Citrix has officially made Workspace Cloud available. It is the offering that will allow enterprises and service providers to host applications, desktops, mobile, and data as services.
At Synergy 2014, announcements related to Workspace Cloud were made in Los Angeles, but there was little discussion as to the details. At Synergy 2015, a general preview of Workspace Cloud was provided, along with a “coming soon” statement. Today, it is reality.
A key benefit of Workspace Cloud is maintenance—or lack thereof. Citrix handles the maintenance and application of updates to the cloud infrastructure, which is often a headache for IT staff. This feature alone may be a major enticement to move to Workspace Cloud.
Citrix Workspace Cloud can be used to deploy a complete Citrix environment consisting of XenDesktop/XenApp, XenMobile, ShareFile, and more, or it can be used to extend an existing infrastructure. Example use cases of the latter include disaster recovery and peak usage.
How will enterprises and service providers use Citrix Workspace Cloud? Initially, disaster recovery and seasonal use will likely be the most appealing for early adopters. For example, a retailer may wish to extend its Citrix infrastructure during the holiday season in order to accommodate temporary call center agents taking orders.
Similarly, disaster recovery is an appealing use for Citrix Workspace Cloud. Rather than maintain duplicate resources in a remote data center, failover to the Citrix Workspace Cloud can enable people to keep accessing their applications and desktops without interruption. In addition to the productivity gains, the cost and maintenance of redundancy are significantly reduced.
How does extension work? By installing what is called the Workspace Cloud Connector on a domain controller within the enterprise, the existing infrastructure is extended to the Citrix cloud. Will adding a component that extends Active Directory, the heart and soul of every IT infrastructure, be allowed by operations teams? That will be a key question that may determine the success of Workspace Cloud for these use cases.
Alternatively, an organization can host all of its Citrix infrastructure within Citrix Workspace Cloud. This can be managed either by the enterprise administrators or a Citrix partner.
In all cases, one caveat is that there is a minimum billing of 100 users. That minimum requirement may be a cause of contention between Citrix Service Providers and partners hosting Citrix Workspace Cloud. While many service providers have based their livelihood on addressing the application or desktop requirements of small businesses with fewer than 100 users, there is increased interest in the market for businesses with over 100 users. These small- to medium-sized businesses now have another service provider option for accessing these services. If each provides vanilla offerings, this will heat up competition and perhaps drive down prices and profitability. However, it’s likely that this will force providers to append value-add capabilities in order to create distinction and exclusivity.
Why did Citrix create Workspace Cloud? It had to do it. Microsoft has its cloud offering. VMware has its cloud offering. If Citrix wanted to maintain its place in the virtualization marketplace, it was absolutely necessary to create this offering. Even if some hosted Citrix Service Providers are unhappy with Citrix’s competing in their space, Citrix not only had to do this, but must do it well. Give it a try!