At Citrix Synergy last May, attendees saw a preview of the Citrix Analytics service. In that demonstration, the audience was shown security intelligence features such as re-authentication requirements and partial lockdown of user access when data points indicated that a potential breach was in progress. When multiple indicators alarmed, user access was automatically shut down.
It’s now been nine months since that demonstration, and all indications are that Citrix is feverishly working towards making the Citrix Analytics service reality. Let’s discuss what Citrix Analytics claims to address and what VMware is doing in parallel, as well as where analytics does and doesn’t fit.
Citrix Analytics is focused on security, performance, and operations. Actionable insights will be able to pinpoint anomalies in user behavior that are likely indicative of a security threat. For example, it would be logistically impossible for a user based in North America to access corporate systems from Asia just a few hours after logoff.
While we have yet to see the Citrix Analytics functionality come to market, current Citrix job openings and Citrix’ newest acquisition, Cedexis, solidify that forward progress is underway. Cedexis is a technology that purports a better user experience based on real-time internet and app performance data. In a related press release, Citrix stated: “Cedexis technology further advances the Citrix Analytics service by providing intelligent traffic steering and DNS services based on real-time network conditions of the internet.” Certainly, blending Cedexis into Citrix Analytics provides network-related data points that fortify the Analytics solution.
Further, on Citrix’ web site, customers are invited to request a preview of the new Analytics offering, though at this time, there is no indication as to the exact timing.
VMware hasn’t been sitting back
Meanwhile, VMware has made three strategic acquisitions to further its progress in its quest to provide a robust Analytics offering. Right about when Citrix was demonstrating its plans for Analytics at Synergy last May, VMware acquired Apteligent. Apteligent is focused on mobile application performance management, and VMware has clearly stated that it plans to leverage this technology in its Digital Workspace Platform.
Next, VMware acquired VeloCloud in December 2017, which propelled VMware into the SD-WAN space. As customers expand their workspace investments, the security and intelligence of SD-WAN services are important aspects.
Lastly, VMware acquired CloudCoreo earlier this month, and this new addition focuses on security and management of cloud deployments. CloudCoreo identifies security risks by scanning and monitoring cloud infrastructure in order to prevent compliance violations and breaches.
VMware already has a stronger identity play in the form of their IDaaS offering, VMware Identity Manager, which gives them more points of visibility into user activity and more opportunities to control access.
The combination of the Apteligent and CloudCoreo management technologies in conjunction with a robust SD-WAN offering clearly make VMware a contender in the analytics space.
Where analytics fits—and where it may not
Analytics, from the standpoint of both the Citrix and VMware, have tremendous merit by providing IT organizations with the data points and business intelligence to make immediate user access decisions based on real-time security issues. While it’s likely that some automated user access decisions may be erroneously restrictive, it’s far better to have a user call the help desk after incorrectly being locked out than to allow a hacker to gain unnoticed access to enterprise systems for hours or days.
However, a key concern in both analytics offerings is being able to obtain data points from all products. What if an IT organization uses a combination of vendor products? While various clouds and network connectivity are common denominators to application infrastructures, enterprise environments typically comprise specific components from a multitude of vendors. There’s no indication that a mix-and-match solution from Citrix or VMware can input all the data points necessary for robust business security intelligence.
For example, an IT shop with both Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon based on vSphere for the hypervisor may use NetScaler as the application delivery controller being that it supports PCoIP, load balancing, and other functionality. Further, AirWatch may be used as the mobility solution, and ShareFile may be the enterprise file storage system. How will such an environment fit into the Analytics systems of both Citrix and VMware?
Where mixed environments exist, third-party monitoring and management products may bridge the gap between a single-vendor analytics system. Vendors such as eG Innovations, ControlUp, Lakeside, Goliath, and others are no doubt watching this space.
The competition is heating up between Citrix and VMware in the analytics space. Not only is each being challenged to provide a premium offering with optimal security, robust intelligence, and straightforward management, but the reality of mixed-vendor environments may morph analytics in unexpected ways.