This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Citrix Synergy 2017 conference coverage

Citrix Analytics Service targets IT security market with AI

IT pros need more visibility into what users are doing, and Citrix's new analytics service aims to provide just that.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Citrix shops look forward to using analytics to provide better end-user security.

The new Citrix Analytics Service, announced here at Synergy 2017, uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to track user activity -- including application, data and network usage -- and identify and respond to abnormalities in that activity.

"We've had an issue with not knowing what users are using, in terms of apps and file-sharing services and things like that, so bringing that kind of visibility would be big," said Kevin Stevenson, systems operations manager at AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, a financial services company in Columbia, S.C.

Citrix Analytics tracks users' activity whether they are in or out of the office, which is important for AgFirst. Being a financial services company, AgFirst has to follow compliance regulations, so adding this type of visibility into their environment will help, Stevenson said.

"We have issues with our large number of remote workers and not knowing about what they're doing outside of the office," Stevenson said. "Being able to set restrictions, blacklist apps and things like that is a big thing."

How Citrix Analytics works

Being able to set restrictions, blacklist apps and things like that is a big thing.
Kevin Stevensonsystems operations manager at AgFirst Farm Credit Bank

The Citrix Analytics Service continuously monitors users, devices, applications and networks to detect abnormal activity and malicious behavior. When the software notices something out of the ordinary, it can take certain actions to stop threats, such as blocking applications, restricting access, enforcing multifactor authentication or blocking the user entirely. The entire process is automated, so it doesn't need to alert an administrator in the middle of the night if action needs to be taken.

Citrix Analytics' AI and machine learning algorithms will get better over time at picking up patterns and learning user behavior, the company said. This new service is cloud-based, but it works for both cloud and on-premises infrastructures.

Every organization has access to a great amount of data, but they don't use it to their advantage, Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov said during his opening keynote.

"It's disappointing to see how slow the world is at embracing data and embracing analytics," Tatarinov said.

The new Citrix security approach

At Synergy, Citrix stressed security as the most important topic in IT and demonstrated how its new software can protect organizations from threats. This approach is not only very different for Citrix, but for VDI vendors in general, said Robert Young, research director at IDC.

"This new focus on security is a differentiator for Citrix," Young said. "Rather than saying VDI is secure because it houses everything in the data center, Citrix is saying it's secure because we also offer security software. Just housing in the data center doesn't mean necessarily it's more secure, because the data center is now your singular attack vector that houses everything."

Citrix also showcased its new Secure Digital Workspace and announced a new security consulting practice to help organizations follow best practices.

"Citrix offering consulting services is really helpful," said Pete Moss, technical infrastructure designer at Kingfisher IT Services, based in London. "This is Citrix making customers feel more comfortable with coming to Citrix with security questions. We'll see how it all plays out, since it's a new service."

Citrix plans to keep this practice small, and it will also help organizations through partner service providers and IT consulting firms, the company said.

"Offering these new security products and getting people trained on how to use their products is going to allow them to differentiate their message," Young said.

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