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The Citrix ‘Virtual Workspace’ Vision: What Have We Achieved?


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I don’t remember ever not having a computer at home. When my brother and I were little, somewhere in the rolling Irish countryside, that was technology; messing around in Paint for hours, until we were old enough to graduate to Tomb Raider (on keyboard) and whatever game demos my Dad got with his monthly PC Live subscription. If we were allowed to use the printer (that was a rare treat), we’d spend hours in Word making posters for our room, trying out every single option in WordArt and agonising over what colours we’d use- which would have absolutely no significance whatsoever since it printed in black and white exclusively. Then, as early teens, we got second-hand laptops to mess around in PowerPoint (I once did an amazing presentation on the benefits of having an allowance for my rabbit Poppy, graphics and all), and flex our creative writing muscles in Word. Back then, floppy disks were king (I still have some knocking about, storing god only knows what). Hell, I remember being 16 when my Mum bought my Dad a brand-new printer for his birthday; a super cool one that printed in colour and scanned documents and photocopied and printed wirelessly. It was amazing to have all of those features in one small device that was affordable for a modest family. And that was only in 2010!

For most of us, that was the reality until quite recently. Technology was just a cool little add-on, the ability to type out a document instead of writing it by hand, playing two-player videogames using only a single keyboard and mouse, being able to email Granny across the country- regardless of whether she’d remember how to access it or not. It was fun, but it wasn’t particularly useful. The workplace was the exact same (so I’m told); visiting the dusty clock-in machine at 9am, tapping away at an even dustier computer half the size of the desk, emailing people sitting just across from you, and finally kissing the clock-in machine goodbye at 5pm.

Last month was our Cetus Summit, a day of celebrating the achievements of the year just gone and anticipating how we can be even bigger and better in the year ahead. As part of the morning presentations, we had several vendors come and talk to us. One of those vendors was Citrix. For half an hour, they analysed a Citrix video from way back in 2001 that predicted the power and capabilities of a future workspace (if you want, you can find it here). It’s crazy to think that in 2001 we were still so behind on lots of techie features and gadgets that we couldn’t possibly imagine working without now. Anyway, since I’m betting you weren’t at that presentation, I’ve decided to do a bit of an analysis myself of Citrix Workspaces 2001 vs 2018 this week.

In the current future that Citrix had imagined (does that even make sense?), things are very 90s. Someone clearly didn’t get the memo about the segways, ripped jeans and I’d say fannypacks are the only thing from the 90s that we’d still see today (and they’re still a crime against fashion). Honestly, of all the changes since 2001, not wearing those god-awful suits is probably the best advancement. That and the awful Mercedes he drives- I swear, it’s the kind of car a drug kingpin would drive in the mid-90s. The scene is set; our protagonist, Jim, is evidently a high-flying business man, with a fancy office and no doubt an assistant. It’s the end of a workday and he’s particularly chirpy, but it’s not a Friday, so it must be a relaxed week at the office. Apparently it’s his anniversary as well, so that could be a contributing factor.

Telling no one in particular that he’s leaving work early (probably that assistant), he grabs his fancy PalmPilot-looking device and walks away, while his workspace gets transferred from his PC. Accessing your desktop via whatever device you choose is something that almost comes automatically in a virtual workspace in 2018. Indeed, Citrix Workspace makes it incredibly easy to access all of your apps, data and desktop, regardless of what kind of device. Move between your PC, home laptop, mobile or tablet, all thanks to your workspace. Getting into that God-awful Mercedes, our chirpy Jim is safety-first and pops his PalmPilot-mobile hybrid into its hands-free holder. Ever security-conscious, he accesses his device by using a fingerprint scanner. I’ve already covered multi-factor authentication (and how I feel about fingerprint scanners), and it’s no surprise that the Citrix vision of the future included biometric sign-on.

In any organisation, the ability for secure content collaboration is crucial. Jim clearly works for a huge multi-national company. On his way home, he gets a call from a colleague on the other side of the country. Some hiccup in a big deal means that he needs to try and make things happen before he can go for dinner. To fix the issue and speed the deal along, he needs to organise a conference call with colleagues in Seattle and Tokyo. Using his Citrix Workspace, he can securely call these different locations, while presenting and collaborating on documents in real time. It’s easy enough to transfer the conference call from Jim’s phone to his huge monitor- just the case of pointing his PalmPilot-thing at the screen and hey presto. I’m sure in 2001, this would have been a bizarre concept. Who would be too lazy to just turn the thing on? Nowadays, we don’t have the time to faff around with logins and transferring conference calls. With Citrix Workspace, this is a nifty little feature that’s sure to wow any newbies starting out, or even the CIO of a high-stakes partner. Honestly, try it out, you’d look terribly high-tech. Eventually Sharon, in Denver, fizzles in to add her expertise. Apparently she doesn’t have the same security clearances as the other three (is it the accent?), so Jim sets her a more limited visibility she has of the documents being collaborated on. This is also a pretty common feature of Citrix Workspace, but it covers far more than just a conference call. From a single network point, your IT department has access to, and can manage, every one of your users. That gives them the flexibility to automatically grant every user with unique levels of clearance depending on their job necessities. Sharon in HR doesn’t really need to know what’s going on in boardroom meetings, now does she?

During the conference call, they get interrupted by a failure. Now, here’s where Citrix were a tad bit off in their predictions for today’s technology. In the video, Jim can hear his colleagues as they question the foreboding ‘Switching to backup data centre’ flickering on the screen for a moment or two, before the rather more cheerful ‘Backup now active’ signals the return of the call. It’s not the case now that a failure would cut the call instantly until the WAN came back to life- thanks to SD-WAN, a failure of any kind would not even be noticed, simply switching to the secondary system component. In today’s workspace, Jim and his colleagues wouldn’t be the wiser, with zero stalling, pausing or loss of quality to signal the switch.

A lot was covered in that short seven-minute video. But it’s clear that in 2001 Citrix had a vision. It was a vision of revolutionising the workspace to make it bigger and better than ever before (and keep ill-fitting suits in fashion). And it’s a vision that continues to look to the future in order to start making advances towards it now. Here at Cetus, we’re big believers in the Citrix vision. So much so that we’re one of the few Citrix Platinum Partners in the UK. We believe that Citrix is the future of the workplace, and we want to work with you to unlock those possibilities. Our experts are Citrix-centric, so click over here to have a chat and see what Citrix Workspace can do for you.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

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