‘Small is beautiful’ as technology revolutionizes the workspace


Flexibility is key as generations who grew up in digital age enter the workforce

A training sessions at Citrix Synergy 2015, which showcased how technology is transforming the workspace.

A training sessions at Citrix Synergy 2015, which showcased how technology is transforming the workspace.

Photograph by: Dan Chung

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Honey, they shrunk the workspace.

From working on your desk, to working on a desktop computer, a laptop or a tablet, your workspace has been getting smaller and smaller.

The new workspace, according to Citrix CEO Mark Templeton, can be carried in your pocket.

It’s a trend that will see tomorrow’s workspace defy traditional descriptions and instead become a concept in which your work follows you around, from large screens to smartphones, from personal devices, to corporate computers.

“A workspace is whatever you need, whatever kinds of digital tools you need to accomplish your task independently of the kind of device, in fact optimized around the device,” Templeton told the audience at Citrix Synergy, an annual conference hosted by Citrix that brings together companies and industry experts focusing on mobile workplace solutions. “If you’re trying to accomplish a task and your workspace is mobile. If you’re trying to accomplish a task that’s pretty large in scale like designing an aircraft, I’d say that’s not quite a mobile task, that’s a task that requires different elements of the workspace,” he said. “Workspace is all of the above.”

Technology is changing the face of the mobile computer user. Today the location and the task can dictate the device you use.

Among the technology shown off at Citrix Synergy 2015:

While Citrix unveiled a number of new products, probably what helped #CitrixSynergy trend on Twitter nationwide and drew the biggest cheers from the crowd of IT specialists was Citrix’s new Workspace Cloud.

Citrix Workspace Cloud lets IT departments build a personal workspace for every user that includes all the desktop, web and mobile apps they would need, with data, collaboration tools, their documents and other elements that once would have resided on a single computer. In an era of BYOD — bring your own device — it will also let companies separate personal apps and data from corporate ones, allowing them to safeguard corporate systems.

In a health care demonstration, a 3D image of a patient’s heart can pop up on the iPad screen of a cardiovascular surgeon at home or in another city or hospital. Using the touch screen, the doctor can manipulate the image, moving it around to see the entire organ.

“We’re demonstrating the ability to move the entire clinical workspace, including 3D imaging anywhere in the world,” said Jake Hughes, Citrix Systems. “The joke we have is the doctor can stay on the golf course and continue golfing even while they consult on a cardiology experience back at the hospital.”

In a foray into the “Internet of Things,” Citrix unveiled Project Octoblu, a collaboration with Amazon that uses beacon technology to automate the workplace. The technology connects machines or devices. In one example, simply walking away from your office computer could trigger a shift in your virtual workspace, which would then automatically show up on the tablet you’re carrying.

In another example, when a user’s calendar signalled a video conference was due to start in Citrix’s GoToMeeting app, the meeting app launched automatically and carried out other automated tasks, including notifying latecomers it was about to begin.

At universities, even complex, power-hungry graphics programs can be delivered to students on anything from an Xbox to a smartphone, taking away the need for an expensive powerhouse computer.

Your IT help desk may like Concierge, as will companies that offer instant online help. It extends the ability to instantly connect with a help desk or customer support on a mobile device and lets the client share their app screen and camera, so the person helping sees what the client is seeing.

It’s technology driven by the generations that are coming into the workforce, young people who have grown up in the digital era.

“That’s the generation we’re designing for,” said Templeton. “We’re trying to think about who are the employees, what’s the environment out there that customers are going to need to serve.

“It’s that kind of a workforce, with that kind of a background, with that kind of an expectation and with the availability of a variety of tools that are disposable.”

The new way is quite a contrast with the IT model, where hardware is one-size-fits-all and software is installed on business machines. In the workspace of the future, it’s a subscriber approach where pay-as-you go replaces one-time purchases and the workplace computing device ranges from the BYOD, to low-cost ‘thin clients,’ desktop terminals without any hard drive that merely access software and data from the cloud.

Templeton likens the IT organizations to Netflix, which delivers movies and shows to screen, whether it’s television, tablets, smartphones or other devices. The movie doesn’t stay on your TV, it’s just there when you want to see it.

Templeton described the Netflix models as delivering, “in a systematic, highly reliable, secure, on-demand way,” through an app or appliance.

“They don’t own televisions,” he said of Netflix.

When companies talk about shifting to the cloud, that shift could take place in a variety of ways.

“One of the things that is really misunderstood is that cloud is not a place,” said Templeton. “Cloud is a way of doing things and you can do cloud inside your house or you can do it outside your house or you can do it in both.

“We’re trying to make sure we give customers that choice because we don’t think we should be the ones dictating that.”

It’s that hybrid approach that many companies and organizations are taking, said Mike Gower, founder and president of Vancouver’s iTBlueprint Solutions, who was in Orlando for the Citrix conference.

“What I’ve found are most CIOs and VPs of technology are kicking the tires,” he said of the shift to the cloud infrastructure. “I think we are going to see a lot more hybrid cloud-type of implementations.

While transition looks fast in the demonstrations, the reality for many companies is that it could take years.

Gower said some companies and organizations are making cautious changes, while others opt to wait-and-see and still others are exploring their options — only to decide the economical course is to stick to their existing systems.

“You have to understand your costs and you have to understand what you have versus what you’re going to get,” he said.

But it’s a trend that’s not going away and it’s one being made easier by advances in technology, according to Dan O’Farrell, executive director of marketing and chief strategy officer for Dell Cloud Client Computing.

“What we’ve now done is placed the emphasis on infrastructure solutions that really take a lot of the guesswork out of what it takes to build this out,” he said.


Blog: vancouversun.com/digitallife

Gillian Shaw’s airfare and accommodation to attend the Citrix Synergy conference was paid by Citrix. The company did not see the story before publication.


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A training sessions at Citrix Synergy 2015, which showcased how technology is transforming the workspace.

A training sessions at Citrix Synergy 2015, which showcased how technology is transforming the workspace.

Photograph by: Dan Chung

A training sessions at Citrix Synergy 2015, which showcased how technology is transforming the workspace.
Citrix CEO Mark Templeton speaks about technological transormation at Citrix Synergy 2015 in Orlando, Florida.
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