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Citrix brings Workspace and micro apps to Google Cloud

Citrix Workspace is now generally available on Google Cloud, including access to micro apps that make it easier for IT to deliver a more streamlined user experience.

Citrix Workspace platform for Google Cloud is now generally available. In an announcement, Citrix said the move would simplify tasks for IT professionals and users alike by using micro apps and unifying tasks in a single work feed.

The partnership underscores Citrix's commitment to keep its services agnostic to support its customers' choice in cloud providers, according to analysts.

Eric Kenney, a senior product manager at Citrix, said IT professionals are, at present, responsible for wrangling a variety of disparate products. These applications may, for example, govern security, file synchronization, file sharing and virtual desktops, and all of them could have different portals and login screens. Citrix Workspace is designed to make it easier to administer a range of end-user computing applications.

"It's really difficult to manage all of these different vendors and resources," he said. "With Workspace, IT professionals are able to bring these solutions together, with one partner, to deliver them to users."

Putting these solutions and the options to manage them in one place helps both desktop administrators and users, Kenney said.

Although Workspace provides a centralized place through which Citrix products, such as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, Citrix Virtual Desktops and Citrix ADC, may be launched, Kenney said the platform goes beyond that. The intent, he said, is to provide a home for whatever application a company wants to deliver to its users, including homegrown and cloud-hosted offerings.

One way Workspace acts to simplify employee workloads is through the use of micro apps, or small programs that can accomplish simple tasks quickly, according to Kenney.

"An analogy we use is the office copier; it has a ton of buttons on it," he said, noting that, with knowledge of those functions, people can collate, print double-sided copies and perform any number of specialized tasks. Most people, though, only use the big green button. "That's a way of looking at enterprise applications; you're using them a lot, but only for a small sliver of their functionality."

Employees approving an expense report, for example, typically must go into a separate application to review and OK the document. Kenney said that process is less streamlined than it could be and that micro apps can integrate multiple tasks of approving an expense report into one feed, enabling workers to accomplish in seconds what used to take minutes.

"You could review and approve [the report] and never have to leave Workspace," he said.

Workspace's new availability also provides Citrix greater integration with Google Cloud services, among them Google's G Suite, a collection of productivity apps. Kenney said a new cloud service, Citrix Access Control, provides administrators additional control over user actions on Google Drive documents.

For example, if a malware link is inadvertently added to a document, the Access Control settings could ensure the link is opened in an isolated browser that is safely disposed of at the end of a user session. Access Control can also restrict "copy and paste" functionality in certain documents.

Workspace isn't just for IT

Ulrik Christensen, principal infrastructure engineer at Oncology Venture, said Citrix services, including Workspace, have made things easier for his firm. The drug development company is a global operation with offices and labs in both Denmark and the U.S., and manufacturing operations in India.

"I have four to five people in the U.S., and they're not even in the same office," he said, adding that the complexity of supporting the different hardware they use, including Apple machines, Windows machines and Chromebooks, has proven difficult in the past.

Moving to the kind of standardized system offered by Citrix has improved the user experience and lessened the burden on IT, Christensen said.

"It's a lot easier if something doesn't work," he said. "We can help because we know the whole platform… It also made it a lot easier for IT to provide users new applications and updates."

Security had improved as well, Christensen said. With only one way to access the company's network, it is at less risk and the firm can be more confident that its data is protected.

Citrix continues to support cloud choice

Andrew Hewitt, an analyst at Forrester Research, said the partnership with Google Cloud makes sense for Citrix, as it bolsters one of the key tenets of its pitch to customers.

Andrew HewittAndrew Hewitt

"Citrix's core messaging is around experience, choice and security," he said. "This announcement sits squarely in its desire to be an agnostic player in the [end-user computing market] that can enable enterprises to pick and choose whatever technologies they want to deploy to their end users."

Citrix's core messaging is around experience, choice and security.
Andrew HewittAnalyst, Forrester Research

The move, Hewitt said, seems like a logical extension of past partnerships with Google.

"For example, Citrix has full API access to manage Chromebooks; it supports all the management models for Android Enterprise and provides Citrix Receiver for virtualization support on Chromebooks," he said. "This announcement is just further deepening of the relationship with Google."

Mark BowkerMark Bowker

Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Mark Bowker said the partnership is good for Google as well.

"Google is trying to make inroads into the enterprise," he said, noting pushes with Chromebooks and the Chrome browser.

Bowker added, though, that enterprises must still interact with Windows frequently. By working with Citrix, then, Google can provide its users with easier access to Windows-based services.

Citrix recognizes the importance of being able to provide its services on its customers' cloud of choice, including a recent announcement of deeper ties with AWS. Still, its closest ties are with Microsoft, Bowker said. "The strength of their integration is ultimately with Microsoft, and always has been," he said.

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