One of the key elements of digital transformation is aligning core, cloud, and edge computing using the latest architectures and efficiencies. Yet new levels of simplicity are needed to satisfy all the requirements for both end users and IT operators.
The next BriefingsDirect IT solutions ecosystem profile interview examines how Citrix and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) are specifically aligned to help bring such digital transformation benefits to a broad, global market.
To learn more about the venerable and always-innovative Citrix-HPE partnership, BriefingsDirect sat down withexecutives Jim Luna, Senior Director for Global Alliances at Citrix, and Jeff Carlat, Senior Director of Global Alliances at HPE. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Jim, what trends are driving the need for more innovation around mobile workspaces?
Luna: As customers embark through digital transformation they still need to access their apps, data, and desktops from anywhere. With the advent of 5G wireless, and new network connectivity, we need to allow customers to be able to get their data and apps from any device as well. So we see a transformation in the marketplace.
Carlat: We are also looking at a new workforce coming in, the millennials, and they realize the traditional way of going to your job is totally being changed. To be able to be at work anytime, anyplace, anywhere -- and removing the barriers of where work is – that is driving us to co-innovate. We are delivering solutions that allow the freedom to be more efficient anywhere.
Gardner: There’s a chicken-and-egg relationship. On one hand, the core, cloud, and edge can work in tandem to allow for safe, secure, and compliant data and applications sharing activities. And that encourages people to change their work behaviors, to become more productive. It’s hard to decide, which is leading which?
Work anywhere, anytime, any device
Luna: Traditionally, people had a desktop with applications, and they wanted that particular image replicated throughout their environment. But with the advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that are web-delivered, they now need more of a management workspace, if you will, that allows them to work with any type of application -- whether it’s being delivered locally, on-premises, or through a cloud-based SaaS application. Delivering a unified workspace anywhere becomes critical for them.
Carlat: We also have requirements around security -- increasing the security of data and personal files. This forces us to work together, to take that workspace but not have it sitting in a vulnerable laptop left in a Starbucks. Instead that desktop sits back in the comfort and safety of a locked-up data center.
Luna: People want a simple experience. They don’t want a complicated experience as they access their apps and data. So, simplicity becomes key. User experience (UX) becomes key. And choice becomes key as well.
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Carlat: On expectations of simplicity and UX, if I find it hard to log-in to SharePoint I may just give up and say, Well, I’m not going to be using those services. It’s so easy to just move to the next item on your list.
Like I said, with millennials, that’s the expectation. It’s a mandatory requirement. If we can’t deliver that ease of experience to them, others will.
Gardner: User expectations are higher. They want flexibility. They want to be more productive anywhere. We know the technologies are available to accomplish this.
What’s holding back organizations from executing? How are Citrix and HPE together forming a whole greater than the sum of the parts to help businesses execute on this vision?
Collaborate to simplify
Luna: Traditionally it’s been the complexity of the deployment of the architecture -- both on the hardware side, as well as on the software side. The things that we are doing together are simplifying that process from a deployment perspective, from a manageability perspective, from a support perspective, as well as the other features of experience, security, and choice.
We are working to simplify the experience -- not just in terms of managing and deploying, but also to make sure that that end-user experience is simplified as well.
Gardner: Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been around for some time, but earlier there were issues around network capacity, and certain media formats lagged. These performance issues have been largely put to rest. How does that factor into accelerating mobile workspaces adoption?
Carlat: In the 22 years of my IT experience at Compaq and HPE, I’ve seen the processor compute power increase significantly. The network, storage, and other inhibitors, from a technology standpoint, are pretty much gone now.
It moves the problem away from the infrastructure to the complexity issue. How do you unleash that potential in a manner that is easy to consume. That’s the next level.
Luna: One of the other things our partnership allows is more choice. With HPE infrastructure, we have a variety of different choices available to customers, according to their unique requirements. There is now choice in terms of the architecture that better suits their deployment requirements.
Gardner: We’ve heard about hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) helping people on deployments. We’ve heard about appliance models. Are these part of that new choice?
Carlat: Yes, that’s why we have come together. We are delivering workspace appliances with Citrix on top of our HPE SimpliVity HCI portfolio.
Not only is a customer going to capture the benefits of everything that’s gone into our SimpliVity HCI platform, but we marry it with the world that Citrix provides for VDI, virtual applications, and mobile desktops.
Luna: On one hand, we’re making it easier for established customers to manage their Citrix environments through a simplified management plane with Citrix Cloud Services. But by having the security of that data sitting locally on a SimpliVity appliance -- that’s really good for customers in terms of data governance, data control, and data security.
But there are other architectures for other segments, like in the financial services industry, where we have trader workstations that provide multi-monitor support and high graphics capabilities. So, choice is key.
By having the security of the data sitting locally on an HPE SimpliVity appliance -- that's good for customers in terms of governance, data control, and data security.
Carlat: Yes, as these traders are executing trades, any latency is going to eliminate your technology from being used. So there are very, very strict in requirements around latency or performance, as well as security. There are also benefits on total cost, space, and being able to deliver a very rich media environment. Sometimes it’s upward of six monitors, they have to be patched into this, too.
Through the capabilities we have coming together – of bridging our leading infrastructure with the Citrix portfolio -- it makes a magical combination that can be easily deployed, and it just works.
Gardner: As I mentioned, we want to provide more simplicity for IT operators. One of the things that Citrix has been working out for years is intelligent network capabilities. How Citrix is addressing simplicity around these requirements?
Luna: Citrix is moving to a cloud service model where these technologies are available through a cloud-control plane, whether that’s VDI, or gateway-as-a-service, or a load-balancer-as-a-service. All of those things can be provisioned from a central plane, on-premises or on a customer’s device. And those are solutions we can deliver whether it is on a standard HPE ProLiant DL380 server, or whether it’s SimpliVity HCI, or whether that’s on HPE Moonshot or a Synergy composable infrastructure environment. Those architectures simply can be delivered and managed through a cloud service onto HPE infrastructures.
Gardner: We’ve also been hearing about complexity of hybrid IT models. Not only we are asking folks to implement things like VDI in workspaces, but now they have to make choices about private, public cloud, or some combination.
How does the Citrix and HPE alliance help manage the gap between public and private cloud?
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Carlat: We are aligned, HPE and Citrix, in our view of how IT and consumers are going to bridge and use public cloud resources. We believe there is a right mix, a hybrid approach, where you are going to have both on-premises and the cloud.
At HPE we have several tools to help the brokering of applications between on-premises to off-premises. And we provide that flexibility and choice in an agnostic manner.
Luna: We’ve recognized that the world is a hybrid cloud world. The public cloud has a lot more complexity due to the number and choice of public cloud providers. So we are not only driving hybrid cloud solutions -- we also have value-added services such as HPE Pointnext that allows customers to incrementally define their architecture, better deploy that architecture, and better manage those services to allow for a better customer experience overall.
Gardner: We are also thinking nowadays about the edge for many kinds of devices, such as sensors on a factory floor. Is this an area where the alliance between Citrix and HPE can be brought to bear? How does the Internet of things (IoT) relate to what you do?
Explosion at the edge
Carlat: We see exploding growth at the edge. And we define the edge as anything not in the data center. Increasingly more-and-more of the analytics and the insights will be derived at the edge. We are already doing a lot with Citrix.
A major financial institution with hundreds of thousands of clients is using the edge and our HPE and Citrix technologies together. This market is only going to grow -- and the requirements increase from scalability to usability.
The edge can also be grimy; it can be a very difficult physical environment. We take all of that into account across the whole solution stack to ensure that we are providing the expected experience.
Luna: Performance is key. As we look at the core to edge, we have a distributed model that allows for data to stay as close as possible to that end-customer -- and therefore provide the best performance and experience. And the best analytics.
We must consider, can we grab the data necessary that’s being accessed at that particular endpoint and transmit that data back? Can we provide telemetry to the customer for managing that environment and making that environment even better for the customer?
In our case, the Citrix Analytics Service is part of our offering. To pull that data and serve that up to the customer in a manner that they are able to manage in that environment is a plus.
Analytics offer insight
Gardner: Analytics certainly becomes an important requirement. We have analytics at the edge; we have analytics in the cloud. We are not just talking about delivering apps; we are talking about first managing data -- and then taking that data and making it actionable. How does the data and the data analysis factor into what you are doing?
Carlat: Increasingly we see the shift to a consumption-based delivery of IT. Our HPE GreenLake services provide capabilities for customers to not be mired in maintaining and monitoring all the infrastructure -- but actually just consume it on an as-needed basis. So that’s a one-key element.
Luna: Citrix is coming out with a Citrix Analytics Service, and we started that with VDI. But now that is expanding across the entire set of product portfolios from ShareFile, to NetScaler, Gateways, Load Balancers, et cetera. The idea is to unify all that data so that it is seamless to the customer. Now, that combines with all the analytics data coming out of the infrastructure to provide the customer with a one-pane-of-glass view.
It all comes down to taking advantage of the technology and progress we have made together to deliver insights and business benefits without jacking up the complexity that acts as a barrier to adoption.
Carlat: Using the data and analytics allow you to derive insights, and more accurate insights. We want to give a competitive leg up to our customers, clients, and partners. Those who have a leg up win more, make more money, are more efficient, and have happier clients. Therefore it all comes down to taking advantage, if you will, of the technology and the progress we have and pushing the edge of that envelope, bringing it into a package that delivers insights and business benefit without jacking up the complexity that makes it be a barrier to adoption.
Luna: You’re really empowering the customer to have better knowledge about their environment. And with better knowledge comes better performance in their manageability overall.
Gardner: Where are organizations leveraging the HPE-Citrix alliance in such a way that we can point to them and say, this is how it works?
Real-world success stories
Carlat: One example is in engineering design. Imagine the amount of horsepower it takes in workstations to do computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). There’s solids modeling and major computational design elements. To purchase the infrastructure and have it at your desk can be quite expensive, and it can increase security risk.
Citrix and HPE have offerings, combined with our Edgeline and HCI systems, that provide the right experience, and really rich graphics and content. And we are able to provide that securely, with the data contained in a structured environment.
Luna: Another segment is healthcare. Because of HIPAA regulations, Citrix VDI is consumed in many healthcare organizations today, whether it’s large hospitals or clinics. That’s one of the environments where we see an opportunity to deliver on the power of both HPE and Citrix, by allowing that data to be secured and managed centrally yet providing the performance and the access on any device -- whether it’s the patient room, or the doctor’s clinic, or anywhere.
Gardner: Let’s look to the future. As we seek to head off complexity, how will HPE OneSphere bolster your alliance?
Trusted together over time
Luna: We are always looking at innovating together. We are looking at the possibilities for joint work and development. HPE OneSphere presents an opportunity where we provide a single pane of glass view of customers as they look to deploy Citrix workloads. That could be through a central management plane, like OneSphere, or going onto a public cloud and being able to compare pricing and workloads.
It can also be about managing a hybrid cloud through HPE infrastructure, and managing all of that seamlessly, whether it’s in a private-hybrid cloud environment or through a public cloud and providing analytics. So we are continuing to look at those solutions that provide innovation for our customers.
Gardner: Jeff it seems that the opportunity to manage a multi-cloud world is certainly an attractive opportunity for you going out to alliance partners like Citrix.
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Carlat: Yes, exactly. That’s an expectation of what consumers will be moving to in the future. It’s not a one-stop shop. We need to be agnostic. To me, HPE and Citrix are totally aligned to where we see the future going with regards to hybrid cloud. And by first having that commonality of strategy and vision, it just makes is easy to snap our stuff together and create these solutions that are delighting our customers.
Luna: I think at the end of the day our mission is to make Citrix hybrid cloud as best as possible on HPE gear and infrastructure, and that’s what we aim to deliver for our customers.
Gardner: And I suppose it’s important for us to point out that this isn’t a Johnny-come-lately relationship. You have been working together for some time. A great deal of the installed base for Citrix is on HPE kit.
Carlat: Yes, our relationship is built on 22 years of history between us. We’ve been blessed by customers desiring to land their infrastructure on HPE.
A large portion of Citrix customers run today on HPE. That's a testament to the trust and collaboration within the partnership. It's been a good partnership.
We have an installed base out there of customers who have chosen us in the past and continue to use us. For those customers, we want to provide them a seamless transformation to a new generation of architectures. The natural evolution is there for us to harvest, we just have to do it in ways that meet expectations around usability and experience.
Luna: A large portion of our customers today run their Citrix VDI environments on HPE infrastructure. That’s just a testament to the trust and the collaboration within the partnership. We have had innovation together over the years. That’s been collaboration between our teams, as well the leadership, in bringing new platforms and new solutions out to the marketplace. It’s been a good partnership.