With news of change at Citrix with a new CEO, I figured a reflection on 2017 for the company so far is timely.
Unfortunately, I was unable to travel to Orlando for Synergy this year but luckily for me, I got to read a lot of the news via Twitter and was treated to a Synergy debrief at our last Phoenix Citrix User Group meeting. Here is what I noted as pretty significant and felt the need to expand on:
Windows 10 S Receiver
Probably the biggest thing that I took away is that Citrix have already released a UWP version of the Citrix Receiver. That is a version that you can download from the Windows Store. The only reason that has any potential interest for me is due to Microsoft releasing a new flavor of Windows 10 called Windows 10 S. If you are familiar with Google Chromebooks, that run that lightweight ChromeOS, this is what Microsoft is trying to compete with.
Windows 10 S does NOT support Win32 applications. It only supports UWP apps. The problem with this is that Microsoft have stripped away things like OS components such as services, .NET dll’s and a bunch of other things. There is a converter for developers to convert (Read more about this HERE) their existing Win32 apps to UWP but it really only wraps the app so it can be deployed via the Store. It doesn’t help with compatibility and so most Win32 apps just won’t work on Windows 10 S.
The other facet to this is the fact UWP apps can run on ARM processors. The U stands for Universal so apps will be able to run on mobile devices natively and since the Receiver is a UWP app, so too can the Citrix published apps.
The big play for Citrix is that with the Receiver available, people can just use their Win32 apps through XenApp. It’s already popular in academia on Chromebooks. Some orgs are looking at Windows 10 S for security reasons. Since it’s so lightweight and the apps are less integrated to the system, patching doesn’t really have the same management overhead and there’s a reduced surface level for attacks since the holes people use today shouldn't be there.
Workspaces – Sharefile through Storefront
Image source: https://twitter.com/girishhoogar
With Citrix workspaces, they’ll be integrating ShareFile into StoreFront. This makes a lot of sense and even more sense if you ever role out Windows 10 S and want all apps and data to stay centralized. The latest ShareFile is really great. In my opinion, it makes OneDrive look like junk. With that said, many will have OneDrive through their Office 365 subscription, I hope Citrix will give the option to integrate OneDrive instead or alongside ShareFile in future.
Citrix have had this one for a couple of years now. It’cloud-hosted service you can use for publishing web apps and\or sites. The browser is locked down. Problem with that is web app compat, it’s not a fix for compat issues and right now it’s not very flexible for changing settings. In my opinion, until now it was pretty much useless for enterprise. This year they announced integration with NetScaler Web Gateway to allow you to publish internal web apps and still leverage the cloud hosted browser. The main benefit I see is more around scalability.
Citrix provides an agent for you to install on your Controllers. It can branch out and run checks across your farm and provide a report. Not just health checks either, they can show things like scalability and more.
I feel like Citrix is starting to steady the ship. While XenApp and XenDesktop still have quirks and suffer from missing products in the still popular XenApp 6.5, I feel they have been closing the gap in terms of features with the re-introduction of zones and they have improved navigation in Studio by separating out Applications into their own tab. For me, the App-V integration still leaves a lot to be desired but hey, I use App-V Scheduler so I'm good!
The acquisition of Unidesk is very exciting to me. I was a big fan of Unidesk 2.x and 3.x. I'm confident that can mold Citrix App Layering into a killer feature. Sadly, I believe AppDisks was a rush to market and was never really a contender. Unidesk was a best in market product!
The most exciting product in the Citrix group for me is Octoblu. I have shared a bit of my research on Octoblu and some of my IoT fun at home and hope to post some on this site soon. I'm also looking forward to our next Citrix User Group to learn more about Smart Spaces! If you are in the Phoenix area, be sure to register HERE to find out more.
The features and products I detailed above all provide value add for Citrix customers ensuring they remain competitive against other vendors.