Citrix: reinventing the future of work

AI will liberate IT staff from the admin tasks, leaving them free to create and innovate

Tags: Citrix Systems Incorporation
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Citrix: reinventing the future of work My job is to make sure that our solutions become a strategic agenda item in board-level discussions, says El-Khayat.
By  David Ndichu Published  June 28, 2018

Contrary to widespread fears, artificial intelligence will not disenfranchise a large segment of the global working population.

Instead, AI will liberate humans from the drudgery of mundane corporate tasks, leaving them free to create and innovate, asserts Taj El-Khayat, regional director, MENA at Citrix.

The predictive qualities of AI will see technology adapt to human behaviour, aligning with how employees function. “For Citrix, utilising AI means being able to automate how users interact with applications, allowing them to save time by doing away with repeating tasks, and recognising behaviours and interacting with the use to optimise day to day tasks” says El-Khayat.

AI, together with Blockchain, will be at the heart of how people work in the future

Blockchain will increasingly become part of our ecosystem as transaction-based technologies evolve. “Citrix will only become more relevant for users using blockchain technology because, at the end of the day, blockchain will depend on applications which have to be accessed in a secure manner,” El-Khayat says.

Citrix wants to transform how customers access their data, applications and desktop from anywhere, on any device, faster and more secure. “We see ourselves sitting at the core of digital transformation to the point of becoming the platform for enhancing productivity and making sure we are addressing cost-effectiveness as organisations leverage digitisation,” says El-Khayat.

Citrix current portfolio provides the foundation to pursue this agenda.

Its flagship product, Workspace, has evolved to provide end users, through single sign-on, access to content and collaboration tools, virtualised desktops and applications in a secure manner through its enterprise mobility tools. “Citrix Workspace delivers this ability to have that integrated end user experience to access all these different functions through a unified manner,” El-Khayat explains.  

The second part of the portfolio is Citrix Networking, which El-Khayat says is geared towards providing the best end user experience through the applications delivery mechanism of the NetScaler line of products.

The Citrix networking story also includes SD-WAN platform which Citrix can leverage to provide network function virtualisation (NVF) features[TE1]  that combines real-time path selection, edge routing, stateful firewall, end to end QoS, and WAN optimisation and that will deliver the reliability and efficiency businesses demand. Third in the Citrix networking suite is security where the company provides application security by leveraging its application delivery controller (ADC), as well as  web application firewall (WAF), and the single sign-on features to the capability to wrap the entire Workspace environment in a secure methodology Citrix calls the Secure Digital perimeter.

Citrix Cloud has emerged as a key plank in Citrix product strategy. Customers can leverage the Citrix cloud as a control plane that manages workload migration to the cloud as well as handling the security aspects of those workloads on behalf of the customer. “Unlike other cloud services, customers are not actually moving their workloads into our cloud; we are using our cloud to take the headache away from customers in managing their operational overhead such as provisioning services, upgrades, patch management and management of the Citrix infrastructure,” El-Khayat explains.

A recent addition to the Citrix platform is Citrix Analytics which provides the ability to have complete visibility into the performance of applications. Citrix Analytics also delivers the ability to understand where the bottlenecks for application delivery are coming from and creates pre-alerts to enhance the end user experience.

The combination these four three different categories, which may at first instance may seem to be much siloed, actually deliver a unified story, explains El-Khayat. “It’s about delivering the best end user experience for users to access their data, applications and desktops in a fast, secure and reliable manner. We can make this unified approach work because we provide the technology, the delivery mechanism and the visibility,” he adds.

That said, the Citrix product philosophy is not necessarily about coming up with new products, says El Khayat. “It is how we make what we have stronger and more relevant. Our enterprise mobility platform is a good example. We have brought mobile application management and mobile device management into one solution, not through acquiring new technologies, but rather through continuous innovation enhance our abilities and our feature sets to cater to change in customer demands.”

El Khayat joined Citrix eight months ago. He states that one of his early objectives is to optimise the capabilities of the company’s workforce. This includes attracting and developing the talent across the regional organisation. The second pillar revolves around partners. “It’s my mission to support Citrix in transforming the partner strategy by enhancing and driving a policy to excite, enable and engage our channel community to deliver an enhanced end user experience and enable organisation to embark swiftly and securely into their digital transformation journey. Citrix is a partner-centric vendor; in this region we have a very important mission which is to empower those local system integrators and VARs to support our customers as well as leverage our global SIs for the creation of strategic projects being undertaken in the region, aligning with the vision of Dubai 2021, Saudi Vision 2030 and other similar initiatives.” 

The third pillar of his mission is the unification of the messaging around the Citrix portfolio. “We are now talking more about and end-to-end end-user experience platform through the combination of Citrix Workspace, Citrix Networking and Citrix Analytics. My job is to equip my team, partners and alliances (such as Nutanix, Microsoft, and Lenovo) with the tools and resources to position jointly our end-to-end story and focus on the business value creation for our customers,” El-Khayat says.

“Lastly, we need to make sure Citrix is becoming more relevant and more critical in customers conversations.” In key sectors of the regional economy such as oil & gas, the financial or telecom industries, Citrix may not readily be recognised as a solutions provider for such projects. “My job is to make sure that our value proposition is understood at the C-level and enable our solutions to become a strategic agenda item in board-level discussions,” El-Khayat asserts.  

As transformative as digitalisation is, it comes with its own set of cyber security challenges. “As the app economy grows, there will continue to be requirements for innovations in cyber security and more importantly, we believe customers will strive will strive to make sure they have what is required in terms of people, process and products that enable them to be two or three steps ahead of potential cyber-attacks.”

Citrix answer to the cyber security questions from customers is its digital security parameter. This methodology lends itself to how users access data irrespective of where they are though a contextualised type of security. “The NetScaler is at the heart of this methodology, managing our ability to transfer the user intent to the reality of accessing data customers want in a secure way,” says El-Khayat.

Ultimately, every organisation wants to simplify IT so that technology serves the organisation rather than becoming a hindrance to operations. An example is how head offices communicate with branches. The end user is becoming essentially the branch of any organisation. But to shift from communicating to a branch vs communicating end user requires substantial architectural redesign which includes collapsing a lot of networking tiers, El-Khayat observes.

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