ORLANDO: Citrix has entered the Internet of Things (IoT) market with Project Octoblu, a combination of cloud-hosted software and hardware as part of a partnership with Amazon.
Citrix chief executive Mark Templeton said at Synergy 2015 in Orlando that Project Octoblu is the result of Citrix's acquisition of machine-to-machine software specialist Octoblu in December 2014.
Templeton explained that the IoT project is about saving time for business workers by automating tedious set-up and log-in requirements needed when people want to use virtualised apps and desktops in or outside the office.
"By using the power of IoT you can automate the workspace so that all the complexities get out of the way so that you can focus on the fast," he said.
"So a doctor can focus on a patient and not log in and [think]: ‘What app do I need? What device do I need?'. From a technology perspective it's IoT, but its purpose is the integration of everything."
Project Octoblu consists of two principal components in the form of software and hardware.
The Octoblu cloud-hosted software platform is designed to manage machine-to-machine interfacing between devices equipped with sensors and wireless connectivity.
The software uses a graphical programming language that enables users to easily create rule-based visual flow designs (pictured above) that govern how devices or apps linked to Octoblu work during certain events.
For example, if a calendar app triggers a meeting Citrix's GoToMeeting video conferencing app will be launched in the meeting room designated in the calendar, in turn automatically switching on the lights in the room and dialling into the conference call.
Octoblu underpins Citrix's Workspace Hub device, a small system-on-a-chip prototype that enables users to carry virtualised workspaces around with them.
The Workspace Hub has VGA and HDMI ports to connect to displays, and contains WiFi and low energy Bluetooth chips. It uses Citrix's Receiver tool to automatically log in to a worker's XenApps and XenDesktop workspaces and connect to surrounding wireless devices like a keyboard and mouse.
The Hub detects automatically when the user is on the move and out of the range of connected devices, and pushes the virtual workspace to a mobile device within seconds.
This automated process allows workers seamlessly to take their workspace with them from location to location without needing to log-in to Receiver and establish connections with the necessary peripherals every time they relocate.
Used in conjunction with the Octoblu platform, the Workspace Hub allows several simple but time-sapping tasks to be carried out automatically, allowing users to concentrate on the tasks they want to carry out.
The final element of Project Octoblu is the partnership with Amazon which sees Citrix using Amazon's Echo voice recognition microphone and speaker system (video above), which connects with the Workspace Hub and the Octoblu platform to enable voice control in automated workspaces.
The video below demonstrates how Project Octoblu works in practice under the pressure of a live keynote demonstration.
Project Octoblu has been designed to create a workspace automation feature which Citrix plans to integrate into its Workspace Cloud launched at Synergy 2015.
Author's view: As a software firm, Citrix is not the first company you would think of to develop IoT hardware and systems, but from what I saw on stage at Synergy 2015 the company is more than up to the task.
The IoT is rapidly becoming a tangible reality rather than just a marketing buzzword for devices with wireless connectivity. With Project Octoblu, I felt that Citrix has demonstrated a simple and elegant take on an IoT platform, which offers a clear and beneficial use case, rather than sales hokum.
Enterprises are increasingly adopting mobility and flexible working, and Citrix is offering a simple platform that removes the hassle and time spent setting up virtual desktops and manually linking wireless devices. It could add a valuable string to the firm's bow.
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