Citrix goes cloud-neutral with Workspace Services DaaS offering

Rather than tying itself to a single vendor of public cloud, Citrix has decided to have as many as it can for its upcoming Workspace Services product.

Citrix today announced upcoming platform for desktop-as-a-service, dubbed Workspace Services, which will allow customers to serve mobile desktops from either public or private clouds.

Demoed to attendees of its Synergy 2014 conference this morning, the service is currently able to use Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Cisco Intercloud, SoftLayer, or Xenserver cloud instances. The company flagged other partner announcements would occur in the next few weeks.

While the options for deployment are many, controlling Workspace Services has to be done through an Azure-based control panel.

"The way to think about this is there are really two levels. There is a control plane that is running in the cloud, in the world of desktops and applications running virtually, that plane can contain an administrative UI, a cloud-based broker, a storefront that users can log into, all running in a globally highly-scalable expandable platform on Azure," said Mitch Parker, vice president and general manager, Citrix cloud services.

"But the actual workloads themselves, may be running in a data centre of your choice. So after users log in through a control panel or storefront that is running in the cloud, that might connect them to a virtual machine, or a virtual desktop that's running in their own datacentre, or an entirely different cloud.

"From that standpoint, many of the workloads that our customers and partners care about where they are running them, it's really important to have, for example, your application infrastructure right next to your desktops if at all possible, to get the best possible performance."

Parker highlighted the ability to use different cloud platforms allows businesses to integrate the identity service of their choice, for instance an Azure deployment could use Active Directory, and stressed that Workspace Services offered more than Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

"I think VDI as a construct, is still really interesting — we're only delivering it another way," he said. "It's not just about servers, its also about hosted shared virtual desktops, and its also about the ability to deliver applications from a virtual workspace."

"It's really an infrastructure that allows the partners and customers to host desktops, and its broader than what maybe some people think VDI is."

During his keynote, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton called for the IT industry to adopt a new mindset that was focused on the user experience.

"We've been so orientated to be focused on owner-operators of factories for computing, and we have to actually move from the factory, into the supply chain, and into retail," Templeton said.

"We actually have to move from being a gatekeeper, to thinking like a shopkeeper. Shopkeepers think about experience first."

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to Synergy 2014 as a guest of Citrix.