The right to choose: hybrid cloud efficiencies and the application layer | #GuestOfTheWeek


Private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud? This question has been plaguing the enterprise for several years now, but with the rapid digital transformation underway, sheer necessity is motivating organizations to adopt a hybrid solution that enables the business to be more efficient.

This week, while at the Nutanix 2016 .NEXT Europe event in Vienna, Austria, Christian Reilly, VP and CTO of the Workspace Services Division at Citrix Systems, sat down with  Stu Miniman (@stu), co-host of theCUBE*, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, to discuss what is driving the decision-making process behind the Citrix customer’s choice.

Reilly provided a detailed look into the technology and the customer, with perspective on working with partners to simplify cloud management. This week, theCUBE highlights Reilly as our Guest of the Week.

Since being introduced to cloud technologies 10 years ago, Reilly’s witnessed a significant paradigm shift where the enterprise debated the pros and cons of public and private clouds. With deep investments in both technologies, it became a battle of which was the better solution for the enterprise, causing confusion among executives who were transforming their businesses.

Advising customers to run the workload wherever they needed it was the more obvious answer, according to Reilly. “Whether that’s public, private or hybrid, I think common sense prevailed, in the end, to say all these workloads will be around for a very long time. There’s lots of different ways to deploy them, so pick the best one. Either for performance, for cost, for data sovereignty, whatever that is,” he said.

Every type of customer, regardless of size or industry, has the same problem: “They want to be able to do things bigger, better, faster,” Reilly explained. He noted that simplicity is the real driver.

SaaSify and secure business

When looking at Software as a Service trends in the enterprise, Reilly revealed that his customers are becoming much more vocal and driving the demand.

“Over the last 18 months, I’ve seen a huge shift in strategy from customers. They are adopting SaaS first wherever they can,” he said, citing that CRM and HR applications are usually the starting point, and the pace is picking up as customer concerns grow about the overall workload. 

Security concerns are still a large part of the decision-making process. According to Reilly, you can’t pick up an industry paper without reading about another malware attack, breach or ransomware.

“The more the applications move to the browser, the bigger the concern is. … One of the most obvious points for introducing malware is through the browser,” Reilly said.

The security question is weighed heavily against the efficiencies gained in certain areas. Reilly described the customer as being less concerned about moving data to SaaS and more concerned with how much consumption of the application is happening in a browser.

“People are taking a very considered approach to not being scared anymore about where to put the data, but being concerned about how to consume the apps,” he clarified.

Can the enterprise cloud hold water?

Reilly also weighted in on how much of the private cloud framework uses virtualization and if the enterprise cloud can hold water.

“If you can drive efficiencies, you can drive things around automation orchestration, and you can drive simplicity,” Reilly stated. He revealed that the one-click simplicity that Nutanix Inc. offers might be the missing piece. He raised the economics of renting or owning a public and private cloud and insisted that the one-click technology is powerful.

On-premise infrastructures need to overcome the burden of adding applications. Reilly calls that the next frontier. He said the conversation is different when you are talking about public cloud, and he specified that customers are choosing public cloud infrastructures to build new applications, depending on what the customer is looking to accomplish.

Reilly also addressed how technology should be simplified to free up resources, revealing exactly what his customers demand.

“The customers who are driving digital transformation are not the typical Citrix customer. … They are not IT-ops guys; they are not infrastructure managers. These [people] report into a chief digital officer or chief strategy officer to really drive the business forward,” he replied.

Reilly reported that along with moving to SaaS, Citrix is seeing the trend of moving to process-specific, more lightweight applications instead of historically “monolithic” applications that are driving a different delivery paradigm.

Citrix cloud: the beauty of choice

Citrix has more than 400,000 organizations and over 100 million users globally and is known for its three principal businesses. Reilly explained where cloud factors into the company’s product offerings.

Reilly spoke about Kirill Tatarinov, Citrix’s newly-appointed president and chief executive officer, and his connection to Microsoft. He indicated that there was a rekindling of the relationship with the industry powerhouse and said that the partnership is one of the industries well-known relationships.

He also talked about the company looking at itself in the mirror and reassessing its research and development strategy and then rationalized the portfolio and shifted its focus on the core. The concentration will be on the company’s Workspace suite that offers Workspace as a Service (WaaS), the NetScaler business, and the GoToMeeting business and GoToBusiness, which will pair up with Citrix’s recent acquisition of LogMeIn Inc.

The company’s first attempt at cloud was a complicated affair. Reilly said it was challenging to use. Ultimately, the company abstracted out the complexity and decided to give the customer a choice of where to run the desktops or the app.

Delivery could take place on the customer’s public cloud or private cloud any hypervisor. Reilly said that the company wanted to let the customers decide. However, Citrix would provide solutions that provide management at the infrastructure layer. “Customers can focus on raising the bar internally, freeing up resources and getting on with things that really matter. … The beauty of Citrix is around choice,” stated Reilly.

One of the key takeaways from the interview was the importance of strategic partnerships in cloud-agnostic offerings. While CitrixCloud runs on Microsoft’s Azure and is intended to be a gateway for the customer to both companies’ services as they begin to extend into their digital transformation, the company also has good relationships with all the public cloud companies. Citrix sits in the “sweet spot” according to Reilly, brokering services to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) players, such as Amazon, Google and Oracle.

So where does Nutanix stands in the mix? Reilly acknowledged that Nutanix is a critical partner in the company’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) business. “Hyper-convergence, every partner we work with has got a hyper-converged plate at different stages of development — go-to-market and maturity. We have had a great relationship with Nutanix, and the key differentiator is that we have engineering-level relationship groups working together day-to-day,” commented Reilly.

“Citrix is thinking about the workspace of the future. We are bringing together physical and virtual assets but also thinking about how to deliver apps and the information in those apps differently,” he concluded.

*Disclosure: Nutanix Inc. and other companies sponsor some Nutanix 2016 .NEXT Europe segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither Nutanix nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of Nutanix 2016 .NEXT Europe.

Photo by SiliconANGLE