Citrix has a long history of providing computing services to client endpoint devices, with versions of their client software that support just about any client device you can name. While the original model for this delivery was a traditional client-server view of the world, it has translated well into the cloud obsessed vision of the IT future.
Citrix service delivery capabilities are already more pervasive than you might think; I find their software being used to deliver services everywhere from small local business clients where it has simplified the support work for overstressed tiny IT staffs, to the fairly progressive school district where my children are, who require the use of Citrix clients to allow students to access mandatory homework without regard to the students computing platform of choice.
So it seems only natural that at their Synergy Conference this week they announced that they want to be the gatekeeper of the cloud through their Cloud Gateway; their NetScaler appliance which acts as a front door to applications running in the datacenter. The appliance will handle provisioning and license management and be the general link between the applications with the datacenter and the client, regardless of platform, in the wild. This gives the end-user a single point of access to all of the datacenter services. Conversely, it gives IT a single-sign on, single management point for external clients.
But the announcements go beyond just being the "front door" for the datacenter, with the announcement of the NetScaler Cloud Bridge appliance designed to be what Citrix calls the" back door" to the datacenter, enabling connections to multiple, and potentially different, external cloud services. The appliance does this by running as many virtualized copies of the NetScaler software as necessary on top of the Xen hypervisor. All connections are encrypted and the goal is to seamlessly extend the services to the datacenter to include external cloud services, so that no additional authentication or management needs to be done on either end; the appliance handles it to make the connection as pain-free as possible.
Citrix also announced that they will be updating their universal Receiver software, adding the multi-touch support necessary for tablet and mobile users to get full functionality of their software and connected applications. With a goal to making cloud apps as easily accessible as any other datacenter service, Citrix is looking to provide an easy interaction from the client to the cloud.