Citrix Synergy 2017 conference coverage
Reporting and analysis from IT events
It’s finally time for Citrix Synergy 2017! There were two keynotes on Tuesday: the “vision” keynote in the morning and the technology keynote in the afternoon. Read on for our live blog from both.
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Morning “Vision” Keynote
8:43 Jack: We’re seated, music is pumping, AC is blasting, WiFi is working (for now) and we’re ready to go!
9:04 Gabe: The Tubes might be getting clogged, so we’ll see how well this goes. We have backup internet connections.
9:06 Jack: Inspirational music still playing. For a reminder, here’s our interview with Kirill from last year.
9:06 Gabe: Royalty free music brings with it Tim Minahan, SVP and CMO. We’re talking about the future of work and how that’s now. Tell that to the 75% of people that don’t use App Layering (that I just wrote about this morning).
9:13 Jack: Tim just went over the plans for today and this week; now Kirill is coming on stage. They’re doing a live feed from the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team in Monaco. Citrix is a sponsor of the team, they’re talking about all the tech that’s in racing.
9:19 Gabe: I just saw a video that seems appropriate to share here. It shows how crazily fast F1 cars are compared to any other car out there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PWHn_GNvcM . If Citrix is trying to show how aggressive and fast they are, they could do worse than aligning with F1.
9:20 Gabe: Oh wow, that F1 car in the video above is the Red Bull car that Citrix also sponsors. How’s THAT for a coincidence?!
9:22 Gabe: If you’re wondering why we’re not talking about news or announcements, it’s because there hasn’t been any yet.
9:26 Jack: Digital natives, digital dexterity, cloud, mobile, billions more people coming online, IoT, AR, hybrid cloud... yeah, it’s buzzword bingo, but I’ve seen plenty of cool machine learning logic coming into real IT products, so that’s cool. Mentions of BYOD, too... people still talk about that?
9:27 Gabe: 100% of companies will use the public cloud in some form in the next 12 months. 67% will work via the cloud by 2020. We’ll hear more about cloud throughout this show. But not yet... now there are some mobile stats... and now some AI…
9:32 Gabe: Well, I had time to get that article posted. The VDI Like a Pro people put together an awesome report on the survey they ran throughout April, and they released it this morning. If you’re bored right now, check out my article and VDILikeAPro.com.
9:33 Jack: With all this talk about how cool AI and ML are, and how big they’ve been in other products this year (like at RSA), we better see some of this in some Citrix products. If not, then they’ll just be showing how they’re missing an opportunity.
9:37 Gabe: Citrix is investing heavily into Cyber Security? (Anyone else hate that term? It sounds like a bad 90’s movie.) We’ll have to follow up on that. I’m with Jack - these are some serious buzzwords that would indicate some really cool things, but we better see how Citrix is doing this stuff.
Jack: If you look at reports like the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, some of the bin answers to security are really just things like patching and identity management. (Not to be flippant or anything—we know these are hard. But let’s see what Citrix has for us when the announcements come.)
9:41 Jack: New term: Software-defined perimeter. All this points to needing/having better identity management. All this better be laying the groundwork for some announcements.
9:45 Jack: New announcements incoming, we’re told: There’s something called Citrix Workspace Service. It looks like an identity management/SSO portal, end-user-facing. All types of apps, files, self-service, etc. It’s “Storefront++.” Technical details coming this afternoon.
9:46 Gabe: This is the kind of thing that typically would have been a Mark Templeton demonstration in the past. Today, it’s Kirill stepping through a PPT animation with almost no excitement. Yeah, it’s cool, but I don’t really feel like there’s any energy in the room right now.
9:49 Jack: Also, lots of NetScaler stuff; Gabe just told me it’s mostly stuff that’s been out, though. Kirill: (approximate quote, we’re doing this in real time :) “If you’re running XD/XA 6.5, it’s time to go to 7.14. There are CTPs and experts to help you.” (Gabe: NetScaler 12 has been out since April, but this messaging is new to me.)
9:52 Jack: Now announcing Citrix Analytics Service. Dig into data from all your Citrix products. Quick screenshot demo: Showing events that flag a user as high risk. Talking about Citrix as a security provider, he also mentioned bring your own identity, which could be cool.
9:55 Gabe: The energy level picked up from two to four (out of ten). Citrix tools can catch data from Layer 4 to Layer 7. For example, ShareFile has unique data, XenMobile has unique data. This is 28 years’ worth of information that Citrix can use to build the algorithms to watch your environment. Is a user copying a lot of files? Are they encrypting a lot of data all the sudden? Are they accessing from multiple locations at the same time? (Doesn’t Extrahop do some of this?)
This does seem really interesting, though I want to learn more about what kind of data this works with, how risks are assessed, and what can be done automatically. I also wonder how much of a Citrix shop you have to be in order to get the full benefits of CAS.
9:59 Jack: Another announcement: Citrix Security Practice.
10:00 Jack: Now ADP is onstage to talk about security.
10:05 Jack: Now Kirill is outlining all progress they’ve made on the Microsoft partnership. Remember, Brad Anderson is going to be onstage at some point. He also said they’re going to unveil Secure Browser Essentials for Azure this afternoon.
10:07 Gabe: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to bring to you, via video, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.” I can’t express the feeling of “wow” everyone experienced in this room. For 3 seconds. Until we realized it was a prerecorded video. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride here at the Synergy 2017 keynote!
10:10: Fujitsu is on stage.
10:15 Jack: Meanwhile, heading over the Citrix blogs. Citrix Receiver will work with Windows 10 S. As we would have expected, but it’s good to see.
Oh wow, now Kirill is talking about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and DeX (Desktop eXperience). This is the Nirvana phone thing. They’ve been hyping this a lot, though I still believe the use cases are limited. And now a Chromebook mention, too. ShareFile can integrate with Google Apps, too.
10:20 Gabe: Nutanix, Cisco, and HP are now delivering HCI appliances with the entire Citrix stack on them, including XenServer. That's cool, because one of the roadblocks, especially in the case of Nutanix, was the change in hypervisor. It's not a huge deal, since part of the allure of HCI is the hands-off nature of the hardware, but it eliminates the notion that you can't bring in something because it's not the same as what you're already running.
10:23 Jack: Another customer segment, Partner Healthcare.
10:31 Jack: Things are wrapping up. Come back at 1:30pm for more!
Afternoon Tech Keynote
1:22 Jack: Who’s ready for round 2? We’ll get started in 10 minutes. There are demo devices on stage this time around.
1:35 Gabe: Citrix is making sports like baseball and hockey seem exciting by cutting together all the best parts from games into a 30s video. They’re also really leveraging this Red Bull F1 team thing.
1:38 Jack: Tim Minahan is back to get us started. PJ Hough, SVP of products, will lead the overall keynote. But first, a break to look at the Citrix Innovation awards finalists.
1:44 Jack: Now time for PJ, and this is his first Synergy. First he’s talking about apps, and more specifically, identity and contextual access. The term BYO-Identity came up again, too. We’re waiting to see how this is architected, and what specific new ID capabilities might be coming from Citrix.
1:53 Jack: Now Calvin Hsu is on stage. He’s talking about use cases where desktop virtualization can provide a better experience than a PC.
1:57 Gabe: Woot! Norskale gets a shout out in a comparison between login times via Citrix with Workspace Environment Management and native Windows 10. This section with Calvin is basically showing off ways that Citrix can deliver a better-than-native experience. He also showed how file transfers over the WAN can actually be faster via HDX than over SMB in certain network conditions (250ms latency, 1% packet loss).
Jack: Now for some Citrix Workspace Service demos. SSO into web apps, right from the workspace. Awesome. So what’s the IDP powering this federation? On a mobile device, they’re accessing the workspace from a browser. Will it SSO into native mobile apps? That takes a few more technical steps. Their demo is just showing SSO into the Salesforce web app, not the native iPad app, so the answer looks like no :(
2:07 Gabe: Final part is SSO into a XenDesktop session. Pretty cool demo showing using the phone’s proximity to a device to automatically log someone in or out. They call this Workspace IoT, and it is something that, if it works well in the real world, is a horizontal use case for IoT. At the very least, it’s valuable to healthcare.
2:09 Gabe: App Layering! Unidesk! Worlds are colliding! One more exclamation point...RON FREAKING OGLESBY is on a Citrix Synergy keynote stage! He looks funny presenting without a beer in his hand.
At the same time they switch to Ron, VMware’s Harry Labana (are you reading, Harry?) tweets about how layers are legacy. Let me know when VMware can do everything that Unidesk can do (not just apps), and when all the VMware users stop using legacy components.
2:19 Gabe: XenServer with BitDefender and the ability to identify malware by real-time activity sounds cool, like Cylance. Might be worth looking into some more.
2:23 Jack: Now it’s Microsoft partnership time. Here comes Brad Anderson! First, they’re highlighting all the accomplishments of the last year; and next he’s going to demo the EMS integrations. He’s showing how the Citrix Secure Mail app has the Intune SDK built in. You can copy and paste between a corporate document in Word and a message in Citrix Secure Mail, but not into a personal email. Next demo: using NetScaler to do a per-app VPN. Brad is also talking about doing a MAM-only deployment on the demo iPad. NetScaler and EMS can talk to each other for contextual access policies.
2:33 Jack: Now Brad and PJ are talking about Citrix Receiver on Windows 10 S, as well as Secure Browsing Essentials.
2:33 Gabe: Windows 10 S has come up a few times in conversations around the show floor today. It will be interesting to see how the enterprise responds to it and if Microsoft has a plan for enterprise devices (e.g. desktops/laptops) and not just Chromebook-like use cases. Depending on that and how applications can be deployed via Centennial, there may be a broad Windows 10 S strategy for organizations.
Of course, we still have to figure out what the incentive would be. Is just a hardened OS enough for companies to want to use it across the board? Maybe not. There is a lot to think about here, and much of it is pure speculation at this point.
2:38 Jack: And now Abhishek Chauhan is up to talk security. They’re announcing a new component of NetScaler, NetScaler Secure Web Gateway. Let’s just say that there’s a lot to dig into here.
3:08 Jack: And now it’s time for a demo of Citrix Analytics Service. It’s surfacing threats by learning normal user behavior, then looking for deviations. It can then respond with various actions, such as ending a user’s session and then asking for multi-factor authentication when they come back in. This is cool stuff. (They just went on kind of a roundabout path to get to explaining this point.)
3:22 Jack: PJ is back on stage to talk cloud strategy. The keynote is running over, people are already leaving, and the room is pretty low-energy right now. They’re wrapping up with a generic video of people using “workspaces of the future.”