The evolution from Citrix (VDT) to modern hybrid or full cloud solutions

Does your firm use a Citrix remote desktop system? If so, do you know why? It’s an important question to know the answer to. The reason for this is because there has been an underlying shift in IT which, at its fundamental levels, affects the efficiency and security of a firm.

The world of technology has begun to evolve, and many law firms have not been privy to this information. This article will explain how it affects your IT systems and what the next steps are. It will simplify the nature Citrix and remote desktop, which runs the risk of overstating a position, however, does offer high-level general insight into what law firms need to consider with increasing urgency.

What is Citrix and how does it work?

Simply put, the Citrix system your firm deploys allows users to interact with legacy applications. These applications run on the firm’s central infrastructure, and a user’s PC acts as a window to access the servers remotely. The user’s PC does not run the software or store the data but instead operates as a device to control a more powerful system.

In essence, it becomes a computer to access another computer.

The introduction of Citrix and the remote desktop was good for two reasons. First, it allowed users to begin to operate within networks at distances. Remote desktops permitted users to access applications regardless of their location, which was important as firms started outsourcing work to more cost-effective geographies,

Secondly, users were able to access office software and didn’t require powerful machines to run applications; a firm just needed a powerful centralised infrastructure. This centralised infrastructure allowed for greater control over security. It’s how most firms ran their IT and as a result now have systems based upon this idea.

Welcome to the cloud

Then there was the introduction of cloud computing.

The cloud has provided fundamental technological improvement, and the inside workings of IT infrastructure have dramatically changed. Traditionally firms would make substantial investments in their own infrastructure and hardware. Now, a firm can plug its device straight into the cloud and begin consuming cloud services on a pay-as-you-go basis; this is important for three reasons.

Access to the latest software and innovations

First, software developers now design products using a software-as-a-service (SAAS) model. It means that the latest innovations in software are cloud-based and typically do not sit on a firm’s infrastructure. The benefit this brings is that it allows people to use their applications anywhere, whereas previously users were required to plug into their firm’s network in the office. Suddenly, the cloud has lifted the physical requirement of being in the office to work.

No lock-ins or restrictions

Second, cloud-based applications don’t have the technological limits of the firm’s infrastructure, meaning that cloud users can quickly scale, utilise the latest software innovations and break free of supplier lock-ins.

Simply put, previously a firm would design its systems and create limitations, then commit to it for 3-5 years based on how they saw the organisation changing during this period. Now it’s almost real-time.

Improved cash-flow

The third reason is that firms no longer need to invest in their own infrastructure. With the cloud, firms do not need to make such large upfront capital expenditures. Instead, they pay a monthly usage fee. Similar to buying or leasing a vehicle – monthly payments are better for cash flow.

Captive IT and setting firms free

Moving to the cloud is not trivial while accepting the status quo is easy.

It sometimes seems simpler to accept remaining trapped into dated technology rather than opt for change. But unless a firm is willing to change its technology, it will remain captive to its current restrictive systems, and forego the flexibility of the cloud. The controlled limitations are also sometimes exacerbated by contractual obligations.

It is the equivalent of signing a 5-year deal on an iPhone 5 instead of receiving the latest iPhone X on a flexible contract with automatic updates.

The problem is not an easy one to solve and requires time and effort. However, the journey is ultimately in the long-term interest of the firm. With legacy systems now becoming a risk, the move is somewhat inevitable.

Remote desktops and Citrix connectivity is an indicator that there are legacy systems within the firm’s infrastructure, which now require review. Eventually, these systems may become unusable as software providers cease to support older technologies and issue end of life notifications.

There are possible solutions which allow firms to use Citrix with modern cloud services, which provides a stepping stone into the new world, but a full transition is likely as providers continue to develop cloud applications. It’s the evolution from the coal-fired locomotive to electrified high-speed rail.

Blue skies and cloud computing

It’s likely that one of two reasons will act as a catalyst to change.

First, firms who are seeking efficiencies and minimising costs over a long-term strategic plan will integrate technology and the cloud at the heart of their business model.

Or, inadequate cybersecurity and compliance will force firms to move, which may come as a result of a security breach or a client’s lack of confidence in the firm’s systems.

Ultimately though, old technologies will phase out. Citrix users should audit their IT infrastructure, understand what it means and what their options are.

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