Citrix Takes Big Leaps Forward with Digital Workspace Delivery

There are very few companies in technology who truly understand that "consumers" and workers are the same *people*. Citrix is one of them. Consumers are consumers because they have jobs, and they get out of bed in the morning to go to a place where they earn money in exchange for their time and work to further their employers' objectives. It really is that simple. Yet most tech companies pay lip service to "consumers" while they target most of their resources on the stated needs of enterprise IT, and the implications of this abstraction are profound.
 
Citrix lives for achieving the conflicting goals of employee freedom and IT comfort
I believe Citrix understands this and while their POs usually come from enterprise IT, their vision and purpose as a business are to meet the needs of workers in their daily lives. But how? For one thing, this is a business where nuances are important. Precisely where technology providers draw lines between employee needs and IT needs determines whether employees will embrace it or reject it, but we also believe it goes much further. When a person reaches an artificial barrier, or seemingly arbitrary "policy" gets in the way of what they see as their good, honest attempt to get hard work done, their next thought might just be: How stupid do they think I am? Don't they trust me? And so goes the path of building frustration and draining trust out of the organization as a direct result of poor workforce computing strategy and choices, followed by enormous time and energy spent getting around the barriers.
 
CEO Mark Templeton describes what exceptional IT leadership looks like
This understanding is evident here in Anaheim, California this week as Citrix is enjoying its largest Synergy event ever, and I'm more convinced than ever as to why this is the case. Mark Templeton, Citrix's CEO, hosted an analyst Q&A session on Wednesday and I had the chance to ask him a singular question: What does exceptional enterprise IT leadership look like? It's not often we get to see a CEO taken off his feet for a minute - especially because analysts have a well-earned reputation inciting controversy - but what followed was illuminating, and an insight into the kind of leader Mark Templeton is for his organization and for Citrix's customers. Here's what he said (paraphrased for simplicity):
 
  • Truth. The best IT leaders he knows, including Bechtel's CIO Geir Ramleth (inducted into the CIO hall of fame in 2008), relentlessly pursue the truth. They don't get buried by it, they embrace it.
  • Courage. The energy and drive to overcome inertia and the status quo, and keep people moving toward where things are going rather than where they've been.
  • Recognize what's important. What's important doesn't come from a spreadsheet, it comes from understanding people and what will help them do their best work.
Bravo! This ethos aligns well with Forrester's Workforce Enablement Playbook, and it comes out clearly in Citrix's investment priorities and in what was announced at the keynote on Tuesday morning.
 
My favorite announcements:
 
  • Mobile device experiences continue to improve. Examples: H.264 compression for HDX for more efficient use of mobile network bandwidth, new tools that allow firms to "mobilize" the interfaces of Windows browser-based and client-server apps sitting behind the corporate firewall, and new 'sandboxed' apps for basic services like e-mail, calendar, secure browsing, contacts, and document sharing.
  • High-end advanced engineering and design use cases get a significant boost. NVIDIA and Citrix are working to apply GPU parallel computing technologies to hosted virtual desktop (VDI) environments. Why do we care? Because laptops and desktops all have GPUs, and most VDI environments do not, so the Windows Experience Index can be well below a conventional laptop or desktop with conventional non-GPU VDI, but near the top end of the range with a vGPU. This improvement makes VDI a more viable solution for engineering and design, and virtualizing the GPU makes it more cost effective. A CAD project can be hundreds of megabytes in size and require a high-end workstation for fast rendering performance. There may be multiple engineers working on different aspects of the design as well, so VDI offers unique advantages for collaboration and work portability. We also think that this technology will eventually become standard equipment for all VDI deployments because it will allow higher density while improving latency and overall performance.
  • Citrix takes big step forward for BYO Mac. The Desktop Player solution gives Citrix a Type 2 client hypervisor for the Mac for the first time, and combines it with the former NxTop image synchronizer acquired with Virtual Computer in 2012. This means that IT can deploy and manage a complete, self-contained, standardized corporate Windows desktop image that runs on top of the MacOS. This is great for BYOD scenarios because IT only has to worry about the virtual image, employees can gain access to systems of record on the network, and sensitive data is encrypted at rest and sealed in the VM by policies managed by IT. Employees can still work locally on the MacOS with the apps they love, and use the Windows VM when they need access to systems of record on the company network, or need to work with company-provded apps offline or online. Meanwhile IT can update and manage all Desktop Player images centrally.
What it Means:
Forrester believes that Citrix now has the most complete portfolio in the industry for delivering Digital Workspace Experiences on the widest range of devices and operating systems, and is ideally positioned to support BYOD initiatives while achieving the conflicting goals of improving both employee freedom and IT comfort.