One of the most important megatrends impacting IT organizations is the move to fewer, more comprehensive technology platforms for delivering critical components of IT infrastructure. This makes perfect sense, as it frees IT from having to work across multiple vendors and their unique technology silos simply to deploy a key platform or service―saving innumerable hours and resources. Some vendors have finally recognized this demand and are now working more closely together to enable greatly improved efficiency for the IT teams deploying, managing and enhancing these platforms.
An excellent example of this is the partnership between Citrix and Microsoft, two market leaders that have joined to streamline the digital workspace ownership experience for IT. Unlike with many other so-called partnerships, Citrix and Microsoft have committed to a close integration of products, solutions and services. The starting point is Citrix’s intent to become a Microsoft Cloud Service Partner (CSP), but the relationship includes many other benefits for IT teams. The companies are focused on joint development of products, solutions and services; investment in partner expertise; and integrated billing and financial systems to simplify vendor management.
The partnership provides IT teams with a more integrated digital workspace platform, which will go a long way toward reducing silos. Cutting down on the number of unique products or services IT must manage and administer is crucial. Segmented infrastructure or silos are particularly problematic for digital workspaces, since they are among the most dynamic areas of digital technology. Having to “touch” six or seven separate technology products every time there is a change is a waste of IT resources. And digital workspaces change constantly: There is continual churn in the user base, daily user demands for new apps and services, and nonstop security challenges. Integrated security is particularly valuable, as holes in cyber defenses often open at the intersections or interfaces between silos. These vulnerabilities can be mitigated with a comprehensive digital workspace platform―which is what the Citrix-Microsoft partnership delivers.
Among the most attractive aspects of the partnership―and the one that will be noticed most quickly―is customers’ ability to purchase Citrix digital workspace solutions along with current Microsoft 365 licenses when Citrix becomes a Microsoft CSP. IT will no longer need to manage separate contracts or coordinate them. This also makes it possible to deploy digital workspaces more quickly, since there is no need to wait for a financial transaction to occur prior to deployment. This can be a huge benefit when onboarding new workers or dealing with the realities of today’s on-demand workforce for the gig economy. Centralizing purchasing activity will also make it easier to effectively charge back or allocate costs to business units if required.
One of the key digital workspace services provided by Citrix and Microsoft is Windows 10 virtual desktops. The Citrix offering is being developed on Windows Virtual Desktop and is hosted in Azure. This allows organizations to deliver any cloud or virtual application to any device from anywhere with simplified management and full security. The desktop-as-a-service offering includes a number of key features, including secure remote access supported with multifactor authentication, a high-definition user experience, intelligent monitoring and management, and availability of Azure compute and storage resources as needed by remote user devices. The management and deployment tools have been greatly simplified to allow business units to do their own deployments when necessary. Another important benefit is the focus on ensuring appropriate application performance, utilizing Azure resources when necessary.
Meeting the challenge of more effective security is a key element of the partnership as well. This is important, since users and their devices are often the entry point for malware and other malicious attacks. The Citrix digital workspace solution improves security by integrating Citrix Analytics and Azure Intelligent Security Graph as part of the larger Citrix Workspace offering. Combining these two highly effective products provides much greater visibility into user activities and the traffic being generated by users and their apps. Comprehensive traffic visibility is the starting point for threat detection and identification of suspicious activity. Such integration will also give the security analysts who receive threat alerts more information and better context to improve the triage process and support better remediation of actual threats, especially as the number of daily threat alerts continues to grow and the alerts become more difficult to assess. Information from more complete analytics can help counter this overload and enable better identification of risky user behavior and breaches of acceptable-use policies, which can become more common when organizations use seasonal or on-demand workers who may not be fully aware of corporate policy.
One of the more important benefits of the Citrix-Microsoft partnership is an increase in the number of skilled service partners IT teams can work with to deploy digital workspaces, making it simpler to bring in necessary expertise to augment current skills. Such an investment will benefit not only midmarket companies, but also enterprises that want to either focus their resources on other projects or desire extra bandwidth to complete projects faster. It also benefits businesses that need expertise in locations that don’t have a large IT presence.
The Citrix-Microsoft partnership provides the capabilities IT teams need to deploy digital workspaces more quickly, effectively and securely. The partnership also simplifies the vendor relationship for digital workspace solutions, delivering on every stage of the deployment, management and administration processes IT must support. Every midsize to large enterprise will see real benefits from this partnership to deliver best-in-class digital workspace solutions.