Build, connect and extend to the cloud with Citrix Workspace Cloud – Part 1

CWCLogo

In this first blog I’ll share my thoughts on Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC). What exactly is it and what is being solved with CWC? Why and when is it beneficial to organizations? These are the questions I answer in this blog series ‘Build, connect and extend to the cloud with Citrix Workspace Cloud’.

This first part is all about what is being solved with CWC. It’s about the hybrid cloud options with Citrix Workspace Cloud Services. Part 2 of the CWC blog is about the technical perspective. In the near future I’ll go into some details regarding the various CWC services. For now, enjoy reading.

Towards the Hybrid Cloud

Nowadays, many organizations are struggling with all kinds of questions about cloud. If they have a clear understanding about what ‘the cloud’ has to offer (e.g. public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid), they face the question which part of their IT infrastructure is cloud ready. Where to start? Which parts of the IT infrastructure can be moved towards a cloud solution? In some cases, it’s ‘simply’ a strategic (management) decision to enter the world of cloud. Whether it’s a strategic goal or not, organizations still need to explore which parts of their IT infrastructure will suit a cloud solution. Simply migrate an entire IT infrastructure at once isn’t a realistic option. A good start, for example, is Exchange Online (part of Microsoft Office 365). No longer a full blown on-premises Exchange environment is required. Simple sign up, swipe your card and you are good to go. So, before you sign op for any cloud solution at all, get a very good understanding of an IT infrastructure and the relations between the various components.

Since IT roles often are separated within (larger) organizations, getting a clear understanding of relations between all components can be a challenging task. There are the networking guys, the storage guys, the DBA team and the apps and desktops team. Of course there are many other roles defined, but the point is, cloud readiness is also a team assessment.

For instance, the DBA team decides to use a Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution for their databases. At first this looks great. No longer any on-premises resources are required, no longer any physical components need to be managed, so everybody is happy. But what about the middle tier, or the applications used by the end-users. They suddenly experience a decrease in performance and they have a poor User eXperience (UX). During my IT ‘childhood’ I was told to keep data and apps close each other.

Applications running on a desktop PC, accessing data somewhere on the globe doesn’t results in a good UX. That’s why I like centralized (virtualized) desktop concepts. With this concept we are able to keep the application logic close to the data(base) logic.

So if organizations decide to (partially) move to the cloud you need a flexible solution. This can be accomplished by a hybrid solution using both cloud solutions as well as on-premises or a private cloud.

Citrix introduced the option to set up a hybrid environment a while ago. With the introduction of XenApp/XenDesktop version 7 organizations are able to integrate with cloud solutions. Once you have set up an on-premises XenDesktop/XenApp environment you are able to deliver apps and desktops both using on-premises resources as well as cloud resources. Traditionally you can run your workloads on different on-premises platforms like Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. To run your workloads on cloud solutions you get to choose from Citrix CloudPlatform, Microsoft Azure and Amazon EC2. This enables the option to create a hybrid solution for your workloads. A school, for example. Students are offered apps and desktops from cloud resources while the employees work on an on-premises environment due to rules and regulations. In this set up the XenApp/XenDesktop core components like the Controller, Licensing, SQL, StoreFront, NetScaler are deployed on-premises / in the private cloud. To accommodate these core components VM’s are in place, installed, configured and maintained.

Citrix Workspace Cloud

But what about the other way around? What if your organization made the strategic choice for a ‘cloud first’ strategy? That’s where Citrix Workspace Cloud kicks in!

With Citrix Workspace Cloud, abbreviated CWC, you’re able to move your Citrix core components to the cloud. CWC was introduced at Citrix Summit 2015 and shortly after a public demo became available. In August 2015 CWC became general available (GA). For those familiar with the Citrix projects names, project Avalon, Excalibur and Merlin are all merged into this great new Citrix solution.

The core of CWC is the control plane. This is the management platform that integrates the different Citrix technologies into one management dashboard. The concept of a control plane is recognizable for those working with ShareFile. With ShareFile there is always the control plane (yourdomain.ShareFile.com/.eu) providing access to the ‘tenant’ domain space.

The CWC Control Plane takes care of the following tasks:

  • Workspace Cloud Control Center;
  • Single Sign-On and Trust Management;
  • Account Management;
  • Workspace Cloud Connector;
  • Delegated Administration.

The CWC control plane provides access towards the various services. Per service different packages are available. With CWC four services are available:

CWCServices

Let’s have a closer look at these four services.

Lifecycle Management

With Citrix Lifecycle Management (CLM) you are able to to simplify and quickly design, deploy and manage Citrix environments. CLM is all about blueprints for Citrix products. You are able to create your own blueprint to satisfy all your needs, or you simply choose an existing one from the ‘Blueprint Catalog’. This catalog contains preconfigured blueprints for Citrix solutions such as XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile and NetScaler. Besides these blueprints a lot of Citrix Ready partners also provide their blueprints e.g.: Lakeside, Comtrade, Xangati, eG Innovations and Golith IT Analytics. There are also Community Blueprints from Atlantis, XenAppBlog, Login VSI, Nutanix and AppSense available. In fact, if you have a blueprint of your own you can choose to make it publicly available as well.

Once you have a blueprint that satisfies your needs you can deploy it to your resource location (In my next blog I’ll go into some details regarding these resource locations). Once your environment is set up and promoted to production you use CLM for managing and upgrading as well.

So bottom-line CLM enables organizations on simplify design and deployments processes as well as maintaining them.

Applications and Desktop Services

The Applications and Desktops Services, in short Apps and Desktops is basically a Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop environment. Delivering published applications and desktops in a secure manner is probably the most recognizable service in CWC. The benefit of CWC is its flexibility. You are able to set up multiple resource locations and tie them all together. For an environment with multiple geographical locations (multi zone) this is extremely beneficial. Nevertheless, Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop offers this option since version 7.7.

The most important part of CWC Apps and Desktops is the fact organizations no longer need to look after their XenApp/XenDesktop core components. Don’t worry about the SQL instance and its availability just focus on the important part, the workloads.

CWC with Apps and Desktops is a great example how organizations are able to start their transition towards the cloud. Delivering workloads from any cloud to any place and any device.

In my next blog I’ll describe the details of setting up a Apps and Desktop Services. I’ll explain the installation and configuration of an Apps and Desktops Services Resource Location. Keep an eye on this blog site.

Mobility Services

The Mobility Services is all about Citrix XenMobile Cloud, which is available since the acquisition of ZenPrice. Originally ZenPrice as well as ShareFile are cloud-based solutions. As response to market requirements on-premises solutions became available. Citrix XenMobile today is both available as a cloud-based and an on-premises version.

With Mobility Services you won’t be setting up your on-premises XenMobile appliance. You are always on the latest release just enjoying what XenMobile has to offer to all your mobile devices.

Secure Documents Services

Secure Documents Services contains Citrix ShareFile; providing secure access to corporate data and synchronization of data between various devices. Citrix ShareFile was founded in November 2005 by Jesse Lipson, who has a key role at Citrix today. In October 2011 Citrix acquired ShareFile and quickly started the integration with other Citrix products. Today Citrix ShareFile fully integrates with XenMobile and offers options for file sync in a stateless desktop environment (on-demand sync).

Since ShareFile is a SaaS solution with the ability to connect with on-premises data resources (Customer manages StorageZones) is an easy fit with CWC.

Final Thoughts…

To conclude this very first blog I think Citrix Workspace Cloud is a good fit for those ‘cloud curious’ out there. It paves a path towards a hybrid cloud environment. It delivers four Citrix core products in a easy to deploy and maintain solution.

Next week I’ll describe some Citrix Workspace Cloud technical details, don’t miss it.

 

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Comments (1)

  • Frank

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    nice post, looking forward for the followups.

    Reply

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