Beyond Citrix Experts: Experts in Access

Written by Erin Brennan

January 8, 2020

Let’s summarize – we’ve demonstrated our ability to support hardware from multi-tier to cloud; we’ve identified how we account for expertise in supporting infrastructure, specifically Microsoft ADS, Azure and Azure AD, hybrid cloud; and noted that apps, desktops, data and services all have unique requirements for design, deployment, and integration, especially Office 365.  Now, how do we factor access into this mix?

In a Citrix world, we always recommend one option – Citrix ADC.  Citrix ADC, or ADC Gateway, is the mechanism to provide secure remote access to your Apps and Desktops platform.  However, as we discussed prior, Citrix ADC can do much more than just provide remote access to Citrix.  It can also serve as a Unified Gateway to facilitate access to additional resources, including internal web-based applications (i.e. OWA, SharePoint), SaaS applications, and even has full VPN capabilities to provide a “desk-like” experience.  In distributed models, Citrix ADC can leverage global load balancing in an active/active or active/passive manner to ensure ideal delivery of assets based on proximity, best response, or during planned or unplanned outages.  This logic holds true whether you leverage multiple on-premises data centers or have a hybrid strategy leveraging on-premises with public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure.

However, access is not just a consideration for external staff – internal access is just as important.  Deploying services internally within a single location still does require guarantee of service excellence, which boils down to effective use of LAN connectivity, including wireless and wired considerations, network segmentation, and quality of service.  The last thing we’d want is a single user streaming content from the internet impacting the quality of experience for everyone else.

Looking back on the origins of Third Octet, the root of our existence – Work. Life. Balance – one can start to understand how we craft our technology portfolio.  And if you’ve ever met with us, sat in on an event, or read any of our materials, our approach to technology utilization is distinct.  Work-life balance is very subjective and often misinterpreted, so it’s important to illustrate how we strive to provide that as part of technology.  We leverage technology solutions to help organizations define and achieve work-life balance; firstly, by leveraging solutions that are easy to design, deploy, and support, which allows IT the ability to define their own balance so they are not worrying about the complexity of the platforms they support. Secondly, we look for technology solutions that remove barriers to user productivity and allow people to work on their terms, whenever and wherever they may be.  Fundamentally, we vet technology on its contributions to defining a balance, and if that vetting process eliminates a technology, even if it’s the best thing since sliced bread, so be it – we live with that choice if it does not align with our philosophy.

When we started to realize that organizations were looking to us more and more for expertise alongside networking aspects, specifically for wired, wireless, and firewall components, we spent significant time determining vendor best fit.  In the end, we determined Cisco Meraki was very much aligned to contributing to work-life balance – the technology simplified life for IT and for users, meeting all the requirements of our vetting process.

Beyond that, we understand massive network complexity in enterprise environments and, for those particular situations where our expertise does fall short, we’ve established great relationships with partners who do cover our gaps in knowledge and ensure the immediate and continued success of our own expertise.

Beyond “local”, what about deploying services across dispersed locations, such as through MPLS or VPN? Further, what about the impacts of latency on service quality, or demands of cloud consumption on the network?  These questions occur in regular cadence.  As centralized delivery, either on-premises or via cloud services, increases with each passing day, we’re pressured to ensure connectivity and access exceeds demand.  The keyword is “exceeds” as, generally, we want to ensure a buffer of capability is always available.  This is where the benefit of software defined WAN and WAN optimization take over – not only for the visibility they provide, but for their ability to minimize complexity in delivering services over geographic distances, tackling the challenges of latency and making more effective and efficient use of available connectivity strategies today.

Organizations are faced with network congestion constantly and, unfortunately, the general knee-jerk reaction is to provide more bandwidth.  Our first ask is always around visibility – understand who, what, why, and how people, processes, or applications are using the network and then identify whether all the traffic patterns are pertinent to business need.  If not, deprioritize; if so, optimize.  With the network, knowledge is power – power to make the appropriate decisions to ensure the ideal user experience.

During Citrix design, we first understand what users require to conduct their responsibilities and, potentially, factor what they may need in the future. Then we identify the impacts of the user requirements on the networks.  If the client’s existing network is a concern, we stop – that must be remediated before we continue, and that remediation must first identify what it is about the network that will constrain user experience.  If it’s simply a matter of Citrix throughput exceeding the connection maximum speeds, we can upgrade that circuit or identify whether optimization of Citrix traffic through SDWAN will allow it to “fit” within the constraint.  And, where we fall short, we leverage experts, openly, to continue both progress and success.

Now, what do users and weather have in common?  That’s for our next post.

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