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Citrix boss wants data center 'dinosaurs' to evolve

Service-oriented mammalians to survive IT recession

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Interop 2008 Day two of Interop Las Vegas 2008 opened with a modest IT proposal from Mark Templeton, President and CEO of Citrix.

Speaking at his morning keynote, Templeton said it's time for businesses to restructure their entire enterprise computing agenda to suit the needs of today's fashionable service-oriented model.

"We've been in an IT recession since 2001," said Templeton. "We are in a bad spot. Our cost models are out of whack."

Citrix believes financial salvation lies in businesses moving away from the traditional distributed business model, where applications are stored on individual PCs.

"We have a huge problem," said Templeton. "The complexity we have around legacy is weighing us down. It's the biggest problem we have in getting to this service-oriented era. The mainframe guys got stuck in the tar pit like dinosaurs. They did not make the transition to personal computing."

Templeton proposes that data centers transform into delivery centers — where customers and employees receive a SaaS experience like those offered by Salesforce.com or Amazon S3.

His ideal system would work as follows:

  • Simple, fast and on-demand experience. "Make it work like the web," said Templeton.
  • Device, network and application independence. "There should be a choice of the network and apps I'm using."
  • Content security and access control. "And it has to be built-in, not glued on."
  • Dynamic capacity: peak and off-peak. "Turn it up, turn it down."
  • Predictable operating and capital costs.

"We can look to a company that does all this," said Templeton.

That's usually cue for a self-promotion segment of a keynote, but it turns out his ideal model is the North American direct broadcast satellite company, DirecTV. (Alas, the Citrix commercial landed 10 minutes later.)

DirecTV, according to Templeton, operates how an IT department ideally should. A customer gets a digital receiver and that's pretty much all that's necessary to start streaming their Doctor Who and Joanie Loves Chachi. The customer owns their own television. They can choose the brand and what size of screen they desire, and can hook up anything else to system they want. (El Reg can't verify this experience, as a reporter's salary means lonely nights watching public access television.)

"So why can't our computer work the same way?" asked Templeton. His model translates with the data center acting as a delivery controller, and the computer as the app receiver.

Of course, Templeton also adds some Citrix-made access gateways and branch repeaters to the metaphor — because naturally daddy's gotta eat. ®

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