Citrix & Microsoft 2016 Round Up (Better Together)

2016 has seen numerous joint announcements and co-development solutions between Citrix and Microsoft that have had a profound and everlasting affect. Citrix, Microsoft and partners like CDW (who I work for) have helped customers to on-board and adopt next generation workplaces with ease that is secure by design, and for those organisations beginning their workplace journey & strategy.

I am fortunate that CDW have helped organisations of all shapes and sizes to accomplish their workspace strategies, and earlier this year we won the “Citrix Innovation Award for Partners” award which you can read about on the Action for Children website at – https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/news-and-blogs/whats-new/2016/january/winner-2016-citrix-innovation-award-for-partners/.

Below is the video outlining the work we accomplished with Action for Children, when we were Kelway. For those that are not aware, CDW bought out Kelway, and the integration is well under way.

 Now let’s take a closer look at some of the strategic and key announcements in 2016.

Skype for Business

A lot of organisations I visit are investigating the use of Skype for Business, whether that is to replace an antiquated telephony platform or to provide IM & presence capability. I truly believe that organisations will be leveraging more and more of the Skype functionality, especially as It can be bundled into existing Microsoft investments!

The ability to virtualise Skype for Business and deliver it as a virtual app on its own or in a virtual desktop while offloading the media (video/audio processing locally) to the users on supported Window, Mac and Linux end-points. Yes, Citrix had this capability with earlier versions of the real-time optimisation pack. This is now a co-developed platform delivering a near to local-like experience, with friendly and sensitive instant messages conversations and document sharing are protected behind the organisation’s firewall.

You can learn more about the solutions at – https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/01/12/citrix-and-microsoft-unveil-v2-solution-for-skype-for-business/

VMware have recently announced a similar offering for when running on Horizon, but this is sounding like the original RTOP platforms whereby the user experience does not match native experiences. Also, this is not general release yet. (http://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2016/10/vmware-microsoft-skype-business.html)

Windows 10

Citrix continues to help customers adopt and accelerate from previous versions of Windows desktop OSes to Windows 10 leveraging Citrix AppDNA – https://www.citrix.co.uk/products/xenapp-xendesktop/appdna.html which helps organisations simplify application compatibility, migration and management. AppDNA is overlooked by a lot of Citrix Platinum customers, as it can be a key tool in ensuring the stability of the platform and the user experience delivered. Why not use AppDNA to check new applications against run times and other applications installed into your base images!

Secondly  “Citrix will offer customers who have licensed Windows 10 Enterprise (Current Branch for Business) on a per-user basis the option to manage their Windows 10 images on Azure through its XenDesktop VDI solution” you read more about this offering at –  https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/07/12/ramping-up-citrix-cloud-for-the-windows-10-on-azure-vdi/.

As part of my role at CDW, every customer I speak to has Windows 10 on their roadmap. This for me is a no brainer, and if you have the licensing for Windows 10 operating system already then why not look to use Citrix AppDNA to accelerate your move! If you don’t have AppDNA licensing as part of your Citrix agreement speak to me or a CDW representative as platinum partners have access to use AppDNA on behalf of our customers!

Windows Server 2016

The look and feel is like Windows 10! This means the user’s learning curve is easier than before during this OS rollout, why? Most likely employees home PC or Laptop(s) are running Windows 10 so delivering a Windows Server 2016 virtual desktop to users matches that user experience quiet closely. Citrix has provided day 1 support for Windows Server 2016 for XenApp and XenDesktop.

Below is the experience users will see from windows 10 and windows server 2016, providing a windows 10 look and feel experience.

Windows 10:

Windows Server 2016:

In a follow up article, there will be some examples for sizing environments when using Server 2016.

Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite

Citrix are integrating XenMobile and NetScaler with the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) to enable virtual private network capabilities for more secure, identity-based access to applications on Microsoft Intune managed devices. Citrix mobile apps will become EMS enlightened from Secure Mail to follow-me data and delivery of virtual apps & desktops. For more information please refer to – https://www.citrix.com/news/synergy2016/may-2016/citrix-and-microsoft-align-to-help-businesses-embrace-digital-tr.html.

As part of my role at CDW, I am seeing a large portion of customers looking to leverage the Microsoft stack. Especially around O365 and EMS. This integrated platform allows us to provide a rounded solution for customers, whilst leveraging existing investments!

Microsoft ARA to be discontinued  Customers to now use the XenApp “Express Service”

FINALLY!… I personally was never a fan of Microsoft Azure Remote App (ARA). Microsoft is discontinuing ARA (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/2016/08/12/application-remoting-and-the-cloud/)  in favour of Citrix’s XenApp platform, providing customers with a “XenApp Express Service” you can find out more by watching the Microsoft & Citrix session from Ignite at – “Extend the Microsoft RDS platform in Azure through Citrix solutions “ https://myignite.microsoft.com/videos/2792. Existing & new Citrix / Microsoft customers can sign-up to the tech preview at – https://www.citrix.com/global-partners/microsoft/remote-app.html.

This is still not available for general use, but I am personally hoping that it is based on the Citrix Cloud architecture allowing for customers to scale beyond XenApp services rather than silo based deployment with minimal road map! Either way, anything has to be better than ARA right?

This is not an exhaustive list of announcements, as there have been lots of product and protocol updates (for example Framehawk, norskale etc), but this should cover a few of them with Microsoft.

Thanks for reading, have a great Christmas 🙂

 

DISCLAIMER

This blog post is not affiliated or associated to CDW UK (previously known as Kelway), http://www.uk.cdw.com or any CDW website and “The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CDW”

The view(s), comment(s), opinion(s), thought(s), perspective(s), leading best practice(s), method(s) and concept(s) surrounding any and all product(s) and solution(s) from any organisations discussed within this blog are those of the author(s) and or any other 3rd party contributor(s), author(s).

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