Twenty years ago many organisations were looking at the Microsoft and Citrix combination to help them engineer a server back-end that could simplify and streamline sysadmin, extend the life of ageing PCs and start to provide a reasonably efficient, secure desktop service to remote users. Thin client started to drive the use of centralised Office and Outlook – the effective forerunner of early Cloud and SaaS-based hosted desktops. In so doing it laid the ground for subsequent generations of efficient desktop delivery to users – with your choice of on- or off-premises, DIY or managed.
In the two decades that followed though, the desktop star’s seemed to wane, pushed out of the limelight by the emergence of Cloud and every flavour of XaaS, and teased by the arrival of young pretenders – and soon to be proved real deals – in the shape of smartphones and tablets. The landscape has been dominated increasingly by architectures and infrastructures, shaped by the development of public and private Cloud, textured by virtualization, contoured by application development. And the ambition is all about serving up digital transformation on the one hand, and fighting a cyber rearguard with the other.
But the spotlight, at least just for a little while, is back on the desktop as thin client gets reimagined for the Cloud era. Redcentric is launching its next generation VDI solution, Citrix on Azure: it allows us to balance all those familiar Cloud benefits – hyperscale, flexibility, no capex, pay as you use, agility, dynamic provisioning – with Citrix’s Windows delivery capability and our own managed service overlay. For those with the ambition stated above, that’s a powerful combination.
The security, performance and resilience inherent in Citrix on Azure should appeal to any large enterprise – but especially to those operating in highly regulated sectors or otherwise sensitive to confidentiality and continuity issues. Here’s a way for you to keep all proprietary information for your apps, desktops and data under your control; while the innate redundancy of Azure and robust Citrix connectivity ensure ‘anytime, anywhere’ access for users regardless of device.
That’s a good solid foundation on which to build out transformation or modernisation programmes. Last year’s WannaCry attack not only highlighted the vulnerabilities of unpatched PCs on an epic scale but also the worryingly high levels of ‘antique’ systems and software, that made effective patching impossible anyway. For sectors like health, central government, financial and legal in particular, managed Citrix on Azure presents a great opportunity to deliver a modern, secure, high-grade user experience consistently, regardless of location; to switch expensive resource out of Business as Usual desktop management to focus on more valuable work; and to use both the tools and time now available to help drive innovation.
Take a typical large hospital estate and the clinicians within it. The ideal would be for their desktop, that pivotal window into their working world, to accompany them throughout their day, be it served up on a laptop, workstation or even a tablet. What matters is that the experience, the functionality, the personalisation is consistent throughout; that it is securely accessed; that it is safe from compromise; and that it stays up to date and fully optimised. For the clinician, everything should be frictionless, fast and fuss-free; their effectiveness shouldn’t be held to ransom by dated tech that makes everyone vulnerable, not just the PC.
What’s exciting about Citrix on Azure is not so much that it has huge transformational potential about it but more the fact that that potential can be quickly realised. In many places, the frontline is crying out for better service delivery and greater technical capability – and this is one way to get it to them quickly, cost-effectively, and responsibly.
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