Citrix Dazzle Creates IT Self-Service Storefront for Users
Citrix Systems set out to dazzle attendees at the Citrix Synergy 2009 conference this week with a slew of announcements that focus on the possibilities of virtualization, networking and application delivery.
One announcement that turned the heads of CIOs is Citrix Dazzle. Citrix is positioning Dazzle as the first self-service storefront for enterprise applications. Citrix said Dazzle gives users on-demand access to apps and IT services and brings the economics of the Web to enterprise IT.
"Every day, employees are presented with an amazing array of exciting apps and services on the Web that spark their imagination and put them in full control of their experience. Then they come to work, and their IT experience is mandated by a bland 'general issue' sameness that threatens to drive every ounce of productivity and innovation out of them," said Mark Templeton, president and CEO of Citrix.
A Familiar User Interface
Templeton said Citrix is giving IT a tool that helps them "dazzle" end users. The hidden reality, he said, is that by giving employees the choice, IT actually saves money and gains even more control over the things that really matter. Citrix did not indicate how much cost savings an enterprise might expect from Dazzle.
To select an application in Dazzle, users browse and search based on application name, description or type. Users can also choose applications based on IT-defined categories such as functional department or group name.
To select an application, users click an icon in Windows or drag it into the applications folder or the dock on a Mac. Users can also organize selected applications into user-defined playlists. Apps available for offline use are designated in the Dazzle console so laptop users who need to work while disconnected from the network can choose appropriate apps.
What Makes Dazzle Sparkle
Underneath the Dazzle user interface sits Citrix Receiver, a universal software client that lets users access corporate apps and desktops from any device. Dazzle also interfaces directly with Citrix Merchandising Server, a new management system that lets IT suggest applications to end users. For example, the server lets administrators set up a list of recommended apps they want to promote to employees.
Citrix said many of the applications available in a typical company's Dazzle store will offer unlimited use by any employee, much like the free channels in a broadcast media service. Other apps may carry a charge-back to the employee's department or require approval from a manager. Applications that are only needed for a specific project can be set up to expire after a certain number of days.
Although Dazzle isn't directly related to cloud computing, it represents a number of IT trends, including self-service, easy entry points into software, and a better user experience, according to Gordon Haff, a virtualization analyst at Illuminata.
Haff said one of the key attractions of Dazzle is it looks and feels like the consumer Web and gives users the freedom to start up a new application without having to fill out an IT help-desk form. "Dazzle can still be integrated into work flows and approvals, so it's not to suggest that enterprises that implement this approach have to give up all manner of control," Haff said. "But it does allow users to self-service, subject to IT policies. It's got a slick interface and the architecture underneath is impressive."
Citrix Merchandising Server is available now and will be free to all Citrix customers on active subscription for any Citrix Delivery Center product.