Especially during uncertain times, users and organizations need technologies that will be there for them. With more remote workers than ever before, companies need to go above and beyond to provide powerful experiences as well as secure sessions. Plus, with more users working remotely, there are more targets, and more chances for data leaks, and a lot of potential lost productivity.
In this episode of The Disruptive Enterprise, host Marcus Holloway, President & CEO at MTM Technologies, and his guest, Lloyd Witt, Solutions Architect for Managed Services at MTM Technologies, discuss the company’s introduction of AnyWhereApp 2.0 – a fully managed, local, and remote workspace environment that delivers a turnkey, single tenant platform to enable employees on any device from anywhere that is built atop the award-winning Citrix Workspace platform.
Introducing AnyWhereApp 2.0 – An Always Secure, Available, and Reliable Local and Remote Workspace
Marcus Holloway: Hi and welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Marcus Holloway, President and CEO of MTM Technologies. Today, we’re going to introduce AnywhereApp 2.0, MTM’s public release of a work-at-home solution that we’ve designed to be the most available, reliable workspace available. To help explain AnywhereApp 2.0, I’m going to be joined by Lloyd Witt, who among other things is MTM’s chief scientist virtualization genius, lead architect and inventor of AnywhereApp. Welcome, Lloyd.
Lloyd Witt: Thank you, Marcus. It’s nice to be here. AnywhereApp came around out of necessity and desire from companies to have a secure workspace. Over the years of working with the Citrix Technologies and the other technologies that are part of the AnywhereApp solution, over the years, we came up with a solution that took all aspects of the security and all aspects of virtualization and put it into a solution that we now call AnywhereApp 2.0.
Marcus Holloway: Well, that’s great. So, how long have you been at this virtualization? Is this your masterpiece, Lloyd?
Lloyd Witt: This is one of many masterpieces over the years. I started working with Citrix back in 1996. I’ve done just about anything that Citrix has been thrown out there and any of your other underlying hypervisors and virtualization platforms, I’ve worked with pretty much for the last 25 years. And this is the latest iteration. It’s the latest and the greatest.
Marcus Holloway: That’s great, Lloyd. And I remember, as we were architecting this, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but is this a solution that’s just good for the current crisis situation, or is this something that users can factor in for the long haul?
Lloyd Witt: Well, when we originally started talking about AnywhereApp 2.0, the necessity of the product came about because of the COVID-19 issues that we are currently facing as a nation. However, everything that we put in here is a solution that a lot of companies today use on a day-to-day basis. This is a methodology that we put together that allows those companies that already have it to expand quickly, and those that don’t to implement quickly as well. So no, this is a day-to-day solution that even people at MTM use everyday to do their jobs.
Marcus Holloway: So, this is good for somebody who’s just trying to mobilize their workforce, and get to work, and still be productive. And then, I guess, in the future, they have the option of working remotely or working in their office all the way to the extreme of what we’ve just heard recently of Twitter actually enabling all of their people to work from home indefinitely, forever. Forever sounds like a long time.
Lloyd Witt: Absolutely, forever is a long time. And Citrix does have a solution that allows us to make AnywhereApp successful on that endeavor. We’re very privileged to be as well versed in this product as we are, and the ability to deliver this solution allows you to take your workspace and your workforce to a whole new level where they can work at home, anywhere they need to work, literally anywhere, anytime, anyplace to do their job effectively.
Marcus Holloway: And what kind of devices does it work on?
Lloyd Witt: Well, I would like to say it works on every device that’s out there, but just as an example, you can have a thin client, which would be anywhere from an IGEL device, which would be dedicated to or connected to a monitor you log into. It’ll work on an Apple, It’ll work on your standard PC, your standard laptops. It’ll work on your iPad. It’ll will work on your iPhone. It’ll work on any Android device. Pretty much anywhere, anything. If it has a browser, you can get to it, you can launch a session, you’re in.
Marcus Holloway: So, what does AnywhereApp app do? I mean, what’s an AnywhereApp? I mean, it’s not just Citrix, is it?
Lloyd Witt: No, it’s not just Citrix. If it was just Citrix, it would leave a little bit of a hole in the market. What we’ve done is we’ve gone in, we’ve looked at what you need. Okay, as a company, you need two-factor authentication. We built that into AnywhereApp. You need security that allows you to have your applications in your office, in your corporate headquarters, in your data center secure. You need the ability to have all that readily available for your employees and for any vendors that may need to come in and use the system. At the same time, it needs to be secure. So, security is really what AnywhereApp is all about. It’s the ability to put your systems in front of your end users and not worry about breaches, not worry about loss of information, not worry about loss of data, not worry about, can my users have actually work? All of that can be included in AnywhereApp and is included in AnywhereApp 2.0.
Marcus Holloway: So, as the CEO, I don’t really have to worry about if my work-at-home folks are working on the same laptop that my son and daughter might be playing Fortnite on and have my data exposed. Is that right?
Lloyd Witt: That’s absolutely true. The other great thing about AnywhereApp 2.0 is we do have the ability and a relationship with IGEL that allows us to offer even a thumb device that you can plug into any laptop, any computer system. So, if you ever go to Grandma’s house, you could plug that thumb device in, turn that computer on, and it would come up with a clean operating system, and connect directly into AnywhereApp 2.0. So, it doesn’t matter what you have, we can take care of those situations.
Marcus Holloway: Is there a certain size of user count that makes the most sense? Is there a minimum?
Lloyd Witt: It’s not really a minimum. It’s more along the lines of the minimum user count is 200. That’s more along the lines of what this hardware will support out the door. And that’s 200 users that are concurrently using the system at any given point in time. If you have a need for a smaller environment, absolutely, we can take care of that for you as well. So, don’t just count it out because the minimum that we have is 200 for AnywhereApp 2.0 because we can definitely help you out if you have 30 to 40 users as well.
Marcus Holloway: And is there a scale limit? Does it scale fully?
Lloyd Witt: The scale limit is pretty high. I’ve had implementations of this that are as high as 20,000 to 25,000 users without issues. There are known installations of Citrix utilizing these types of scenarios and solutions into the hundreds of thousands of users.
Marcus Holloway: A lot of people ask or looking for a cloud-based solutions. Is this public? Private? Or either?
Lloyd Witt: Well, when you start talking about cloud solutions, you have basically three different choices. You have a private cloud solution, which is where we build it inside of your data center. We have a public/private solution, which is we get the hardware, we put it into like a data center. It’s all managed, and monitored, and maintained out of that data center. It either connects back to your existing data center via VPN or we can move your entire system into that same data center that is more appealing to you. And the last one is your public clouds, which is your AWS, Google, Azure type scenario. And all three of these methodologies are definitely appropriate to use this solution then.
Marcus Holloway: What if I’m already experienced with VDI, I’ve already got my own Citrix licenses, how would that work, so I don’t lose the investment I’ve already made in those licenses?
Lloyd Witt: All that is, is we choose your licenses instead of ours. And that has always been an option with anything that we do with either AnywhereApp and Citrix by itself. We’re definitely here to help you out. If you don’t need the licenses, we’re all in. And that doesn’t just include the Citrix licenses either. If you have the hardware licenses, if you have your software licenses for Microsoft Office and the Microsoft platform that goes underneath it, absolutely, we can bring all of those licensing into the solution.
Marcus Holloway: And if I’m home customer, do I have to think about increasing my staff or what does MTM do that I need to know about?
Lloyd Witt: MTM is here is a fully-managed service solution. We have the ability to manage and maintain this entire environment from cradle to grave. We would own the solution, we would maintain it, we would patch it, we would have meetings with you on a regular basis to discuss where you’re at and where you want to go. If there’s any expansions that need to happen, we can help you through those as well. So, MTM is your fully-managed partner in this entire experience.
Marcus Holloway: Well, that’s great. That’s great. So, let’s bring it back to the current environment, I mean, what are some of the risks? If you don’t have a solution like AnywhereApp 2.0, and you just use the sort of cobbled-together solution, may be using free tools that are out there, what are the risks to those companies that don’t have a fully secured solution like AnywhereApp?
Lloyd Witt: I you don’t have a secure solution in place, and you’ve cobbled it together with the multitude of tools, you’ve opened up every door known to mankind to allow hackers to get in and take control of your data and your environment. You really don’t want to do that. If you don’t know exactly what every tool does, you don’t have the ability to stop it in its tracks. With AnywhereApp 2.0, we’re using best-of-breed software, best-of-breed antivirus, best-of-breed two-factor authentication. We have a full best-of-breed solution in front of you. So, not only do we have the best of what we can put into the solution available to you and your end users, but we are stopping the third-party hacker tool that you downloaded that you thought was going to do something specific that really doesn’t do that. It’s really dangerous to go about a third-party solution that way.
Marcus Holloway: Yeah, I think a lot of our customers, we talk to them all the time, Lloyd, they really haven’t fully anticipated this. I mean, who could have anticipated this situation we’re in now. What’s the best way for somebody who is in that environment now where they’re getting by, and if they’re lucky enough to be in work, they’re working but they’ve got suboptimal tools where they can’t access critical data that might be on their laptop or in the office network, and they can’t access it. How do you get from where they are now to a better, more stable solution like AnywhereApp 2.0?
Lloyd Witt: I think the first step is you call MTM Technologies and you say, “We need help,” because the road that we can get you there is a lot quicker than trying to figure it out yourself. So, if you have data that’s all over the place, which most companies do, you have two very immediate problems. First off, the data that’s on each individual’s laptop is not accessible by the people that need it. And if it’s in random locations because of software sprawl or what other problems you’ve created, we need to get together and talk about how we can bring that into a secure environment for you and help you manage it moving forward. And it’s going to be critical that you do that now.
Lloyd Witt: If you don’t do it soon, you’re going to run into issues where the data is just going to become more, and more, and more, and more decentralized, and more, and more, and more difficult to get back to a location where everybody can use the information that’s been gathered by your company. Basically, the brain of your company is all over the place right now. So, we really need to talk to you about centralization. And AnywhereApp 2.0 and cleaning that entire holistic organization that you’ve created, cleaning it up, putting it back down, and making sure that it’s kept in a tight security-aware environment.
Marcus Holloway: So, more for the people who aren’t as much of an expert on virtualization as you are, can you explain how the data, the actual data is preventing from getting to the end user device? I think, that’s an important feature to understand that as an extra level of control about keeping sensitive data, whether it’s healthcare data, or financial data, or personal data. How does that work?
Lloyd Witt: Basically, in a VDI type scenario, especially with AnywhereApp 2.0. We have the ability to lock down where the data can go and can reside. So, your users log in, they launch their session, they get their virtualized desktop, they can do whatever they need to do inside that virtualized desktop. It’s designed as a work environment for them. Regardless of the laptop or the workspace that they’re working on, if they’re working on their Apple, iPad, regardless of where that is, the data never is on their device. It’s always backed in your data center under lock and key and maintained backed up, so that all your data is your data. We can always take it, so that anything that they do, they can’t save locally. Or if you choose, we can allow them to save stuff to their local desktops or their local device. But typically, that’s not where people want to go. They want it to be locked away in their data center where they have control over it, where they have a backup of it, where something goes wrong, they can restore it, and they don’t lose anything. So, it’s your data. You need to maintain it.
Marcus Holloway: And what’s the backup solution within AnywhereApp 2.0?
Lloyd Witt: The backup solution that we’re currently using is from Acronis. It allows us to do a couple of different things. Acronis has multiple features. The ones that we’re using inside the app right away are basically your backup solution. And the backup is maintained in two separate locations. One of the locations that it’s maintained in is the Acronis web. It’s basically where it’s at. It’s up in the cloud, maintained and backed up by them as well. And then, we do have a local backup of your data that would be available for quick restores, which is actually located right on your equipment. If we’ve taken over your entire IT operations type scenario, then we would ask if you wanted us to do the same thing with all of your data, not just the data that is residing within the AnywhereApp solution. That can always be expanded.
Marcus Holloway: And at the risk of getting too technical, Lloyd, what is the network connection between the end user and AnywhereApp 2.0? How is that put together?
Lloyd Witt: Well, between the end user, since everybody’s working at home, it’s typically going to be a cable modem. If you’re working on your cell phone or with a cell tower, it’s going to be over your cell tower. The network connection that goes out to the internet that starts this whole thing is going to be a hundred megabit connection to the internet, and that will support up to 500 users. And at that point in time, we can expand that internet connection to make it larger if you get more than 500 users. But keep in mind that most of your data is still remaining back in the data center. So, you’re not trying to transfer a 300 gig file across the internet. You’re trying to transfer the screenshots for your VDI session to your end users. They don’t know the difference but the speed is incredibly better by not transferring the actual data to the end device and only the updates.
Marcus Holloway: If I’m sort of a big picture guy, and I’m blessed with really smart people like you helping me out, Lloyd, but that sounds like a VPN to me. Is that right?
Lloyd Witt: Well, no, not really. The VPN that we would put in place would be a VPN between a end user, and between your data center and our data center to stand up. The VPN scenario that you bring up is definitely in play, but that would be to get the data from the AnywhereApp solution in one data center back to your data center where all your corporate resources are currently held. This is actually a secure, encrypted connection that goes directly from the Citrix Netscaler directly to your device under 443 with 2048 encryption. And the best part about that is it’s redundant. And what I mean by that is with the VPN, if the VPN disconnects and comes back up, you have to start, the file transfers over again. With this secure encrypted connection back to the Citrix system, if your system drops that connection, and it reconnects in 30 seconds, you’ll pick right back up where you left off.
Marcus Holloway: Well, that really exposes the shallowness of my technical expertise. So, thanks again. You do that on just about a daily basis, Lloyd. So, I appreciate that. As we’re coming to the close here, Lloyd, did I miss anything here that you’d want to get out to our listeners about AnywhereApp and anything that I neglected to ask you about?
Lloyd Witt: Well, one of the things that I deal with on a regular basis is my wife just happens to be in a HIPAA type scenario where she does HR, and she has to deal with HIPAA, she has to deal with manufacturing, she has to deal with some very deep and hard-to-manage regulations that are put forth by the federal government, and industries, and so forth. And if you’re working from home, and you’re using a VPN to get back and forth between that, you’re not HIPAA-compliant. This allows your solution to utilize people that work from home and maintain your HIPAA compliance, your NIST compliance, your SOC 2 compliance. All your compliance is that you need with banking and regulations, with legal, all of those things can be maintained because the data never really leaves your data center. You’re never really going to expose an end-user patient to somebody who’s breaching their data.
Lloyd Witt: These are all things that you need to consider when you’re working in the medical industry, within the legal industry, within the HR industry, within manufacturing. You never want your data to leave your data center because that is your lifeblood, that is your methodology that you make money. So, if you’re not thinking about those types of things, you need to start because, like they said, some of these people are going to be working at home forever now.
Marcus Holloway: So, how does AnywhereApp compare to a standard cloud DAS solution that people might be considering?
Lloyd Witt: Your standard Cloud DAS solution, while it does provide a remote desktop base scenario running on either PCoIP or RDS or RDC, remote desktop client, they’re out there. If you know what you’re doing, and you can manage those, there are methodologies in place where you can build that out. However, if you’re inexperienced with it, basically what you’re doing is you’re opening up holes into your network, into your data center, into your environment.
Lloyd Witt: And it’s one of the favorite breach points these days for hackers to the point, now, where there’s an entire industry that’s been stood up to do nothing but check to make sure that remote desktop solution that you’ve deployed from AWS doesn’t have holes in it. And a lot of times, people find out about these holes after somebody’s already gone in and gotten the data that they were looking for or done some terrible nasty thing to your network. And now, you’re trying to pay some ransomware guy or you’re stuck with a lawsuit because you just breached 20,000 patients information.
Marcus Holloway: It’s a CEO nightmare.
Lloyd Witt: Well, it’s a CEO nightmare, and it’s a CSO nightmare too. Your corporate security officer may or may not be aware of what’s going on.
Marcus Holloway: Well, Lloyd, I think that’s a pretty comprehensive overview of AnywhereApp 2.0. Just to recap, the pandemic stimulated us to work with our partners to pull this together. It’s a best-of-breed solution. It’s secure, it’s reliable, it’s available, and it’s something that any CIO could sleep well at night knowing it’s in place. And also, we designed it for speed. So,we can put this in place pretty quickly, right? Sometimes, in 10 days or less, depending on the particular solution. And so, it’s a great solution. We built it for the pandemic, but it’ll last for a corporation for as long as they want to use it.
Marcus Holloway: So, if you want more information on AnywhereApp 2.0, we’ve designated one of our associates, Debbie Fueller, full time to take your calls. She could be reached at 302-744-2247 or on her email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. So, thank you very much.