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Citrix Synergy 2014 Recap: Part 3, Products

by DJ Eshelman, on Jun 6, 2014 1:34:26 PM

To continue our recap of Citrix Synergy 2014, I wanted to share with you some of my perspective of the Products from the event, both from Citrix and other partner vendors.

One of the key things I noted about the products announced at Synergy is a key difference from other years – Product Maturity. One of the frustrations I have had in the Virtualization market these days is that the products are frankly a little out of control in terms of being too new and not delivering Enterprise-level functionality and stability. I think that customers are becoming overwhelmed with annual updates that simply trump the year before, and it causes a gap in adoption. I’m glad to see Citrix focused this year not on acquisitions and new ‘toys’ but on how the existing products can be made better and more focused on users.

I am excited to talk about this, but for now I will channel my inner “Brad” (“Chief Demo Officer” at Citrix) and discuss what I saw and how it relates in the real world!

Synergy DemoOfficer "Chief Demo Officer" Brad Peterson giving an on-stage demonstration of XenMobile.

Mobility

In the coming weeks I plan to bring you an entire blog series about one of the most exciting concepts at Citrix Synergy 2014 – the concept that “YOU are the mobile app.”

Mark Templeton noted that from the user’s perspective, personal devices are expected to be usable in the organization. In fact, the concept that Citrix is recognizing is that there is a paradigm shift in “employment” – people no longer join organizations…

“We think that Organizations need to Join People” – Mark Templeton

Mark noted that Citrix is focused on a Mobile Workspace that allows users to “Snack” on information with their mobile phone. We “Dine” or consume information on our tablet, then “Create” on our desktop or laptop. In the coming blog series we’ll talk more about that. But needless to say, this mobility focus is central to the Citrix strategy.

ShareFile

Announced at Synergy – zero to 1,000,000 ShareFile licenses in 18 months! Apparently, the idea is catching on. New features such as connection to personal clouds allow you to transfer files from providers such as Box or Dropbox by mobile. I remember tweeting in jest that I saw Brad logon to Dropbox on stage…but it was to show transferring files from the personal Dropbox to the security of the Enterprise with ShareFile. (Sharefile allows you to use both your private datacenter with the public clouds securely for storage and sharing – contact us to learn more.)

ShareFile is a very exciting product that is in a highly contested space… yet remains, in my opinion, the only viable storage product that is focused on the Enterprise in both public and private clouds and getting actual work done securely from any datacenter on virtually any device. Enhancements to the built-in editors for documents on the mobile apps that allow you to edit directly from ShareFile are something that I think sets the product apart. I’ve been recommending ShareFile over other solutions for over a year now, with no regrets!

XenMobile 9

In my opinion, especially given the above statements, XenMobile is easily the most important new software currently offered by Citrix. Because many of our clients are in the Public Sector, one of the things I am most excited to share with you regarding the new XenMobile suite is that it will be cross-platform FIPS compliant! Windows Phone 8 will be supported, as will Windows 8.1. Look for other expanded features in the middle of this year, once the new NetScaler is released.

A large portion of the Expo floor was dedicated to Worx-Compatible applications, including secure printing from mobile as well as other Enterprise friendly applications. Clearly the “presented” application is no longer the only game in town, and Citrix is not only innovating but integrating well with networking and with vendors.

One of the great things about XenMobile is just how many apps can be encapsulated, managed and given MicroVPN access with the product. Soon, look for more from GTRI about that…for now, let’s talk about updates to the Worx app suite and some new features and members of the family.

New Worx Apps and Features

WorxMail

This morning I was running late for a GoToMeeting appointment, and knew that I was going to have to join by mobile. I had to pull over, email the group that I was running late, join the meeting and then have GoToMeeting dial in for me. So the announcement of the new large shortcut buttons Join Meeting, Dial, and Running Late are immediately appealing to me. Other new features look really cool, like the fast sort mode based on gestures (to essentially triage email), which looks to very much improve productivity. I can see the influence of Franklyn Covey’s Quadrant method, which I immediately appreciated.

Another key benefit I see is that regardless of platform, the app is the same experience. This will bode well for support staff as well as reduced training requirements. But more importantly, the experience looks really desirable.  And having an app that people WANT to use is pretty critical!

WorxMail New One-Button features in WorxMail.

WorxNotes

WorxNotes offers secure notes with functionality much like Evernote and OneNote on your mobile! I really like the fact that you can take photos and record voice right in the same app, all secured by MicroVPN connectivity back to your company. Given recent security problems with Evernote and the implications of company data being stored in the cloud, this allows users to use the desired functionality in a secured way. For my team, I can tell you that this is a huge benefit for protecting customer data in our notes without having to go through the usual procedures of establishing a VPN or accessing published applications. I love it!

WorxEdit

Building on the success of the built-in editor in ShareFile, WorxEdit will allow you to use the same technology for documents, even if they are not on ShareFile. The tracking changes for collaboration should be a good approach, and I look forward to trying it out.

WorxDesktop

This was amazing, and I already have customers asking me about this one. Connect via mobile to your home or any PC with the client installed, access documents natively on the mobile device (editing files from your PC on your mobile!). Or the most exciting feature… being able to actually remote control your PC from anywhere on your mobile device! This is a huge value add to the suite, as it before it was accomplished with less-than-secure processes and, frankly, frustrating methods that often didn’t work. Citrix has had the GoToMyPC product for years, and this looks to be a natural evolution. We hope it is included with XenMobile at no cost, but we will let you know once that has been confirmed.

To learn more about Worx Mobile Apps, click here.

Cloud and Datacenter

Workspace Services

XenDesktop already has a unified management architecture that can easily be pushed to cloud providers – but the problem (as you’ll see in an upcoming GTRI blog post) is orchestration. Citrix has once again moved ahead by announcing Citrix Workspace Services – “A New Cloud… For YOU.” Most of this is fairly predictable – Applications, Desktops and Mobile – but what was interesting to note is the announcement of using Microsoft Azure as a control plane. This means that the cloud can be private, public or a hybrid thereof while maintaining the same control plane and services.

Citrix workspace services

As a Consulting Architect, however, the exciting thing for me is how much repetitive work can be eliminated. I have to admit – one thing that has never been appealing to me is the install process. It has gotten better year after year, but Workspace Services will allow me as the Architect to define “templates” of key services and configurations which my Engineers will be able to quickly and consistently deploy to my customers. The demo had me clapping louder than I even expected myself to be!

As a premier provider of Cloud solutions to our customers, the ability to quickly deploy to multiple providers is simply awesome. But the reporting functionality and built-in Concierge services will be very useful.

Imagine deploying desktops in the Azure cloud in under five minutes, with applications from a Softgrid cloud and your own datacenter automatically published to the users…and you’re starting to see the power coming soon from Workspace Services.

Read more from Citrix here.

Workspace Suite

I have to be honest – when we were told in advance about Workspace Suite at the Partner Council – we were asked not to share anything about it until the announcement at the keynote. Two hours into the keynote, I was chomping at the bit, because this is a very exciting way that organizations can buy or upgrade to a single licensing model and serve more of their needs – Applications, Desktops, Mobile MDM and Apps, Data Sync and secured access. All of these will be included in Workspace Suite, including:

  • Attractive all-in-one pricing
  • Trade Up Promotion to save up to 70%
  • 50% off "Rescue Program" for current VMware View customers

Additionally, furthering our partnership with Cisco, the Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution validated and based on the Workspace Suite – is available from GTRI!  Learn more about it here.

XenApp Migration Tool

A common problem we are seeing right now is migration from XenApp 6.5 to 7.5. Because of the new FMA architecture, a direct upgrade is not possible. But Citrix announced a migration tool that we will be testing soon. Our hope is that we will be able to bring you reviews and advice using this tool in the near future. But I will say that, based on previous experiences, I do not recommend that customers depend on this kind of tool just yet. Contact us for an assessment before migrating in production.

Receiver X1

Much like the current StoreFront, Receiver’s new UX architecture is customizable by the organization to a much higher degree – not just in the Web receiver, but in the actual Receiver client itself (including mobile). Features such as application rankings, categorized bundles and social engagement are all available, even on mobile!

HDX 3D enhancements

As the Innovation Award winner (Autodesk) demonstrated at Synergy, the world is seeing 3D applications running seamlessly in the cloud powered by nVidia GRID. This was an announcement from last year, but the demonstrated experience in practice has been amazing. The idea of virtualizing graphics cards is a huge money saver, especially when combined with the HDX experience, delivery from the cloud or private datacenters.

HDX 3D

On the second day of Synergy, HP and Intel co-announced an additional mid-line graphics virtualization that will be available soon. This will allow acceleration of light 3D workloads such as Aero and Photoshop to be handled on the Intel CPU.  In GTRI’s opinion, nVidia GRID will still be the standard for high-end graphics virtualization and any apps requiring graphics certification, of course. But this announcement is exciting for enhancing the overall user experience of Windows Desktops and Applications.

The much anticipated “FrameHawk” enhancements to HDX were announced as well. You can see the previous side-by-side-by-side comparison of Framehawk, Citrix and VMware here.  At Synergy, there was a live demonstration of the FrameHawk technology which will be integrated into the new Receiver.  It was very impressive to see, especially on tablets!

NetScaler 10.5

NetScaler already outperforms F5 by nearly 5 times and is powering the world’s largest clouds. This independent data analysis was worth of bragging about at Synergy. But NetScaler 10.5 (Tagma) will have a 5x improvement in performance in mobile apps with new reporting features. Better management UI and many other features will surely grab our attention in the coming months! Reduced dependency on Java in favor of HTML 5 has me currently very excited, and the implications for Cloud deployment are huge.

The inclusion of MobileStream technology is very important to me. GTRI anticipates very large adoption of MDM solutions, but specifically the MicroVPN functionality of XenMobile. Because this represents a much larger number of always-connected devices, the NetScaler will be experiencing more load than ever before. Further, mobile data is more costly, so the ability to reduce data sent to and from devices is another key feature. An awareness of how the user is connected is new, as is some of the enhanced reporting functionality.

Additionally, TriScale 2.0 licensing will allow the customer to scale to 10x the number of NetScaler Instances (scale up), condense by 1024:1 (scale in), and perform up to 3Tbps (scale out). That is an impressive amount of performance and stability without a major platform update.

Certifications

If you haven’t already heard, last year Citrix announced new certifications focusing on Apps and Desktops (which last week was renamed to “Virtualization”), Networking and Mobility. The previous levels have been replaced with Associate, Professional and Expert levels.

Citrix offered a free certification test to attendees, and I’m happy to report that I was able to take one of the exams and pass decisively… of course you’d expect nothing less of us at GTRI, right? Only a few more to go and I’ll have covered them all for 2014!

Conclusion

So there you have it. Of course there were several other new and great things from Citrix and many of the other vendors and partners… but far too much to mention here!

Keep an eye on this blog for more updates. And an eye on VMware for what they will do to counter. It’s going to be a great year, and I think the winner will be our customers!

Also, if you haven’t already, please read our other Synergy blog posts, Part 1: People and Part 2: Partners. In fact, if you have a few hours and didn’t get to see the Keynote from Synergy 2014, I encourage you to view it on YouTube or SynergyTV. Stay tuned to this blog for Part 4: Presentations and Purpose, coming soon.

Topics:CitrixCitrix SynergyEnd User EnablementVirtualization

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