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It’s the last mile that’s the toughest for marathon runners and the same is true for the world of IT, according to Citrix Systems Inc. CEO and president Mark Templeton.

In IT, the last mile is access. The world is becoming more digital but accessing the data that is now available to us from all kinds of different sources is still a hurdle we need to cross, said Templeton during a keynote address at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix’s iForum conference, held this week.

“We’ll be way further down the road in gathering all this information together and making it digital before we can actually make it that accessible,” he said.

Before we can achieve true accessibility, we’ll have to tackle a whole slew of financial, technical and social problems, Templeton said.

The struggle will be worth it, he promised, because accessibility will lead to greater mobility and increased productivity.

“We’ll know when we get there when we can walk up to any kind of screen anywhere whether it’s in an airport kiosk, or at a customer’s office, or in an airplane or a screen at the home of one of our friends and get to our workplace and conduct a transaction, communicate with someone, collaborate with someone, get something done. Now we haven’t gotten there yet.”

During the last mile, you want to package the data that coming from any number of sources in a way that’s organized to the user, he said.

“Until you deal with the last mile in systematic way, access will constantly be a problem for you.”

In order to achieve this, companies need to separate the last mile from the data centre and create a virtual access layer in between the two, Templeton said. This will allow companies to deal with the headaches that can be caused when they acquire a new organization, expand geographically or switch to a new operating system.

“So when you put a virtual access layer in between the last mile and the data centre, they can work independently from one another. You can react to changes. Right now everything is interlocked, and this provides a lot of problems,” he said.

Citrix provides organizations with wireless and networked access to server-based applications running on a variety of client devices and platforms. The iForum conference would continue until Nov.1.

Citrix Systems Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is at