Citrix isn't your average company when it comes to the cloud. Not only does it sell cloud services to customers, but it uses them internally as well, says Michael McKiernan, vice president of Citrix IT.
"We make the cloud a fundamental part of both the services and products we provide as well as part of the fabric of how Citrix works," he said.
"If you break it down to basics, all of our services are about being able to work how, when and where you want. Virtualization is almost a stand-in word for 'flexibility.' The cloud is the framework that allows this flexibility to happen. For Citrix customers that can mean widespread virtualization services in a large enterprise; it can also mean services that allow small businesses to meet with their vendors via web conference. Thanks to the cloud, we’re able to reach and help both," he explained.
That philosophy not only means that Citrix uses its own cloud services internally, but it also means using other cloud services within the IT infrastructure at Citrix.
"SaaS applications now make up 25 of 125 corporate applications. In 2012, we started using PaaS and IaaS solutions such Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services for mobile applications and workloads with elastic demand."
McKiernan adds, "Although we have virtualized many applications and devices into services, such as follow-me-data and BYOD, we are really at the start of the cloud journey with plans for a data center migration in 2013 using the CloudStack architecture and beta testing hybrid solutions such as Citrix Excalibur and Merlin."
Making a move from an on-premise vendor to the cloud required communicating with internal and external audiences. "It was important to explain any move we make to our employees in simple language and let them know the tangible benefits of doing business in the cloud."
As the company has made the transition to BYOD and cloud computing, the market has begun to catch up but McKiernan thinks there are still a long way to go.
"There are a lot of businesses that still believe in pretty antiquated practices like keeping people in a desk in a cubicle working only on a company desktop computer. People need to see how liberating BYOD is not just for their employees but to their creativity. If you allow people to choose how they want to work you often unleash a drive and an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about more than just letting someone choose their laptop; it’s about building a culture of trust with employees that says “we trust you to do the best work possible." And he believes IT can be an enabler of this change.
As for his own company, McKiernan believes the move to the cloud has made them faster and more nimble out of necessity -- and it's made the company more responsive to the needs of its employees for a work life balance. The challenge now is convincing customers of those benefits. But it certainly helps when you can show your own company as Exhibit A to a potential customer.