Citrix this week announced it will make its remote access tool that enables users to efficiently access their desktop PCs more widely available via the cloud.
Gabe Carrejo, senior program manager for Citrix, said Remote PC Access provides a more efficient alternative to the virtual private networks (VPNs) that most organizations currently rely on to enable employees to remotely access their desktops.
To use Remote PC Access, an IT administrator installs a small client on the remote systems. The client provides access to a range of networking services that Citrix makes available on top of its Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) remoting protocol to create a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) tunnel, which Citrix markets collectively as High-Definition Experience (HDX) Technology.
To make it easier to access a desktop PC remotely, Remote PC Access installs agent software that IT teams can now push out to an endpoint as long as they have licensed any one of several Citrix services, said Carrejo. In most cases, IT teams will employ a platform such as Microsoft System Center to deploy agent software on an endpoint.
In the rush to provide employees with remote access almost overnight to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations turned to VPN offerings they were using to provide a small number of employees with remote access. However, with almost every employee trying to access the same VPN, many of those IT teams have encountered network bandwidth issues. What’s more, many of the desktop applications installed in the office are not especially tolerant of the latency a VPN adds to the equation.
Citrix has long been making the case for ICA as a more efficient protocol for providing remote access to desktops. Now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is making it easier for IT teams to distribute HDX agent software across as many remote endpoints an IT organization needs to support. End users can then access applications on their office desktops remotely via any HTML5-compatible browser or virtual desktop software provided by Citrix.
Carrejo said more organizations are re-evaluating their reliance on VPNs as it becomes clear that what once viewed as business disruption has become the “new normal.” Many organizations are looking closely at how many employees they need to come into an office when their job role may not require it. Remote computing is now a core element of a larger business continuity strategy. As such, Carrejo said many organizations are looking to find a way to provide more efficient remote access to office-based desktop systems while contemplating a possible transition to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform deployed in a local data canter or in the cloud.
It’s too early to say to what degree Windows desktops will be moving to VDI platforms. In the meantime, however, the remote access protocols that IT teams rely on suddenly matter a lot more.