Microsoft and Citrix have both made significant investment in the “Modern Workplace” or “Workspace” over the last 18 months, and the landscape for operating in this new fashion has been consistently maturing for a while now.
I look at how I operate since starting my current role over a year ago, I am a full mobile user that consumes the Microsoft Azure AD Premium Offerings, I am managed by Intune where needed for services such as Encryption and Endpoint Protection, and for the most part I have little to no reason to ever touch the corporate network. I consume Office 365 Services for my everyday tasks and what’s been amazing as a consumer, is how little I have noticed the difference in how I operate on a day to day basis. I have been implementing these solutions for our Customers for a while now, and even though I know how the services fit together, the internal admin in me is still amazed when I can live and breathe the technology and it benefits me in the same way that it benefits our customers.
Over the course of deploying the Microsoft Modern Workplace technology suite, I have been asked by a few surprised colleagues and associates why, as a guy who has spent the last few years focusing primarily on the Citrix space, am I buying into the Microsoft Modern Workplace which often renders the concepts of VDI in particular a little redundant - (not always I might add - these are not mutually exclusive concepts) - It seems almost counter intuitive to them at first glance. My answer is simple, Citrix enhances what Microsoft provides, and always has, and currently it is more important than ever in my eyes.
The technology stack that Microsoft offers to its customers as part of the Enterprise Mobility + Security suites is undeniably appealing for users and admins alike - the stack Is simply too cool to ignore and offers so many benefits that if you have started walking into any of the Office 365 Services (anyone left who hasn’t?) it’s such a small jump to the capability offered in the EMS suite that you would be mad to ignore it. But what does this mean for your Citrix investments, your VDI or XenApp Shared desktops, or your finely tuned published application environments you have built and rely on - does this new stack render this redundant?
Is The Need For Citrix Dead?
Absolutely not, in fact I would argue that they are more important than ever with the introduction of the modern era of operations for the end user. There is so much focus on the mobility piece, being able to operate anywhere, any device, any time, that it can be easy to forget that legacy or core applications sets don’t simply disappear…
“Oh but we are moving it to a SaaS Solution so we can turn our core ERP off and access it from the cloud!”
Good for you!… how long is that going to take?
“But we are deploying a VPN Solution to allow our end users to access the corporate network”
Great! But how are you planning on addressing the latency issues, compatibility issues, software and base version requirements that your app requires to run, which are not as strict and controlled in the new modern way of operating?
The shift I have seen is simply what model of delivery we move to from a Citrix Standpoint. Citrix Apps and Desktops (XenApp) becomes absolutely critical to filling the gaps and holes created by the new modern workplace suite of capability. It can address pretty much any hole you can identify, and it addresses it simply, consistently and typically easily. We have seen a move back to focusing on publishing applications, and ensuring that the environments to support these systems are controlled, secure, stable, compatible and can seamlessly slot in to the modern working style.
“But we are trying to move our workloads to the cloud and minimise our datacenter footprints”
Great! Citrix offer a cloud service that seamlessly integrates with your Identity and authorisation standards based on Azure AD, it slips in to your environment as it always has and leverages all the new stuff you are gaining from Microsoft.
We have a number of customers who love what services such as Azure AD Premium, Intune and AutoPilot can provide them for the their roaming user base and it often works so well for them because they rely on Citrix to provide access to their corporate resources that are not yet “Modern Consumable”. In fact the minute I engage with customers around the Modern Workplace offering, and I find they are a Citrix shop, I smile to myself knowing I am not really going to have any awkward conversations about how things will or won’t work. Their existing investment 100% compliments and enables the modern era of working.
My top 5 items that Citrix Application delivery provides in the Microsoft Modern Workplace mode of operation
- Application and Data Security
- Application environment consistency. Critical for ERP, CRM and often Document Management Systems
- Speed of delivery across latent or challenging connections
- Seamless deployment and integration in the modern Windows 10 endpoint. Application delivery can be governed, provided and accessed through the same tool-set provided via the Microsoft Modern Workplace
- Support for any location resource hosting with the Citrix Cloud - Apps and Desktops Service
Citrix offers an entire suite of offerings that can interact and enhance the Microsoft capability, not just from an Apps and Desktops perspective, Services such as XenMobile, NetScaler, ShareFile, and the new Workspace offerings can work in conjunction with your Microsoft investments to open an entire portfolio of capability, integration and protection.
Either as a standalone offering, or in conjunction with Microsoft Services, the importance of Citrix is undeniable, the positioning of its capability within the Modern Workplace offerings created by Microsoft is just different