Is Citrix's Crystal Palace the next thing in mobility, or just an additional feature of ShareFile?

Sometimes the campaigns that "try to go viral" actually work, I guess, because this week the chatter seems to be about Citrix's Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace allows you to share documents and clipboard items between OSes and devices.

Sometimes the campaigns that "try to go viral" actually work, I guess, because this week the chatter seems to be about Citrix's Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace allows you to share documents and clipboard items between OSes and devices. Jack mentioned it last week in his news wrap-up, and twitter is awash with retweets pointing to a video posted by Citrix Labs  If you look way back, though, you might remember seeing something about it at Citrix Synergy this past May.

The short description of Crystal Palace is that it uses ShareFile to act as a buffer for things to be shared across devices. Essentially, you drop a document or block of text into Crystal Palace, and it's synced to your other devices. You can specify which device to sync to so whatever you doing isn't available to all of your devices, and you can also send documents or clips to your contacts for them to access the same way. 

Digging around the Crystal Palace FAQ, you can see that it's currently supported on iOS 6, Android 4.0-4.3, and Windows 7/8. Support for OS X, Android 4.4, and iOS 7 are coming soon. It integrates into whatever OS it's installed on by using Send To, Share, or Open In functionality in addition to drag and drop (in Windows). Most types of files are supported (spare executables and self-expanding archives), but audio and video files don't work on iOS and Android. There's no indication as to why that's the case, though. Setting it up seems simple enough on Windows, but requires some tinkering to get it working on iOS (specifically in Safari, where you have to create and then modify a bookmark before being able to use it). This is probably related to the closed-off nature of iOS more than anything else. There are other complications, too, like with the clipboard. Apple won't let anyone directly interface with the clipboard, so in order to send clipboard items from iOS to something or someone else, you have to paste test into the Crystal Palace app itself. The reverse is also true (copy from the Crystal Palace app and paste into your own app).

Sharing clipboard objects and documents seems to me like the low hanging fruit in this situation, but it's a good place to start. Still, that can't be all Citrix is up to here. I mean, right now, corporations remain fixated on Microsoft Office where something like this is useful, but Office 365 and Google Drive are all vying for position in the next generation of Office, and each of them has no device-based restrictions that need third party solutions (or the complications that come with them). If you had one of those solutions, you wouldn't necessarily need this.

The clipboard sharing is cool, but if you think about the thing you're most likely to cut & paste between devices, you're probably looking at URLs. Right now, I have a similar functionality built into Google Chrome where I can pull up tabs open on my desktop from my mobile device. I use that functionality occasionally, and I can also see an occasional need for clipboard sharing, but I think Citrix has got to have bigger plans for this, especially considering the complex process. In many cases with iOS, it's no easier to send a URL or document to someone via Crystal Palace than it is to send a text message or an email.

While not in the official Citrix video, the article from TechWorld from last May also refers to a video switching feature that lets you watch a video on one device, stop it, then share it with another device. Then, on the other device, it will pick up right where it left off. While it isn't likely to be a use case that applies primarily to businesses, it is this kind of situational awareness that could make Crystal Palace something cool in the future.

So what could be next for Crystal Palace? What IT functions do we need to sync between devices? I imagine technology like this being used to persist settings across devices and OSes. We use the example that your email configuration is the same across all your devices, so would't it be cool to only set that one time and have those settings deployed to your devices? What about things like your personalized dictionary or spell checker? Combine those kinds of information with the clipboard, documents, videos, and so on, and this could be a useful set of technologies. 

Unless this is going to be exclusively a feature of ShareFile, Citrix will need to open it up to other backend cloud data platforms. Odds are, though, that it will be a ShareFile only solution, used to attract customers with additional functionality (which I believe is pretty unique). It's a shame Synergy London isn't happening this year, because the timing is perfect. This could've been an interesting aspect of the show. I'm not sure that there's anything earth-shattering enough that it will grow into its own product, but time will tell. Things that purposely go "viral" like this are usually timed that way for a reason, so I suspect we'll learn more about Crystal Palace very soon (not to mention anything else that was originally slated to drop at Synergy London).

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isn't it the beginning of context mobility ?


See AppSense fflickit.

I see Crystal palace as thinking along the same lines, but with a backbone to follow through hopefully.