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5 Reasons to Consider Citrix Cloud


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Citrix are rapidly moving towards a cloud-first strategy, with Citrix Cloud providing a single control plane to manage and access all Citrix technologies in the cloud. This has become the fastest and most flexible way to securely deliver applications and data to any device, over any network, whilst simplifying the management your secure digital workspace. If like many, you are assessing where certain workloads best reside, here are 5 reasons we recommend you consider Citrix Cloud…

Unified workspace experience
Citrix’s Cloud strategy is very much a reflection of their core strategy; to build the world’s best integrated technology services for secure delivery of apps and data. Citrix Cloud helps unite and integrate all of the Citrix technologies to deliver a more unified administration, delivery and user experience. 

Adapt to changing demands
Today’s workforce are increasingly mobile – using an increasing amount of devices, from a multitude of locations. However, it is becoming increasingly complex for IT to manage mobile workspace infrastructure – with multiple applications to install, ever-changing user bases to account for, challenges in forecasting capacity, constant installing of updates and investing in infrastructure to meet changing and unpredictable demands. A cloud-based strategy helps to solve these problems and in the process reduces complexity, and provides a simple way to deploy and manage secure mobile workspace solutions. This is where Citrix Cloud comes in to help you at any point in your cloud journey… 

Flexibility across any cloud
For many businesses, supporting a multi-cloud IT strategy continues to be a dominant trend with 82% of businesses stating that they have a multi-cloud approach across private, public or hybrid cloud environments. Citrix Cloud gives you the flexibility of choice. You are able to host your apps and data on any cloud or infrastructure platform you choose, whilst having the ability to leverage a common management plane across all Citrix environments. 

Faster time to value
Citrix Cloud is arguably the fastest way to deploy Citrix technology, taking just hours as opposed to weeks to deploy. Essentially, Citrix Cloud is a cloud management service uniting multiple Citrix products. The cloud service is operated by Citrix, and contains all of the management functions that ordinarily would have had to be installed and provisioned separately. The value is that Citrix has already deployed – and integrated – these services into Citrix Cloud so in many cases, all you need to do is activate, configure and deploy them to deliver a secure digital workspace solution. 

Simplified management
Using Citrix Cloud is intuitive. The idea is for you to spend less time learning, integrating, installing and managing – and instead focus on other more important, or strategic IT projects. This approach means reduced infrastructure, centralised control, and SaaS-style updates, which in turn contributes to lower administration cost and complexity. In addition, by simplifying management across multiple Citrix locations, you are able to optimise performance, data sovereignty, compliance and network latency.

Earlier this year at Citrix Summit, the launch of Citrix Cloud Accelerator; a comprehensive set of transition and trade-up offers for customers who own existing XenApp or XenDesktop licenses was announced for those who want to move to Citrix Cloud. If you are  considering Citrix Cloud services as a strategy for your business, there really is no better time..

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Citrix Summit Tech Series – HDX . NOW & .NEXT


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Sitting in the airport on the way home from Citrix Summit, I found myself mulling over all the cool announcements and updates that had been shared and how exciting being a Citrix mobile workspace architect will be this year. So I thought I would start a blog series and cover some of these topics. Over the next few weeks keep tuned for an architects view on what’s new and exciting from Citrix in 2017.

My core ethos for virtual desktop and application delivery architectures are easy to follow;
deliver an amazing end user experience and be simple to manage.

After this the rest seems to take care of itself (with the right amount of thought and planning) but its these reasons that keep me coming back to Citrix and in delivering the first ethos the HDX protocol is key (and king). Now there are many aspects of HDX that would warrant putting pen to paper but its ability to deliver on the visual elements are what the user will see every time they interact. So let’s have a look at what’s going on here and to start I think a recap on the last 6 months and XenDesktop 7.11 is needed.

HDX.NOW
So HDX.NOW (my term not Citrix) has had some very nice updates in the XenDesktop versions since 7.6 that enable choice for the admin and deliver exceptional end user experiences. Specifically though before 7.11 we had two main (not limited to) protocol modes, but had to make a choice as the session started on which to use, these were known as:

  •  264 (Thinwire Advanced or SuperCodex)
    Great for Video playback and delivering a great user experience but at a cost of CPU on the server side VDA
  • Thinwire+
    Great for more static text environments. Great on server side VDA resource and great for older or low powered end point devices.

With the release of XenDesktop 7.11 we have a new mode known as Adaptive Display v2 that removes the need for administrators to make that upfront choice. This new mode is simply activated by a policy allowing HDX to run Thinwire+ by default and then switch dynamically to H.264 when it detects moving images within the users session or application. This can be seen in the image below, red and blue are ThinWire regions while the green videos will be rendered by h.264.

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This really cool advancement ensures maximum server side scale, least network bandwidth usage and the best end user experience regards less of content type. Delivering on both my primary ethos at the same time! For more info on this see this Citrix blog.

It’s not just for video that HDX.NOW is providing an amazing user experience. Checkout the video below I recorded at Summit with the amazing guys in the Demo Sandbox.

 

What we are seeing here XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro, Windows10, Nvidia GRID and a Raspberry Pi for the end point, delivering seamless 3D graphics.

HDX is working over only 5Mbps of bandwidth and delivering full screen real time 3D rendering with smooth and responsive interactions (even with me trying to master a 3D space mouse for the first time), HDX reduces the image quality during motion and then builds back to a pixel perfect lossless image when you stop moving. This build to lossless technology allows precise movements in high powered applications with zero quality loss when viewing.

These are just two great feature of the HDX.NOW that showcase some of the power HDX is delivering to customers right now. Now you might think that with such amazing results from the existing HDX protocol that Citrix would sit tight and rest for a while, but this is not the case.

Spending some time with the product guys for HDX revealed what they are calling HDX.NEXT, a complete and revolutionary upgrade to HDX that will be available in the next release of XenDesktop. Having watched demos of XenDesktop running HDX.NEXT over 250ms latency and 1% packet loss I can say the results are amazing. Quicker in most tests that a fat client PC, quicker video response, quicker file transfers and smoother graphics, it’s a game changer for virtual desktops for sure.

On top of the amazing performance increases we also get a 60% (yes sixty) reduction in bandwidth usage and a small increase in server density!! Simply incredible news. Don’t believe me see the results from LoginVSI testing below.

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The continued improvements in HDX over the last few years have ensured the solutions we deliver continue to meet our customers end user demands and keep the ICT teams delivering on the original promises of the solution. The world of end user computing is ever changing and the demands on bandwidth and datacenter server capacity ever increasing, HDX is fighting back and remains a core component for delivering our ‘Better than a PC’ experience.

Want to see this and all the announcements from Summit? Come to one of our free update events, network with peers and see how Citrix are delivering on Cloud, Security and User Mobility in 2018.

robRob Sims – Senior Solution Architect
Rob helps customers to understand their business challenges, and guides them to leverage technology as a mechanism for change.

Blog, Citrix, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2017


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This week I attended Citrix’s annual partner conference – Citrix Summit – in Anaheim, California. As a specialist Citrix Platinum partner, we attend the event each year to ensure we are primed to inform our customers about the latest updates, announcements, vision and roadmap. You can register here to hear Cetus and Citrix deliver the very latest updates from Citrix Summit. 

The event kicked off with a vision keynote which allowed the senior leadership team at Citrix, lead by president and CEO Kirill Tatarinov, to offer perspective on industry transformation and position Citrix’s vision for helping customers leverage innovation and strategic partnerships in 2017 to achieve business objectives and outcomes.

Throughout the entirety of the keynote, tech talks and the numerous breakout tracks, Citrix’s strategy was clear and consistent. To provide integrated technology services that make apps and data secure and easy to access, and as a result help organisations of all sizes achieve the speed and agility necessary to grow and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Within the content, some key themes emerged and took predominant focus in my opinion; Citrix’s Cloud Strategy, the strategic partnership with Microsoft, and integration of solutions (in terms of user experience and administration).

Citrix’s Cloud Strategy
There is no hesitation that Citrix are rapidly moving towards a cloud-first strategy, with Citrix Cloud providing a single place to access all Citrix technologies in the cloud. It’s quickly becoming the fastest, simplest and most flexible way to deliver Citrix technology to any device over any network – therefore a very interesting and attractive update was the launch of Citrix Cloud Accelerator; a comprehensive set of transition and trade-up offers for customers who own existing XenApp or XenDesktop licenses and want to move to Citrix Cloud. Also made available is a XenApp on Azure Cost Calculator, which is a tool that Cetus can help you use to provide you with a complete set of cost estimates for deploying Citrix XenApp on Microsoft Azure. In addition, a new Citrix Ready HCI Workspace Appliance Program was launched that enables hyper-converged appliances from hardware and storage partners to connect into Citrix Cloud.

Strategic partnership with Microsoft
Over the past year, Citrix and Microsoft have built the foundations and now Citrix are stepping it up a gear to further accelerate their joint innovation.

– The integration of Citrix NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft Intune
Citrix unveil the integration of NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft EMS. Together, Citrix and Microsoft joined forces to deliver to our customers a solution that offers conditional access for mobile users.  Conditional access delivers an added level of security for mobile users which helps customers protect their on-premise resources

– The launch of XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials
Available in the Azure Marketplace, XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials make it easier for customers to accelerate secure app delivery and cloud-based Windows 10 VDI, empowering IT to align apps and desktop services with business needs, while delivering the superior experience, reliability and value associated with XenApp and XenDesktop.

– Collaboration between Citrix & Microsoft on Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)
The expanded Citrix partnership with Microsoft includes powerful collaboration to significantly enhance value for Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) customers with Citrix capabilities for delivering enterprise-grade productivity combined with device and data security managed over the network. This Azure-based Citrix solution for EMS will include micro-VPN capability for secure, identity-based access to on-premises applications on EMS managed devices, providing the most comprehensive mobility solution available in the market. In addition, later this year, the solution will also include versions of Citrix market-leading productivity apps, such as Secure Mail and Secure Web that customers will be able to manage with EMS.

Wrapping up this blog for now on the note of integration. At this years Summit there was a big focus on integration of solutions, from both an end user experience and an administration perspective, echoed in a joined up product strategy. To find out more, and hear what we feel are the most pressing updates, make sure you register for our update events, taking place in various locations throughout the UK.

Register for our upcoming cloud events, where we will demonstrate how the cloud can transform your work environment.

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4 Reasons We Recommend You To Go Platinum!


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Citrix Summit 2016 announced the addition of many new features to XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum edition. As a result, customers are empowered with an array of powerful new features and functionality that raises the bar even higher when it comes to simplifying the management, delivery, monitoring and optimisation of applications, desktops and user experience.

The benefits of upgrading to Platinum are plentiful. Here are just some of the reasons why we recommend you optimise your existing investment in Citrix by making use of the functionality available in this value-packed, feature-rich edition, and as a result achieve a greater ROI.

Eliminate migration headaches –
Reduce the cost and complexity of migration by up to 90% with AppDNA.

At some point or another, migrations impact us all. Windows 10 is set to be the most rapid OS migration in history; yet many businesses that want to take advantage of the improved user experience and productivity consider the effort of upgrading and maintaining systems daunting. Traditional upgrade methods, such as waiting for PC swaps, are becoming increasingly impractical, whilst Windows 10 provide a rapid, unified approach for companies to changing their OS. XenDesktop already helps companies to reduce costs and streamline operations, allowing for easy, fast OS migrations to all employees, however Platinum goes the extra distance in reducing the headache caused by migrations.

One of the ways Platinum edition will reduce your migration headaches is through AppDNA. Incorporated as standard, AppDNA enables you to confidently discover, automate, model and manage applications for faster application migration, easier application virtualisation and streamlined application management – reducing cost and complexity of application upgrades, migrations and updates by up to 90% in the process.

AppDNA will assess and provide analysis as to whether a particular application is compatible with an associated operating system and identify whether the business application will easily migrate over, avoid spending countless cycles going through manual application testing and remediation cycles for each application on each operating system. In addition, AppDNA will detect if an application is going to break another during upgrade, uninstall or repair – profoundly reducing migration headaches in the process!

Manage roaming users –
Dynamically control security levels based on the user, location and device.

An increasing amount of employees are empowered to work whilst on the go and as a result businesses are experiencing an array of positive business outcomes. However the nirvana of mobile users has heightened the importance of being able to dynamically adjust to changing conditions as users roam between different locations and devices.

SmartAccess, which is incorporated in Platinum edition, allows policies and resources to be intelligently applied based on different conditions such as the user’s location and endpoint device – allowing you to strategically align with business priorities while offering users a better user experience.  One aspect of SmartAccess that will provide value for many customers is secure application access by location. This provides the ability to interrogate the endpoint device, to give contextual access to applications. For example, an application that provides access to secure, sensitive information can be managed so that users can only access it whilst physically located in the corporate office, and if they were to try and access it remotely, the secure application will not be available. Or maybe you just remove printing or download rights when accessing from unsecure locations.

Another benefit of SmartAccess is location-based Citrix policies, which give the ability to allow users working within specific locations to access their virtual desktops in the most efficient manner possible. For example, a SmartAccess policy can be created to identify when a user is working within a low-bandwidth office. After identifying the location of the user via their pubic IP address, the Citrix session can automatically be optimised for low-bandwidth to create a better user experience.

Increase Visibility –
Save up to £80 per CCU for end-to-end monitoring across full Citrix stack.

The SCOM Management Pack available as part of Platinum provides comprehensive, end-to-end monitoring that delivers a single pane of glass visibility into your entire Citrix desktop virtualisation, networking 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.

Also, using a feature called Enhanced Director Monitoring, administrators now have more flexibility when it comes to managing their XenApp and XenDeskop deployments. Desktop and server OS usage reporting, proactive notification and alerting, app limits, reboot warning and override control over roaming sessions ensure the administrator is notified of error conditions, or excessive resource usage, before they impact the overall performance or availability of the solution.

Save Costs Elsewhere in Your IT Budget –
Save up to £100 per CCU with Director and SCOM incorporated.

Something worth having is rarely free, however upgrading to Platinum can help you to save costs elsewhere in your IT budget – making it a compelling and cost-effective solution.

There are many other ways that Platinum can help customers to realise cost savings, whether it be via incorporated features such as Director, AppDNA, or Cloud Bridge (WAN optimisation that removes the existing requirement, or the need for more bandwidth to support Citrix) or through the inclusion of features such as CommTrade that alleviates the need to use a third-party monitoring solution in addition to Citrix. Each of these inclusive products results in cost savings – to warrant the cost of Platinum – and in the process optimises the return on investment you achieve.

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