BARCELONA—Mobile World Congress tends to serve as a catch-all for not just new smartphones and mobile tech, but all manner of cutting-edge cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), networking, and intelligence innovations.
For a company like Citrix, which offers software and services from desktop and mobile virtualization to cloud-based communications and encrypted file transfer, MWC presents an opportunity to unveil a broad array of new tech. This year, it announced a new IoT program called the Citrix Workspace Ready Hub, a new Citrix Analytics service, and shared details of its recent acquisition of software-defined application delivery platform Cedexis.
Citrix Workspace Ready Hub
The Citrix Workspace Ready Hub is an IoT-enabled program launching with two hardware partners, NComputing and ViewSonic, creating ultra-thin clients to access virtual workspaces in a variety of different environments without the need to log into a desktop. The versatile devices are equipped with a feature called Citrix Casting, which acts like an IT-approved Chromecast. If a Workspace Hub device is enabled in a room, a user can cast an app or screen from their mobile device to an in-room screen, but with full access to managed company data.
“This set of new technology is designed to bridge together the secure digital workspace provided by Citrix with the physical workplace,” said Steve Wilson, Citrix VP of IoT and Cloud. “These very small devices based on Raspberry Pi allow you to access the full Citrix [virtualized] desktop…allowing the workspace hub to be a bridge between a typical screen in a conference room and your mobile device.”
Wilson said Workspace Ready Hub devices are designed not for traditional office settings, but for environments such as hospitals. In this instance, doctors can get quick access to data such as electronic medical records without the need to go back and forth entering data into a desktop computer, while at the same time still maintaining compliance.
“Doctors can use Citrix to log into their medical records from any room in the hospital, but they spend a lot of time going back and forth taking vitals, typing them in, etc. We want to help doctors get back to being doctors and not data-entry technicians,” said Wilson. “So a doctor walks in. They have an electronic medical records app running on their phone. They can then quickly Citrix Cast it to the environment in the room running Workspace Hub and get access on a big screen where it’s easy to read, with an optional keyboard and mouse in the room.”
He talked about enabling IoT devices like a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure meter or thermometer, allowing doctors to take vitals that are automatically streamed into Workspace Hub and updated in the records app. Wilson said Citrix is developing the program into a full IoT hub, and working with Microsoft to integrate the Azure IoT SDK to enable the ability to connect other local IoT devices to the hub.
The software also includes a Session Roaming feature to allow a smartphone to automatically authenticate and sync with a Workspace Hub when a user walks in range. Users can also manage the in-room device through the Citrix XenMobile app.
The Citrix Ready Workspace Hub is available now through NComputing and ViewSonic, and Citrix said advanced features such as dual monitor support and Skype for Business integration will be available as a technical preview on March 31.
Citrix Analytics, Cedexis, and Network Tools
The company’s other major MWC release is Citrix Analytics. This security-focused service employs machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze user behavior and identify potentially malicious actors and other security threats. Wilson called it a new approach to securing end-user computing environments.
“All the various touch points we help secure in an end-user’s computing environment—desktops and windows apps, mobile devices, ShareFile for documents—we’re building telemetry into all of these products to gather data whenever a user does something, stream that into a data pool, and apply AI and machine learning to it to develop risk scores,” explained Wilson.
Citrix Analytics develops individualized profiles of what users are doing, what devices they use, their login patterns, etc. to “watch for when users start not to act like themselves,” said Wilson. This creates a baseline for identifying aberrations that could indicate compromised credentials or malicious behavior.
The Cedexis acquisition bolsters what Citrix Analytics will be able to do by incorporating internet availability metrics. According to Citrix, the predictive content routing capabilities offered in the Cedexis platform can now apply intelligent traffic steering techniques by capturing real-time data points from public clouds, ISPs, data centers, and multiple content delivery networks (CDNs). The company is only beginning to explore a potential roadmap for integrating Cedexis, but plans to offer Cedexis both as a standalone offering and as additional capabilities within the Citrix ecosystem.
“Cedexis addresses a key market expansion for us moving into intelligent traffic management,” said Steve Shaw, VP of Product Management for Citrix Networking. “The application delivery controller market is increasingly moving to the cloud, so being able to select and manage how traffic flows through the cloud is becoming increasingly critical. Cedexis is a data-driven solution collecting up to 15 million data points a day, and we’re also collecting data from APM systems and synthesizing that to let you see a custom set of policies the customer can write themselves.”
Finally, Citrix launched a new program that allows service providers and MSPs to offer an SD-WAN service to customers. This includes a new LTE-enabled branch appliance to add a wireless link to the offering with an integrated firewall and routing. Wilson used hospitals once again as an example to show how the program works.
“Customers like hospitals where there’s a shared central data center but a lot of endpoints need to connect back to a network that’s highly efficient, reliable, and high-performance,” said Wilson. “They can buy all of those things, but it’s really expensive. Software-defined wide area network [SD-WAN] technology combines connections for managed service providers for low-cost conusmer broadband.”