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August 21, 2013

Citrix Officially Launches its Worx Mobile App Ecosystem

Back in May 2013, at the annual Citrix Synergy conference, the company announced Citrix Worx Mobile Apps. Worx is Citrix’s own new enterprise app store, and it seeks to provide secure enterprise mobile applications that have been specifically built for business. Essentially, Citrix Worx builds on its acquisition of mobile application management vendor Zenprise back in early December 2012. It delivers enterprise-ready mobile apps that offer pre-built security, policy and provisioning capabilities controlled by Citrix XenMobile – a new Citrix platform that resulted from the Zenprise acquisition.

Citrix has also developed a simple but powerful Worx App SDK that enables third parties and enterprise developers to Worx enable their mobile apps. The SDK allows developers to take advantage of Citrix’s MDX app container technology. Developers can easily add such features as data encryption, password authentication, secure lock and wipe, inter-app policies and micro VPNs to any mobile app they are working on. Citrix also touts simplicity of use, noting that a single line of code instantly embeds enterprise capabilities into whatever mobile apps developers are working on.

Worx-enabled apps run in encrypted containers that secure data at rest, data in use and data in motion. For example, XenMobile is easily able to block users from doing such things as, for example, accessing sensitive corporate information from an unsecured Wi-Fi network at the local Starbucks. These capabilities combined with powerful inter-app communications controls comprise nearly 60 different granular policies that developers can take advantage of.

Image via Shutterstock

Worx mobile apps that are provided by Citrix itself with Citrix XenMobile include WorxMail for secure e-mail, calendar and contacts, WorxWeb for secure web browsing and Citrix ShareFile for secure document sharing, sync and editing. However, it is the third-party mobile app ecosystem Citrix hopes will emerge through Worx that is the most critical component of the platform. Third-party app developers will be able to take advantage of what Citrix has dubbed the Worx App Gallery, where they will be able to promote and showcase their apps to over 260,000 Citrix customers and more than 10,000 resellers. The Worx App Gallery makes it simple for IT to find and access Worx-enabled apps.

That said, this morning Citrix officially announced the availability of the Citrix Worx App Gallery, which now delivers on over 100 third-party Worx-enabled apps. Citrix claims that new apps are now being added to the collection on a daily basis, and the company hopes that Worx App Gallery will become the fastest growing enterprise mobile app ecosystem on the market today. Citrix actually claims it already is the fastest growing such market, but we’ll come back and revisit in a few months to see how the claims hold up over time.

The foundation for the Worx App Gallery’s existence lies in the Citrix goal of eliminating the need for IT administrators to go through the typically time consuming and often error-prone effort of verifying mobile apps – especially from a security perspective. A company merely needs to choose whatever Worx-enabled apps from the Worx App Gallery it may need and want. Once they do, the next step is to simply deploy those apps or app to their own corporate app store, where employees can be directed to select and download whatever apps a given employee needs to have in hand. The combination of Citrix XenMobile and the Worx App Gallery dramatically simplifies the entire process of securing and managing mobile apps, and takes the burden off of IT.

Obviously, the key to making it all work is the XenMobile platform. The Worx App Gallery creates a significant value add to the core XenMobile platform. Enterprises can, of course, still choose to utilize XenMobile independently of Worx, but plenty of research exists to support the idea that most enterprises are still getting started with mobility, many of them lack the necessary resources to build secure mobile apps in house, and in those cases where resources are available, the expertise is lacking. By simply being able to select Worx App Gallery mobile apps enterprises can quickly get up and running on the mobile front.

Skip the Complex Mobile Build, Simply Deploy

Building mobile apps can require using a potentially intimidating number of tools to enable enterprise-ready and highly secure mobile apps. Typical mobile application management (MAM) solutions today involve six or more steps:

  • Identify the mobile apps to be built
  • Execute contracts with mobile app developers
  • Retrieve the app binaries
  • Apply the necessary security wrapper
  • Verify the apps
  • Deploy the apps for users in the corporate app store

And repeat! What do we mean here? The entire process highlighted in the bullet points must be repeated whenever a given app requires updating (which can range from the simple to the complex) or when a mobile OS is updated, or when an app security SDK changes. That is merely skimming the list of possibilities.

By turning to the Worx App Gallery instead, this loop of development processes is removed for the enterprise. Instead Citrix manages the entire process for every app that becomes available. Citrix will also provide end-to-end support, eliminating the complexity of making common mobile apps enterprise ready.

Users no longer have to hunt for apps that they want to use to be more productive and efficient at work. They can simply open up their corporate store - linked to the Worx App Gallery - on their mobile device to find a list of Worx-enabled apps in popular categories, like office, productivity, collaboration and data management. The goal for Citrix is to get developers on board to deliver enough mobile apps so that there are enough apps in hand to cover the majority of mobile app needs any business is likely to have.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Citrix customers and numerous resellers the Worx ecosystem makes available to developers – by which we mean Worx creates an easy discovery process for their mobile apps, Citrix also offers the Citrix Ready program. This program allows app developers to leverage an integrated lead-management system, Citrix marketing and branding assets and tools and the Citrix demo cloud environment to drive sales engagements. In turn, by helping developers find customers Citrix also fins customers for XenMobile (and of course if Citrix can upsell other Citrix products in the process, all the better).

Finally, Citrix also now has in place the Citrix Ready Worx Verified Program. This ensures that any third-party developer will easily be able to verify its existing mobile apps and any subsequent upgrades work with Citrix XenMobile. The Worx App SDK makes it simple to extend enterprise-grade management and security in any existing mobile application.

Ultimately, it becomes a symbiotic and mutually beneficial mobile app exchange process. Or at least this is what Citrix hopes will become the case. For smaller developers looking for ways to tap into the enterprise mobile market it makes a lot of sense.

As of this morning, Citrix Worx App Gallery is open for business. If you are a developer, we suggest you head over to Citrix and sign up for the Citrix Ready Program.

If you are a business in need of getting mobile we suggest checking out the Citrix Works App Gallery itself – it is there now waiting to help your company do so. We do need to make it clear that to take advantage of the capabilities in Worx Mobile Apps a company will also need to purchase Citrix’s XenMobile Enterprise edition.

We are very interested to hear from both developers and businesses on the effectiveness of Citrix Worx. Please do let us know your thoughts if you become a Worx player from either end of the spectrum.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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