Recently, at Citrix Summit Singapore I had the opportunity to co-present a session with members of the Google Enterprise sales team. In the session we looked at the value of a joint Citrix/Google solution for enterprises who are looking toward alternatives to their traditional desktop computing environment. This post looks at why Citrix and Google are working together, and identifies some of the product innovations being worked on to create a more comprehensive solution for customers.

It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of Citrix and Google as solution partners seemed foreign. Owing to the consumerization of IT, that has changed, as organisations explore alternative, new end-user computing strategies. Citrix + Google is a great fit, and it starts with the vision the companies share for computing. Both believe in a world that considers work as something you do and not a place you go to, that people deserve device choice and freedom and that the enterprise is moving to a new era where IT is delivered as a Service. In this world, individuals are empowered to do their job with whatever tools they choose. Citrix customers will be familiar with the Citrix vision to “Work Better, Live Better”. Google has a similar vision and describes this as “Work the way you live”.

Organisations, will often first encounter Google as an enterprise computing provider through Gmail and Google Apps. Google has had huge success in Education and are winning across a range of industry sectors. Google Apps customers include large multi-nationals such as General Electric, Costco, National Geographic and DHL. In fact “58% of the Fortune 500 have gone Google” as determined by the 2012 Fortune 500 Report ranking. In Australia and New Zealand, where I am based, we are seeing large organisations across the airline, media and retail sectors make the move to Google for email and productivity applications.

The move to Google for mail and docs is often the first step for organisations, however many are now considering how they further embrace the Google platform. Google Chrome is the recommended method of access to Gmail and Google Apps. It is available as a web-browser and also as an OS in the form of Chromebook devices. Google has partnered with large hardware vendors such as Samsung, HP, Acer, Lenovo and Dell to release Chromebook devices. These offer a more integrated environment for users to consume Google services at a similar price point to thin clients, and are an alternative to running a Windows client device.

The challenge for organisations that want to go down this path is how to deal with their existing Windows applications. In a majority of cases, most of their business applications are Windows based. In addition, many applications which are web based applications are still dependent on Internet Explorer. Of course one option is to redevelop these Windows and Web applications, but this is unlikely to generate a positive return to the business and so other options must be considered. One proven alternative is to use virtualization to deliver existing Windows and Web applications to Chrome.

As the industry leader in application virtualization, Citrix is working together with Google to help organisations along this journey. By deploying Citrix applications and desktop visualization solutions organisations are able to adopt Google solutions without needing to re-write or replace the potentially 1000’s of Windows line of business apps, or websites that require AD authentication and specific browser versions.

This solution appealed to one of the major retailing chains in Australia, who has now deployed a Citrix + Google solution at their head office. The deployment has transitioned staff to Chromebook devices with Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Drive for their productivity tools; and Citrix HTML5 Receiver to access their Windows Apps and Desktops virtually via XenApp and XenDesktop.

A demonstration of this capability was included at Citrix Summit in Singapore. The demonstration focused on three extremely common use cases that need to work simply, and flawlessly for end users. The first was to enable the seamless opening of an email attachment inside a virtual Windows app from within Gmail. The second showed how users can access all of their files from within a virtual Windows environment on the Chromebook, whether they be stored on a network share, Google Drive or other location. The final use case showed how it was possible to copy and paste text between virtual Windows apps and browser based apps.

This focus on the end user, and recognition of the broader market trend to alternative end user computing strategies for enterprises, is driving Citrix research into new ways to work together with Google. The research is occurring across multiple solution areas and technologies. In the area of identity management, Citrix is looking at the potential to simplify access to Windows resources by enabling a Google ID to log into Citrix virtual apps and desktops.

In the collaboration space, the Citrix SaaS team has developed a prototyped a HTML5 version of the GoToMeeting client so that people can continue to collaborate using GoToMeeting on Chromebooks. The Citrix Labs team has integrated the experimental Crystal Palace application with Google Docs to enable faster document sharing and collaboration. Whether any of these are formally released remains undecided and dependent on customer demand, but it is reassuring to know that Citrix has an ongoing investment in this area.

In summary, for enterprises selecting Google as a component in their end user computing solutions, Citrix delivers integrated solutions that provide access to the existing Windows and Web applications, crucial to business operation. Importantly, we are working closely with Google on an ongoing basis to evolve our joint solution, and more broadly experimenting with HTML5 across our solution set to in response to the adoption of Chrome based solutions by the market.  Of course, if you’d like more information about any of this work please contact us at Citrix.