A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Dickens wrote these words 160 years ago, looking back on a time of revolution that fundamentally changed society in France and across Europe. The balance of power shifted from the few to the many. Principles thought sacrosanct were obliterated. Structure that propped up some and held down others was cut away, most vividly, and quite literally, at the sharp edge of the guillotine. Democracy replaced monarchy. But it also ushered in mob rule and warfare. Good and bad.

What we who work in technology do for a living transforms society; how we interact with one another, spend our free time, learn and earn. Challenges faced by IT professionals during this period of dramatic change are significant: Attacks, shifting balance of power and control, even opposing forces. But opportunity for each of us has never been better. IT security is a board-level issue. IT is strategic.

IT professionals have never had a better opportunity to matter.

A Tale of Two IT Architectures

So how did we get here? Once upon a time, IT environments were clearly defined. There was less hardware and software to monitor and manage. Applications were known and owned. They lived in the data center and desktops. IT environments were static and predictable. Change was infrequent and slow. Borders were well-defined. We knew where our “stuff” — apps, infrastructure, networks — began and ended.

That was then. This is now.

IT environments can be opaque and are often rife with blind spots and gaps. Apps are more frequently leased than owned. Isn’t that was SaaS is? Hybrid and multi-cloud environments are the reality, not just your data center or colo cage. IT ecosystems are far-flung and ever-changing. IT is a lot more complex.

Despite a tectonic shift in the technology world order, IT is expected to deliver a seamless, secure user experience. IT pros tell us they‘re not prepared.

The Ponemon Institute conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy. We commissioned a survey of existing and prospective Citrix customers in 2017. Eighty-three percent of the organizations surveyed believe that their organizational structure and IT infrastructure are vulnerable to cyber threats.

Multiple points of vulnerability were identified: App and cloud sprawl that presents a vast attack surface; Bring Your Own Device (it’s really Bring Your Own Cloud, isn’t it?); sophisticated, motivated hackers sponsored by governments and organized crime syndicates; and an uneasy balance of IT control and user choice, seemingly at odds.

Against this backdrop, Citrix has developed a new framework for protecting our customers and empowering IT to both control and protect apps, data and network without hampering how the modern workforce gets things done.

We are helping customers take a people-centric approach, using a broad portfolio of Citrix solutions, many of which you may already have; others are being rolled out this quarter and throughout 2018. We call it a secure digital perimeter.

The secure digital perimeter is a critical element of Citrix Workspace that allows IT to meet the requirements of how many work in 2018: Dynamically, asynchronously, and unconventionally. Work is not a place; work is what we do. Work is not bound by physical buildings, devices, or even time. Applications and information need to be available wherever, whenever, however.

Neither absolute monarchy nor mob rule are going to work. People need secure access to the applications and content. But IT needs the visibility and management ability of a single control plane. Secure digital perimeter unobtrusively, but utterly, protects the people, apps, data and network on which your enterprise relies by providing simplified control, 360 visibility, and intelligent analytics.

To learn how Citrix delivers the secure digital workspace, click here.