Citrix has outlined its strategy to help organisations move towards a more service-oriented approach to delivering IT, borrowing from the web rather than traditional enterprise infrastructure.
The firm also announced technical previews of several products, including its Dazzle enterprise storefront, XenClient virtualisation for laptops and a virtual Netscaler appliance.
Citrix chief executive Mark Templeton said at the company's iForum event in Edinburgh that the "consumerisation" of IT is the way forward, and that companies need to move towards a self-service model for staff to access services.
The future will see more capabilities in the datacentre, and IT will be delivered as on-demand services, according to Templeton. He compared current IT infrastructures with the simplicity of TV services, where there is a controlling back-end infrastructure, delivery network and a receiver.
"This is the kind of model that would be great if we can get to it with enterprise computing. It's how we see enterprise architecture evolving," he said.
Under this view, Citrix's Receiver software becomes a universal client: a single piece of software for accessing any service that needs to be delivered.
"It's not unlike Flash; you can download it easily onto any PC-like device, and no user configuration is needed apart from supplying your credentials," he said.
Another key piece of the puzzle is Dazzle, now available as a technical preview. Described as an apps store for enterprise services, Dazzle is designed to let users easily subscribe to the corporate applications they need via a web browser.
Templeton demonstrated how a user could provision their own PC by simply sele cting the applications they require, which are then delivered by XenApp. The applications are streamed down to the system or delivered through a server-hosted session, as appropriate.
"If you know how to use iTunes, you already know how to use Dazzle," he said.
Templeton also demonstrated a Citrix Receiver client for Apple's iPhone, enabling smartphone users to access applications using Dazzle. The iPhone client is available now, with versions for Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android promised for later this year.
"We want to provide one cross-platform client to deliver access to all applications and services," he said.
Citrix also announced a technical preview of XenClient, its laptop virtualisation platform, coming in the second half of 2009. Announced in January, this lets firms deliver a centrally managed virtual machine that is isolated from any personal version of Windows the user might have on the same machine.
Ian Pratt, Citrix vice president of advanced virtualisation products, said that XenClient lets the IT department create a desktop image in the datacentre and synchronise it down to devices subscribed to receive it.
"You can apply policy to make sure the virtual machine is encrypted, issue a 'kill pill' if the laptop is stolen, and define whether users can use USB memory sticks or not," he said.
Pratt demonstrated how applications running in the corporate virtual machine can be published so they appear on the display of the home version of Windows, saving the user from switching between the two virtual machines.
Also available now is a technical preview is NetScaler VPX, a virtual instance of Citrix's NetScaler appliance for optimising web application delivery.
While a NetScaler MPX appliance would be "overkill for some applications", according to Citrix, a virtual instance can be used to accelerate almost any application, regardless of size. Citrix suggested it could be deployed on serv ers alongside applications, along with policies to optimise delivery.
All these technologies are part of Citrix's strategy of moving towards a self-service IT model, according to Templeton.
"Instead of deploying, firms can offer new capabilities and let users choose them. It's about getting to a new economic model of 'build once, deliver anywhere'," he said.
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