Making the Digital Workspace a Reality

On the surface, the digital workspace sounds ideal:

More than a collection of apps or a remote desktop, the digital workspace delivers a contextualized, personalized experience that allows employees to work securely on whatever, from wherever, providing easy access to the full complement of tools, systems, and content required to get their job done.

But what’s under the hood? How can organizations make that workspace a reality while ensuring the smooth integration of existing legacy solutions?

Technologies for the digital workspace

IT leaders have placed tried-and-true technologies—email, file-sharing apps, and laptop computers—at the top of their list for enabling the digital workspace, according to an exclusive survey by IDG and Citrix.

Yet if you look closely at the rankings, all the technologies fill the bill. Even those falling at the bottom—enterprise social networking (69%) and virtual desktops (67%)—are still considered important to shaping the digital workspace.

That’s how it should be. With a complete toolbox of solutions, organizations must focus on user needs and then deliver a customized, personalized experience.

“It’s not so much about what people use; it’s how they use it and when they use it,” says Christian Reilly, VP and CTO at Citrix. “It means taking a digital workspace that has applications that come from different clouds and different providers and being able to make that adaptive.”

He offers the example of a doctor moving through a healthcare facility—from his office to the operating room and then to a patient’s room—and being able to access only the apps and data necessary in each place.

“There may be a reason—patient confidentiality, for example—that that doctor is not allowed to see application A or B but is allowed to see application C or D,” Reilly says. “The workspace is constantly understanding what it is that users do at various points and the policies or controls that need to be applied.”

Bringing legacy into the digital workspace

A component of what’s inside the digital workspace is the ability to ensure that legacy and native apps work across the interface. Here, Reilly says, centralization is the key.

“The workspace aggregates all different types of applications—traditional applications, newer ones, software as a service [SaaS] delivered by third parties, and mobile applications,” he says. “The beauty of the digital workspace is that it helps obfuscate some of the complexities from the user perspective but also from the IT perspective.”

So, how does that centralization happen in practice?

“There are a couple of different ways to approach it,” says Stan Black, chief security and information officer at Citrix. He cites various methods, including using APIs and virtualization.

“In fact, that’s what much of Citrix’s business is based on: taking applications that were older, weren’t necessarily secure, didn’t have a browser interface, or didn’t have an app on a mobile device,” Black says. “And that’s what’s exciting. We can federate to cloud services such as sales and HR tools, and we can make sure that corporate policies are being enforced when you connect to those, but we can also provide that same level of control to older applications that still reside within a data center.”

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