We are amid an event which is impacting us in ways we could not have predicted. Events are forcing us to make decisions based on a constant flow of changing information and we are all seeking guidance in one way or another to ensure we can weather the storm and keep our organisations productive.
Two weeks ago, we (Insentra) invoked our remote working policy, closing our physical office in Sydney with all crew now working from home and avoiding face-to-face meetings wherever possible. During this time, we have been leveraging our usual efficiencies and our productivity has increased. The enabler for this success has been our Citrix based application and desktop delivery platform, together with the collaboration power of the Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite.
No doubt as you read this, you are travelling the same journey. For organisations with remote workers and a solution such as Citrix, there are several options available to scale quickly, whilst removing some complexity and management overhead.
If you have an existing Citrix infrastructure, you may be looking at what options you have and the things you need to consider in these challenging times to ensure the platform will function optimally and you are prepared for a sudden increase in demand or scale. Given our extensive experience with Citrix customers large and small across the globe, we have summarised some of the options and considerations below:
First things first… you must ensure your existing platform is working well.
CITRIX STANDARD HEALTH ASSESSMENT
Establish a known baseline, start with a proactive Citrix Health Assessment. Over time your environment is open to misconfiguration, instability, process and purpose deviation, and security exploitations. Even ‘good’ environments have problems lurking which often only appear when access to critical applications is needed most. Degradation of end-user experience and productivity is a killer to remote workers.
Once you have established your existing platform is configured optimally and is secure you can then safely progress to your next options for providing your users with remote access.
Remote PC Access is an extension of the traditional Apps and Desktops (XenApp and XenDesktop) capabilities, extending the optimised remote desktop connectivity capability out to the physical endpoints. This approach further enhances your ability to deliver a great experience for your remote workforce, as well as aligning with existing Security Standards and Governance already implemented by your Citrix ADC (NetScaler). To learn more, you can read this very detailed blog by our very own James Kindon, Citrix Most Valued Professional and one of a hand-picked group of global Citrix Technology Professionals.
SCALE EXISTING PLATFORM THROUGH THE CLOUD
Organisations leveraging an existing Citrix platform and looking to extend into the cloud typically fall into one of the following scenarios:
- Existing Citrix Cloud deployment
- Existing Citrix On-Premises deployment with appropriate licencing allowing the ability to leverage Public Cloud services
Either of the above profiles may have little to no “burst” capacity on-premises. Leveraging public cloud such as Azure provides the ability to expand beyond existing capacity very quickly. Let’s explore the three most common options and how they can help you achieve the desired remote working end state.
Option 1 – Extend Citrix workloads into public Cloud
Extending Citrix workloads into the public cloud can offer the elastic benefits of the cloud, whilst maintaining the management layer of the Citrix platform on-premises. “Bursting” into the cloud can be an easy win to scale your environment quickly.
With this deployment method, you can enjoy the scalability capabilities public cloud can offer, combined with the existing Citrix capabilities, whilst adopting a consumption-based model ensuring you only pay for the resources required. When you no longer need these resources, you can simply decommission them.
Option 2 – Host Citrix in the cloud
Hosting the entire Citrix environment in the Cloud – including both the management layer and user-facing workloads removes the need for expensive on-premises server hardware and storage. Management of the Citrix infrastructure remains in the control of your IT department or service provider, giving you full control of the solution end-to-end.
Option 3 – Citrix Cloud with workloads anywhere
The Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (CVAD) Service, which is available as part of Citrix Cloud, provides a platform to deliver virtualized (alongside physical if required) apps and desktops. You retain jurisdiction over the workloads used to deliver these resources, whilst leaving the brokering and often access tiers to be managed by Citrix.
Citrix Cloud supports additional public cloud management capabilities such as Auto-Scale, a solution that helps to reduce expenditure by powering off workloads that are no longer required.
Citrix Cloud also offers some tight integration with Windows 10 Multi-Session based workloads in Microsoft Azure for those with a Windows Virtual Desktop entitlement. This means you can leverage all the maturity and capability of a Citrix based delivery capability, with Windows 10 Multi-Session in Azure.
WHAT ABOUT USER EXPERIENCE?
When your workforce is at home, user experience becomes even more critical. Chances are your IT team don’t have any time to manage the environment let alone tune for performance. We believe a proactive approach is required to ensure the platform is always ready for anticipated demand and we have created a service called User Experience as a Service or UXaaS, which is designed to enable proactive problem analysis and resolution of your end-users IT challenges, without the need for the increased headcount or responsibilities. You may even consider this for the short term while your business ‘gets over the hump’ and the curve flattens.
It is highly likely you will have a significant percentage of your workforce no longer in the office in the coming days and weeks if you are not already there. For you to meet the demands of the new work from home at scale paradigm, you will need to ensure your existing platform is operating optimally. You will need to ensure the availability of services is always high, whilst ensuring the productivity of your workforce is not impacted. Having confidence in your existing platform, or having the flexibility and elasticity of Public Cloud will give you the ability to “burst” as and when you need whilst ensuring a consistent end-user experience.
On a personal note, my working from home experience has so far been nothing short of fantastic and because we have the right tools in place, my productivity is significantly higher. As a business, we can burst to the Cloud during tumultuous periods, whilst controlling costs and ensuring user experience and productivity is increased.
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