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Citrix Monthly Newsletter – September ’16

General Announcement and News

Citrix Acquires Norskale: Making the Industry’s Best App & Desktop Delivery Performance Even Better

Throughout our history, Citrix has been a leader in delivering the best secure app delivery user experience available, a key reason customers choose our products and services. That commitment to provide the best experience possible continues with the acquisition of Norskale, a privately held user environment management (UEM) company.

XenApp and XenDesktop 7.11 is Here!

XenApp and XenDesktop 7.11 embraces the latest Microsoft platform offerings establishing the foundation for Day 1 support of Windows Server 2016, provisioning of app and desktop workloads on Azure Resource Manager and enhancements for App-V integration.

Admins now have advanced management options for delivering apps and desktops across geographically dispersed sites based on criteria such as user location, app location or user profile. Ongoing site management improvements deliver new performance metrics and alerts, easier self-service password reset configuration, and more provisioning options. This release continues to enhance the user experience with improved graphics rendering capabilities, new application delivery options for Linux, and profile management improvements. All these new capabilities and more converge with the 7.11 release to reaffirm XenApp and XenDesktop as the market-leading solution for virtual app and desktop delivery.

StoreFront 3.7 Has Been Released!

Storefront 3.7 was released earlier this month and with it comes a number of new features like Self Service Password Reset, Zone Preference Improvement, Receiver for Web Small Form Factor support etc. Find out more in this article.

Unified, Focused: Worx Apps Are Changing to XenMobile Apps

In Q4 of this year, we will be consolidating the number of XenMobile sub-brands by replacing “Worx” with “Secure.” Worx apps will undergo a name change only. The apps will look the same and function the same. This change in naming will not require users to re-enroll their devices or update the XenMobile Server. During the regular application update process, end-users will receive the newly named app, but all application data and workflows will remain exactly as they were before.

Citrix SCOM Management Pack for ShareFile is Here!

We are pleased to announce availability of a new Citrix SCOM Management Pack for ShareFile—a specialized monitoring and reporting console to further improve availability, performance, security and capacity-planning for a ShareFile deployment. The Citrix SCOM Management Pack for ShareFile is an add-on to Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to monitor product-specific metrics for ShareFile.

Receiver 12.3 for Mac Has Landed!

Mac OS 10.12 codenamed Sierra was recently released. Citrix is happy to announce that Receiver 12.3 for Mac has also been released.

AppDNA 7.11: Added Security & Server 2016 RTM Reporting

The release of XenDesktop 7.11 comes with the new version of Citrix AppDNA with a new reporting module for Server 2016 RTM and added security algorithms for the Security reporting feature introduced in 7.9.

Citrix Named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controllers…Again!

Gartner has published the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controllers. At Citrix, we are pleased to see that we are positioned as a leader in this space for the tenth year, and we are positioned furthest overall for completeness of vision.

Citrix XenServer Supports Microsoft Plans for Enhanced Virtualization Security

Today, Microsoft announced their intent to extend their Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) with an Additional Qualification for third party hypervisors, such as Citrix XenServer, to support some Windows Server 2016 virtualization-based security features (VBS), notably Credential Guard (CG) and Device Guard (DG). Windows Server VMs running on SVVP validated platforms will be able to leverage the new VBS capabilities to strengthen the isolation of a number of security-sensitive components and deliver enhanced security for Windows applications and desktops.

Citrix wins virtual desktop interface shootout

Virtual Desktop Interface is becoming easier to do, with potentially killer graphics, reasonable port virtualization, fine-grained administrative control, and with potential hosts other than Windows.

While Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp remains the one to beat, two other VDI platforms we tested, Ericom Connect Enterprise and Parallels Remote Application Server, can provide for the publishing of diverse applications to desktops, while following “the rules” regarding resource accessibility and security.

In testing, we found Citrix leads the pack in terms of overall flexibility, although its vast feature sets can increase support burdens. If price-be-damned and you really want the venerable Full Meal Deal, it’s Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp Enterprise. We found it has almost everything you could ask for in a VDI product.

Is your security awareness training program working?

Employees at Axe Investment, the fictional firm of biollionaire Bobby Axelrod in Showtimes new series, Billions, were downright angry when they learned that surprise SEC raid was only a test. Axelrod, though, found the mock raid fruitful as it revealed the internal weak links of his organization.

These are metrics that enterprises should be using to evaluate the success of their security awareness programs. In order for awareness training to work, it has to keep everyone in the enterprise, well, aware.

Minimize Windows 10 migration headaches by freeing data from devices

Operating system migrations require detailed planning, as every part of the end-user computing “stack” – hardware, applications, data, and user profiles — needs to be assessed before proceeding. From an organizational productivity standpoint, maintaining the availability of the data people need to do their jobs is a top concern.

How to support Microsoft’s Skype for Business tool on virtual desktops

Microsoft was sluggish in providing a comprehensive enterprise unified communications (UC) product organizations could integrate into a virtual desktop deployment. Virtualization was always an afterthought with Microsoft’s Lync messaging platform, the predecessor to the Skype for Business tool before the company acquired Skype in 2011.

Now, the partnership between Citrix and Microsoft has spawned the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.0, which puts the virtual desktop on par with its physical counterpart when it comes to UC support.

The reality is, in an enterprise environment, IoT will be much more complex than the individual smart device/smart thing relationship. It gets back to Tim O’Reilly’s point about systems. When we started talking IoT initiatives nearly two years ago, we found most people were not excited to talk about IoT as it related to a new sensor, device or gadget. Instead, they were intrigued when you talked about the potential for IoT to help solve complex business problems. As organizations become increasingly digital in all aspects of their business, new challenges in managing the connections, devices and applications that make up their digital business arise. This is especially relevant as enterprise applications evolve to be a collection of services and interactions spread across the cloud, on-premises systems and devices/sensors/things.

Why Citrix Is Better than VMware in Desktop Virtualization

Offerings that have to interoperate are always better between companies that cooperate than companies that don’t. And firms at war with each other seldom are successful with joint efforts. Often joint efforts between firms that actually want to work together fail due simply to cultural difference.

What gives Citrix the sustainable advantage is not only the fact it has a tighter relationship with Microsoft, but—because it appears to realize that it has to do most of the heavy lifting to maintain the relationship, there is none of the typical finger-pointing between the firms. Citrix owns the solution and responsibility and thus if Microsoft becomes distracted it is prepared to fill the gaps.

Yes, The Cloud Can Be A Security Win

There are so many different kinds of clouds — public, private, hybrid, internal — that many businesses and customers have difficulty deciding which is the right one for them. Furthermore, many businesses may use a few different variations of cloud environments — a private cloud for their own intranet, a hybrid cloud to keep some data on premises and some off premises to meet compliance regulations, and a public cloud for low-risk data.

These different types of environments make it difficult for IT and security teams to monitor every cloud on every device, or to monitor access requests for each different type of cloud environment. If you don’t control the cloud or where your data and apps reside, don’t manage them, or don’t know what you have in the cloud, your risk starts to sprawl and you don’t even know what’s happened when there’s a breach — or where to start to remediate. Follow these guidelines to make sure you avoid the cloud’s possible pitfalls.

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

XenMobile Touch ID Restriction Configuration & End User Experience

This blog describes how to configure Touch ID restriction on XenMobile Server and end user experience when Touch ID is enabled/Disabled for iOS devices.

Skype for Business from the Azure Cloud!

Times have changed! Today, calling from a cloud has a whole new meaning, with Skype for Business Online and Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop for Azure. Co-developed by Microsoft and Citrix, this unique solution brings not only telephony, but a full repertoire of Unified Communications features to the Azure cloud.

Introduction to Isolation Groups in XenDesktop

By design, App-V applications are isolated from each other and each AppV application is run within its own separate virtual environment—they do not share any data with other AppV applications. While this application isolation is welcome, as it promotes application compatibility by preventing any cross-application conflict, there is a need, at times, to overcome this restriction in certain strategic scenarios.

What Does Windows Server 2016 Day 1 Support Really Mean?

Citrix will support Windows Server 2016 on Day One! But what does that really mean? Does that mean that if I got my hands on the released bits of Windows Server 2016 on X Day of X Month (remember, I can’t tell you the actual release date) that I could then install XenApp and XenDesktop 7.11 on it and start using it? Immediately? Well, in a word, yes. Yes, it does. It’s really that simple. So, you see, there is no need to take the old approach to a new server OS and wait years to start working on it. You can truly start deploying and testing your own apps on Day 1 with XenApp and Windows Server 2016.

XenApp 7.11: Scalability & Economics on Microsoft Azure

Deploying Citrix XenApp 7.11 workloads from the Microsoft Azure cloud can give your IT organization a strategic advantage since it enables the delivery of desktops and applications in an agile way – you pay only for what you use. In fact, the price point for deploying a XenApp farm on Microsoft Azure can be as low as $6.89 per month per user.

XenApp & XenDesktop 7.x Server OS VDA Staggered Reboot Framework

This is the second version of the reboot framework for XenApp/XenDesktop Server OS VDAs.

Citrix Linux VDA 1.4 Introduces App Publishing with XenApp & More!

Linux VDA continues to evolve with every release, enabling more and more use cases. The Linux VDA 1.4 release is part of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.11 and it adds support for Linux application publishing with XenApp, anonymous login, policy management, USB redirection and expands HDX 3D Pro support on Linux.

Security and End-User Productivity with XenMobile & Office 365

Keeping pace with the rapid change from corporate-owned data centers to cloud services while maintaining tight control of your data and identity is a challenge.Mobile devices add an additional level of risk. However, Citrix XenMobile is built to bring a higher level of security to these platforms, no matter the location of your assets.

Configuring GSLB for XenMobile

Customers have many requirements. As I usually deal with large customers, a disaster recovery solution is always one of them. With XenMobile 10.x, things have gotten a lot easier: clustering is a piece of cake, and to direct traffic to the right data center we have NetScalers and GSLB (Global Server Load Balancing) at our disposal. This post is about configuring GSLB on NetScalers for XenMobile.

Self-Service Password Reset for FMA!

Learn more about Phase 2 of the Self Service Password Reset capabilities introduced in XenApp and Xendesktop 7.11.

Using Citrix Director in a MultiForest Environment

Citrix Director is capable of monitoring a XenDesktop and XenApp environment spanning a forest configuration where the users, XD Delivery controller, VDAs and Citrix Director can be located in same/different forests.

Step-by-Step Guide to Mac OS X Enrollment with XenMobile

Citrix has released XenMobile 10.3, which supports enrollment and management of the Mac OS X. Once the Mac OS X is enrolled, the administrator can manage the device by deploying multiple policies and perform various administrative tasks remotely thus making sure that they are complainant.This guide contains the step-by-step instructions accompanied with screenshots for a hassle-free Mac OS X enrollment. This guide also contains steps to collect the Mac OS X logs for troubleshooting when needed.

Using XenApp & XenDesktop in Azure Resource Manager

The recent addition of Azure Resource Manager support to Citrix Cloud’s XenApp and XenDesktop service provides a powerful new tool for creating and managing cloud hosted VDAs

nFactor authentication – MFA on steroids

The latest version of NetScaler has deeper integration with nFactor and can now be used with NetScaler Gateway and Unified Gateway. With nFactor you can configure an unlimited number of authentication factors. You are no longer limited to just two factors and you can get creative on how to chain them. Configuration will depend on the security policy and many times, user adoption and training are considerations to look at.

StoreFront Aggregation Groups Revisited

Over the past 12-18 months, we have seen a dramatic shift with the number of deployments using Web Interface versus StoreFront to the point that StoreFront is the de facto standard in new environment builds and migrations that we are seeing within Citrix Consulting. The majority of these deployments are also leveraging advanced multi-site settings in some way: either Optimal Gateway Routing to enable the use of HDX Insight for internal (non-Gateway users), user farm mapping to assign different groups of users to different farm sets, or aggregating resources from multiple farms/sites to collapse duplicate applications and/or desktops behind a single icon.

Extend the Microsoft RDS platform in Azure through Citrix solutions

Recording of a session from MS Ignite showcasing the new XenApp Express service in Azure that will replace RemoteApp.

Events/Webinars

Solution Webinar: How to deploy NetScaler Unified Gateway for Hybrid Cloud and secure access to Microsoft Office 365

Deep dive into how NetScaler Unified Gateway provides secure access to Office 365 and hybrid cloud workloads.

Register Now

Oct 5 – Master Class: NetScaler Rate Limiting and NetScaler and AAA

Live technical webinars to learn about the most critical elements of cloud infrastructures and enterprise datacenter architectures.

Register Now 

Desktop Master Class: September 2016

Register Now 

Solution Webinar: What’s New in XenApp and XenDesktop

Register Now  

Master Class: Mobility Master Class: September 2016

Register Now  

Solution Webinar:  Avoid Ransomware with a Published Browser

Register Now

Master Class: NetScaler 101- TCP optimizations and compression: delivering applications effectively across the Internet.  In the Spotlight – NetScaler in Citrix environments: remote access; high availability and visibility for XenApp/XenDesktop solved

Register Now 

Solution Webinar: Why Healthcare IT Prefers Citrix over VMware: A Dose of Security in an Unsecure World

Register Now 

Solution Webinar: Top six things you might not know about SD-WAN

Register Now 

Citrix and Microsoft: Making Cloud Simpler, Business Faster

Register Now

Getting Started with the Citrix HDX Pi – A step by step walkthrough

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A few months back, I wrote a blog on how to configure the Raspberry Pi thin client to access Citrix workloads. If you are completely new to the HDX Pi and want to learn more about the benefits, this is a good place to start. Since then Citrix announced the HDX Pi and I have received requests from members of the community to blog on configuring the HDX Pi. So here it is!

What you need:

  • One or more HDX Pi’s ( Microcenter edition)
  • ThinLInx Managmeent Software

Configuration

The HDX Pi comes pre licensed for the ThinLinx Management Software (TMS). So you can go to the ThinLinx website and download TMS and install on a windows PC. Once installed, run TMS.

Connect the HDX Pi to the network in addition to the obvious (keyboard, mouse, display). Once the Pi boots up, you will see the client within TMS.

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You can now update a number of parameters and push files to the device within TMS

  • Change the name
  • Change protocol to HDX if you prefer
  • Push SSL certs if needed (If you are using private certs on Storefront for instance)
  • Change network parameters (if you dont want to use DHCP for instance or use a custom DNS server)
  • Change display parameters.

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TMS is also how you would push new firmware to the device.

Once you are done with the configuration changes, reboot the device. Once rebooted, you should see the updated parameters within TMS.

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Once rebooted, you will have to specify the URL that you want the Pi to connect to. This is your Netscaler Gateway URL.

After you enter the URL, you will be prompted for credentials.

Once authenticated by the Netscaler, you get prompted to pick the Store after which you see your applications and desktops.

Some Caveats to keep in mind

One catch with TMS today is that the URL does not persist unless you save it at the Pi itself. To do this, while at the storefront screen, use the Ctrl+Alt+C key combination and hit “Save Settings”. Now reboot. The HDX Pi will now authenticate and take you right to your apps once rebooted.

The TMS server will only discover devices on the same subnet. So make sure that your TMS server and Pi are on the same subnet will configuring the devices or else discovery will fail.

Viewsonic version of the HDX Pi is also available. However the configuration procedure is a little different and will be covered in a future blog post.

Once the configuration URL is saved, as mentioned earlier the device will boot straight into storefront using credentials provided initially. In order to configure a new store, you can clear config and reset to default on the device or you can factory reset the device via TMS.

Keyboard Shortcuts:

  • ctrl alt r twice to factory reset
  • alt f4 to exit HDX screen
  • ctrl alt v – volume
  • ctrl alt c – config screen
  • ctrl alt t – terminal

To learn more about performance check my previous blog. I look forward to your feedback!

 

LUMA SURROUND WIFI SYSTEM – MY INITIAL THOUGHTS

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Back in February, I noticed Luma on Kickstarter. What made it compelling to me was the concept of a mesh network, which could in theory remove all deadspots around the house and guarantee excellent network throughput everywhere.

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As most engineers out there, I have a large number of wireless devices throughout the house and consistent throughput has always been a concern. In addition Luma promised some interesting security features including the ability to link users to devices on the network and then apply parental controls on a per user basis. The product also promised to proactively monitor the security posture of connected devices (done through a cloud based service). So for these reasons I pre ordered a 3 pack and received my devices earlier this week. I finally hooked up the devices and wanted to share my initial thoughts.

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SETUP

Setting up the Luma is a breeze! You literally hook up one of the devices to your modem or router, download an app via Google Play or the Apple Store and it walks you through the entire setup step by step.  I have my Linkys 1900ac and Luma running in parallel, both hooked up to my modem. I use the Luma primarily for media streaming devices. One of the access points did not successfully configure the first time during setup and i had to go through the process again. The process was extremely simple and intuitive nonetheless. Luma is geared to those who have zero knowledge about networking. Even my mom would be able to get through the configuration process successfully.

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The tool recommends ideal locations to place the access points but following the recommendations, I noticed that the throughput was not optimal. I eventually ended up placing the access points as close to each other as possible on the three floors and that seemed to give the best throughput.

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THE GOOD

  • As discussed above, the setup is extremely intuitive and simple
  • The product will appeal to most consumers who are not tech savvy due to the simplicity of the setup and exceptional network coverage.
  • Linking devices to users and applying parental controls on a per user basis is an awesome feature that appeals to parents like myself.
  • You can completely eliminate deadspots throughout your house while maintaining consistent throughout everywhere
  • Network security scans that monitor the security posture of all your connected devices is a nice feature. However it is cloud based.
  • The iOS and Android apps are very well designed, although they are pretty limited in features as of now.

THE NOT SO GOOD

  • Zero configuration options from a network perspective besides setting up a WiFi network. Not even the most basic settings.
    • No DHCP configuration options (scope, reservations, lease time etc)
    • No port forwarding
    • No advanced firewall options
    • No QoS settings
  • Cannot configure multiple Wireless Networks (beyond the guest network). Cannot separate 2.5 and 5 Ghz networks
  • Requires you to setup a cloud based account and uses cloud based network scanning solution that cannot be turned off. This is a major concern for some.
  • From what I can tell, the Luma acts as a forward proxy and also handles DNS resolution which is NOT CONFIGURABLE. I can see why this is necesary to filter traffic and apply parental controls. However I noticed a significant delay in DNS resolution (up to a 5 second delays) when trying to resolve URLs. This is extremely unappealing and a major show stopper for me. I also assume that this data is also flowing through their cloud service which is concerning.
  • While handling streaming video, so far I am noticing periodic network drops and freezing which I never noticed with my Linksys 1900ac. I will need to investigate further.
  • The throughput offered by the first wired Luma that you setup is almost three times higher than the rest. I am getting 300 Mbps on the main Luma and only about a 100 on the other two Lumas. I had read some reviews that claim the same flaw. With that said, 100 Mbps is not bad :)
  • A bunch of features that were promised on Kickstarter have not made it into the initial release. However, the support team tells me that they are extremely aggressive about updates and are updating the mobile app twice a month and releasing firmware updates pretty aggressively. So I’m pretty certain that they’ll catch up.

THOUGHTS OVERALL

In addition to Luma, there are a few other products out there that offer a similar solution, Eero being the most popular. The real differentiator with Luma (at least in theory) were the advanced parental controls and the fact that the devices itself are much more beefy with quad core processors and such. While I am honestly a little disappointed with my initial experience, especially with regards to all the missing advanced network features, I am cautiously optimistic that these will be rolled into the product soon. So here are my initial thoughts:

  • If you are not tech savvy and want a really simple solution that just works, provides you consistent coverage everywhere and you dont care about advanced network features, then LUMA IS FOR YOU!
  • If cloud hosted services are a concern, then Luma is not for you.
  • If you already own a Linksys 1900ac or a similar advanced router, I would honestly hold back for now and wait to see how the product evolves. Too many gaps as of now.
  • If your main reason for looking at the solution was parental controls, it might be a fit however not all the features have been rolled out. You could look at Circle from Disney to complement your existing wireless solution. You could also take a closer look at Eero.

I will update this post as I have more information to share!

Breakout Sessions That You Dont Want To Miss This Year At Citrix Synergy!

For the past couple of years, I have tried to filter through all the breakout sessions and compile my top picks. The purpose is to help my customers build their agendas, especially if this is the first time they are attending and are not familiar with the speakers. This year I have broken it down by the top 10 overall, my top 15 technical sessions, top 10 sessions for management level attendees and other picks that just missed the top 10.

General Tips For First Time Attendees

  • Do not miss the keynotes!
  • Networking with peers from the industry is one of the best aspects of attending Synergy. Make sure you take the time to reach out to others while attending sessions. Also spend as much time as possible at the expo and meet the various vendors.
  • Do not decide on attending a session just based on the title. Always check the speakers and agenda as well.
  • Provide your feedback on the sessions you attend. This will help Citrix improve future breakout sessions.
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions to the speakers either during the session or after the session. The breakout sessions are a golden opportunity to get some face time with some of the brightest minds and you should take full advantage!
  • If you are new to the products or have not played with the latest and greatest versions, make sure you stop by the Solutions Sandbox and get your hands dirty.
  • Follow Synergy on twitter. You will receive great insights on the sessions, keynotes etc. An unfiltered perspective I might add.

My Top 10 Overall

SYN115: The inside scoop on workplace transformation: five digital imperatives

SYN106: AppDisk and AppDNA: the unbeatable combination

SYN101: Citrix CTO Perspective: The Application Delivery Continuum

SYN105: GPU State of the Industry: Intel, NVIDIA and AMD

SYN145: Security: the never-ending balancing act between users and hackers

SYN206: What’s new in Workspace Cloud Services

SYN112: What’s new and next for ShareFile

SYN212: Seeing is believing: a side–by–side comparison of Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon

SYN305: Architect Citrix on Microsoft Azure

SYN322: Security–hardening XenApp and XenDesktop

Top 15 For Technical minded attendees

SYN108: What’s new – XenApp & XenDesktop

SYN302: Best Practices: Optimizing XenApp infrastructure with Lifecycle Management

SYN210: Containers or Virtual Machines? It’s not necessarily one or the other; get the best of both worlds!

SYN304: Deployment best practices for the newest XenApp and XenDesktop HDX technologies

SYN220: XenApp and XenDesktop security best practices

SYN204: Deep dive into the Workspace Cloud Apps and Desktops Service: use cases, features and best practices

SYN307: Single-sign-on pass through with Receiver

SYN212: Seeing is believing: a side–by–side comparison of Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon

SYN322: Security–hardening XenApp and XenDesktop

SYN323: XenApp and XenDesktop tech update – May 2016

SYN213: Managing an application from procurement to deployment in XenApp and XenDesktop using Citrix AppDNA

SYN243: Simplify application access with NetScaler Unified Gateway: tips from the field

SYN305: Architect Citrix on Microsoft Azure

SYN321: Securing the published browser

SYN315: SD-WAN deep dive: what, why and how

Top 10 for Management level attendees

SYN107: Deliver Skype for Business with XenApp and XenDesktop

SYN106: AppDisk and AppDNA: the unbeatable combination

SYN101: Citrix CTO Perspective: The Application Delivery Continuum

SYN202: State of the DaaS industry in 2016

SYN145: Security: the never-ending balancing act between users and hackers

SYN203: Tips for XenApp and XenDesktop organizations expanding to Citrix Workspace Suite

SYN115: The inside scoop on workplace transformation: five digital imperatives

SYN206: What’s new in Workspace Cloud Services

SYN129: What’s new: NetScaler Unified Gateway

SYN112: What’s new and next for ShareFile

Other Recommendations

SYN226: Make the most of your Microsoft Office 365 subscription with ShareFile

SYN512: Bloomberg: secure and isolated app hosting

SYN223: I bet on ShareFile and won: a customer’s ShareFile journey

SYN327: (Re)design your Active Directory

SYN509: Transforming student experience through secure virtualization and mobility

SYN105: GPU State of the Industry: Intel, NVIDIA and AMD

SYN225: How XenMobile stacks up to other enterprise mobility management solutions

SYN237: Five features that set NetScaler apart from the competition

SYN205: Best practices for leveraging Microsoft Azure as a hybrid resource location in Workspace Cloud

SYN219: Getting up close and personal with MCS and PVS

SYN311: Deep dive on ShareFile security options: keep your data safe

SYN215: Monitoring best practices for your Citrix infrastructure with new SCOM management packs

SYN325: XenDesktop 7.x high availability and load balancing cheat sheet

SYN327: (Re)design your Active Directory

Citrix Monthly Newsletter – March ’16

General Announcement and News

Synergy Session Catalog Is Live

“Citrix Synergy is the premier industry conference on digital business transformation. Synergy provides attendees with the tools and confidence they need to say yes to workforce mobility, security and compliance, BYO, workplace redesign, hybrid cloud infrastructure—and whatever comes next. This year Synergy is in Las Vegas from May 24th-26th. Find out more about the various sessions, keynotes and hands on lab by reviewing our session catalog which is now live at citrixsynergy.com”

Driving Digital Transformation – Kirill Tatarinov, Citrix CEO

“Citrix is an enabler of digital transformation, helping customers in all industries to unlock their business potential. It has been terrific to hear resounding support for this mission in my many conversations with our customers and people around the world.”

Shelton Public Schools Saves Two Million Dollars Using Citrix Technology

“One of the most influential trends in education today is differentiated learning, whereby educators provide students with different pathways to learning in the same classroom. Shelton Public Schools, a K-12 school district in Western Connecticut, has addressed this trend by using Citrix technology to support the Google Chromebox computers that mount on the back of a monitor and retail for less than $200 – a fraction of the nearly $500 per device Shelton Public Schools would have had to spend on desktop computers for its classroom learning centers. ”

Citrix Radically Simplifies the Secure Delivery of Browser-based Apps

Citrix Secure Browser product family provides a quick, simple way for any IT organization – even those that have never used a Citrix product – to securely deliver web and SaaS applications to any modern browser. In minutes, an administrator can set up any web application to be securely delivered to any device, even internally hosted web apps, without intrusively installing anything on an employee’s device.”

Hospital CTO finds virtualization and security in Citrix

“As associate vice president and chief technology officer of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Sean Updegrove works to make sure his physicians get their patients’ health data safely, quickly and conveniently whether they’re on hospital rounds, at home or in the clinic. For this task, he chose Citrix technology for virtualization and security of the physician portals and workflows that transport data from Children’s Cerner Corp. EHR to clinicians as they move around the hospital.”

Biggest EMM Trends of 2015

” Serving as the “invisible middleman,” enterprise mobility management (EMM) gives IT and employees the tools and confidence they need to just say yes to workforce mobility. With empowering employees to work and collaborate the way they prefer as a baseline (hearkening back to today’s trend for organizations to adopt BYOD policies to let people use their own PCs and mobile devices for work), Citrix recently polled customers that deployed EMM in the cloud using XenMobile last year.”

iOS 9.3 – What’s In It For the Enterprise?

XenMobile provided same-day platform support for the release of iOS 9.3. With every new iOS release I’m always curious to see what’s in it for the enterprise and 9.3 doesn’t disappoint.

Citrix Unleashes Industry-First Integrated Platform for SD-WAN

Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) offers the reliability, visibility, control and flexibility businesses need today to address the demands placed by new bandwidth intensive applications on their wide area networks—and in 2016 there is strong momentum toward mainstream adoption. Citrix unveiled a complete solution for enterprises on this path: CloudBridge Enterprise Edition, a single platform with fully integrated WAN virtualization, WAN Optimization, enterprise-grade security, and end-to-end visibility.”

The Fastest PoC in the Cloud – XenApp in the Azure Marketplace

“I am pleased to announce that you can now try XenApp 7.8 in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. This offering is the latest addition to our already existing portfolio in the Azure Marketplace, which includes NetScaler VPX (BYOL) and ShareFile StorageZones Controller.”

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

Citrix Appdisks How To Guide – Administration Basics and Gotchas 

AppDisk, an application layering solution was part of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 released in late February this year. This post is not meant to cover the basics of application layering or image management as a whole. My goal in this post is to cover the administrative aspects of application layering using Citrix AppDisks.

Remote PC Access for XenDesktop: Not Flashy, Just Fantastic

“With over 1,500+ customers and 500,000 systems actively enrolled and using Remote PC Access, it is gaining visibility everywhere as a valuable standard in deploying XenDesktop. And who wouldn’t adopt it? Combining the power of HDX, energy cost savings with Wake on LAN (WOL) and security provided by NetScaler, its simple deployment model appeals to every vertical and every customer size.”

Session Recording in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.8 Ensures Compliance & Productivity

“Session Recording, available in XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum Editions, allows administrators to record on-screen user session activity and play it back at a later time as required. It has been available for server-based desktops and published applications for some time, and now, VDI desktops are supported as well. Policy control and notification options provide flexibility to meet environment requirements and regulations.”

Configuring XenMobile Unified Gateway

“Where remote users needed to access their SaaS and Enterprise apps along with XenApp/XenDesktop published apps via their web browser, they used to launch the NetScaler Gateway’s URL. Post authentication if the AppController was integrated with StoreFront, they get access to apps published by AppController and StoreFront. Unified Gateway is integrated into NetScaler 11.0 release. When configured, Unified Gateway provides consolidation via one URL to access multiple secured services.”

Updated Guidance on PVS Ports and Threads

“Recently, I had a chance to talk with our PVS Sr. Architect Jeff Pinter-Parsons who led me to believe that we need to reevaluate the details surrounding this leading practice. Per our discussion, PVS is actually not using a standard threading model where each client gets it own port/thread much like a TFTP server does. Instead PVS has a listener for each port that receives a request and dumps it on a port specific thread pool. The threads in the pool process each request, one per thread. If there are more threads than cores, the leftover threads simply block. Adding more threads than CPU logical core is not going to help on performance.”

StoreFront Message Customization

“This is a newer version of a customization I wrote about last year. This version will work with StoreFront 3.0 and up. (Previous version StoreFront 3.0 Message Customization)”

Delete Local User Profile Folders on StoreFront Servers

“As many of you might be aware, the Citrix StoreFront authentication service provides an option for users to change their passwords when they expire. By default, this option is disabled when the authentication service is created, which prevents users from changing their passwords even if the passwords have expired. If you decide to enable this option in Citrix Receiver for Web, keep in mind that StoreFront creates a local user profile to check whether a user’s password is about to expire. Hence, sufficient disk space is required on the local disk of the StoreFront servers.”

Machine Learning with Octoblu and Microsoft Azure

Octoblu enables companies to create IoT services with secure realtime exchange of data. The services are built on open communications and management platform that supports a variety of protocols for physical devices to communicate seamlessly with each other, people, legacy applications, and cloud services. Through public, private, or hybrid clouds users can connect, design, process, and analyze the flow of information. All services have been designed to operate over a robust security and right management architecture.”

Support Articles/Security Bulletins

Events/Webinars

Webinars

Mar 30 Solution Webinar: Who’s driving your Windows 10 migration – employees or IT?

Join Citrix and Windows IT Pro contributor Theresa Miller to learn how to support employees on Windows 10 devices, cut the time and effort of application migration to a fraction of past projects, rollout standardized Windows 10 that’s easier to manage and update and measure your OS migration in hours (not months and even years).

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Mar 30 Solution Webinar: What’s Your Biggest Worry with Windows 10 Migration?

Join us as we take a technical deep-dive into the tools built into XenApp and XenDesktop that you can use today to make this your best Windows migration ever and avoid the headaches of the past.

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Seminars

Oct 2015 – Mar 2016 Seminars: From vulnerable to secure: Strategies to mitigate mobile security threats

Join us at a city near you for a mobile and virtualization security focused complimentary luncheon, filled with use case scenarios and live demos, to learn how you can protect apps and data and mitigate security threats with Citrix.

Register in a city near you

Mar – Apr 2016 Seminars: Q1 NetScaler Master Class Seminar Series

Join us at a city near you for an in-person master class covering best practices for installing and securing your website with Citrix NetScaler and a deep dive on the role that NetScaler plays in SDN.

Register in a city near you

Mar – May 2016 Seminars: Cisco on the Road (Formerly Cisco Live Local Edition; Cisco Tech Days)

One day educational and training event, organized by Cisco Enterprise, Commercial and Public Sector Teams. Customer attendance rate ranges from 100-500 attendees per event, in which 80% are Technical Contributors and the rest 20% are in IT Management, Sr. Management and Executives.

Register in a city near you

Apr — June 2016 Seminars: Technical Demo Days

Join us in a city near you for a demo-driven, interactive technical seminar showcasing the entire Citrix story through dynamic “day in the life” end-to-end demonstrations across a range of devices.

Register in a city near you

Deminars

Every Tuesday and Thursday Deminars: Intro to Citrix Mobile Workspaces

Join us for an interactive, technical session on the benefits and capabilities of Citrix Workspace Suite in these demo-focused webinars.  Each session will begin with a valuable use case review that you do not want to miss! Register now to select the date that works best for you.
Register Now: Tuesday SessionThursday Session  

Every Wednesday Deminars: Intro to Citrix NetScaler

Join us for an interactive, technical session on the benefits and capabilities of Citrix NetScaler in these demo-focused webinars.  Register now to select the date that works best for you.
Register Now: Wednesday Session

On Demand

Mar 2 Master Class: Back to basics: Server Load Balancing on NetScaler and Admin partitions

Register Now 

Mar 8 Solution Webinar: What’s New in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.7 and 7.8

Register Now 

Mar 9 Master Class: EMM for Windows 10 and the latest Citrix XenMobile MDX features

Register Now 

Mar 15 Solution Webinar: Deploying Skype for Business with Citrix NetScaler

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Mar 23 Desktop Master Class: Browser Apps, Better Management and Brilliant Graphics

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Citrix Appdisks How To Guide – Administration Basics and Gotchas

AppDisk, an application layering solution was part of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 released in late February this year. This post is not meant to cover the basics of application layering or image management as a whole. You can refer to my blog for a quick overview. My goal in this post is to cover the administrative aspects of application layering using Citrix AppDisks. With that said, lets dig right in!

Creating an AppDisk

There are couple of approaches to creating an AppDisk. The first method is to manually create it at the hypervisor level and then import it within studio. The second approach is to create and assign the AppDisk right from within Studio. You can read more about both approaches here.

To create an AppDisk from within Studio:

Click on the AppDisks node within Studio and then select “Create AppDisk” from the Actions menu.

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On the next screen, select the size of the disk. There are predefined options of 3, 20 or 100 GB or you could pick a custom size. This is also where you would import an existing AppDisk that you have created manually. Keep in mind that on a 3GB AppDisk a good chunk of the space is already used up and you would most likely get less than 1 GB for any new applications you are looking to install into that layer. 

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Next, you select the machine catalog you would use for the VM used to install applications into this AppDisk. Only the compatible options will be made available. For instance in the screenshot below, the only two options available are the NonPersistentVDI catalog and the Win 7 Pool. Reasons are provided as to why the remaining machine catalogs are not made available. Also worth noting that AppDisks can only be assigned random pool catalogs. The machine catalog should have at least one available VM for the AppDisk creation to work.

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Next, give the AppDisk a name and the AppDisk creation process initiates. In my lab, I have seen anywhere from 10 minutes for a 3GB disk and under 20 minutes for a 20GB AppDisk (SATA storage). Creation of these disks on SSD storage was about 30% faster.

Once the AppDisk is created, you can install the required applications.

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Installing Applications within an AppDisk

Within Studio, click on the newly created AppDisk. It should say “Ready to Install Applications”. Under the details section for the AppDisk, the preparation machine information is provided. Within the hypervisor management console, login to the preparation machine and install the required applications.

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Once you have installed the applications, within studio, highlight the AppDisk and under the Actions pane, select “Seal AppDisk”. This starts the sealing process and once that is completed, you can run AppDNA compatibility analysis for that AppDisk.

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Keep in mind that AppDisk Layering cannot be used for applications that have file system drivers and services.  AppDisk does not include application isolation. App-V or Turbo.net provides that functionality. 

Configuring AppDNA and Analyzing an AppDisk for Compatibility Issues

The main differentiator between AppDisk and the other layering technologies out there is the integration with AppDNA for Delivery group compatibility analysis. For instance, once we create an AppDisk we can test compatibility against multiple XenApp Images or a pooled Windows 10 delivery group as examples. This gives the administrator the assurance that the AppDisk is going to work with that delivery group without having to go through extensive regression testing. When you have multiple AppDisks assigned to a delivery group, the AppDNA compatibility analysis also makes sure that all the AppDisks play well together and reorders the AppDIsk assignment if need be based on the analysis. AppDNA integration is a XenApp/XenDesktop Platinum Only feature. 

Before you can run any compatibility analysis, AppDNA needs to be configured within Studio. Click on the AppDNA section under configuration and specify the AppDNA connection settings. Make sure the connection test passes.

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Getting back to where we were in the AppDisk creation, we had just started the sealing process. Once this process is complete, the AppDNA compatibility analysis will automatically kick in if AppDNA connection settings are configured. The compatibility analysis is done against the machine catalog that the preparation machine belongs to. When you assign an AppDisk to a delivery group, compatibility analysis is carried out automatically against that delivery group. If there are multiple AppDisks assigned, then the AppDisks will be reordered if needed based on the analysis. There is an option to “Auto Order” the AppDisks when you assign an AppDisk to a delivery group. 

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To view the report, click on “View Report” next to the AppDisk that you just sealed.

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You can also view the reports from within the AppDNA console under the reports section. Here you have various views including the Application Issues, Application Actions, Issue View and Action View.

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Assigning an AppDisk to a Delivery Group/Groups

To assign an application to a delivery group, click on Delivery Groups within Studio, highlight the Delivery Group that you want to assign the AppDisk to. Under the Actions pane, select “Manage AppDisks”.

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The next screen shows you the currently assigned AppDisks and gives you the ability to add AppDisks. Once you assign your AppDisk, select Auto Order.

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You can then select the rollout strategy. You can either reboot all the machines within that Delivery Group immediately or you can assign the AppDisk at the next machine reboot. You can then review the configuration and then click Finish. This initiates an AppDNA compability analysis if you have XenApp or XenDesktop Platinum entitlement and have configured your AppDNA server within Studio.

You can assign an AppDisk created with one OS to delivery groups running other OS’s as well so long as the application is compatible with the target OS. Within my lab, I tested assigning two AppDisks created with a Win2k12 preparation VM to a Win 7 random pool.

To assign an AppDisk to a delivery group, that delivery group needs to using the same storage. To assign an AppDisk to a delivery group on different storage, you would have to create a new VM at the hypervisor level tied to the target storage, clone and associate the AppDisk to the new VM and the reimport it within Studio. I am hoping this process will be simplified in upcoming releases of the product.

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Updating an AppDisk

Currently there is no version management built into AppDisk. This means that each time you need to make an update, you are essentially cloning the existing AppDisk, making changes to it and then reassigning the new AppDisk to the Delivery Groups. It is also worth noting that you CANNOT resize an AppDisk when creating a new version.  

To update an AppDisk, click on the AppDisk node within Studio, highlight the AppDisk you would like to update and select “Create New Version” from the Action pane.

On the next screen, select the Pooled Random machine catalog that you would like to use for the preparation VM. Again a VM needs to be available within that Machine Catalog to perform the update.

You then name the AppDisk with version information and click “Create New Version”. This kicks off the AppDisk creation process as detailed earlier. AppDNA compatibility analysis will be carried out against the preparation VM machine catalog once the new version of the AppDisk is created.

Once the new version is ready, you can assign the AppDisk to the required delivery groups and unassign the old version. This will once again kick off the AppDNA compatibility analysis.

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Resizing an AppDisk

There are no options to resize an AppDisk from within studio today. You would have to resize at the hypervisor level and then reimport and reassign the AppDisk. I am hoping that this is addressed in the near future.

Deleting an AppDisk

To delete an AppDisk within Studio, click on AppDisks, highlight the AppDisk you would like to delete and select “Delete AppDisk” from the Action pane.

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Final Thoughts

As I described in my previous blog on Image Management, AppDisk takes us one step further in simplifying Image Management. However App Layering is not a one size fits all solution and should be used in conjunction with other solutions like application isolation and the likes. I am quite impressed with AppDisks for a v1 product. The performance has been very good considering I conducted most of my testing in my lab using SATA storage. However, I do hope that certain administrative tasks (like AppDisk resizing and versioning) improve in the near future.

Citrix Monthly Newsletter – February ’16

General Announcement and News

XenApp 7.8 & XenDesktop 7.8 Available for Download

Customers with active Software Maintenance (SWM) or Subscription Advantage (SA)–effective February 17, 2016–can download XenApp 7.8 and XenDesktop 7.8 on Citrix.com. The XenApp and XenDesktop 7.8 release greatly simplifies application management, delivering a 90% time savings over traditional methods. It enhances the user experience, while introducing scalability improvements, enabling a 40% memory reduction and a 20% increase in CPU efficiency for select behavior. Plus new features strengthen security and compliance.

Citrix Improves the Economics of Managing Mobile Traffic

Citrix announced the availability of the new NetScaler T1000 series which integrates proven ByteMobile optimization technology with the highly scalable, higher performance NetScaler platform architecture. This innovative Citrix solution vastly improves the economics of mobile traffic handling.

Now Playing! XenApp & XenDesktop in “The Citrix Supportability Pack

The Supportability Pack is a collection of support utilities developed by Citrix engineers to help diagnose and troubleshoot XenDesktop and XenApp on the Microsoft Windows platform.

Address 3 Business Impacts of Windows 10 with App & Desktop Virtualization

The latest release of Windows introduces another level of complexity for IT. Although the new Windows 10 OS promises consumers many improved features, it also means that managing a controlled migration is no longer in the hands of IT.  This shift has potential business impacts that enterprise IT teams must address, and app and desktop virtualization offers a reliable solution for maintaining a seamless, “business as usual” transition.

Can the Raspberry Pi Disrupt the Thin Client Market.. And the PC Industry

The Raspberry Pi (with Citrix HDX ) has created the opportunity to disrupt the Thin Client and Business PC market.

Welcome CTP–Citrix Technology Professional–Class of 2016!!

The Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) Program award recognizes the contributions of individuals who have invested significant  time and resources to become experts in Citrix products and solutions.

Secure Web & SaaS Apps with XenApp Secure Browser

Browsers, despite their ascendance have historically been one of the most vulnerable pieces of software on any endpoint. The security concerns with browsers are legendary and involve complex settings, third-party plugins, active content, Flash, Java and other components that must be kept under strict control.

Announcing Storefront 3.5

Citrix announced the general availability of StoreFront 3.5. This release significantly revamps the administration console and PowerShell SDK, which makes the administration of StoreFront much easier.

Share Sensitive Documents—Anywhere—with Citrix Sharefile!

ShareFile facilitates the safe exchange of confidential financial documents between employees and with customers. Individual files and folders can be securely downloaded via a custom-branded client vault or through email. Employees can access, sync and securely share files within the organization, across lines of business and with third parties and clients, on any device via any network and repository, including existing network file drives and SharePoint sites.

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

Director Load Balancing using NS 11

Carl Stallhood walks through how the Netscaler can be used to load balance Citrix Director instances in this blog.

Framehawk Guide for XA/XD 7.8

The Framehawk virtual channel optimizes the delivery of virtual desktops and applications to users on broadband wireless and lossy long-haul broadband network connections, when high packet loss or congestion occurs. You can use Citrix policies to implement either Framehawk or Thinwire for a set of users in a way that is appropriate for your network characteristics, and is aligned with overall scalability and performance expectations.

Remote Display Analyzer

Use Remote Display Analyzer to easily analyze the result of your configuration and change settings on the fly to assess the best possible end user experience for every user, on every device on every location

Netscaler and Traffic Flow Explained

In this blog, Marius Sandbu attempts to explain Netscaler basics and traffic flows.

Configuration Notes on n-factor

nFactor authentication gives administrators an easy, flexible way to authenticate users, based on different kinds of user access, credentials provided or application demands.

Troubleshooting XenDeskop Slow Logons with HDX Data

The updated script presented in this blog, now covers the entire logon process, from the moment the user clicks on the published resource until the Desktop is available. The new module works by querying the XenDesktop Monitor service via OData API. The Windows session ID is translated to a XenDesktop SessionKey which is used in the OData API query.

Deploying Citrix Apps & Desktops: Resource Location Blueprint

How to deploy the Citrix Lifecycle Management Apps & Desktops: Resource Location & Service Setup Blueprint to create a Resource Location in your Amazon Web Services account for use with Citrix Workspace Cloud Apps & Desktops service.

Application Virtualization vs Application Layering

Marius covers the difference between two very popular solutions for application deployment, namely application virtualization and application layering.

Whats New in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.8

A quick guide detailing the new features introduced in XA/XD 7.8

Support Articles/Security Bulletins

Events/Webinars

Mar 2 Master Class: Back to basics: Server Load Balancing on NetScaler and Admin partitions
Live technical webinars to learn about the most critical elements of cloud infrastructures and enterprise datacenter architectures.

Register Now 

Mar 8 Solution Webinar: What’s New in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.7 and 7.8

Join us as we dive into the latest updates to see how we are simplifying application management, expanding our Microsoft Integration, and improving the user experience.

Register Now 

Mar 9 Master Class: EMM for Windows 10 and the latest Citrix XenMobile MDX features

Please join our technology experts for another deep-dive session on XenMobile as they cover Windows 10 MDM/MAM, shared devices and shared apps, MDX containerization, MDX app integrations using the SDK, working with MDX app policies and SSO capabilities with MDX.

Register Now 

Oct 2015 – Mar 2016 Seminars: From vulnerable to secure: Strategies to mitigate mobile security threats

Join us at a city near you for a mobile and virtualization security focused complimentary luncheon, filled with use case scenarios and live demos, to learn how you can protect apps and data and mitigate security threats with Citrix.

Register in a city near you

Mar – Apr 2016 Seminars: Q1 NetScaler Master Class Seminar Series

Join us at a city near you for an in-person master class covering best practices for installing and securing your website with Citrix NetScaler and a deep dive on the role that NetScaler plays in SDN.

Register in a city near you

Mar – May 2016 Seminars: Cisco on the Road (Formerly Cisco Live Local Edition; Cisco Tech Days)

One day educational and training event, organized by Cisco Enterprise, Commercial and Public Sector Teams. Customer attendance rate ranges from 100-500 attendees per event, in which 80% are Technical Contributors and the rest 20% are in IT Management, Sr. Management and Executives

Register in a city near you

DEMINARS

Every Tuesday and Thursday Deminars: Intro to Citrix Mobile Workspaces

Join us for an interactive, technical session on the benefits and capabilities of Citrix Workspace Suite in these demo-focused webinars.  Each session will begin with a valuable use case review that you do not want to miss! Register now to select the date that works best for you.
Register Now: Tuesday SessionThursday Session  |  Contact for More Info

Every Wednesday Deminars: Intro to Citrix NetScaler

Join us for an interactive, technical session on the benefits and capabilities of Citrix NetScaler in these demo-focused webinars.  Register now to select the date that works best for you.
Register Now: Wednesday Session  |  Contact for More Info

On Demand  |  Year to date

Jan 12 Solution Webinar: Secure Remote Access to Windows, Web and SaaS Apps

Register Now 

Jan 14 SDN Update: Customer Strategies for Software Defined Everything

Register Now 

Jan 20 Desktop Master Class: What’s New with XenApp and XenDesktop 7.7

Register Now 

Jan 22 Live Stream Webinar: Citrix Networking Field Day 11

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Jan 27 Mobility Master Class: What’s New in Citrix XenMobile

Register Now 

Feb 3 Master Class: Back to basics: setting up your first NetScaler + NetScaler 11: New feature release

Register Now 

Feb 18 Solution Webinar: How SD-WAN helps with application delivery

Register Now 

 

 

 

 

 

XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 – A Big Step Forward In Image Management

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Citrix released XenApp and XenDesktop 7.8 on 02/25 and with it came numerous feature enhancements. In this post, I want to focus on two of these features as it addresses a major challenge most Citrix administrators have to deal with today.

The Problem

It is safe to say that every enterprise customer that I work with uses Provisioning Services for XenApp and Pooled VDI for all the management, storage and performance benefits. However, a majority of these customers end up having to manage multiple images (sometimes >10). In most cases, applications are locally installed, in a few cases, App-V is used in conjunction with locally installed apps and in rare occassions, SCCM/LANDESK and similar ESD tools are used. For Pooled desktops, its a combination of locally installed apps and apps delivered via XenApp for the most part. On some occassions third party tools are also used. The net result is that multiple dedicated resources spend most of their time updating these images and managing application updates.

So what does XA/XD 7.8 offer to solve this problem?

AppDisk

I constantly have discussions with my customers around how to solve the problem of image management, and it usually boils down to separating the applications from the operating system as far as possible. XA/XD 7.8 introduces AppDisk, which provides the ability to manage your applications independently of the base image. AppDisk falls under application layering, which has been around for a while now. You can add any number of applications to an AppDisk and the AppDisk can then be tied to multiple machines at the same time running different operating systems. So if you are an Enterprise customer that has multiple XenApp silos today due to different business units requiring different applications for instance and have multiple PVS images that you manage for this purpose, you could potentially cut down to one image for each OS and then use AppDisk to layer the applications thereby making management of the images a lot easier. Not only that, application updates become a lot easier and the maintenance windows will reduce significantly. Also if you wanted to replicate your applications across multiple datacenters, it is as easy as copying these appdisks over.

Integration of AppDisk with AppDNA

There are a number of vendors today that offer layering solutions, including some that partner with Citrix. What truly differentiates AppDisk is our integration with AppDNA. When there are multiple layers tied to a delivery group for instance, AppDNA lets the administrator know how a change in one layer could potentially impact compatibility between layers and can reorder the layers if needed. Similarly, AppDNA can also inform the administrator if an AppLayer is incompatible with a specific OS. So if I were to tie the same AppDisk to multiple delivery groups delivering different operating systems, thanks to AppDNA, you can quickly determine if that AppDisk is compatbile with the target OS. This is truly a differentiator and removes a lot of the guess work and manual labor involved in compatibility analysis.

With all that said, layering is not a one size fits all solution for application deployment. There are various challenges. When you use mutiple Appdisks for instance, it is important to understand the dependencies between layers to make sure the layers can working with each other and there are no conflicts. In large environments, there could be hundreds of layers, each layer having a large number of applications. So management could get complex in those cases. Also, AppDisk is not supported on dedicated desktops today. Also important to note that PvD and Appdisk cannot be used together today

App-V Packages

Another key feature in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 is the ability to publish App-V packages that are stored in a network share without needing the App-V infrastructure. The process is no different from publishing a natively installed application. You may ask why even go down this path when you could address most use cases directly with AppDisk. There are a couple of reasons. First, AppDisk does not provide application isolation. So, if you require application isolation, perhaps to run multiple versions of the same application for instance, you would need to use a technology like App-V. Secondly, if you already have your desktop teams leveraging App-V to sequence packages, it makes sense to deploy the same packages within your Citrix environment instead of reinventing the wheel.

Final thoughts

Its human nature to be enamored by the latest shiny toy. But in the case of application management, there is no one size fits all solution. But with the XA/XD 7.8 release, there are various options available for packaging and delivering applications thanks to the tools Citrix added. Does that mean the tools we provide will address 100% of the use cases out there? Probably not. We have a number of partners who add further value through their solutions. Fine examples are Liquidware Labs, FSLogix and Unidesk.

I believe that a lot of enterprise deployments, will continue to deploy core applications natively in the base image, either locally installed or using App-V and the likes. However, AppDisk with AppDNA is a great solution to manage business unit specific applications that were silo’d in the past and increased the infrastructure and operational overhead substantially. To conclude, I would highly recommend that you try XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 in a lab environment and get familiar with AppDisk and App-V package deployment.

 

Step by step guide on configuring the Rasperry Pi to deliver Citrix Apps and Desktops to your End Users!

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Why The Raspberry Pi?

In working with my customers over the years, end point management is something most struggle with to this day. Some choose to still provide their end users with fat clients, having to figure out how to manage the operating system and applications while making sure the device is secure. This tends to be a daunting challenge both from an operational and financial perspective. Others choose to leverage thin clients when possible but struggle in deciding what the right device is from a price and functionality pespective. A lot of times, they spend upwards of $500 on these thin clients, which still run a Windows Embedded OS that still needs to be managed and in some ways defeats the purpose of a thin client. While this is not true in every case, I would say that the end point management dillema is one of the biggest factors in virtualization initiatives stalling at my enterprise customers.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been taking a closer look at the Rapsberry Pi. For those of you not familiar with the Raspberry Pi, I would highly recommend you check this out. While the use cases for the Pi are immense, what peaked my curiosity were recent blogs by Martin Rowan and Trond Eirik Haavarstein around how they leveraged the Pi as a thin client replacement for Citrix workloads.

Now before we go further, its important to understand why this was interest to me. First off, the device can be made highly secure by running stripped down Linux OS. Secondly, a Raspberry Pi 2 costs roughly $35. Tack on a case and adequate storage, the device is still under $50. So if there was a way to effectively deliver Citrix workloads leveraging this device, this would be the cheapest thin client out there! Not to mention a simple support and maintenance strategy, GET A NEW ONE! :)

How Does One Get Started?

I decided to get myself a Raspberry Pi 2 and give it a test run. I ordered the Vilros Raspberry Pi 2 Complete Starter Kit off of Amazon for around $55 (its around $70 now but price fluctuates). I would highly recommend going for a starter kit, either the one I got or the even more popular Canakit as these include everything you’ll need including wi fi adapter, case, hdmi cable, heat sinks, storage, power adapter etc. I also ordered a couple of additional micro SD cards. I wanted to have different OS builds on each of the cards, making it easy for me to showcase different solutions by just switching the micro SD cards on the Pi.

I looked at ThinLinx, Raspian Jessie and the Raspberry Pi Thin Client Project as potential options, but decided to start with ThinLinx and Raspbian Jessie. Before you get started, I highly recommend you read the this blog by Eric on Running Citrix workloads on ThinLinx and this blog by Martin Rowan on configuring and optimizing Citrix Receiver on Raspbian Jessie.

Approach 1: ThinLinx

Lets start with the ThinLinx build. ThinLinx OS (TLXOS) helps make effective thin clients out of old PC’s, Intel Compute Stick, Intel NUC and Raspberry Pi. TLXOS supports various protocols including Citrix HDX, RemoteFX 8.1, RDP. Intel showcased their NUC devices running ThinLinx at Citrix Summit this year. Check out the video. In addition Rachel Berry wrote an excellent blog about how Citrix leveraged Intel NUCs running ThinLinx for our Demos and Labs at Citrix Synergy 2015.

The process is as follows:

  • Go to this website and download the TLXOS Installer for Raspberry Pi.
  • Connect your micro SD card to your PC and run the TLXOS installer. This will format your micro SD card and copy the TLXOS image on the card.
  • From the same website mentioned above, download the ThinLinx Management Software (TMS) and install the software on a windows test machine. This is fairly lightweight software and can run on a VM as well.
  • Insert the micro SD card with TLXOS into the Raspberry PI and start it up.
  • Run the TMS app on your PC, which will detect the PI running TLXOS. You can configure the PI running through the management software.
  • In my case, I used TMS to make sure Citrix HDX is selected under the “Protocol” section. You could also choose “Web” and run in Kiosk mode if you’d like user to connect in that manner. You can also speficy a name for the device, upgrade software on the device, push SSL certs (required if your backend resources are running internal certs) etc.
  • On the PI, specify the Native Receiver URL. You will then be prompted for your credentials. Once thats set, you are good to go! You should see your apps and desktops, which you can then launch.

Video showcasing Citrix on a Raspberry Pi 2 running TLXOS

My Thoughts on the ThinLinx Option.

ThinLinx adds about $10 to the cost of the solution, bringing it to $69 in my case. However that is still a lot cheaper than your main stream thin clients. In addition, you get complete management capabilities which is absolutely necessary in an Enterprise environment. TLXOS was extremely easy to get going and the functionality was superb both for regular compute and for multimedia. The Citrix HDX protocol on TLXOS supports H264 decode upto 30 fps at 1080p resolution. There was no tinkering to get receiver to work. It just worked! I did notice some artifacts with the mouse cursor (as you might notice in the video) but not all the time. Overall I was very pleased with the simplicity of the solution and the overall performance of Citrix Workloads on TLXOS.

Approach 2: Raspbian Jessie

Raspbian OS is based off of Debian Linux. Jessie is the current version. There are two versions available for the PI – a full desktop image and a minimal image. I went with the full image for my tests. The Raspbian Jessie solution that I tested was unmanaged, unlike ThinLinx. So I had to install the OS, install receiver, tweak parameters to optimize performance etc. Nonetheless, the end result was a great performing thin client. I followed Martin Rowan’s blog for the various tweaks. I will try and outline them once again but wanted to call out that the tweaks were from his blog. So here are the steps:

  • Download the Raspbian Jessie full desktop image from this link.
  • Download Win32DiskImager and install on your system
  • Extract the Raspbian Jessie Image from the zip file
  • Connect your micro SD card to your PC
  • Run Win32DiskImager and use the extracted image as your source and the micro SD as your destination. This will format and copy the Raspian Jessie image on the SD card.
  • At this point, remove the SD card from your PC and plug it into the Pi and boot the Pi.
  • Run the following optimization commands in Raspbian Jessie. Once again, read Martin’s blog for more details.
    • Expand Filesystem
      • Run sudo raspi-config and select option “1 Expand Filesystem“. Reboot the Pi.
    • Run sudo raspi-config and select option “4 Wait for Network at Boot“, then select the option for “Slow Wait for network connection before completing boot“.
  • Install Citrix Receiver for ARM
    • Download Citrix Receiver for ARM (ARMHF) from the following link (under Debian packages)
    • Also download the USB Support package (ARMHF)
    • Install the Receiver: sudo gdebi icaclient_13.2.0.322243_armhf.deb
    • Install the USB Support package: sudo gdebi ctxusb_2.5.322243_armhf.deb
    • Further Optimizations (Optional)
      • Increase Frame Buffer – Section 2.1 in Martin’s blog
      • Switch to using libjpeg62-turbo – Section 2.2 in Martin’s blog
      • Disable H264 Graphics – Section 2.3 in Martin’s blog
      • Disable Mulimedia (HDX Mediastream redirection) – Section 2.4 on Martin’s blog.
      • Overclock your Pi – Run raspi-config to overclock your Pi and get some additional juice.
    • Start Receiver and specify URL to connect to your Citrix Storefront server. At this point you will be prompted for credentials.
    • Now you will have access to your desktops and apps.
  • I did run into an issue with Audio being routed over HDMI and not the headphone jack. To switch this back to the headphone jack, follow the instructions here

Video showcasing Citrix on a Raspberry Pi 2 running Raspian Jessie

Thoughts on Raspbian Jessie

My experience so far with Raspbian Jessie has been good. A little more tweaking and hacking as compared to ThinLinx, which worked out of the box. You get to install the latest receiver though. General performance for productivity apps was great and on par with ThinLinx. The boot was a lot faster than ThinLinx (<10 seconds).

Final thoughts based on testing so far

Is the Rasperry Pi a good solution for all use cases at the moment? Probably not. Does it fit a majority of the use cases? I would say so based on the testing so far. There are definitely some gaps, like having a power button perhaps (hopefully in Raspberry Pi 3), multi montor support to name a couple. Another major requirement for most organizations out there is Unified Communications, and in most cases, its Skype For Business. Citrix has excelled in supporting Lync and now Skype for Business in a virtualized environment while offering a native-like user experience with out of band peer to peer communication as far as voice and video traffic goes. Watch this video which compares the native vs optimized user experience side by side. One of the pieces that makes this possible is the Real Time Media Engine (RTME) which is installed on the client. Today, there is no RTME client for the ARM processor. You can still support Sype but all the processing will occur on the backend servers. I am sure an ARM based RTME client is on the list of good to have’s for Citrix and its probably just a matter of time, especially with the rapid popularity of ARM based devices like the Pi and Intel Compute Sticks. Hoping my friend and fellow citrite Scott Lane will work some magic to make this happen :) Read this blog by Chris Fleck on why he believes the Raspberry Pi could totally disrupt the PC industry. I tend to agree with Chris.

Whats Next?

I will soon be testing the Raspberry Pi Thin Client Project, specifically the 1.99 release which has Citrix Receiver 13.3 bundled in. I hope to have a follow up blog on this. On the fun side, I plan to build an Arcade Machine for my kids based on the Pi and perhaps even a media center, although I really love my Roku :) Check out some of the fun projects out there based on the Pi. As always I look forward to everyone’s feedback and do comment if you have ideas on future blog topics.

More soon..

George

Citrix Monthly Newsletter – January ’16

General Announcements and News

Citrix Appoints Kirill Tatarinov as President and CEO

Citrix announced that Kirill Tatarinov has been appointed President and CEO, effective January 25, 2016. A veteran Microsoft executive, Mr. Tatarinov will also join the Citrix Board as a director at that time.

Citrix Acquires Comtrade’s SCOM Management Packs IP

The acquisition of Comtrade’s management packs for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) provides Citrix users with comprehensive, end-to-end monitoring, delivering single pane of glass visibility into the entire Citrix desktop virtualization, network and mobility environment. Customers can proactively monitor the quality of the Citrix end user experience and infrastructure health performance across market-leading products, such as XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile and NetScaler, all while leveraging the existing monitoring platform.

Citrix and Microsoft Unveil “v2” Solution for Skype for Business

HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.0 delivers a truly native Skype for Business UI experience. And it adds numerous features to what was previously available in version 1.8. HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.0 is more than just a technology solution. Citrix and Microsoft provide a joint support model for this solution. And each vendor can open trouble tickets with the other vendor as needed.

Our Best Platinum Edition for XenApp and XenDeskop Yet!

This blog post focuses on rolling up today’s keynote announcements that specifically add new value to XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum editions – and by extension, the Citrix Workspace Suite. Collectively, they raise the bar even higher on simplifying the management and delivery of apps, and monitoring and optimizing app, desktop and user performance, and provide compelling reasons to upgrade to our most value-packed edition ever.

Citrix Makes XenApp/XenDesktop & Workspace Cloud Annoucements

Citrix has made several announcements at the company’s Summit, all of which are focused on their XenApp/XenDesktop and Workspace Cloud product lines, offering new features and packages for large enterprises and channel partners.

Mobile payments will account for a third of consumer-to-business transactions in 2016, says Citrix

In a series of predictions for 2016 Mikko Disini, director Product Marketing at Citrix, examines the pace of change in network functions virtualisation (NFV), security and mobile payments.

Chalan Aras Explains Why Company is Uniquely Positioned for SD-WAN

This year should see the mass-market adoption of SD-WAN, a technology that meets the needs of today’s applications by providing large and reliable bandwidth. Citrix has a unique slant on all this, Aras said, given it has offerings and expertise both on the enterprise application front and in terms of Layer 4 through 7 networking products.

Collaboration: With Citrix ShareFile & Microsoft Office Online, It’s Simple

Citrix ShareFile is always looking for new ways to integrate with the intention of increasing the value we bring to our customers. In today’s world, collaboration is the key to getting many tasks done. Citrix recognizes this, and that’s why many Citrix ShareFile customers are taking advantage of the ability to edit Microsoft Office documents directly from the web application through our Microsoft Office Online integration, announced earlier this year (part of Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Partner Program).

Citrix Call Home Technology Preview

Citrix introduced the Call Home (v1) technology in the XenApp 7.6.300 VDA in Sep 2015 to collect a core set of diagnostic data for troubleshooting. This version required manual interaction to upload information to the Citrix Insight Services. Manually interacting with each VDA does not scale for large deployments and forces administrators to develop their own strategies to trigger uploads. This Tech Preview release offers automated scheduled uploads to alleviate this pain-point.

A Running Start for XenServer in 2016

The year started with a significant XenServer product release (v6.5) containing, amongst other things, new product editions, some new features and a raft of performance and scalability improvements. XenApp customers (license holders) were also, for the first time, entitled to use XenServer features without needing a XenDesktop license. Now, all Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop customers have access to licensed and supported XenServer features as a part of their existing Citrix license agreements.

Citrix Workspace Cloud: Broader Reach, New Pricing, Updated Packages

Citrix Workspace Cloud offers the simplest, fastest, and most flexible way to deliver secure mobile workspaces on the market today. Customers offered feedback in how we can improve our pricing and package options. So later in Q1 you’ll see Citrix decrease the annual subscription price for ourVirtual Apps and Desktops package, as well as a reduced price to our Integrated Apps and Data Suite package.

Citrix NetScaler CPX a Lightweight Alternative for Cloud Providers

Citrix NetScaler, a full-fledged application delivery controller (ADC) has recently introduced a new, lighter version of itself. Made to fit in small-scale cloud applications and container-style deployments, the new CPX is a micro-form of NetScaler.

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

Deep Dive: XenApp and XenDesktop 7.7 Zones

One of the new features of the 7.7 release of XenApp and XenDesktop is the ability to define ‘zones’ in a site and to place elements from the site into different zones. The motivation behind this feature is described in a separate blog, but this article goes a little deeper into how this all works and what the implications are when you put items such as controllers, hypervisor connections and catalogs into zones.

Deploying NetScaler Gateway in ICA Proxy Mode

This document takes the user through the steps of configuring a NetScaler Gateway and Storefront for a XenApp/XenDesktop VDI solution. The document first describes the steps for configuring the NetScaler Gateway component and then, for configuring the Storefront.

Desktop Notification Tool For Citrix XenDesktop

With Director 7.7, XenDesktop administrators have the capability of configuring policies and conditions that will alert administrators when the configured threshold has reached in the XenDesktop 7.7 environment.

Setting up XenDesktop 7.7 against Microsoft Azure

Setting up integration between XenDesktop and Microsoft Azure  is now a supported integration in 7.7. This integration allow us to provision virtual machines directly from Studio.

How to Deploy Skype for Business & Lync 2013 in VDI Environment

With the release of the Feature Pack 2 for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6, we now support audio and video optimization for Microsoft Skype for Business and Lync 2013 Client and Server deployments using the Citrix HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Lync. This level of Lync optimization is unique in the market. The latest revision of the Optimization Pack adds support for MAC endpoints in addition to our support for Windows endpoints and 32 bit Linux endpoints.

Integrating Citrix XenMobile with Azure Active Directory

With the release of Citrix XenMobile 10.3, we are providing integration with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to modernize enterprise mobility on Windows 10. With this integration, we are simplifying the MDM enrollment flow for Windows 10 devices. When a user joins their Windows 10 device to Azure AD, it will automatically be enrolled with a management server (i.e. Citrix XenMobile).

SSO to Office365 with NetScaler Unified Gateway

This blogpost shows you how-to configure Office365 as a SaaS Application in a Citrix NetScaler Unified Gateway. We will also make use of a SAML Based Authentication to realize a Single Sign-On experience. To get this working it is necessary that your Office365 Account is configured as a SAML Service Provider.

Director 7.7: Managing and Configuring Alerts & Notifications Using Powershell

With Director 7.7, you have the capability of configuring policies and conditions that will alert you when the configured threshold is breached in a XenDesktop 7.7 environment. This post will help you configure your proactive alerts and notifications using the POSH cmdlets.

Proactive Troubleshooting & Predictive Trending with Director 7.7

It may be difficult for admins to constantly monitor the Director console for issues, but it’s important, as problems can arise at any point in time. So, what can we do? Using the Proactive Notifications and Alerts feature, not only an administrator can be notified when an issue arises, he can proactively look for warning signs by configuring thresholds and severity against conditions.

XenMobile Security Considerations

Over the course of the last year or so, I have been hearing IT organizations of all shapes and sizes focused more and more on one key concept … SECURITY! If your organization is like many of those we have been working with lately, you are probably wondering which of those knobs to turn and checkboxes to select so that your XenMobile deployment is ‘secure’. Or maybe you just want to know what other customers are doing on this front and what you should be thinking about.

Turbo Charging Performance with PVS 7.7

We snuck something into the 7.7 code that can really improve target device streaming.  And it’s not like streaming performance was poor before, it’s just better now. Why? The key PVS driver, which takes over after the bootstrap, is now optimized for multi-core systems.

SCOM Alerts in Citrix Director

With Director 7.7, you can view the alerts from SCOM server for various management packs on director. This will help the XenDesktop admins to manage the infrastructure on which the XenDesktop is built upon without needing to go to another console like operations manager console.

Support Articles/Security Bulletins

XenApp and XenDesktop Servicing Options (LTSR) FAQ
Lync/Skype Autodiscovery Support – HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 1.8
How to Install XenDesktop/XenApp 7.x Controller Hotfixes
XenApp Servers Do Not Start Automatically After Disabling Maintenance Mode on Delivery Group
XenMobile Enterprise set up in double-hop DMZ deployment.
XenMobile 10.3: How can VPP apps be installed on devices without having Apple id configured.
Webcams Not Working in XenDesktop, Being Redirected as Optimized USB
FAQ: Connection Leasing in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6
How do I Configure HDX Insight?
How-To Configure NetScaler to do Content Switching to LoadBalance DNS Requests to different DNS Servers based on Domain Name’s
How to Configure LDAP Authentication on NetScaler
How to Create a New Citrix Account ID/Org ID

Upcoming Events

2016 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition (Mar 29 – Apr 4, 2016) – Register Now
Citrix TechEdge (May 23, 2016) – Register Now
Chicago User Group Community (Feb 4, 2016) – Register Now
Netscaler Master Class (Feb 3rd, 2016) – Register Now
5 Things VMware Doesn’t Want You to Know About Horizon View…(Feb 11, 2016) – Register Now
XenApp and XenDesktop Tech Update (Feb 17, 2016) – Register Now
Delivering Apps as a Service Courtesy of Central IT (Feb 25, 2016) – Register Now
Secure Remote Access to Windows, Web and SaaS Apps (Recorded) – Register Now
Desktop and Apps Master Class – January (Recorded) – Register Now
SDN Update: Customer Strategies for Software Defined Everything (Recorded) – Register Now

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