Category Archives: Citrix Synergy

Citrix Synergy 2015 Recap: Top News & Announcements

Last week was the annual Citrix Synergy event in Orlando Florida. This year was a little different with Citrix offering instructor-led learning labs prior to the start of the conference on Sunday and Monday.  I opted to attend three on Monday, each of them being about  three hours in length and very interesting. The labs I attended included:

citrix synergy

SYN622 – XenApp and XenDesktop design workshop – This workshop grouped teams together to review a design and to find the mistakes. This was a great way to meet people from different backgrounds and apply various skillsets to the design.  Afterwards, the Citrix consultants provided their recommendations.

SYN616 – Accelerate your NetScaler skills – This session provided overviews on new advanced features deployment scenarios, including GSLB, Clustering, AAA and Content Switching.

SYN623: This lab focused on how the new Citrix Workspace Cloud Lifecycle Management (CLM) service is used to deploy and manage Citrix infrastructure.  CLM provides SaaS based services to perform blueprinting, automation and management for the design and deployment of enterprise workloads.  Citrix has really extended the capabilities of the hybrid cloud. More to come on this later in the summary…

Keynote Tuesday May 12th

The day kicked off with Citrix CEO Mark Templeton.  Mark said this year’s event was the largest attendance ever (in person and online). Mark began with a discussion on his favorite rock bank, The Moody Blues, and the Software Defined Workplace! The concept of the Software Defined Workplace suggests that work is no longer a place; it is something you do anywhere the inspiration strikes.

Then, Mark talked about why we all love XenApp, and everyone got a drawstring backpack that said, “we love XenApp.”  This reinforced the continued emphasis on traditional XenApp.  We heard a lot of this at the Citrix Summit Partner event in January this year.

Next, Mark showed off script demos of the new X1 mouse that didn’t go well.  I think this was related to a room full of Bluetooth devices.  We also saw Mark’s Inbox with over 65,000 unread emails!  He said he has someone that manages his inbox; I can’t imagine dealing with that much email.

Some key announcements from Day 1:

Citrix is going to extend XenApp 6.5 lifecycle support until 2017.  Also announced was Feature Pack 3 for XenApp. This is expected to be out very soon and will include support for Receiver .Next, Storefront 3, profile management enhancements,  support for Citrix Director for help desk troubleshooting, and some improvements in the Lync optimization pack.

There was also an announcement of support for a Linux VDA, supporting both Red Hat and SUSE for XenDesktop.  These Linux virtual desktops are targeted at high performance Linux applications.  This will integrate directly within the existing XenDesktop toolsets.

HDX FramHawk will be directly integrated into receiver.  This is a technology Citrix acquired and is targeted at very high latency links, such as satellite, cellular and LTE networks.  It provides local-like experience over lossy networks!

XenServer 6.5 Service Pack 1:

XenServer is not going away and some big performance increases are coming.  I was sitting with one of my coworkers during this, and he quickly deployed it in his lab!  I continued to get text messages throughout the day telling me about the new features and performance and video performance improvements.  SP1 has new 64-Bit dom0, nVIDA vGPU scalability enhancements, with up to 96 vGPU sessions per host, new in-memory read-cache, Workload Balancing, big network, and storage performance enhancements.

Receiver x1 Mouse was released, and we all got one as a gift for attending Synergy.  If you haven’t seen this new mouse, it is pretty cool!  The x1 is integrated with Receiver and allows you to use the mouse with an iPhone and iPad.  This is important because Apple doesn’t support Bluetooth mice on these devices.  This gives you the precision, control, and usability needed for a better user experience.

XenMobile 10 is now out and the management stack has been consolidated into an easy-to-deploy virtual appliance.  Not only is it much easier to deploy, it’s also simple to make highly available through cloning by using just one tool to configure additional nodes.  This also gives administrators a single console to manage (which we have all been asking for).  There were also new announcements around Worx apps for Salesforce and WorxTasks.

Citrix Workspace Cloud.  Citrix Workspace Cloud is architecturally similar to ShareFile, in that Citrix provides the control plane allowing you to leverage on-premises cloud infrastructure and public cloud resource infrastructure of your choice.  This can provide companies with a SaaS based solution for cloud management.  Workspace Cloud has a number of services that make up the solution.

Lifecycle Management – see above in one of the instructor lead sessions I attended.  This has a simple SaaS based orchestration engine that allows drop and drag capabilities.  This is very easy to use, even for first time users.  It includes service blueprints, a unified interface for the management and deployment of applications services, service monitoring & alerting, self-healing, auto-scaling, and disaster recovery capabilities in the event of a primary site failure. Other features include:

  • Secure delivery of applications and desktops with XenDesktop and XenApp
  • Enterprise Mobility Management with XenMobile
  • Data Synchronization with ShareFile
  • Concierge Service targeted at improving end user experience with the ability to securely share their screens with support personnel

I think the most anticipated feature of the Citrix Workspace Cloud is the ability to host the traditional Citrix XenDesktop Infrastructure components in the Citrix Workspace Cloud.  This is achieved by separating the control plane from the data/resource plane, so all the traditional control devices such as, the Delivery Controllers and StoreFront, are deployed and managed in the Citrix Cloud.  A small connector is installed in your data center allowing for secure connections to the control plane.  Think of this as a scaled down XenDesktop Delivery Controller.  This allows for the very quick deployment of the infrastructure components, and then you provide the virtual resources for the XenApp and XenDesktop VMs in your data center or a cloud provider of your choice.  This could be a very compelling solution for customers looking for simplified administration of the Citrix infrastructure.

Day 2 Keynote with Mark Templeton:

Citrix AppDisk was announced with a tech preview expected in Q2.  AppDisk is an application layering technology that you can use to create individual application containerized in a disk.  This is different from Microsoft App-V.  Citrix will be competing with VMware App Volumes and Liquidware Labs FlexApp.  This should be pretty interesting, as Citrix has had a lot of experience with application virtualization.  Expect a lot more to come on this in the next few months.  Citrix will be integrating this with AppDNA, which should help to resolve problems and determine the best method to deliver applications.  The demo showed the direct integration with Citrix XenDesktop Studio and showed further commitment from Citrix to keep consoles minimized and leverage the investment made in these tools.  I did find it funny that Citrix had VMware in the Expo Hall demonstrating Horizon View and other competing products.

Citrix CloudBridge Virtual WAN was also announced.  The Virtual WAN will be able to add reliability and quality at branch office locations with multiple aggregate WAN connections all virtualized.

NetScaler with Unified Gateway – this seems like a collection of integrated features including the following:

  • Unified Remote Access Infrastructure – with web, mobile, cloud and SaaS based applications
  • Single URL for End User Access
  • Secure Single-Sign-On to applications with Active Directory and SAML
  • Visibility – enterprise security and compliance with end-to-end visibility on protocols in use
  • SmartControl, which is a new future on the NetScaler giving admins an easier way to set access controls for users with police

GoToMeeting Mobile Screen Sharing used through the new GotToMeeting app,  allows the user to share their screen on a mobile device.

Finally, the Workspace Hub and Project Octoblu were announced – this facilitates the integration and automation of complex technologies and automation with Octoblu, Amazon echo and the new Workspace Hub.  Mark demonstrated the way a conference call should ideally run.  The entire time all I could think about is the YouTube video “A Conference Call in Real Life” This is one of my favorites.  The concept of the Project Octoblu is that you can automate the workspace so that the complexities are removed.  For example, when you walk into the room the automation sets up the presentation, calls into the bridge, the software determines who is on the bridge and then emails, text messages etc. the missing people and gets the call moving more efficiently.  At the conclusion of the call notes or the recording is emailed to the participants all automatically.

In summary, another great Citrix Synergy event with lots of new features and technologies to keep us busy for another year!

 Are you interested in speaking with Randy about the latest Citrix technologies? Email us at




By Randy Becker, CTO

Key Announcements from Citrix Synergy 2014 – Part 2

By Randy Becker, Enterprise Architect, Solutions

Here is the second part of my blog series providing a recap of Citrix Synergy 2014. If you missed part one, you can find it here. Enjoy!

Intel Iris Pro Graphics

On day 2 Intel disclosed its new “Crystal Well” Xeon process, including the Intel Iris Pro Graphics.  The Iris Pro Graphics is Intel’s most powerful graphics technology and the first time Intel has included it in the Xeon Processor Family.  What does this mean?  Well, this will now enable incredibly high density graphics capable infrastructure supporting workloads like CAD, 3D Rendering, video editing and other high end graphics requirements.  HP joined the stage to announce Moonshot with the Xeon E3 processor support.  If you are unfamiliar with HP Moonshot you should take a look at this technology.  HP had it out on their booth at the conference.  The Moonshot chassis will support 45 cartridges, each with four System on a Chip (SoC) having up to four x86 cores each.  That is 180 systems in a 3U chassis.  Moonshot doesn’t require a hypervisor and leverages Citrix Provisioning Server and XenDesktop to provide maximum user performance with dedicated hardware, maximum security with isolation and maximum compatibility with access to bare metal with no hypervisor tax!  I am expecting to see more adoption of this in the future.  The prototype for the Intel Iris support looks like a single system per cartridge, so 45 per chassis.  We will have to wait and see how this shapes up.  We have a Moonshot system in our lab now and will be anxiously awaiting a new Iris supported cartridge for testing. 

XenServer with 64-Bit

This caught me off guard because I already thought XenServer was 64-Bit.  There is an important distinction here because today Dom0 is still run on 32-Bit architecture.  While we may think that VMware won the hypervisor battle, we continue to see development with XenServer and NVIDIA and this will allow for significant increases in the number of GPUs per host using pass-through. This is really for customers requiring increased density in graphically-intensive XenDesktop workloads. 

XenDesktop 7.5 Update

One of the most notable new features in XenDesktop and XenApp 7.5 is the ability to directly provision to Amazons Web Services, (AWS).  It allows for an on-premises deployment and burst or deployment in AWS for certain use cases.  This is true hybrid cloud, and I have several customers getting ready to deploy this architecture now.  AWS is supported today and IBM Softlayer and Microsoft Azure will both be supported in the future. 

XenApp 7.5 is back

XenApp is back as a dedicated platform now in 7.5.  What does that mean?  Not much if you are already familiar with the new architecture. With XenDesktop 7.0, XenApp came bundled and the architecture received a full refresh using the XenDesktop Flexible Management Architecture (FMA) vs. the old Independent Management Architecture (IMA). With 7.5, there is now a dedicated XenApp product available separately or integrated with XenDesktop.  As more features have been added back into 7.5, I think we will see more customers start to migrate from 6.5 to 7.5.  I hate to admit it but I know there are a lot of customers still running on XenApp 4.5! Now is a good time to start looking at an upgrade to the new supported versions. This shouldn’t scare most small to medium sized customers, as this is a good time to look at the design and treat it as an opportunity to truly look at how you deliver applications to users. You may be surprised at some of the benefits in a new design. To assist customers that have a large number of applications, Citrix is working on a migration tool. During Synergy, Citrix announced a new Migration Tool for customers upgrading from previous versions of XenApp.  You can register for the Tech Preview here.

NetScaler 10.5

A new update to 10.5 for the NetScaler platform was announced.  This latest update will include deep visibility into mobile network traffic streams and cloud-first architecture. Today, we have this visibility with NetScaler HDX Insight for XenDesktop and XenApp traffic.  If you haven’t looked at HDX Insight yet, you should see the level of detail that is available at the protocol level.  This makes troubleshooting slow connections significantly easier.

Synergy Instructor Led Training

If you have not had the opportunity to take advantage of the Synergy training, you should consider this the next time. While I was at Synergy, I took advantage of two, five hour instructor lead training sessions.  The first was SYN617 – Take the mobility and networking journey with us.  This deployment included a full XenMobile deployment with the App Controller, WorxMail, WorxWeb, NetScaler and XenApp.  You even get to enroll your own personal smartphone and tablet to control deployment. 

The second one was SYN619 – Build enterprise or private cloud workloads in a few hours using Citrix CloudPlatform. I have seen other platforms so I was curious to see how easy it would be with Citrix. The lab was built perfectly and allowed for the ability to test some pretty advanced scenarios.  CloudPlatform can leverage most of the major hypervisor out there, (XenServer, KVM, vSphere, Hyper-V) and can also burst to AWS. 

All in all, another great event put on by Citrix. If you have any questions about specifics from the event, leave a comment or fill out this form and I will be sure to get back to you.


Key Announcements from Citrix Synergy 2014 – Part 1

By Randy Becker, Enterprise Architect, Solutions


Citrix Synergy was held this past week in Anaheim California, and as always it was a great event.  For those of you who could not attend, I will provide a recap of the week’s events in a two part blog series. 

Tuesday morning the event kicked-off with a live band called iBand. Here’s small sample of Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi using iPads! It was actually pretty amazing!  This was followed by Mark Templeton (CEO) opening the conference. Mark got a standing ovation. Given the public announcement of his intention to retire within the next year, I think most of us realized this will be Marks last Synergy.  Mark seemed very touched and got emotional several times during his key note. He said that they had 10,000 attendees (I believe that included online viewers as well as people attending in person). Citrix is celebrating 25 years this year. They did a quick review of the products that were the foundation of Citrix.  Mark continued with some of last year’s themes including DOS = “Don’t own stuff,” “Don’t own Servers,” and work is not a place, it’s a thing we do. 

They performed a demo using a Chromebook with HTML5 showing access to your applications without any required software. This has been around for a while, but there seems to be a new emphasis, maybe to show the differences with the competition. The new Citrix Receiver “X1” was also announced using HTML 5.  I instantly thought of the Comcast XFINITY X1 commercial with Jimmy Fallon imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger. The new receiver will fully integrate your workspace into a single interface. They showed how businesses can perform their own automations and branding.  WorxNotes was announced, which integrates into XenMobile and seems to be a corporate version of Evernote. There will obviously be some good integration points, and I’m sure that security will be a key push for this.  Organizations generally seem a bit nervous about storing company data, including notes, in the cloud without any real control. 

Several other notable announcements included XenMobile 9, NetScaler 10.5, a View Rescue Program, and Workspace Services. This looks very exciting. Workspace Services will allow for the Design and Build of your XenDesktop/XenApp environment on premises or in Microsoft Azure Cloud. Below is a more detailed breakdown around some of the product announcements that came out of the event. 

XenMobile 9 and Worx Mobile Apps

XenMobile 9 will provide full support for Windows 8 phones and will be able to run WorxMail and the WorxWeb Applications.  Citrix is continuing to lead the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) market with their application wrapping technologies in the Mobile Application Management (MAM) space and they are continuing to expand their partnership with companies that produce the Worx application.  Capriza was the Mobility Ecossystem Winner this year, with a Citrix Ready Worx verified app that enables the development, distribution and management of lightweight enterprise mobile apps for existing business applications. Citrix is proving to be the visionary in this space. During the keynote, Citrix demonstrated WorxDesktop. This is a way to remotely access your remote desktop.  You can browse as well as access and edit files on the remote computer, and it seems to be OS independent.  At first glance this appears to be better than GoToMyPC. I can see a number of use cases for WorxDesktop!  If you haven’t seen WorxMail you should check-out this quick demo.  Anyone that is on the road a lot will love these built-in features in your calendar invite, Join Meeting, Dial In and, my personal favorite, Running Late (single click emails everyone to let you know you are running late).  If you haven’t seen the YouTube of “A Conference Call in Real Life” you have to check it out (it has over 7 million views).  It’s laugh out loud funny that everyone can relate to and these new announcements from Citrix may help with some of these common issues!

Workspace Suite

Citrix Workspace Suite was announced as well. This is just a license bundle which includes XenDesktop, XenApp, ShareFile, and XenMobile. There are some enticing programs to get customers into this licensing model.  Check out the following link for more info and a nice overview and comparison of features.

Citrix Workspace Services

Citrix Workspace Services is a cloud based Desktop as a Service (DaaS) model that leverages the Citrix Platform.  This is the kind of architecture that I like, as the control and data planes can be split.  Microsoft Azure will host the control plane (deliver controllers, AD, etc.), but the actual desktops can be deployed back to on premise infrastructure or any number of public cloud providers so you’re not 100% locked into using Azure.  More info can be found here. 

Workspace Services allows you to design, deploy and manage Workspace Services (Software Defined Workspaces). This looks amazing and will allow for deployment to on-premises and cloud based infrastructure.  I can see how this will benefit customers directly, and also the partner community, for easier deployments utilizing the back-end fabric provided by Citrix to ensure best practice deployments. 

The second part of this series will cover news and announcements around Intel Iris Pro Graphics, XenServer with 64-Bit, XenDesktop 7.5, XenApp 7.5, and NetScaler 10.5. Stay tuned!


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