ORLANDO – Today at Citrix Synergy, the company unveiled the culmination of its five-year old cloud strategy with a new product, Citrix Workspace Cloud, a cloud-based control plane that permits the creation, integration, delivery and management of complete workspaces.
Citrix CEO Mark Templeton discussed the evolution of Citrix’s cloud strategy in his opening keynote, which he said began five years ago with Cloud App Delivery — XenApp reinvented for the cloud for service providers. They then created the Blackbeard reference architecture to make service providers’ lives easier, then developed both app orchestration across servers and across modes, and control panel technology. Finally, they then went back and invested in a service provider licensing program.
“That’s what launched our Workspace Service Provider Business five years ago,” Templeton said. “Today we have 1900 active service providers. That’s up about 35 per cent year over year, and the business is growing even faster than that. Cloud App Delivery was the first step in us understanding how to get to the cloud.”
The second step, Templeton said, was to get a better understanding of the architecture required for the cloud.
“We learned a lot after the acquisition of ShareFile, particularly about the control plane, that isolates all the complexity of control,” he said. That was followed up by the third step, Project Avalon, hybrid cloud provisioning, because some customers want the public cloud for testing or burstover capacity.”
That introduced the new announcement — Citrix Workspace Cloud – a platform of services for the creation of complete workspaces.
“We see Citrix Workspace Cloud as the natural evolution of what we have been doing with our service providers,” Jesse Lipson, VP and GM, Workflow and Workspace Cloud. Its key concept is a new control plane that merges the worlds of on-premises and cloud. It is managed by Citrix, in Azure – which Citrix chose because of their strong relationship with Microsoft – and is publicly accessible over the internet. Customers can choose which clouds or datacentre resources fit their needs best, then select the applications, data, files and features that work best for each specific organization and each person
“We have only chosen one place to work with this and that is the control plane,” said Geir Ramleth, SVP & GM and Chief Strategy Officer at Citrix. “The users will decide whether to work in the public, private or hybrid cloud. The control plane we control, that is our cloud. Beyond that is where the customers want to be at, and that can be in Azure, or Amazon or their own private cloud.”
Pat Bolton, Distinguished Engineer, and CTO for GTS Mobility & Client Computing at IBM, a Citrix Workspace Cloud partner, said they see enormous potential in it.
“Citrix Workspace Cloud gives us an additional piece of flexibility,” she said. “It has the promise of lowering costs and meeting the client’s business need by deploying on-prem, in the cloud, or hybrid, which is where we see most people going. From our point of view, clients are managing a complex environment, and CWS gives us a powerful front end to pick and choose from. As it becomes more and more about apps, it’s a huge advantage to mix in our solutions.”
Lipson said that Citrix Workspace Cloud is well designed to both empower non-IT business users while also allowing more technical people to dive deep.
“One of the nice things here is its division of labor of tasks, in that while it can handle more sophisticated tasks, publishing it is very easy,” he said. “We are seeing a drive to workflows that map to things we see happening in business. We think the way to create deeper workflows is to empower non-programmers, to empower non-IT people to build workspaces. IT thus moves more from being a gatekeeper to being a shopkeeper.”
“I think that’s the future, in that it will give departments the tools they need and let them do the design,” Templeton said. “It will do a lot to embrace what we will call Shadow IT.”
Lipson indicated they expect early adopters will start by connecting existing resources running on-prem to Citrix Workspace Cloud as a management platform , but also noted that their original assumptions about who the early adopters would be had not been fully born out.
“We know that Citrix Workspace Cloud is not quite ready for large multi-tenant service providers, but we thought the early adopters would be the midmarket, 300-3000 person organizations,” he said. “We have been surprised at the number of large enterprises like Textron [the reference customer at the event] who see the value in the management layer. We are learning as we go, but we have seen more enterprise interest than we expected at this stage.”
At some point, CWS will support multi-tenancy, Lipson said.
“It’s just an issue of sequencing and time,” he said. “It is on the roadmap, and we are seeing a lot of enthusiasm from the service providers about us getting there, but we are making no time commitments at this time.”
Ramleth said that while smaller businesses will also be a target market at some point, that point isn’t now either.
“We see the market as the layer of the middle and up in the beginning,” he said. “There are definitely opportunities to go lower in the future, but we don’t see that as our immediate context.”
Lipson also stressed the strong partner opportunities, particularly for MSPs.
“This will not just be a resale thing where partners are just real estate agents,” he said. “We provide the control plane, but partners provide a key role in architecting and running the workspaces if they want to.”
He emphasized the model is not to go direct like Amazon Workspace.
“The philosophy of Citrix has always been going to market with partners,” he said. “We believe our philosophy of letting customers and partners choose how to run their workloads is the superior approach.
General availability of Citrix Workspace Cloud, along with packaging and pricing, is scheduled for Q3.