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Five Signs You’re Ready to Embrace Cloud


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Unless you’ve been spending the best part of the last decade on a remote island devoid of human contact, chances are that you’ve heard a lot about this ‘cloud’ malarkey. And it’s a difficult one; there is just so much information out there, and it doesn’t always overlap. Even in your organisation, there can be significantly polar opinions on what’s best for your situation. In one ear, you have an IT specialist whispering “It’s the best thing since the Nokia 3310” and another one in your other ear muttering “It’ll take years to adopt, if we can even afford it”.

And both angel and devil in this scenario (decide which is which yourself) are right. Cloud is the best thing since the introduction of the Nokia 3310 redefined the use of the word ‘brick’, catapulting the world of on-the-go tech into a whole new revolution (even if that was just being able to play Snake at the bus stop). Sadly, we are constantly sold the idea of a plug-n-play service that will make a significant difference to your workforce. The thing is, it’s not the rainbows, unicorns and fluffy bunnies that we were promised. When it comes to cloud adoption, the focus is usually on going fully-SaaS almost overnight, which just isn’t really possible for long-established organisations. But it’s not all doom and gloom; if you pick the right IT solutions provider your dreams can become a reality, and deliver everything you expect. Still not sure if it’s for you? Here are five signs that you are ready to embrace cloud;

You’re adopting the new ‘mobile workforce’
Your business is growing and you’re employing more than ever. The millennial workforce has grown up with a significant experience in emerging tech, and they don’t know what life is like without it. The brightest graduates just out of uni are used to having their mobiles, tablets and laptops on the go. Let’s face it, they’re the generation that have mastered paying attention to multiple screens at once, all while walking, eating and doing whatever.

The problem is, they don’t want to be in an office all day. While the older generation are stuck in traffic three miles from the office, your mobile employees are already on their second coffee of the day, just finished replying to their emails and ready to get some real work done. Likewise, they’re more than happy to jump in the car, train or plane and join a conference, exhibition, workshop or a customer’s site and make sure they get all their work done on the spot. Gone are the days when your workforce would have to sacrifice a day to get the train to the other part of the country for an event, completely unavailable for anything else.

Work is no longer the be-all and end-all of a person’s life- living is. The modern workforce is picky. They no longer have the loyalty of generations before, sticking with one company until they retire. They want the best, and that includes the possibility of a more flexible work-life balance. So being able to work from anywhere, anytime makes far better sense. And that’s where the cloud comes in, allowing your employees to log in to their corporate virtual desktops from whatever device they happen to have on hand, regardless of where they are.

It’s time for a refresh
All tech, no matter how advanced it might seem, has it’s sell-by date. It’s a fact that a lot of organisations are quickly coming to realise. Chances are, this is the first time you’re looking at putting your servers in the cloud. Why not just replace your whole infrastructure like for like and be done with it? You’d forget how many bits of hardware makes up your IT closet, and how much of an investment it is just to keep the lights on in your data centre.

Now, it’s not as easy as clicking your fingers and just connecting everything to the cloud. There are plenty of reasons why it’s not feasible immediately; being chained to your legacy system, not having the internet connection to safely rely on cloud…. But don’t despair, there is a way to create an infrastructure so that it grows and evolves with your organisation and the latest trends in technology. Say goodbye to aging infrastructure, out-of-date applications and those constant reminders to get the latest version of your software. Poof! All of a sudden it’s a thing of the past.

It’s time to think about disaster recovery
Your organisation is built on a foundation of data. Whether that be customer lists, orders, customer data, the random PowerPoint presentation for the upcoming Directors’ meeting- you get the idea. If you couldn’t power up your laptop in the morning every employee in the company would essentially be a very expensive seat warmer. Disasters do happen, and if you can scoff that you haven’t experienced any yet, then you’re living on borrowed time. A single server fault could erase years of vital information in less than a second.

It’s even more scary when the facts state that the cost of an hour of downtime can cost from £6,100 to £534,000- and that includes small businesses too. Multiply that by the average time it takes to recover; 18 and a half hours. Could your business survive such a dramatic loss of productivity and reputation? 

By adopting the cloud and moving your data across, the majority of your disaster recovery planning is done. You can be safe knowing that your good solution provider will ensure that your data is being continuously backed up, testing the virtual backup server daily. When you do face your disaster, it’s reassuring to know that it’s simply a case of downloading the latest backups of your files and getting back down to business.

You’re growing, but you don’t know how to deal with it
Every organisation wants to expand. It’s the sign of success, of how a moment of entrepreneurship can turn into an achievement, and with every new person starting with you is an extra person who believes in your company and your message. But with every rapid expansion brings its own unique growing pains, and your organisation is no different. It’s only so easy to outgrow your physical infrastructure and network, leading to a loss of productivity. Which is exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place, right?

Here’s another great way that cloud can make a difference. You obviously see a bright future for your organisation; full of targets being met, goals being blown right out of the water, the need for bigger offices, glittering awards nights and interviews from business newspapers on how you made it (may as well think as big as you can get, right?).

With your data, virtual servers and all of your storage in the cloud, it’s an easy fix to make your infrastructure flex with your needs. Instead of having to buy more servers and bandwidth, it’s a straightforward case of just renting a bit more of the cloud. And if you don’t need it later on, it’s quick and painless to reduce the size of what you need. As a certain meercat likes to say; “Seeemples!”

You want to beef up your data security
There are so many threats to your organisation. You always have to take care that your customer data collection and storage meets GDPR regulations, stay vigilant of potential Gen V cyberattacks, make sure that your ex-employee didn’t walk out with your company projects, there are plenty of things that could possibly go wrong. Not only do these really mess up your day, in only the politest of terms, but they could really cause you harm in the long run, too.

By running your organisation in the cloud, a significant portion of the manual processes that can lead to issues can be avoided. With automated backups, you can be sure that you’ll never have to run around patching up forgotten vulnerabilities and bugs. Having your data on the cloud makes it easier to see what your users are accessing, effectively abolishing the possibility of a user with a nefarious agenda sneaking around behind your back.

Every so often, you’ll change the door code to the office. That’s to secure your building from ex-employees who, let’s face it, have no business popping in anymore. It’s the same principle with your data. Chances are, you haven’t done anything to give them a reason to want revenge, but since they have no business rummaging around your secure files you want to make sure that they can’t. And that’s a simple thing to do with cloud, giving you the over-arching control over your users, without impeaching their self-governance.

Looking at a cloud adoption from afar can make the whole thing seem like an impossible task. When it comes to moving everything from on-premises to the cloud smoothly, while also keeping your business up and running with no disruptions, it’s akin to having your cake and eating it. At Cetus, we’ve been doing this for a while, and we’ve built a team of experts that has coordinated many a cloud project from start to finish. We’ve partnered up with Citrix and Microsoft Azure, the experts in cloud, to design, build and manage your cloud deployments. Speaking of Citrix, our Cetus experts will be attending the partner-only Summit event. We’re expecting to hear plenty about cloud migration and reducing IT costs, and we’re inviting you to our free update webinar where we share the latest announcements from Citrix, before anyone else. Make sure to register for your free place now! In the meantime, our experts are always on-hand to answer any question you might have (especially if it’s cloud-based!)

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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.

 

Blog, Citrix, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2018


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This week, I’ve been in Anaheim at Citrix’s annual partner conference – Citrix Summit. The event provides an opportunity to hear from Citrix’s executive leadership team about the vision and strategy for the year ahead, share industry perspective and innovation, and attend a range of interactive breakout sessions that focus on how Citrix technology can be applied to initiate change, transform organisations and solve real-world challenges to improve the way people work.

For me, Citrix Summit always proves to be invaluable. In the busy nature of every day work life, it can often be challenging to find time to fully embrace and evaluate new concepts, approaches and innovation. With the industry moving at pace, this is just one of the reasons why I love Summit… it provides an opportunity to hear, see, discuss the future of the workspace among friends and peers.

With Citrix experiencing plenty of change within the last year – including former CEO Kirill Tatarinov’s departure – I was apprehensive to see how the Citrix story had evolved. However, from the opening keynote it was evident was that Citrix’s technology focus on ‘people’ has filtered through to the top.

David Henshall proved to be a welcomed and refreshing leader – addressing critics from early 2017 head on by acknowledging that some negative press that Citrix received was justified yet by no means acceptable to the business. He continued to discuss how Citrix has turned around to end the year on a series of records including; record revenue numbers, record cash flow, record profits, record share price and record innovation – with 122% increase in new patents filed in over a year, an 80% increase in product releases, and 4 analyst leadership positions for EFSS, Mobility, UEM and Networking.

More exciting to see was Citrix’s secure digital workspace vision, which in my opinion, is superior to any other vendor in this space. Simple, secure and unified. Visionary enough that people understand the direction, development and investment Citrix are moving into the future, yet real enough that customers can get on board with that vision today and accelerate their cloud strategy to achieve benefits and eliminate / manage challenges right now.

“The cloud is not a destination… It’s the beginning of a new journey.”

Citrix’s products have evolved into solution areas; Citrix Workspace, Citrix Networking and Citrix Analytics with people-centric embedded security at the centre. The benefits of using Citrix technology together as a unified solution rather than separate products is core to the Citrix story and it’s because of this integration why Citrix stands out among many vendors. With the workspace, networking and analytics solutions integrating together to provide an unrivalled workspace where user experience, security and choice are of upmost importance. And, on integration… Microsoft corporate vice president for Enterprise Client & Mobility, Brad Anderson, joined the keynote to describe a deeper integration and partnership between Citrix and Microsoft than ever before.

As a Citrix Platinum and specialist partner, we are so excited for 2018. This year there is promise of faster, focused innovation and upmost support to accelerate customers to benefit from Citrix Cloud Services. It’s not about workloads… It’s about people. And we look forward to helping you enable your people, with Citrix, in 2018.

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Citrix Summit Tech Series – Smart Deployments


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It has been two months since I attended Citrix Summit and the amount of cloud conversations that we are having with our customers has rocketed. The majority of which are hybrid cloud / multi cloud conversations; or customers that have started the journey and are now looking to increase performance or management. 

Citrix Cloud is really resonating with our customers – both large and small. I will pen a blog specifically on this subject later in the month, but today I want to touch on two features of the Citrix portfolio and show how they are enabling our customers to make the transition to cloud hosted desktop and application delivery.

The first element of the Citrix solution that I wanted to cover is Smart Scale. Smart Scale is a component of the Smart Tools set that comes as part of Citrix Cloud. It allows the Citrix administrators to intelligently control the power state of the virtual desktop estate based on the required usage.

Let’s consider it in the context of a 500 concurrent user deployment for a typical 9am – 5:30pm company in the UK who wants to move to Azure. Without Smart Scale (or a lot of static manual work) they would need to pay Azure costs for 500 virtual machines for the full 744 hours a month, on the presumption the month has 31 days. Now think about how many hours are those desktops actually providing user services? Consider 2am in the morning, or perhaps on a Saturday afternoon whilst the match is on…! Using Smart Scale we can power down (and therefore not pay for) desktops that are not in use, and power them back on as needed to meet demand.

 Let’s talk through the math…
No Smart Scale:
500 virtual machines x 744 hours per month = 372,000 hours of cost per month
With Smart Scale:
The requirement is only 136,200 hours of cost per month!
That is with 10% of the desktops on 24×7 (37,200 hours) and 90% of desktops on 10 hours a working day with assumed 22 days per month average (99,000 hours)

As you can see, the power of Smart Scale to save costs – over 60% – when hosting desktops in the cloud is a very powerful enabler.

Now let’s couple this with the second element of the Citrix Portfolio that I wanted to talk about – Citrix Workspace Environment Management or WEM (yes another acronym sorry!) WEM is based on a late 2016 acquisition from Citrix of a company called NorSkale. 

I will write a review on WEM as whole at some point, however for now I wanted to focus on one key area – resource optimisation. WEM provides the ability to reduce RAM and CPU usage within a virtualised desktop environment by up to 70%. If we consider this reduction again in terms of costs when hosting desktops in the cloud (or on premise) we can get more users on that Azure instance type and further reduce costs.

If we combine these two technologies with the rest of the Citrix portfolio then we can start to significantly reduce costs and help our customers make that move to the cloud a reality, while maintaining end user performance and business security at the same time.

Want to hear more about this, Citrix Cloud and all the announcements from Summit? Speak to one of our cloud experts today.

robRob Sims – Senior Solution Architect
Rob helps customers to understand their business challenges, and guides them to leverage technology as a mechanism for change.

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Citrix Cloud: The Coping Mechanism for Digital Disruption


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In most organisations at least one commonality exists; nobody likes unnecessary complexity. And, perhaps contrary to many stereotypes, least of all the IT department. So much so, many organisations that I have spoken to recently have prioritised simplification and automation among the highest business objectives for 2017; in order to increase their businesses agility, improve their ability to react to changing requirements and demands, and to speed up the time to value when delivering IT initiatives. 

This comes as many businesses are admittedly struggling to keep up with the constant pace of workplace change, innovations in technology, and the increasingly digital landscape in which we operate. Whilst business leaders recognise the value that digital presents including; improved productivity, effectiveness, engagement and profitability; standing in the way of achieving these objectives is complexity.

As a result, many find themselves in a state of digital disruption, with the organisations failing to react to changing workplace landscapes, user demands and organisational pressures quick enough to sustain a competitive advantage in challenging markets whilst maintaining the level of security required in today’s modern workspaces.

In addition, for many organisations it is becoming increasingly complex for their IT department to manage mobile workspace infrastructure – with vast amounts of different applications to install, ever-changing user bases to account for, challenges in forecasting capacity, both known and unknown security threats, constant installing of updates and investing in infrastructure to meet changing and unpredictable user and business demands.

This is where Citrix Cloud comes in. Citrix Cloud is a secure, evergreen SaaS like control plane that unites and integrates all of the Citrix technologies to deliver a unified administration, user experience that overcomes the challenges presented by the digital landscape – delivering workspaces the way you want that are “Secure by Design”. It has quickly become the fastest and most flexible way to securely deliver applications and data to any device, over any network, whilst simplifying the management of your secure digital workspace in the process.

In Jan 2017, I was fortunate enough to attend Citrix’s annual partner conference, Citrix Summit, and saw first-hand how and why Citrix Cloud is going to be a game changer for businesses in 2017. Quite simply, Citrix Cloud enables customers to cope effectively with digital disruption by removing complexity and empowering IT departments to say yes.

Over the past few weeks we have been running a collaborative series of workshops with Citrix SE’s to share insight and recommendations with organisations about preparing for the transition to Citrix Cloud and Hybrid Cloud strategies. Due to the positive feedback from these sessions, we added a number of additional dates for March. So if you would like to explore the features and benefits of using Citrix Cloud services, understand Citrix’s vision and roadmap for 2017 – including their strategic alliance with Microsoft “Better Together” – then we would love you to join us at one of our upcoming events.

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Citrix Summit Tech Series – HDX . NOW & .NEXT


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Sitting in the airport on the way home from Citrix Summit, I found myself mulling over all the cool announcements and updates that had been shared and how exciting being a Citrix mobile workspace architect will be this year. So I thought I would start a blog series and cover some of these topics. Over the next few weeks keep tuned for an architects view on what’s new and exciting from Citrix in 2017.

My core ethos for virtual desktop and application delivery architectures are easy to follow;
deliver an amazing end user experience and be simple to manage.

After this the rest seems to take care of itself (with the right amount of thought and planning) but its these reasons that keep me coming back to Citrix and in delivering the first ethos the HDX protocol is key (and king). Now there are many aspects of HDX that would warrant putting pen to paper but its ability to deliver on the visual elements are what the user will see every time they interact. So let’s have a look at what’s going on here and to start I think a recap on the last 6 months and XenDesktop 7.11 is needed.

HDX.NOW
So HDX.NOW (my term not Citrix) has had some very nice updates in the XenDesktop versions since 7.6 that enable choice for the admin and deliver exceptional end user experiences. Specifically though before 7.11 we had two main (not limited to) protocol modes, but had to make a choice as the session started on which to use, these were known as:

  •  264 (Thinwire Advanced or SuperCodex)
    Great for Video playback and delivering a great user experience but at a cost of CPU on the server side VDA
  • Thinwire+
    Great for more static text environments. Great on server side VDA resource and great for older or low powered end point devices.

With the release of XenDesktop 7.11 we have a new mode known as Adaptive Display v2 that removes the need for administrators to make that upfront choice. This new mode is simply activated by a policy allowing HDX to run Thinwire+ by default and then switch dynamically to H.264 when it detects moving images within the users session or application. This can be seen in the image below, red and blue are ThinWire regions while the green videos will be rendered by h.264.

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This really cool advancement ensures maximum server side scale, least network bandwidth usage and the best end user experience regards less of content type. Delivering on both my primary ethos at the same time! For more info on this see this Citrix blog.

It’s not just for video that HDX.NOW is providing an amazing user experience. Checkout the video below I recorded at Summit with the amazing guys in the Demo Sandbox.

 

What we are seeing here XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro, Windows10, Nvidia GRID and a Raspberry Pi for the end point, delivering seamless 3D graphics.

HDX is working over only 5Mbps of bandwidth and delivering full screen real time 3D rendering with smooth and responsive interactions (even with me trying to master a 3D space mouse for the first time), HDX reduces the image quality during motion and then builds back to a pixel perfect lossless image when you stop moving. This build to lossless technology allows precise movements in high powered applications with zero quality loss when viewing.

These are just two great feature of the HDX.NOW that showcase some of the power HDX is delivering to customers right now. Now you might think that with such amazing results from the existing HDX protocol that Citrix would sit tight and rest for a while, but this is not the case.

Spending some time with the product guys for HDX revealed what they are calling HDX.NEXT, a complete and revolutionary upgrade to HDX that will be available in the next release of XenDesktop. Having watched demos of XenDesktop running HDX.NEXT over 250ms latency and 1% packet loss I can say the results are amazing. Quicker in most tests that a fat client PC, quicker video response, quicker file transfers and smoother graphics, it’s a game changer for virtual desktops for sure.

On top of the amazing performance increases we also get a 60% (yes sixty) reduction in bandwidth usage and a small increase in server density!! Simply incredible news. Don’t believe me see the results from LoginVSI testing below.

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The continued improvements in HDX over the last few years have ensured the solutions we deliver continue to meet our customers end user demands and keep the ICT teams delivering on the original promises of the solution. The world of end user computing is ever changing and the demands on bandwidth and datacenter server capacity ever increasing, HDX is fighting back and remains a core component for delivering our ‘Better than a PC’ experience.

Want to see this and all the announcements from Summit? Come to one of our free update events, network with peers and see how Citrix are delivering on Cloud, Security and User Mobility in 2018.

robRob Sims – Senior Solution Architect
Rob helps customers to understand their business challenges, and guides them to leverage technology as a mechanism for change.

Blog, Citrix, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2017


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This week I attended Citrix’s annual partner conference – Citrix Summit – in Anaheim, California. As a specialist Citrix Platinum partner, we attend the event each year to ensure we are primed to inform our customers about the latest updates, announcements, vision and roadmap. You can register here to hear Cetus and Citrix deliver the very latest updates from Citrix Summit. 

The event kicked off with a vision keynote which allowed the senior leadership team at Citrix, lead by president and CEO Kirill Tatarinov, to offer perspective on industry transformation and position Citrix’s vision for helping customers leverage innovation and strategic partnerships in 2017 to achieve business objectives and outcomes.

Throughout the entirety of the keynote, tech talks and the numerous breakout tracks, Citrix’s strategy was clear and consistent. To provide integrated technology services that make apps and data secure and easy to access, and as a result help organisations of all sizes achieve the speed and agility necessary to grow and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Within the content, some key themes emerged and took predominant focus in my opinion; Citrix’s Cloud Strategy, the strategic partnership with Microsoft, and integration of solutions (in terms of user experience and administration).

Citrix’s Cloud Strategy
There is no hesitation that Citrix are rapidly moving towards a cloud-first strategy, with Citrix Cloud providing a single place to access all Citrix technologies in the cloud. It’s quickly becoming the fastest, simplest and most flexible way to deliver Citrix technology to any device over any network – therefore a very interesting and attractive update was the launch of Citrix Cloud Accelerator; a comprehensive set of transition and trade-up offers for customers who own existing XenApp or XenDesktop licenses and want to move to Citrix Cloud. Also made available is a XenApp on Azure Cost Calculator, which is a tool that Cetus can help you use to provide you with a complete set of cost estimates for deploying Citrix XenApp on Microsoft Azure. In addition, a new Citrix Ready HCI Workspace Appliance Program was launched that enables hyper-converged appliances from hardware and storage partners to connect into Citrix Cloud.

Strategic partnership with Microsoft
Over the past year, Citrix and Microsoft have built the foundations and now Citrix are stepping it up a gear to further accelerate their joint innovation.

– The integration of Citrix NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft Intune
Citrix unveil the integration of NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft EMS. Together, Citrix and Microsoft joined forces to deliver to our customers a solution that offers conditional access for mobile users.  Conditional access delivers an added level of security for mobile users which helps customers protect their on-premise resources

– The launch of XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials
Available in the Azure Marketplace, XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials make it easier for customers to accelerate secure app delivery and cloud-based Windows 10 VDI, empowering IT to align apps and desktop services with business needs, while delivering the superior experience, reliability and value associated with XenApp and XenDesktop.

– Collaboration between Citrix & Microsoft on Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)
The expanded Citrix partnership with Microsoft includes powerful collaboration to significantly enhance value for Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) customers with Citrix capabilities for delivering enterprise-grade productivity combined with device and data security managed over the network. This Azure-based Citrix solution for EMS will include micro-VPN capability for secure, identity-based access to on-premises applications on EMS managed devices, providing the most comprehensive mobility solution available in the market. In addition, later this year, the solution will also include versions of Citrix market-leading productivity apps, such as Secure Mail and Secure Web that customers will be able to manage with EMS.

Wrapping up this blog for now on the note of integration. At this years Summit there was a big focus on integration of solutions, from both an end user experience and an administration perspective, echoed in a joined up product strategy. To find out more, and hear what we feel are the most pressing updates, make sure you register for our update events, taking place in various locations throughout the UK.

Register for our upcoming cloud events, where we will demonstrate how the cloud can transform your work environment.

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