Citrix puts DevOps front and center

I had the privilege of attending Citrix Synergy 2014 in Anaheim at the beginning of May. Citrix unveiled a variety of new and updated products, but one announcement in particular surprised me a little. Citrix talked about new capabilities for automation with a very DevOps-ish approach.

During a keynote presentation at Citrix Synergy 2014, Sudhakar Ramakrishna, senior vice president and general manager for the enterprise and service provider division at Citrix talked about automatic provisioning through Xen Desktop, and creating blueprints for deployment. He didn’t overtly call it DevOps during the keynote, but it all seemed very similar to what other DevOps tools and services accomplish.

I followed up with Citrix, and had a conversation with Steve Shah. Shah told me that DevOps is absolutely front and center in the thought process for Citrix when it comes to developing products and services for its customers, as well as for mapping out its future strategies.

Shah was at one point a bit of a DevOps naysayer. In an article in 2011, Shah questioned the credibility of DevOps and wondered whether it would survive as an actual thing, or if it was really just a flash-in-the-pan buzzword. Three years later and still gaining momentum, I think we can safely say that Shah’s doom and gloom assessment was off base.

Citrix understands the need and the value for automating routine aspects of provisioning and managing virtual systems. According to Shah, though, one of the things Citrix has noted about the broader landscape is that there is no clear platform for doing DevOps. There are a wide variety of tools and services with a few leaders, but no clear “winner”.

Shah told me that Citrix is only one part of a much larger solution, and it respects that it has to play nice with a wide variety of other products and services, or customers will find other solutions. There are too many unique, custom applications out there for Citrix to individually address them all, so Citrix has instead focused on creating open APIs that enable vendors or customers to develop their own methods of integrating with Citrix.

Another area where Citrix has embraced DevOps—whether it is openly called that or not—is through the use of Blueprints. Citrix determined that there are certain deployment scenarios that are very common for customers across all industries. Rather than having each one of them struggle to develop their own solutions, Citrix designed Blueprints of common scenarios that customers can use as a foundation for their own environments—similar in many respects to the Recipes and Cookbooks used with Chef, a popular DevOps platform.

My revelations from the Citrix Synergy keynote, and my subsequent conversation with Citrix made two things clear. First, many organizations may be embracing elements of DevOps without even realizing or calling it that. There are things that just make sense when managing a large, rapidly evolving environment that naturally lead to implementing aspects of DevOps. Flipping that point upside down, those same needs are more or less the origin of the DevOps movement.

Second, DevOps is gaining momentum and becoming more mainstream as time goes on. While many still struggle to define DevOps, it shows up in day-to-day operations, and in the platforms and tools organizations use whether they understand it or not, and whether they call it DevOps or not.

About the author  ⁄ Tony Bradley

Tony Bradley is a respected authority on technology. He writes for a variety of online and print media outlets. He has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Unified Communications for Dummies, Essential Computer Security, and PCI Compliance. He has been a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) for over 10 years, and he has been recognized by Microsoft as an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in Windows and Windows security for 8 consecutive years. Before founding Bradley Strategy Group, Tony Bradley was Chief Marketing Officer for Zecurion—a leading data loss prevention company. Prior to that, Bradley was Director of Security at Evangelyze, and was previously an IT administrator and information security consultant working with companies like General Motors, American Airlines, Marathon Oil, and PepsiCo / Frito Lay. Mr. Bradley is a frequent guest of the IMI-TechTalk radio show, and has made appearances on a variety of other radio and TV shows. He is frequently quoted, and has presented at a wide range of events.

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