What is happening with Citrix XenMobile Cloud? Welcome XenMobile Service!

Anton van Pelt digs into the best new features in XenMobile Service.

For a few years, Citrix has offered XenMobile as a cloud-based product, known simply as XenMobile Cloud. It was not integrated with the Citrix Cloud portfolio—basically, a XenMobile Cloud deployment was a regular XenMobile cluster, spread over two Amazon AWS datacenters.

Although XenMobile Cloud still resides on AWS, it is in the process of migrating to Microsoft Azure. To mark this move, the name has been changed to XenMobile Service. This is in line with the XenApp and XenDesktop Service, which also reside on Azure.

The bold statement Citrix made a while ago about having a cloud-first approach means a lot to these products: Changes and new features will get added every 3 weeks, while on-premises deployments need to wait for the next maintenance release.

For today’s article, we will examine the most important changes that are bringing XenMobile into the future.

Citrix Cloud Connector

Until last year, an IPsec tunnel was required to connect XenMobile Cloud to your on-premises resources (aka your resource location). Now, the preferred way is to deploy two or more Citrix Cloud Connectors. In special circumstances you can still proceed with an IPsec tunnel if needed, however, looking to the future I think Citrix will discontinue the IPsec tunnel support. Onboarding

Since the IPsec tunnel is optional and the Cloud Connector is the preferred deployment, the onboarding process is now easier. Citrix calls it a three-step process: First, provide the site details; next, set up resource locations (install the Cloud Connector); then Citrix will set up the XenMobile Service site.

For the onboarding process, Citrix created a XenMobile Service Rapid Deployment Team which will assist with any proof of concept and production deployment.

Micro-VPN

Another change is that when you offer your clients access to internal websites or Outlook Web Access, you must deploy a NetScaler Gateway in your datacenter. In the past, this NetScaler Gateway was deployed within Citrix Cloud.

Since the NetScaler Gateway is required in your datacenter, two NetScaler VPX 3000 licenses are included with the XenMobile Service license package. Those NetScaler licenses are only supposed to be used for XenMobile and not to load balance other services.

Public apps

Last year, Citrix released their first set of public apps for XenMobile. Instead of downloading applications from an enterprise app store, which can be hosted on-premises or within Citrix Cloud, users download the apps directly from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

The public apps bring several advantages for both users and admins. Admins don’t have to wrap these applications into the XenMobile managed application format, because Citrix already did. Also, there is no need for an Apple Developer account anymore.

Application updates will also be served from the public App Store on a regular basis. According to Citrix, these will occur every three weeks. Public apps will become the primary way to distribute XenMobile apps. However, there will be support for the traditional on-premises wrapped applications until December 2017.

Cloud wrapping

XenMobile also offers you a way to distribute applications that are built in-house, but those applications still need to be wrapped into the XenMobile managed application format. In the past, a macOS device was needed to do this, but now you can easily make use of a Citrix Cloud Labs service called XenMobile MDX Service.

To make use of this service, you need a Citrix Cloud account, but the service itself can be used for free. You also need to bring your own Apple Developer certificate or Android keystore files.

XenMobile Management Tools

Also from the cloud management perspective, Citrix has built several tools that will help with setting up and managing a XenMobile environment, either on-premises or within Citrix Cloud. The management tools are only available online.

There are self-service tools available where you can request your Apple APNS certificate or enable the auto-discovery service.

For testing and analysis purposes, Citrix has created the XenMobile Analyzer. This online tool can be used to simulate an iOS or Android enrollment into your XenMobile environment (cloud and on-premises).

Conclusion

Now that Citrix Cloud Connector is the new standard for XenMobile Service, the initial deployment is much easier.

So, the question is, should you go for a traditional on-premises deployment or go for XenMobile Service? Since several XenMobile components (including the management tools and the XenMobile public applications) are already cloud based, I think choosing the XenMobile Service is the way moving forward. The benefit is also having a fast-recurring update schedule; whereas on-premises deployments have to wait for maintenance updates.

Since Citrix is managing the server update process you don’t have to download a updated server image each time and update the on-premises servers. Another benefit is that you don’t have to monitor the XenMobile servers, all Citrix Cloud services are monitored 24x7 by default.

Choosing XenMobile Service also saves deployment time and complexity, since you don’t have to set up a XenMobile cluster with all of its various requirements. Instead, the only on-premises component that needs attention is NetScaler Gateway. The XenMobile rapid deployment team will assist you with configuring the NetScaler for XenMobile Service.

Citrix has come a long way with the XenMobile Cloud product, and a lot of lessons have been learned in the past couple of years. I’m sure integrating XenMobile within the Citrix Cloud portfolio is the best change in the XenMobile Cloud lifetime.

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If XenMobile goes to cloud further, this means it will be close to stand-alone Microsoft Intune (i.e. cloud version). Then what will happen to the partnership between Citrix and Microsoft both of which don't participate in AppConfig Community?
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