I read a comic today about a data center support technician who was going to put a fog machine in his lab, and when people walked in he could declare, “Welcome to the cloud!”

He laughed, his friends laughed and I died a little inside as I read it. The cloud is still viewed as some mysterious, futuristic technology — and rightfully so.

Cloud computing was something of a future-state technology not too long ago. And while we’ve built out business uses, and the cloud has become a market valued at hundreds of billions of dollars, we are still trying to grasp the solution as we see it changing before our eyes. New developments continue to build on cloud technology and push it into innovative new directions.

Cloud Basics

In the current state of cloud computing, cloud service providers offer customers a choice of cloud solutions that will work best with their defined requirements. These solutions could come in the form of a traditional enterprise agreement (EA) or cloud solutions provider (CSP) agreement. Cloud computing options, such as Microsoft Azure, provide the architectures as we know them today, which are made up of three individual parts:

  1. Software as a Service (SaaS)/Applications: Software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and hosted centrally
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): Compute resources are provided so customers can test, build and develop complex operations
  3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Resources such as virtual desktop compute platforms (Win10), networking and storage

When grouped together, these three architectures make up a total solution known as XaaS (Everything as a Service).

 


SOURCE: International Journal of Scientific & Technology Research

 

Let’s look at these services another way that may be more familiar (and tasty):

 


SOURCE: Albert Barron via LinkedIn

 

These types of virtually managed à la carte selections or the option of total XaaS cloud platforms have enabled businesses to be more agile when dealing with lifecycle management of PC and data center architectures.

Citrix’s Evolution

Many technical vendors have been continuing to develop solutions as cloud options continue to expand and combine with others to produce new enterprise solutions. One example of these solutions is a virtual computing platform developed by Citrix known as Workspace Cloud. This solution was designed to bring the time-consuming management aspects of client virtualization out of customers’ hands and into the Citrix managed cloud.

The Citrix cloud solution is made up of two parts:

  1. Workspace Cloud (operated by Citrix): StoreFront*, Netscaler*, Studio, Director, License Server, Delivery Controllers and SQL
  2. Customer managed (on-premises data center): Cloud Connector, Hypervisors (Server/Desktop VDAs) and Active Directory
*NOTE: Netscaler Gateway and StoreFront can be run in Workspace Cloud or customer data center.

Citrix has also enabled the partnership between Citrix Workspace Cloud and Microsoft’s Azure to create a total cloud solution for customers. This gives customers all the management, networking and security of Citrix and Azure cloud for virtual desktop and application hosting, enabling businesses who wish to be ahead of the curve when moving user workspaces to the cloud.

With the expansion of virtual (on-premises and cloud) solutions, IT managers are no longer tied down to the difficult process of tracking and securing expensive compute devices. There are now options, such as replacing these devices with powerful thin clients that require logging in to these secure virtual environments, as well as shared devices, tablets and other popular solutions.

Cloud software also puts professional tools such as Adobe Creative Suite within reach of small business budgets.

The Journey Continues

So, while everyone may know “about” the cloud, that doesn’t mean that we’ve fully developed all of its potential. This new product from Citrix and the way it interacts with the Azure platform shows that companies are continuing to find new and innovative ways to take advantage of cloud technology and that innovation is translating into smarter ROI on tech investments.

Cloud solutions will continue to drive our technology development as our data centers continue to transform into the next level of architecture. As for that comic I spoke of in the beginning of this post, it hangs in my office to remind me that we are truly living in the time when we can declare, “Welcome to the cloud!”

Learn more about IaaS and running Citrix within the Azure platform.

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