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Citrix Octoblu opens up IoT use cases

Citrix has made moves to boost its role in the internet of things market with more integrations for its Octoblu product this year.

Few people would consider IoT to be part of desktop virtualization, so it might seem strange that Citrix is putting so much weight behind Octoblu. But IoT does have a future in the enterprise.

If you've ever seen Citrix Octoblu, an IoT services platform, it was probably in some sort of demo showing off integration between Octoblu and Amazon's Echo voice-controlled device, or even a Tesla. Those things are great for getting my nerd juices flowing, but they have little to do with any real-world enterprise IoT use cases.

What good does it do to connect smart devices -- not just phones and tablets, but any number of network-enabled devices entering the market -- together? Citrix has been trying to answer that question since it acquired Octoblu, and in the last few months the thought process has become clearer.

At this year's Citrix Synergy conference, the company made progress to convince some companies that they need IoT in their lives. There are a few IoT use cases that stand out.

The most visible use comes from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which partnered with Citrix to put together the Collaborate Cube. I saw this product on the show floor, and it kind of resembled the Cone of Silence from the 1960s sitcom Get Smart.

Consider the smart conference room, but dial it up for university lectures.

In reality, it's a smart conference room that uses proximity detection capabilities from Aruba Networks to identify when a user enters the room. When this happens, the room's status in Microsoft's Outlook Exchange email platform changes to Busy. In addition, a Skype for Business session starts, and the video collaboration services calls the remote participants. It can tell who is remote or not by identifying who is in the room. The meeting host can use Citrix Receiver to share content and advance slides in the presentation. When the meeting is over, the room automatically resets to a ready state, even changing its status in Outlook back to Available.

That level of automation sounds awesome, and there are a number of companies that would be interested in that. Of course, the vast majority will continue doing meetings the same way they've done them forever. Still, imagine adding in automatic transcribing of the meeting -- something former Citrix CEO Mark Templeton talked about after the Octoblu acquisition -- and you can see this service having a real benefit. Whether or not that benefit outweighs the cost of implementing it remains to be seen.

There are other IoT use cases that aren't quite viable yet but could materialize. Consider the smart conference room, but dial it up for university lectures. IoT services could connect students attending remotely to the appropriate systems and information without the instructor also having to be an IT prodigy.

Healthcare is also a focus vertical for IoT, with opportunities to make patient visits more efficient by reducing the time it takes to enter data into multiple applications. Imagine diagnostic tools such as blood pressure monitors that could automatically communicate information to various applications and to the nurses or doctors themselves, just by entering a room.

These potential IoT use cases indicate that the internet of things might just have a future in the enterprise. There could be more, especially when you consider the amount of data that Citrix has access to with Citrix Receiver and its XenMobile enterprise mobility management platform. With those tools in the mix, there could be some serious integration down the road that seamlessly blends together desktops, mobile devices, cloud, smart devices, and back-end infrastructure.

Next Steps

What should Citrix do with Octoblu?

How Octoblu improves Citrix's integrations

Why Citrix's overhaul is good news

This was last published in August 2016

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