Sitting in seat 31C, I am in the clouds and surrounded by windows.
There is an amazing array of truly exciting cloud-based innovations coming to market from Citrix and our partners, the frequency and pace of which continues to accelerate. However, there are a few constants that remain, one of which is the longevity of Windows applications, and their value even in what is now clearly the cloud-era.
If you are a partner or customer within the Citrix ecosystem, then like most of us, you have been talking about cloud computing and its promises and pitfalls for well over a decade now. Citrix began its official entry into what is “the cloud” as far back as 2001 (really 1996), when we launched the NFuse technology and helped create the early application service provider (ASP) market. Even at that time, Citrix was leading the now familiar any, any, any conversation across multiple datacenter and service provider “clouds.” The natural evolution into what is now Citrix Workspace was, in that regard, just a matter of time and circumstance, underscored by our passion to ease our customers’ ongoing transitions into each wave of the future of work.
For this post, I want to focus on a couple of the most often-asked questions I hear at events and in the occasional airport layover. Cloud transitions present a maze of considerations. For Citrix virtual apps and desktops it usually boils down to:
- Why move Windows apps or desktops to the cloud?
- Which apps?
- Which cloud?
For the first question, I think we can agree to a great extent that basically all desktops and apps today ARE “the cloud.” From one point of view this is much of what has driven the concepts behind the Citrix secure digital perimeter. Secure digital perimeter and Citrix Workspace are very much about resolving the tension between end-user productivity and freedom, and IT management visibility and controls.
The best answers to the remaining three questions are based more from the IT perspective — both to provide security and proximity to data, and to increase performance and end-user acceptance of the solution.
Citrix has been building our partnerships across multiple public cloud vendors for quite some time now — partnerships that enable the natural differentiators for each vendor to clearly express themselves as better together for the overall benefit for our mutual partners and end-customers.
Here’s a quick timeline of the evolution of Citrix’s cloud partnerships that enable our multi-cloud approach:
- Prior to 2010: Citrix was enabling various hosting and cloud datacenter solutions and working with emerging cloud platforms as an early adopter, both for internal use — with our partnership with SoftLayer (Now part of IBM) for our Citrix Demo Center (now a multi-cloud solution) — and as an enabler for our still fast-growing Citrix Service Provider channel.
- 2010: Citrix and AWS EC2: As a first mover in what has now become the public cloud provider market, Amazon’s AWS EC2 was the first IaaS cloud where Citrix XenApp projects began to really gain traction in the cloud. As early as 2010, Citrix XenApp and NetScaler .ami’s were being deployed by our customers and Citrix Service Providers in order to provide their end-users with regional access on a global scale. This began a period of innovation and education with regard to delivering Citrix workloads from public clouds.
- 2012: Citrix and Microsoft Azure: Although Citrix and Microsoft had been working on various prototypes within Azure since its earliest implementations, 2012 was the year when the public availability of Azure IaaS allowed Citrix workloads to be deployed.
- 2017: Citrix announced our expanding partnership with Google and support for Citrix Cloud workloads within a Google Cloud Platform resource location. Citrix also announced support for Citrix Cloud workloads within Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
A recent blog post, “Scalability in a Cloud World – 2018,” from my colleague, Kevin Nardone, working across a great team of SMEs from a few of these vendors, provides some great insight regarding machine types and their performance in each cloud.
So… back to the next two questions of “which apps” and “which cloud.”
- Why would a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops customer choose one public cloud over another?
- Why would a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops customer choose to deploy Citrix workloads across multiple clouds?
Let’s ignore the typical “it depends” comment, and pick a couple of real examples.
The answer to both questions is based on a well-established principal of Windows application delivery — keep the apps and the data close together [and secure] in the [public cloud] datacenter.”
From a multi-cloud perspective, based on this principle, some apps or use cases just naturally gravitate toward specific clouds, all of which can be brought together through the Citrix Cloud library, and if necessary Site Aggregation. All of these resources are then presented to the user within a single Citrix Workspace. Let’s look at a few examples.
Q: Are you using Office 365 Professional Plus and do you need to deliver it from a cloud-hosted Windows desktop or session?
A: Seriously consider hosting these core Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops instances in a Microsoft Azure Citrix Cloud resource location.
As we look at the evolving nature of Windows 10, Office, and more specifically Microsoft 365, Azure becomes a focal point for applications that rely on Office 365 back-end services and Azure Active Directory. The accelerating frequency of innovations Microsoft is bringing to the market with regard to modern management and security with Azure services should also be considered. As a complete platform, there are serious price/performance benefits to combining Citrix workloads and Microsoft Azure cloud capabilities for any Microsoft Windows-centric multi-cloud design. The performance advantages of hosting Windows applications like Office Professional Plus or any line-of-business applications that may depend upon Office 365 back-end services need to be considered when deciding which applications should be migrated, and to which public cloud.
As a very basic example, consider the performance differences for Outlook caching (or not) as documented in our latest Microsoft Office 365 for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x Deployment Guide.
Our latest update to the scalability and economics of delivering Citrix Virtual App and Desktop services from Microsoft Azure can be found at http://www.citrix.com/microsoft
From a branch-office perspective, the delivery of Azure resources and applications using the combination of Azure Virtual WAN and Citrix SD-WAN further benefits performance and resiliency across hybrid-cloud scenarios.
Q: Do you already have a number of enterprise line-of-business applications deployed within EC2?
A: Deliver these as Citrix Virtual Apps from an EC2-hosted Citrix Cloud resource location.
As a first mover in the public cloud market, AWS EC2 became a development and test environment for many early enterprise cloud-era custom applications. As a mature cloud platform with a broad ecosystem, EC2 is regarded by many as an essential public cloud for SaaS, Linux and some legacy Windows applications. For the latter, particularly those Windows apps with n-tier dependencies to back-end AWS-hosted databases and services, delivering these applications from EC2, while aggregating them into on-premises, mobile, or cloud-hosted desktops from any other cloud, enables the flexibility required for many businesses today.
For a deeper dive on the scalability and economics of delivering these workloads from EC2, please go to our www.citrix.com/amazon resource page.
Brian Martynowicz and our friends over at LoginVSI have been working with us to provide an update for Citrix Virtual App user density in an EC2 Citrix Cloud resource location. You can find their latest results in their recent blog post.
Google Cloud Platform:
Q: Are you investing in Google-based applications and Google Cloud Platform capabilities?
A: Not only is a Citrix Cloud resource location for virtual apps and desktops available within GCP today, several innovations for Citrix Workspace can now enhance access control for SaaS and other web-based applications as well.
An overview of the Citrix Workspace and a demonstration of these innovative access control capabilities from Citrix for non-Windows applications is highlighted in our recent webinar — The One Complete Workspace — featuring Citrix Chief Product Officer, PJ Hough.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure:
Q: Are you delivering applications from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure?
A: Similar to the AWS use case, a Citrix Cloud resource location for virtual apps and desktops is available now for those customers leveraging this Oracle offering.
OK, we’ve looked at the questions and sample answers of, “Why move apps and desktops to a public cloud,” “Which apps should be moved,” and “To which cloud?”
All that leaves is, “When should I move?”
The answer is, “Now, if you have not already begun.”
The odds are that you have already begun your move to the cloud by embracing a few SaaS and/or mobile apps. For this, I would really encourage you to begin looking at Citrix Workspace and how you can leverage access control to maintain security, while helping to increase end-user productivity.
For your Windows-based applications, it really depends on which public cloud platform is already hosting the back end for your most-easily migrated applications.
If you have not already begun to work with Citrix Cloud, I encourage you to do so, as it provides the fastest and simplest way to begin working across multiple clouds — for all of your apps and data resources, from a single control plane.
If you will be at Microsoft Ignite in September, or AWS RE:Invent in November, please stop by the Citrix booth to say hello. We can walk-through our latest Citrix Cloud demos and talk about your multi-cloud use case. Innovations are coming at an accelerating rate, so each event promises something new for all of us. See you there!