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Posts Tagged ‘Citrix’

There’s rarely a company I talk to nowadays that doesn’t have some kind of bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, program underway. The most recent survey data from ZK Research shows that 82% of organizations now support BYOD in some form. Also, the majority of IT leaders I’ve talked to say that the pressure to implement BYOD is coming from multiple angles – C-level executives, line-of-business managers, and younger workers are among the most common.

BYOD can mean different things to different buyers and the challenges range from on-boarding concerns, network readiness, security policies and other factors. The top challenge, though? That’s creating a consistent user experience across the myriad of devices out there.

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Earlier this week Cisco and Citrix made some noise when they announced an expanded partnership. The partnership brings together the market leader in networking and data center infrastructure and combines it with the market leader in desktop virtualization. The expanded partnership should be a “win-win-win” for both organizations and their customers, as the two companies can bring their respective strengths together to deliver greater functionality through joint development. Some partnerships are nothing more than PowerPoint integration, but this one should have some teeth. As much as I like this partnership, I’m a firm believer that Cisco should pony up the cash, stocks or whatever else it needs and actually buy Citrix.

I’ve covered Cisco for many years and I’ve long felt that Citrix would be a great acquisition for the company. Cisco has stated through the years it didn’t want to be an application vendor (although UC manager and wants to deliver infrastructure). Citrix is infrastructure, it’s just application infrastructure. Given the current trends of cloud computing, BYOD and device evolution, Citrix would certainly command a hefty premium over its current $12 billion market cap, but I still think it would be worth it. My personal belief is that if an acquisition is a good acquisition, you can’t really pay too much. For example, if Cisco had paid 10x what it did for Selsius, would anyone really care now? After all, that technology purchase eventually made Cisco the market leader in VoIP. Conversely, if an acquisition is a bad one, then you can’t pay too little. There are many examples of this so I won’t make anyone look bad by mentioning one.

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Citrix held its annual industry analyst event last week in Santa Clara and I left with a favorable view of the company’s short- and long-term prospects based on current IT trends. The company has always had a niche position in the IT space dating way back to the WinFrame and MetaFrame days. Prior to being an analyst, I actually worked for a Citrix reseller and was fully certified as a Citrix engineer. I chose to go down this technical path because I had a belief that the standardization, security and management capabilities that thin-client computing brought was the way the industry would go. With centralized management, the highest level of security, and no local PC problems, what could be better?

However, the market didn’t really play out that way. Sure, almost every large enterprise I worked with used Citrix in some capacity. Typically, its primary function was to deliver a subset of applications to people like consultants, call center agents or other task-based workers based on the fact that it was easier to manage and easier to secure. Despite the strong value proposition, the penetration rate of Citrix never reached much more than 10% in most companies and there were several reasons for this.

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Without sounding sarcastic, the primary benefit of a virtual application delivery controller (ADC) is that, well, it’s virtual. It requires no hardware to deploy making it low cost. It’s mobile so the ADC can be moved from one location to another in real time and it can be self provisioned by anyone, including an application developer. But virtual ADCs have their drawbacks, too.

Historically, ADCs have been physical appliances located between the network and application tiers in a data center or deployed at the edge of a network to help optimize service delivery. The primary role of ADCs has been for load balancing purposes but a number of advanced features such as encryption, security, video optimization and some application specific features have been added over the past half decade. This shift in functionality has added to the need for ADCs across different verticals and company sizes.

This increased demand is why there have been so many more versions of the ADC launched recently, including virtual editions. This begs the question, though, can virtual ADCs replace physical ones in production environments? There’s no doubt that virtual ADCs can be used as a developer tool but the big question is around production environments which leads us to the question of “to virtualize or not to virtualize?”

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One of the most important changes in scaling corporate data center has been the evolution of the application delivery controller (ADC).  The ADC bridges the network and application environments together.  By having the ADC at this strategic control point, organizations are able to scale their data center infrastructure without disrupting the service to the user.

As we move more and applications and infrastructure to the cloud, the ADC will play a similar role in scaling the cloud.  As more traffic moves to and from the cloud, the ADC will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that this can happen without degradation of performance.  That much is well understood.  What’s not well understood is what the form factor of the ADC should be.

Many of the data center appliance vendors have shifted their strategy to build virtual versions.  The thought being that if the server and storage infrastructure is virtual, and then so should be all of the appliances that sit around it.  This would include ADCs, WAN optimizers, security devices and other functions that surround the server infrastructure.

However, before the industry proclaims, “All hail the virtual appliance”, it’s important to understand there are some limitations to the model of the virtual appliance.  With the ADC playing such a key role, it’s critical that cloud providers understand where these limitations are.

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