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CIO Q&A: How Citrix supports more workers with lower IT budget

Paul Martine taps desktop virtualization, cloud apps to trim IT costs while increasing services

By , Network World
November 29, 2011 06:00 AM ET
Paul Martine

Network World - Citrix CIO Paul Martine is the poster child for everything that Citrix markets to other CIOs.

From server and desktop virtualization to cloud computing and consumerization, Martine is an early adopter of the entire Citrix product line. As a result, he says he has been able to slash millions from his IT budget while supporting 25% more employees added during the last 18 months.

We recently interviewed Martine to get the details. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

How are you reorganizing your IT department as you centralize, virtualize and adopt cloud-based applications?

When we look at software as a service, we're looking for applications that can meet our technical requirements and are a benefit to us in terms of reduction of costs or speed to market. We still run some applications in-house. We use SAP for financials, supply chain and the HR portal. There was a talent management project underway where we looked at building it in SAP or going with a SaaS provider, and we actually went with the SaaS provider. We use a SaaS application called Authoria [now re-branded as Peoplefluent] to deliver that application to the whole company ... as if it were written to our own SAP portal. For us, it was less expensive and faster to market to use SaaS, which is a complement to the premises-based applications. That's a major shift. You still leverage your core infrastructure applications, but you can complement them with SaaS.

PANEL: The cloud requires fresh IT skills

You have to really look at the SaaS application and can it meet those criteria of security, compliance, reliability, resilience and continuity and complement a premises-based application. Out of 125 applications we run, 25 are Web or SaaS applications. When we find those SaaS applications that are a benefit as a stand-alone like Salesforce.com that we use for lead management and sales, we integrate them into our other applications.

Right now, 20% of your applications are SaaS applications. Do you expect that percentage to increase in the next 18 to 24 months?

Sure. We're going to continue to look at SaaS where it makes sense, where it complements one of our premises-based applications or a stand-alone application. You can even integrate multiple SaaS providers and you can build out the infrastructure that way. I don't really care where [an application is] delivered from as long as it meets all of our requirements.

How has the shift to SaaS affected your staffing levels and the expertise you need in-house?

The expertise we need is still the same. Those writing integration code and those supporting our colo architecture remain the same skills, but they are integrating applications that are not sitting in our data centers. From the application development team, there are subtle differences. They are not developing that application. They are working with the SaaS project team to get their application up and running. They are no longer managing contractors doing development work because the development work is already done. We want to deliver SaaS applications as close to out-of-the-box as possible.

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