Many IT organizations have historically struggled with providing access to both commercial and custom applications under a single pane of glass. Achieving that goal typically required making investments in a broad range of backend services and client software that continues to be expensive to deploy and challenging to manage.
At the Citrix Synergy conference this week, Citrix tried to walk a fine line between promising to simplify that process while continuing to provide a steady stream of updates to its core technologies. Recent actions include the release of an update to its XenApp and XenDesktop offering that adds simpler authentication, new monitoring and configuration tools, support for Intel graphics, and more advanced printing capabilities.
Citrix has also unveiled a deeper partnership with Microsoft under which the two companies will extend their existing relationship to include tighter integration between Microsoft Office 365 and the Citrix ShareFile Cloud service, deployment of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) services using Citrix technologies on the Microsoft Azure cloud and integration with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) software.
Finally, Citrix also unveiled enhancements to its NetScaler portfolio of application delivery controllers that include an instance that can be deployed as software on top of a Docker container, a new instance that is being positioned as a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and a higher performance enterprise edition.
Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov notes that the Cloud Service suite that Citrix created to bundle XenApp and XenDesktop, XenMoble, NetScaler and ShareFile is now the fastest growing way IT organizations are consuming Citrix products and services. In addition, Tatarinov says Citrix is committed to further consolidating its client software as part of an ongoing effort that started with combining XenApp and XenDesktop into a single offering in a way that will eventually be applied to XenMobile.
Collectively, Tatarinov says, those technologies will go a long way toward closing a productivity gap that has emerged due in part to the complexity of IT. While Tatarinov acknowledges that the root causes of the recent decline in productivity are still not well understood, it is estimated to have created a $2.7 trillion drain on the global economy.
To address that issue, Citrix is trying to position its offering as a group of elements of a larger workspace-as-a-service (WaaS) environment that can be federated across public clouds and an on premise computing environment to make accessing distributed applications running in those environments a seamless experience for end users.
At a time when it is in the middle of spinning off its GoToMeeting business unit, the challenges Citrix faces are manifold. Virtual desktops of any type continue to be a small percentage of the overall desktop computing environment. Citrix is looking to expand its reach by becoming a provider of a WaaS environment. But there is no shortage of WaaS competitors. Citrix, however, is betting that most WaaS environments will be built around custom workflows created by internal IT organizations that are designed to better combine desktop virtualization and ADC technologies that make it simpler to deliver commercial and custom applications to any type of client device.
At the moment, Citrix claims there are 50 million active users of its software and services. The degree to which Citrix can transform that into a mandate for addressing changing workflow requirements in the age of the cloud remains to be seen. But just about everything in the way people do work is going through a profound set of changes, the impact of which are still not very well understood or appreciated.