Month: May 2013

Synergy Recap Part 2 – XenMobile Announcements

Continuing on the topic on Synergy, changes to the XenMobile product suite was the other big announcement..

Lets take a step back..

Up until the beginning of this 2013, Citrix’s approach to mobililty was Mobile Application Management through their CloudGateway product. The strategy was that enterprises would have the ability to deliver SaaS, Web, Windows and mobile applications all from a unified portal with integrated identity management. Enterprises could wrap corporate applications (MDX wrapped apps) and then deploy these applications to mobile devices.. These applications would then be containerized and live within its own bubble on the mobile device. Policies could be applied to each wrapped application and they could talk to each other but not with the users personal applications and data. Everything within the container could be wiped without affecting the users personal data. In addition, CloudGateway provided Federated IdentityReceiver would be the single client that would be used across all devices.

While this was a great strategy for BYOD, there was a lot of push back from companies who still wanted to manage corporate owned devices, where they wanted the ability to do full wipes, enforce various policies at the device level and also other features like Geo Fencing.

Fast Forward to Jan 2013..

Based on the market demands, Citrix felt that it needed add MDM capabilities to its mobile management solution and hence acquired Zenprise (Gartner Magic Quadrant for MDM) and re branded the product XenMobile. With the addition of Zenprise, Citrix had a complete solution in XenMobile with both MAM and MDM capabilities. As part of the initial offering, there were two editions, the MDM edition which was basically Zenprise rebranded and the Mobility Solutions bundle which offered both MDM and MAM functionality. The other unique feature about the licensing model was that Citrix offered a per user licensing model, which makes a lot of sense in this day n age where most users have at least 3 devices.

While this was all great, there were some customers who only needed the MAM functionality and others who felt the features did not justify the cost. Also from an end user perspective, the solution was a bit kludgy.  There were three clients namely the enroll agent (for enrolling the users device), connect (used to download profiles and enforce policies) and receiver (for delivering the containerized applications). All the clients were available through App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android)

So what did we announce at Synergy?

XENMOBILE EDITIONS UPDATED

Going forward, XenMobile will be available in three editions – MDM edition, APP edition and Enterprise Edition. I really liked this announcement as I know of a number of customers in my space that are only interested in the MAM piece and now they have an options as opposed to just having to purchase the Enterprise edition. I am not going into MAM and MDM much as it has already been discussed earlier in the post, but in short, MDM = Zenprise and APP Edition = CloudGateway functionality.

The Enterprise edition will include App Edition, MDM, Sharefile (Citrix’s own follow me data product) and GoToAssist. This definitely adds a great amount of value to the product suite and provides customers with an all encompassing solution that allows them to:

    • Manage mobile devices (both BYO and corporate owned) and enforce policies.
    • Deliver SaaS, Windows, Internal Web and mobile applications to mobile devices.
    • Identity management
    • A secure follow me data solution through Sharefile with cloud and on-premise storage.
    • Ability to remotely troubleshoot mobile devices with GoToAssist

 The solution keeps both IT management and end users happy as IT management gets the security profile they desire while the end users feel empowered and become more productive with all their corporate apps made available on their personal devices.

XENMOBILE COMPONENTS REBRANDED

As I mentioned earlier in the post, prior to Synergy the key end user facing Xenmobile components were Enroll and Connect. Receiver was used to deliver MDX wrapped applications. Going forward, the components will rebranded as Worx Enroll and Worx Home. Worx Enroll will be the device enrollment piece and Worx Home will be store for Mobile, Web and SaaS applications including Worx Mobile Apps (previously MDX wrapped apps) like Worx Web Worx Mail, Sharefile etc . Receiver will still be used to deliver XA/XD resources, but I think it is safe to assume that eventually XA/XD resources will be made available through Worx Home in the future. All the applications delivered via Worx Home will be available on the home screen along with all the other applications on your device. However each of these applications live within its own container and will be fully encrypted. Worx Home and Worx Enroll will be available through App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).

Citrix also announced the Worx App Gallery, a place wheresoftware vendors/partners/independent developers can showcase their work enabled applications. Mark Templeton in his keynote mentioned that there are over 80 Worx enabled applications at present.

AVAILABILITY?

The new XenMobile offerings should be made available by end of June/early July

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

I thought the XenMobile announcements were significant, offering solutions that fit most customer needs. There is significant value in the Enterprise edition with the addition of Sharefile and GoToAssist.  I feel the pieces are finally coming together and my hope is that the end user experience is painless (only time will tell) and that the backend infrastructure gets more streamlined in the future. Gartner has positioned Citrix in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management and rightly so in my opinion. I believe Citrix has the most complete solution in the market at present and more importantly the right people at the helm to lead this forward.

 

Synergy 2013 Recap: Part 1- XenDesktop 7

I was fortunate enough to attend Citrix Synergy this year at Anaheim, CA. The event was great as always with around 6500 attendees, 125+ unique sessions, the ever popular Geek Speak Live and Maroon5 who brought the house down. For me though, the highlight was MarkT’s keynote and Brad Peterson’s demos.  Noone can tell a story like MarkT and BradP is the best at what he does. I wanted to focus this post on XenDesktop 7

XenDesktop 7 was probably the most exciting announcement for the traditional Citrix customer running XenApp and XenDesktop. Lets dig deep into the announcements around XenDesktop 7:

Unified Architecture: Flexcast Management Architecture

Today, with XA 6.x and XD 5.x, the infrastructure for each are completely independent of each other with around 22 consoles in all. So it is an understatement to say that the infrastructure could be simplified. Morever, the workflow for deploying Hosted Shared Desktops and Apps is different from the workflow for deploying traditional VDI.

The key goals for the XD7 release were mobility and simplicity while maintaining security. With XD7, Citrix is moving to a unified architecture aka Flexcast Management Architecture (FMA), thereby giving administrators the ability to deploy Hosted Shared Desktops, Physical PC’s, published applications and traditional VDI from the same console using the same methodology. The overall infrastructure requirements will significantly reduce for environments that run both XenApp and XenDesktop today. I was one of the early adopters and had the Tech Preview running in my lab back in November 2012. It took me less than 20 minutes to get the infrastructure up and running and another hour or so to have XA and XD workloads available to users. The process involved building a Windows Server and desktop image, installing the VDA on the image and then using Studio to spin up desktops and applications and assigning them to users. Citrix has really done a fabulous job in simplifying the installation process and more importantly making the process dummy proof (with various configuration checks along the way).

Director and Studio

The number of consoles have been reduced to two – Director (geared more towards Helpdesk staff for preliminary troubleshooting) and Studio (geared towards administrators).  With Studio, you can now build and assign server/desktop workloads to users, publish applications, create and manage user profiles, manage policies, monitor and troubleshoot infrastructure components, review logs, manage PVS infrastructure and manage Storefront, ALL FROM WITHIN THE SAME CONSOLE!! This to me is huge. In addition, Machine Creation Service, can now be leveraged to deploy XenApp workloads which drastically simplifies the deployment process. Ofcourse you can still leverage PVS as well (new release included with XD7).

The New Edgesight

Being an SE at Citrix and talking to customers all the time, I am particularly excited about the new Director! Citrix has also completely re-architected monitoring and reporting for XenApp and XenDesktop from the ground up. While Edgesight has always been an invaluable tool within a Citrix environment, the learning curve was quite steep and it required additional infrastructure. I have spoken to a number of administrators who have gone down the path of installing and configuring Edgesight and eventually not using the product because of the effort involved in getting meaningful data relevant to their environment. With XD7, the product management team clearly understood these pain points relayed by the customers and addressed them. What you would traditionally consider as Edgesight monitoring and reporting is now fully integrated into Citrix Director. All the information is presented to the administrator in the form of graphs/dashboards and administrators have the ability to drill down further as needed. There is also a helpdesk view which allows helpdesk to perform basic troubleshooting and remediation tasks such as shadow a user session, kill a hung process, clear the user profile and personal vdisk, log off a session etc. In XD7, Edgesight no longer requires additional infrastructure or an agent on the endpoint. The edgesight components are built into the Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA). XD Platinum licensing is required for historical reporting (>1 week of data)

HDX Insight

With Netscaler 10.1, Citrix has now introduced HDX insight which allows you to correlate network metrics with application behavior. HDX insight provides end to end ICA visibility. All the HDX Insight data and reports are available right within Director. HDX Insight requires Netscaler 10.1 Enterprise or above. XD/Netscaler Platinum is required for historical reporting.

HDX and HDX 3D Pro

With XenDesktop 7, Citrix is leveraging H264 based codec for all video workloads (as opposed to just 3D graphics in the past). As a result, there is a 2x increase in frame rate without an increase in bandwidth requirements. What this means is that you would be able to deliver high def videos to mobile devices, even over 3g connections. In the internal lab tests, Citrix was able to deliver 18 frames per second on an 800 kbps 3g connection. The new H264 based codec dynamically adjusts to network conditions and adjusts the quality accordingly. Also Windows Media redirection (client side fetching) is now being extended to Mac, iOS and Android devices. With the new Virtual Channel and HDX Realtime SDK for real time voice and video, there are significant improvements around Unified Communications. Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya are the first to embrace the new SDK.

One of the highlights of the keynote was the demo showing virtulized 3D workloads being delivered from the cloud leveraging GPU sharing. While GPU sharing was available in the past for XenApp, it was not supported for OpenGL workloads. For XenDesktop, the solution used to be cost prohibitive as there was no GPU sharing and each physical server typically supported only 4 GPU’s. With XD7,  HDX 3D Pro with GPU sharing is now supported on hosted shared desktops and published applications for OpenGL and DirectX workloads. GPU sharing is primarily targeted towards tier 2 3D Professional graphics users. This will significantly reduce the costs of delivering 3D workloads to high end users over high latency links while securing the intellectual property. In addition to GPU sharing via Hosted Shared Desktops, GPU sharing will also be available for VDI workloads. Tech Preview will be available in Q3 2013.

Reverse Seamless Applications

Reverse Seamless Apps has been one of the most requested features for quite a while. In essence it allows a local application window to be presented within a VDI/Hosted Shared Desktop window. So for instance, if your corporate delivered desktop is locked down and has only the core applications and the user wants to access his locally installed iTunes from within his VDI session, with reverse seamless apps, technically this would be possible. One caveat is that this is a PLATINUM ONLY FEATURE.

Desktop Player For Mac

As most of you are probably aware, XenClient a type-1 hypervisor for intel based workstations/latops primarily targeted for offline use of VDI was previously not able for Mac users. As a result it was not possible to access a VDI instance offline on a Mac. At Synergy, Citrix announced the Desktop Player for Mac, which is a type-2 hypervisor (much like Parallels) that allows users to check out a VDI instance and work offline. This VDI instance is delivered via the Xenclient Infrastructure and can be centrally managed. This adds a much needed piece to the Flexcast stack and helps Citrix compete in the Mac offline VDI space along with Mokafive, Mirage etc.

XenDesktop App Edition

With the announcement of XenDesktop 7, Citrix added a new licensing level for XenDesktop called the App Edition. This is intended for existing XenApp customers who would like to move to the new XenDesktop architecture but maintain only XenApp functionality, ie Hosted Shared Desktops and published applications.

RIP Application Streaming

Citrix has stopped developing application streaming and will not be supporting it on Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012. Customers can continue to use application streaming on existing XenApp deployments, however when the users migrate to Windows Server 2012, customers will have to migrate from application streaming to App-V. Current XenApp customers have App-V entitlements as part of the RDS CAL’s.

AppDNA for XenApp included in XD Platinum Licenses

A stripped down version of AppDNA is now included with XenDesktop Platinum licensing. This version of AppDNA allows users to test applications to see whether they are compatible to be hosted on XenApp. This functionality is available for unlimited apps.
I think that about sums it up from a XenDesktop perspective. I will be following up with posts on Sharefile, Merlin etc soon. Stay tuned!