My thoughts on Citrix Workspace Cloud

This morning Citrix released their skus and pricing on Citrix Workspace Cloud, a true Cloud management layer that can manage apps, data, and even mobile.  I’m not going to dig into pricing on this post.  I’m an end user, not a reseller 🙂  So I want to talk about the strategy in general and where I see CWC being a big hit.  First let’s take a look at the services provided today by CWC:

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Most of the testing I performed was with the Apps and Desktops section so I’m only going to talk briefly about Mobility Management and Secure Documents.  Those two are interesting and if you are into XenMobile or Sharefile I absolutely encourage you to check out the free trials!  But I am here to talk about Apps and Desktops and what you can do with CWC.

 

 

 

So let’s talk about the basics first.  CWC has what they refer to as Resource Locations.  These are places you have set up connectivity back to the CWC infrastructure.  It also includes the demo centers that you have access to within CWC (take advantage of these!).  To connect a resource location to the CWC you use edge servers call Workspace Cloud Connectors that live on your network and handle the management level traffic to and from the CWC to your internal stuff.  Now I say internal, but this could also include a private or public cloud provider location.

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The Workspace Cloud Connector acts as the broker level between the resources you have internally (hosting servers, Storefront, and the VDA communication) and the CWC infrastructure (what would traditionally be your Delivery Controllers).  The Cloud Connectors have a very secure connectivity layer with the CWC and allow you to use AD authentication for your management as opposed to defining admins within the CWC itself.  This is important for a lot of customers who tend not to trust cloud managed services.

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So that’s great… I’ve got my Delivery Controllers in the Cloud!  Woohoo!  So what’s the real benefit?  Well first, you’ve eliminated an infrastructure internally that you must support and maintain.  You’ve eliminated scaling concerns on your DCs, you’ve eliminated SQL issues with your farm, you’ve even eliminated upgrade worries.  So that’s all superb Paul but surely there’s a downside right?

Well, it depends on your point of view.  You’ve eliminated the internal infrastructure for your DCs but you no longer have any direct control over them.  You have eliminated upgrades on the DCs but you still have to upgrade all your other components yourself like the VDA, and that’s where most of the problems tend to occur in the Enterprise.  Also you now have absolutely no control over the upgrade schedule for the CWC components including the Cloud Connectors.  When Citrix decides it’s time to upgrade they push the upgrade.  In an ideal world you wouldn’t ever notice or care but that assumes everything goes correctly.  If Citrix makes a mistake, your infrastructure could be down even if it lives on your prem.

And that’s the rub for most Enterprise customers I’ve talked to.  The lack of control over the upgrade cycle has a lot of them hitting the Pause button.  It’s not like Citrix has never made a mistake :).  Now that said, in my opinion there’s a couple great fits for the technology.

  1. Users who used to love XenDesktop in a box (i.e. the SMB market).  For this group I think CWC is a fantastic solution because it reduces a lot of the infrastructure complexity of a traditional XenDesktop install.
  2. Third party companies who provide managed services.  It’s pretty easy to see where this would allow resellers and partners to more directly manage their customers through the CWC services.

So what do I actually think about the CWC strategy as a whole?  Truthfully, I think it’s a necessary step for Citrix.  From a revenue stream perspective they move directly into Managed Services, giving them a hedge against potentially declining licensing sales.  With VMware beginning to eat into the EUC market and the overall Enterprise trend leaning towards slower growth in the overall EUC market, it’s a great idea to instead have a monthly managed fee.  Vmware realizes the same thing and has their own managed services announced (intentionally of course) in the middle of Synergy.  As Citrix returns to their mission of focusing on what they do best (workspace delivery) I think that CWC will continue to grow in both feature sets and ease of use.  I could see it being adopted even by the Enterprise as it matures assuming some of the existing concerns are addressed.

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One Comment

  • Bharath says:

    I think troubleshooting issues and collecting dumps as necessary alongside Citrix is also going to get tricky.
    Also I think there is an a option to host the storefront servers in the CWC, which is great.

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