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Citrix Synergy 2015 – Day 1

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WP_000554Counting down finished! I’m just sitting and waiting for Keynote session by Mark Templeton, Citrix CEO.  — That is how I started writing this blog post almost 14 days ago. It took me a while to write a review of 1st day but finally you can read it!

Let’s start from the scratch. As I wrote in the previous post (Day 0) getting to Orlando, FL took me over 13 hours so you can imagine how excited I was to finally take part in Synergy conference. I was amazed by the size of the Orange County Conference Center and really shocked by the number of people. It was announced later during the conference that this year edition was the biggest one in the history. You could especially see that after entering the hall where Keynote session led by Mark Templeton was taking place. The hall was huge and the number of crowds was really amazing. I had no idea that so many people work with Citrix technologies and they are interested to come and spend 3 days listening about them. My first felling was: “That’s for sure America”. Everything was big – big conference center, huge Keynote hall and of course a stage with extremely large display on which Synergy TV was displayed. That was truly American style event 😀 You can see it below!

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Keynote

The session started by a short performance done by iBand – few guys were playing on iPads using Citrix Receiver to launch apps that simulated music instruments. That was a bit of a fun 🙂

And then Mark Templeton started – it wasn’t the first time when I saw him doing a presentation and I must admit that he knows how to do that well. Mark started by saying “We love XenApp!” – Citrix customers loves XenApp and so does Citrix. That is of course aftermath of the situation with Citrix XenApp skipped in version 7.1. Mark Templeton underlined many times – XenApp will stay as we see a future for it. Finally!!! Citrix understood that not everyone needs VDI – SBC/RDSH is sometimes better! That was probably the most important information of this day as it opened the conference. We got even a bags with this slogan “We love XenApp” 🙂

Then Mark started to present the following topics:

1. CubeFree – that’s a new app bought by Citrix. It locates nearby cafes, coworking spaces, libraries, outdoor Wi-Fi spots, and more around the world. It allows you to find available network connection. You can test it here: https://www.citrix.com/go/cubefree.html

2. Mark was talking about Workspace and it’s definition by Citrix. According to him -It is all of everything – it is an end. It is your PC, tablet, smart device etc.

3. Workspace and desktops and secure data and mobile and on any device – that is the engine of Software-Defined-Workplace by Citrix.

4. Later he presented a little demo with Citrix X1 mouse which had it’s official premiere. It is available right now in retail: Citrix X1 mouse retail .

5. The next slides were showing new announcements for XenServer:

  • XenServer 6.5 – 64 bit architecture only – better performance, speed, efficiency and vGPU features
  • XenServer 6.5 is available in the following editions: Open Source Edition, Standard ($625) and Enterprise ($1250)
  • XenServer 6.5 Service Pack 1 was announced – for Docker containers and better GPU acceleration

6. Next there were new announcements for Citrix NetScaler:

  • NetScaler SDX – new “monster” size – virtual service delivery appliance
  • NetScaler is better than F5 – allows for 20:1 consolidation – working with many providers e.g. PaloAlto
  • Cooperation with Cisco – complete SDN integration with Cisco APIC. End to end integration with Nexus platform

7. The next announcement was official presentation of Citrix Melio – it is old Sanbolic platform bought by Citrix. It is a virtual storage solution. There are 2 available editions of Citrix Melio:

  • Melio VDI Edition – low cost, 5K IOPS
  • Melio Enterprise Edition – for PVS

WP_000506 8. In the next part Mark was talking a lot about the workplace and workspace – what it is and why it is so important. Some most important things he mentioned:

  • PC is a workspace of yesterday – it doesn’t fulfill current requirements for mobile workforces
  • Pilars driving Citrix – experience (customarization) security, flexibility
  • Technology is to provide business outcome and personal outcome
  • XenApp is widely used and will be alive for long time
  • Technology is moving from Desktop-centric to App-Centric – that was probably the most important thing from this part – it shows why Citrix returned to XenApp. VDI is great but right now with BYOD and all things around mobile computing we should be able to deliver just applications that might be available everywhere, on every device and for everyone.

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9. The following news was very important for all Citrix XenApp 6.5 admins and users – Citrix extended lifecycle of Citrix XenApp 6.5 until 2017! We can wait a bit and check if next version of XenApp or XenDesktop will better fit into our requirements. You can stay at IMA architecture with your global farms still for at least 2 years and still have official support from Citrix. That is really good news.

10. The other big news for Citrix XenApp 6.5 was announcement of Feature Pack 3 that will be available for all customers. One of the new features will be:

  • better storage performance
  • enhanced profile management
  • possibility to use Director “Help Desk” functionality for XenApp 6.5 farms
  • enhanced support for Microsoft Lync
  • new version of Receiver.NEXT
  • new version of StoreFront 3.0 – it will be working even with Citrix Presentation 4.5\XenApp 5 🙂 This seems to be really good step. Still so many people use Citrix Web Interface only because they have some legacy leftovers in their environment and need to get to those resources. There was a nice demo showing how easily you can customize new StoreFront 3.0.

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11. There are plenty of new features coming with new StoreFront 3.0 and Receiver.Next:

  • New UI for Receiver.Next and StoreFront 3 e.g categories and apps grouping
  • Possibility to customize UI of StoreFront
  • Integration with Helpdesk tools and notification from other platforms e.g. email upgrades
  • TechPreview available for download already for existing customers
  • Citrix Receiver for Linux natively built-in into Suse and Red Hat

12. New Feature Pack 2 for XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 was announced. It will be available in June.

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13. Next new thing is Linux Virtual Desktop with support from Red Hat and Suse 🙂 This might be really good stuff and finally you can provision Linux in XenDesktop. Good move!

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14. Mark Templeton presented also a new generation of ICA protocol called now HDX Framehawk. More about that was said in 2nd day Keynote session. Just to mention – the person responsible for those improvements is Rachel Berry (@rhbBSE) and her team. Good job!

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15. There were some new announcements regarding XenMobile:

  • new applications available: SalesForce1, WorxTasks and SlideStream
  • secure app containers
  • app specific lock and wipe

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16. Next part of the Keynote session was devoted to the Citrix ShareFile solution. Some new announcements:

  • ShareFile can used both: on premise and in the cloud
  • ShareFile has new feature Restricted Storage Zones – it is a cloud service that leverages ShareFile and allows to completely encrypt everything: files and metadata. Customer has encryption key! This might be used for in many industries where security is priority eg. financial services and banks.
  • ShareFile – new Platinum edition will be available in June 2015

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17. The last part of the session was reserved for new Cloud App Delivery method – Citrix Workspace Cloud. That is a new cloud service Workspace-as-a-Service that will be available in Q3 2015. It can be right now tested using Test Drive by all attendants of Citrix Synergy. I will try to check that in the near future. One of the important thing: as showed in the demo it is like Studio and Director in the cloud – so you can still have your XenApp or XenDesktop VDAs wherever you want: on premise or in the cloud (AWS, Azure). Only management and control over the environment is done from cloud. After one of the session I asked Daniel Feller (@djfeller) about design of XenDesktop and 100ms latency limit recommended by Citrix and he told me that Citrix Workspace Cloud might be in the future a solution to that problem as you might have just one management layer in the cloud and then attach all VDAs to that. That looks promising 🙂 Hope to hear about that in the near future. Below some screenshots.

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Session finished with nice presentation of Nimble Collective which you can see here. Those guys are using Citrix technologies to create animations in the cloud 🙂

This part finished Keynote session. It was really full of new announcements and news. I really liked the way Mark Templeton was presenting it. If you want you can find the full session here: Citrix Synergy 2015 Day 1 Keynote I really recommend to watch it.

Synergy Park

After the Keynote session we had a break till 2 PM so there was a lot of time to visit Solutions Expo, grab something for lunch and get familiar with conference rooms. There were over 40-50 exhibitors in the Synergy Park and there were sessions presented by them. It was really nice to see such a mix of technologies from storage, network to cloud services and monitoring tools.

After the lunch I have started my sessions. Below you can find a review of them. All of them can be seen under the below link: Citrix Synergy TV

SYN105 – Leverage Citrix Workspace Cloud for your enterprise IT needs

Technical level: 100

Rating: 3/10

I had quite big expectations of this session after the Keynote presentation and unfortunately they weren’t met. The technical level of the session was very low and very similar content was presented during Keynote session. For me it was lost time. Even ShareFile demo was not working properly 🙂

 SYN503 – Getting the most out of NetScaler Gateway

Technical level: 300

Rating: 7/10

This session in opposite to previous one was very technical and detailed – it was a real high technical insight to authentication via NetScaler Gateway. I do not have so much experience with NetScaler Gateway but I have noted the below points:

  1. Use Domain Controller for checking authentication – don’t do that on NetScaler – SamAccountNAme parameter to be used.
  2. Do not use nested groups.
  3. Load Balancing with NetScaler – deep insight into the LB mechanism.
  4. DNS Round Robin is not load balancing  🙂
  5. IP address might be used multiple times, need to change port only.

I can recommend the session. The rating should be higher but I gave 7/10 as for me it was sometimes a pure magic 🙂

SYN109 – Making sense of the converged systems available for XenDesktop and XenApp

Technical level: 200

Rating: 7/10

I wanted to see this presentation as I was a bit of lost with all that convergence and hyper-convergence. Finally someone easily explained that to me 🙂 This is nothing else than combined infra (storage + network + servers) for cloud environments (both private and public). They should allow for linear scalability which is a great advantage in every environment. During the session there was as well a short review of converged systems that might be used with XenApp and XenDesktop:

  • FlexPod – NetApp + Citrix + Cisco UCS
  • VCE – systems recommended for bigger environments
  • Workspace POD – Citrix Software Stack with Citrix Melio
  • HP Moonshot – for GPU enabled VDI

I can recommend that session.

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SYN319 – Tech update for XenApp and XenDesktop—May 2015 edition

Technical level: 200/300

Rating: 9/10

The best session of the 1st day presented by Citrix Architect Daniel Feller (@djfeller). It was a real summary of the optimizations that can be done in your environment to improve density and performance of XenApp or XenDesktop. One of the most interesting facts from the session:

  • upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.6 raise density of users up to 10%
  • upgrade from XenServer 6.2 to XenServer 6.5 raise density of VMs up to 7 %
  • if you want to use MCS then the best hypervisor is VMware ESXi
  • if you want to use PVS then Hyper-V is better hypervisor
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 is really good optimized for XenApp
  • Hyper-V occurs to be the best hypervisor solution for XenDesktop and VDI – that is truly unbelievable ! 🙂
  • you shouldn’t have more than 4 nodes in StoreFront server groups. With addition of 5th server the performance drops down!
  • recommended configuration for StoreFront server: 2 nodes and 4vCPU per machine

Below some photos from the session. I really recommend to watch it. Daniel knows what he is saying and he is really nice guy!

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The first day ended with Welcome Reception that took place in Synergy Expo. First day was for sure full of excitement and new announcements. I really liked the most of the sessions I attend.

The report from 2nd day of Citrix Synergy 2015 will be available shortly. Check my blog 🙂

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One thought on “Citrix Synergy 2015 – Day 1

  1. Pingback: Citrix Synergy 2015 – Day 0 | pawelserwan

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