With the recent popularity of cloud-based services in today’s IT world, naturally Citrix has thrown its hat into the ring with Citrix Cloud.  But what is it?  Should you use it?  Here are some of the things you need to know so you can decide if it is the right fit for your company.

What is Citrix Cloud?

Citrix Cloud is a platform that hosts and administers Citrix services.  It connects to your resources through connectors on any cloud or infrastructure you choose (on-premises, public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud).  It allows you to create, manage, and deploy workspaces with apps and data to your end-users from a single console.  Citrix Cloud is comprised of several components, as shown in the diagram below.  You can choose to use (or not use) any of them based on your business requirements.

Citrix Cloud can be leveraged in different ways depending on the solution that best fits your business requirements.

  • Hybrid Deployment – You can use Citrix Cloud to create a hybrid environment with resources both on-premises and hosted in public clouds. This allows you to leverage your existing datacenter hardware while still taking advantage of cloud-based resources as needed.
  • Turnkey Deployment – You can either migrate your entire existing infrastructure or build a new infrastructure in Citrix Cloud and have a fully cloud-based environment. No need for hardware in your datacenter.
  • Customer Deployment – If you are a solution provider, you can use Citrix Cloud to deploy individual isolated environments for your customers.

 

Services overview

Citrix Cloud is comprised of a whole pile of individual services which you can subscribe to (or not) on an A la carte basis.  Some companies may decide to use all of these services, while others may only use a few.  Here is a listing of the available services.

  • Citrix Workspace – Includes XA/XD service, Citrix Endpoint Management Premium service, Citrix Content Collaboration Advanced service, and Citrix Gateway.
  • Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops – Deliver secure access to virtual Windows, Linux, and web apps and desktops. Manage apps and desktops centrally across multiple resource locations while maintaining a great end user experience
  • Secure Browser – Protect the corporate network from browser-based attacks by isolating web browsing activities.
  • Virtual Apps Essentials – Easily and securely deliver Windows apps in the Azure cloud to any device. Available through the Azure Marketplace.
  • Virtual Desktops Essentials – Accelerate Windows Enterprise migration with the power of Citrix Virtual Desktops and Microsoft Azure. Available through the Azure Marketplace.
  • Citrix Endpoint Management – Provide cloud-based, comprehensive enterprise mobility management including MDM and MAM.
  • Citrix Content Collaboration – Provide secure access to files and data from any device, across any infrastructure. Control how and where you store your data while meeting mobility and security needs of employees.
  • Citrix Gateway – Utilize the most secure way to deliver virtual apps and desktops with a cloud-based offering that is simple to deploy and manage.
  • Citrix Web App Firewall – Protect web applications and infrastructure from cyber-attacks using security tools like signatures, blacklisted and whitelisted URLs/applications, and IP reputation.
  • Citrix Application Delivery Management – Gain end-to-end visibility and control of your application infrastructure across multiple clouds. Using application and network data, view summaries and detailed analytics for faster troubleshooting, performance management, and security threat management.

 

Reasons you may want to use it

We all know the word “Cloud” is a very popular term in IT right now.  But when management asks you why you should consider implementing Citrix Cloud, what do you tell them?  Here are some of the benefits.

  • Speed – Citrix services can be rapidly deployed in production in a matter of hours.
  • Upgrades – Upgrades are managed by Citrix, so you’ll always be on the latest version and have access to the newest services.
  • Scalability – Quickly and easily increase (or reduce) capacity as your business requirements change.
  • POCs – Citrix Cloud is a perfect way to deploy a POC for customers looking to potentially adopt Citrix. In addition, the POC can easily be converted to a production environment if successful.
  • Adaptability – You can choose to deploy on any cloud or virtual infrastructure, or a hybrid of both.
  • Security – Citrix uses industry standard TLS 1.2 encryption with the strongest cypher suites. Customers cannot control the TLS certificate in use, as it is hosted on the Citrix-owned cloud.com domain.

 

Reasons you may not want to use it

As with any new technology, Citrix Cloud is not a one size fits all solution.  There are also reasons that it may not be a good fit for your company.  Here are some of those potential reasons.

  • Existing Datacenter Hardware – Most companies out there right now have a significant investment in their on-premise infrastructure. Simply throwing that out in favor of a cloud-based solution doesn’t always make sense.
  • Cost – If someone tells you that moving to Citrix Cloud is going to save you a ton of money, don’t believe it. Nothing comes free when you move to this solution.  Every service, feature, resource, VM, and storage location comes with a price tag.
  • NetScaler Gateway – Functionality for Netscaler Gateway is quite limited compared to an on-premise implementation. This includes limitations related to multi-factor authentication and Storefront load balancing.
  • Minimum License Requirements – The Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop service comes with a minimum requirement of 25 users. This can be an issue for smaller companies.
  • Evergreen – Citrix Cloud components are constantly changing and evolving, and subscribers do not have control over that. The updates applied by Citrix have the potential to affect the user experience, which is not ideal for all organizations.

 

Summary

Citrix Cloud provides customers with a very nice set of features from which customers can choose.  It allows for a great deal of flexibility when it comes to on-premise infrastructures, hybrid configurations, and support for multiple hypervisors including on-prem, Azure, and AWS.  Deployment is fast and relatively simple for new Citrix customers, and Citrix Cloud is a perfect platform for a POC which can easily be moved into production.

There are also downsides to this offering, and it is not a fit for all customers.  Companies that have a significant investment in datacenter hardware may not find Citrix Cloud to be a viable solution.  When evaluating whether Citrix Cloud is a good fit for your company, it is important to weigh the benefits (flexibility, scalability, and security) against the negatives (cost, licensing, and evergreen updates).  If you are considering moving to Citrix Cloud, or building a new environment in Citrix Cloud, I strongly suggest you work with a qualified Citrix partner (like X-Centric) to perform an evaluation of your requirements and map out what makes the most sense for your business.

Stay tuned for my next post on Citrix Cloud, which will cover the technical side of an implementation.  That will include the Citrix Cloud Connector, migration strategies, Azure and AWS integration, hybrid configurations, MCS/PVS, and Netscaler.

 

About the author

Mike Witt is a Microsoft and Citrix certified IT Consultant for X-Centric IT Solutions with over 20 years of experience designing and deploying solutions for clients of all sizes and business types.  He is also certified on Citrix Cloud, holding the CC-VAD-CC and CC-VAD-MA certifications.