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The Cloud, the Cloud

F.Y. Teng | Feb. 14, 2012
The mass deployment of the private and public, and what Citrix is doing about it.

Nabeel Yuakim

Nabeel Youakim, Vice President, Product Marketing, Partners and Alliances, APAC, Citrix Systems,

Nabeel Youakim, Vice President, Product Marketing, Partners and Alliances, APAC, at Citrix Systems, spoke with recently about his organisation’s trek onto the cloud, and told us why he’s a believer in the virtues of going the way of the cloud.

Below is the expurgated transcript of that interview.
Talk about your own experience within your company and its use of the cloud.
Nabeel Youakim: Citrix believes that the industry is in the midst of a transition from the PC Era to the Cloud Era. This is set to fuel a massive build-up of cloud infrastructure, creating a new market that is projected to exceed US$11 billion by the end of 2013, according to the IDC Public IT Cloud Services Forecast that was published on July 2010.

As a company, Citrix has been using its own desktop cloud solutions for many years. The Citrix implementation, which is one of the largest private clouds in existence today, has given us unmatched business agility and flexibility as an organisation, while allowing employees at Citrix to work on the go, from any corner of the world.

In addition, personal cloud solutions, such as the Citrix GotoMeeting, enable our employees to instantly communicate and collaborate with teams in different locales. With the recently introduced HDFaces functionality to GotoMeeting, Citrix employees can now employ high definition video-conferencing as well.

As a public cloud solution provider and user of the public cloud, Citrix also leverages the services of other public cloud providers to provide our IT teams with the ability to retrieve resources in the cloud, easily, efficiently and on-demand.

What's your special value proposition in the mass cloud deployment movement?
Enterprises are investing in cloud solutions today because they give the enterprise the ability to leverage corporate resources on an as-needed, on-demand basis. However, unlike pseudo cloud computing providers who stipulate that all components–the hypervisor, the orchestration and automation systems, and the metering tools–must come from a single provider for it to work, Citrix believes that the cloud that services the market today needs to be built on open standards.

The open cloud proposition allows for the creation of a system from across a wide range of compatible suppliers. This means that companies can piece together the best cloud systems to meet their specific needs. Citrix has always maintained its commitment to openness and interoperability in the cloud. The recent acquisition of further cements our  commitment to openness and flexibility. supports leading commercial hypervisors, such as Citrix XenServer, VMware vSphere, and OracleVM, as well as open source hypervisors such as and KVM. In the near future, Citrix intends to add support for a full range of “platform-as-a-service” development environments, storage systems, servers and management software to the product line.

OpenStack is a popular open source cloud infrastructure movement that now includes over 1,100 cloud developers and more than 80 member companies. Citrix is a founding member of OpenStack, a member of its policy board and the second largest contributor today. Our close relationship with OpenStack demonstrates our commitment to openness, as a prerequisite for cloud computing.

Where do you expect companies should consider the use of the cloud now?
The cloud is becoming attractive to enterprises as it enables IT infrastructure to be delivered as simply as water from the tap. Essentially, cloud computing can transform every element of IT infrastructure in a business–operating systems, applications, storage, servers, appliances and workforce management–into on-demand service.

In addition to reduced costs of ownership, taking business operations to the cloud allows companies to provide inherent agility, efficiency and performance benefits, while eliminating the need to maintain in-house expertise to manage data and applications. More importantly, the largest cloud providers have defense resources far beyond anything that an individual organisation can develop for their own data centre. This means that companies can expect a higher level of protection for their data at a cheaper cost.

However, one of the most common mistakes in many organisations’ cloud strategies is the belief that it is an all-or-nothing approach. Enterprises fail to consider that some applications and services may not be suitable for the cloud. The best solution may well be a carefully architected hybrid of a cloud and traditional enterprise IT infrastructure. Companies should consider the following questions.

One: Does the cloud infrastructure give the organisation a competitive advantage?

Two: Are the services provided standard/static or proprietary/dynamic?

Three: How tightly are cloud services integrated with the business? How business critical are they?

Four: Are the security requirements met when moving to the public cloud?

Five: Is the move aligned with the overall IT strategy of the company?

Companies also need to investigate which cloud services are available, and the strength and viability of their provider. They need to survey their current IT infrastructure and determine which areas can be moved to the cloud. Lastly, companies need to review how migrating to the cloud will affect their overall infrastructure and the bottom line. Enterprises should test the cloud environment by moving one or a few services at a time into the cloud.

From our experience, many customers adopt a hybrid cloud model, allowing them to leverage on the public cloud to host applications, while using the private cloud to store sensitive data. As a result, enterprises do not need to build an extensive infrastructure of their own to host their corporate applications, and are able to ensure security of their data.

Where do you expect there to continue to be major challenges or inhibiting factors to cloud deployment?
Despite the cloud computing hype, many enterprises are still erring on the side of caution, and have yet to make the critical transition to the cloud. Key concerns and challenges include the following.

Security. Companies are usually worried about how secure and available their information is in the cloud. Cloud computing requires that we approach security in a new and fundamental way; and while privacy laws vary by jurisdiction, the cloud has no boundaries. Also, as data is centralised, it becomes ever more important to know who can get to what, so smart access is important. This controls not only who can get access to which applications, but is sensitive to the context of that access. For example, an authorised user should be able to access important financial applications from his/her work desktop, but not from an airport Internet kiosk.

Technology immaturity. Another factor is the level of comfort with using technology in the business. Some companies lack the maturity and experience in using technology as a business enabler and therefore do not have a clear understanding of how cloud technology can benefit them. There is thus less impetus for these companies to consider the cloud.

The availability of trusted services. One of the most fundamental factors affecting cloud adoption is the quality of service providers. Many service providers do not possess a definitive strategy for their cloud offerings. Additionally, the number of trusted service providers remains very limited, fraught with cases of rogue administrators from the cloud provider, who mishandle corporate data. Security measures may take a back seat due to the quick transitions from pilot stage to production, as well as other time-to-market-focused practices. A multi-tenant environment where the data can co-exist with other tenants’ data on the same physical hardware increases the risk of data theft, and segregation becomes an important issue.

Issues surrounding connectivity and reliability. Because many enterprises rely on service providers for key business functions, the availability of reliable Internet connection and bandwidth does affect cloud adoption. While the cloud can provide for agility and unanticipated growth, cloud outages render applications and data unusable. The availability of robust infrastructure is critical to support the provision and adoption of cloud services.

Government support and infrastructure. Government support and initiatives for the cloud play a part in influencing cloud adoption among enterprises. The public sector often sets the tone for cloud adoption among businesses. Additionally, compliance regulations are often geographically specific and are a key consideration.

Organisational culture. Cloud computing does require a new way of working and will entail an organisational change. For most companies, building familiarity and getting the buy-in from users represent the first step in their cloud journey. Additionally, the migration process to a cloud model is one of the top barriers, representing a daunting task, fraught with disruptive and costly changes.

How will you approach the next 1-3 years?
Citrix sees cloud computing as the next major era of computing. Just as distributed computing evolved from the mainframe era, cloud computing is the next major wave that will, in the future, augment today’s computing model. As the industry shifts from the PC Era to the Cloud Era, IT is rapidly outgrowing its ability to own and manage all its own applications, infrastructure and devices.

Every cloud–public or private–will need a next-generation networking system at its core, ensuring scalable performance, reliability and security. Additionally, enterprise customers would appreciate a secure connection to external clouds. Recent acquisitions and new product launches have expanded Citrix’s portfolio in the cloud. Citrix believes that its portfolio will accelerate its cloud strategy in the years to come, firmly establishing Citrix as a leader in this market.

As always, Citrix will continue its aggressive drive to empower employees with a flexible, virtual workstyle that will contribute to the cloud era. This mindset of empowerment through mobility, device independence, and a work-anywhere experience, continues to be the motive for both our desktop virtualisation and web collaboration businesses. Citrix will persist in developing innovations that make “going virtual” at the desktop easier, more affordable and more accessible to millions of new users and devices.


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