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Cloud computing is many things to many people. For some, it’s a means of sharing or storing files, and for others, it’s assisted with simplifying work and boosting efficiency. Such is the goal of the Workspace Cloud platform, Citrix’s latest offering for its enterprise partners.

Workspace Cloud provides value to businesses through its ability to establish and simplify the on-demand delivery of IT services and tools. As new applications, devices and work styles create challenges for the traditional workplace infrastructure, Workspace Cloud ties these elements together in an environment where various types of apps, documents and collaboration can be accessed from any desktop or mobile device.

Michael Murphy, vice president and general manager of Citrix Canada, spoke to IT in Canada about the development of this product, and why offices are becoming more cloud-reliant.

IT in Canada: What led to the development of the Workspace Cloud?
Murphy:
There were a couple of things that led to it. We have been doing this for a while from an on-premises perspective, meaning customers were consuming virtual apps and desktops, and that’s what Citrix has been in business for over the past 25 years.

The Workspace Cloud is really an evolution of how customers want to consume, and how businesses want to deploy these mobile workspaces to their employees or their customers. (We took) something we managed and orchestrated on-premises and made it available in a new delivery paradigm.

By moving the capabilities of delivery, orchestration and management to the cloud so that customers could either utilize or manage it themselves, (we created) a good opportunity for third parties, outsourcers and hosters to stand up a cloud environment and provide similar mobile workspace systems back to customers subscribing to their service.

ITIC: Why is now the time for a product like this?
MM:
It’s the natural evolution of how customers want technology and apps and get access to data. Now is the time where customers are looking for alternative ways to better manage their environment, and at the same time, reduce their costs.

As an example, traditionally in the software world, customers bought software and paid for it in perpetuity, meaning that they bought licenses that were perpetual in nature. That usually involved an initial capital investment, and an ongoing operating expense.

What the cloud offers is an ability for people to consume the same software and hardware, but consume it on a utility- or subscription-based model. That allows them to pay for similar services on a monthly or annual (scale), but out of an operating budget versus a capital budget because the capital budget might be consumed by a third party, or whoever is hosting it on the cloud.

It’s very analogous to how we are consuming things in our personal lives. A lot of people aren’t consuming (cloud) in the same way they consumed cable and satellite services in the past; they’re consuming it on demand based on a subscription-based model.

ITIC: Why is the workplace becoming more cloud-reliant?
MM:
There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s the cost or reallocation of financial assets into other areas of investment within the business. Second, it’s the flexibility and the ability to move, adapt and be more nimble from a competitive (standpoint).

If you think about it, in our daily lives, we would never think of creating our own hydroelectric stations for our houses, or our own telephone or cable system. Some people might be able to afford that, but the cost of doing it doesn’t allow you to be malleable or switch from service to service or consume it on a consumption- or utility-based model.

Companies who used to build their own are now seeing great benefit in not owning the technology, the bits and bytes and the underlying infrastructure any longer. They own the process and the delivery requirement, but it’s easier and frankly more cost-effective if they consume it on a utility-based model and let an outside source or third party own it.

Even if they do choose to own it, they tend to not want to buy it; they tend to want to rent it or lease it. This is a generational thing we’re seeing. No one wants to own things anymore; they want to rent and consume on a monthly basis.

ITIC: How does the Workspace Cloud help IT to create secure mobile workspaces?
MM:
It allows them to create some flexibility in different workloads, so it’s not cloud agnostic or cloud independent. Workspace Cloud is really an orchestration capability, almost like a control panel, that allows for the aggregation, management and simplification of all of these mobile workspace entities (such as) apps, virtual apps, desktops and data.

Workspace Cloud allows IT to be more flexible and dynamic because it’s not dependent on the underlying architecture. Companies can consume a Microsoft cloud from Azure, Amazon Web Services, or even a third-party cloud that may be stood up by one of the (telecom companies) or provided in Canada.

It also allows IT to spend more time on the user experience and the delivery of apps and desktops for mobile workspaces. I believe it allows them more time to spend building security in at the user experience or delivery level, and not having to worry about the underlying bits, bytes and technology that hosts it, stores it and brokers it.

ITIC: What are the long-term goals for Workspace Cloud?
MM:
Almost everything we do today, or where we’re getting to as industry is software-defined. You often hear terms like software-defined networking or software-defined storage, and if you think about what that means, a lot of the complexity is getting buried further and further down the stack.

What IT departments, companies and end users are benefiting from is that software is there to abstract or hide all of the complexity below, and what people are consuming today and how they are consuming it is managed in software. This is easier and more nimble and dynamic, and it also allows more to happen.

I think the evolution of Workspace Cloud will continue to add more software capability around end user experience and further abstract the complexity that lies beneath the network, the servers and the storage. All of the things that need to be woven together get further and further abstracted from the IT department and the end user.

The hope is that Workspace Cloud not only simplifies the experience, but also simplifies the consumption of what people really want. They want access to applications and data from any device or any network at any time.

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