Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apps and Desktops and Clouds - Oh My!

A bunch of people have asked me about my new gig with Citrix.  "You're doing VDI and XenApp now? I thought you were a Cloud guy?" Yes, it's true...  and it’s due in part to today's announcements by Citrix about Project Avalon, the explosion of the Mobile Enterprise, and the Path to the Cloud. And it’s about helping corporate IT think and operate more like Service Providers do.

Mobility: A Perfect Use Case for the Cloud

Consider the use case to deliver huge numbers of applications and desktops across hundreds, thousands, or tens-of-thousands of mobile clients – Challenging for IT due to configuration, set-up, monitoring, management, network optimization and scaling.  Doubly challenging when you consider the different topologies of virtual servers, licensing servers, provisioning servers and more, all scaling at different rates to maintain service levels.

What better use-case than to apply a cloud operations model within which to deploy such a solution?

With appropriate cloud management and orchestration, much of the guesswork of infrastructure sizing, machine provisioning and network adjustments can be obviated. Management of heterogeneous apps, VMs and OS’s is a breeze.   Serving-up mobile apps – and even entire virtual desktops – out of a cloud infrastructure is a natural.  And therein lies beauty in this new technology.

A Perfect Technology Next-Step

To accomplish this, Citrix – partnered with customers and Service Providers – is embarking on a 2-stage journey called Project Avalon. This will let enterprises and/or service providers deliver Windows apps and desktops as a true cloud service from private, public and hybrid clouds for users on any device, anywhere.

In the first stage of the journey, the approach to installation, management and monitoring of the base infrastructure for virtual desktops & apps will be massively simplified (Get the Tech Preview here). Also, features such as the visual experience will be extended. Then in the second, this infrastructure will be fitted with the ability (a) to mix-and-match any underlying cloud platform (b) mix-and-match different Citrix and Windows platforms, and (c) integrate with sophisticated management and orchestration to provide scaling, fail-over and cloud platform migration.

Consider the possibilities – the ability to stand-up a complete mobile enterprise solution either on your private cloud, and/or public cloud. Think: CloudStack, Amazon, Azure. Or a combination.

Goal: Help SPs Be More Efficient / Help IT Operate Like an SP

The point of all of this is to deliver mobile desktops and mobile apps from any cloud to any device.  Some Citrix service providers (CSPs) are doing this now and Project Avalon will further simplify their effectiveness to deliver from their public clouds. They’ll be able to stand-up massively scalable mobile desktop and mobile application environments (think 0,000’s and more). This will allow corporate IT – whether SMBs or global enterprises – to source global mobility solutions to any device more effectively than ever before.

For the enterprise wishing to use their own private cloud for mobility services, Project Avalon will permit this too.  In fact, using this new architecture, one could even burst (or fail-over) from a private cloud to a public instance.

Corporate IT has always had what I term “SP envy” that SP’s already run IT like an efficient business and IT would like to be more like them. With Project Avalon, IT really can operate like an SP on an internal cloud. As I’ve said before, the worlds of IT and SPs are merging, and IT will be delivered "as a Service" rather than as an engineered offering. Project Avalon will help accelerate Bringing the Enterprise to the Cloud.

I'm excited to be part of the Citrix family, to be part of this important mix of cloud and mobility, and to help use the cloud paradigm in an applied way: To help people work and play from anywhere.