Citrix Synergy 2018 Keynote Live Blog

Here's what the keynote brought!

At Citrix Synergy 2018, I sat down to write a live blog during the keynote. The expectations were high—here's my preview post, if you want some more context. For the latest on the show, follow us on Twitter at @JackMadden and @KyleJohnsonTTGT.

9:03: After some technical glitches, I’m in and ready to blog! David Henshall is first up on stage. “Everything here is real.” Hopefully that means good live demos today. There is only one 2-hour keynote this year, so there’s a lot to fit in.

9:06: David is talking about the ways work is changing ...millennials, mobility, etc... Half the world is connected to the internet now, which is seriously cool. There’s more data than ever before, SaaS and cloud are very real. These are all standard talking points, but Henshall is doing a really good job of talking about it—I like his style.

9:13: David is saying: Our industry has created lots of different types of tools to help us get to this new world, but today they’re complex, overlapping, and not cohesive. On top of this, you have to deal with all your old IT stuff.

9:14: Quick customer reference break: Red Bull racing is one of Citrix’s reference’s, and if you think about it, an F1 team is a really cool reference. Lots of tech, and it all has to be mobile. They’re even using Citrix Analytics.

9:17: Back to the main content: The key to dealing with the new world is people-centric security, based on identity. This is the state of the art for EUC.

There are three product priorities for 2018: 1. Unify the portfolio; 2. Help customers move to the cloud; 3. Expand to new areas, like this people-centric security thing.

9:20: “We’ve building a universal workspace.” This is the answer to the challenge of new tools, mixed challenges from your existing IT estate.

9:21: Time for another customer reference break, this time for the Florida Marlins.

9:22: Tim Minahan is now on stage to do the Citrix Innovation Awards. The nominees are talking generally about cloud and their overall “workspace” efforts, rather than individual products.

9:28: David is back, talking more about people-centric computing. Today they’re announcing the Citrix Workspace App. Includes apps, content, SaaS, web, mobile, virtual... everything. This sounds like the vision that we’ve been talking about for years, and what’s been happening ever since XenMobile, Receiver, and ShareFile started getting pulled together, like 5 years ago. Still, it takes a lot to make this happen.

9:32: Calvin Hsu is on stage. He gave the “workspace experience” demo last year, so now we should be seeing how that evolved into this new version.

He’s making an analogy—you have your AppleTV, your Roku, your Slingbox, your Fire TV—you need something to bring this all together. That’s what Citrix Workspace App does for all your work apps. It has prebuilt SaaS integrations, universal search, and brings you all your apps and files.

My biggest objection over the last year is that they really need to talk about the identity strategy behind this. Do you need Azure AD? Okta? A Citrix product? How do you wire it all up?

Anyway, it’s demo time.

First, there’s a Windows 10 desktop version. I wonder if this as an .appx app? You can go in and favorite apps, and it gives you federated access to your SaaS apps—just one click, no password. Your files are there, and so on.

Coffee is spilled on the laptop, time to set up a new device! The new device will be a Chromebook. You log into an HTML version of the workspace app; click on a file, it opens in the appropriate web or remote app.

Next step is mobile devices. Calvin is showing off new features in Citrix Secure Mail, which has recently been redesigned. I think it’s a pretty good time for enterprise email clients—many of them work pretty well, all the major features are there, so they’re all acceptable alternatives to the built-in iOS and Android clients. Citrix Secure Mail has a slick integration with Slack—go from and email thread to a Slack chat with all the same people, with just a tap.

Calvin is doing the demo on a Samsung S9 and just opened up full desktop PowerPoint in a remote session, so I’m guessing the next step is a DeX demo? Nope, it’s a Citrix Cast demo instead, using Citrix Workspace Hub. You just use Receiver to scan a QR Code displayed by the Hub, and then your remote session is transferred to the hub.

Calvin is talking about all the SaaS integrations, including with ServiceNow. Question: Do all of these have custom actions and integrations? Or is this just SAML/SSO type integration? There are some sessions about working with SaaS later today, so they’ll be top on my priority list.

9:50: David is back on stage. David says: How do you deliver these services? Any way you want.

Diane Bryant, COO of Google Cloud, is coming on stage. She’s talking about the strength of their partnership over the years. Today Citrix is announcing Autoscale for Google Cloud. Later this year, you’ll be able to automatically build a Citrix environment on Google Cloud.

There was a glitch with the slides, so after a pause, David is now speaking extemporaneously. Steve Wilson, VP of Product for Cloud and IoT is coming out, and it looks like the slides are back.

Steve: Citrix is all about choice of clouds (Azure, GCP, AWS, Oracle) and all hypervisors (Citrix, Hyper-V, Nutanix, ESX). Steve is saying that Citrix is better about cloud and hybrid portability than VMware. (Also, apparently Citrix Hypervisor is the new name for XenServer.)

10:05: Okay, now time for the Microsoft mention. Three main points: They’re committing to Day 1 support of Server 2019. For RDMI, you’ll be able to access RDMI apps from within Citrix Workspace. Third, they have the NetScaler and Azure stuff.

That was a brief mention, and now Steve is moving on to the EMM stuff, talking about mobile device management. Now, desktops and laptops are a part of EMM, and Steve is talking about Citrix’s UEM efforts. But that’s not all—next, Steve is talking about IoT. I’m assuming this will be a very different conversation than in the Octoblu days. The new name for all of this is Citrix Endpoint Management.

New EMM things today: SCCM co-existence (they mentioned this before); support for FileVault settings in macOS; Workspace Hub management, Chrome OS management, Apple TV management; and Alexa for Business management. Okay, so most of these we knew about, but the Alexa management is new. That will be really cool.

10:12: David is back to talk about security and Citrix Cloud. They’re announcing support for Azure Government Cloud; but now the conversation is shifting back to Secure Digital Perimeter. Citrix Analytics is now available! How much does it cost? I wrote before that I think it should be included in your Citrix deployment automatically.

10:18: PJ Hough, chief product officer, is now up, talking about Citrix Analytics. This is mostly reviewing stuff we’ve seen before: It can see all your apps, build behavior and risk profiles, create policies, and enforce them in the workspace. New today: he said they’ll be able to get more data out of partner apps that are in your Citrix Workspace.

They’ve been busy moving their core networking capabilities into the cloud. One of them is identity and access management.

New announcements:

  • Citrix Cloud App Control (part of Citrix Access Control). This sounds like the IDaaS that I’ve been waiting for!
  • SD-Wan service for managed service partners.
  • Citrix Intelligent Traffic Management Service. (Based on the Cedexis acquisition.)

Now it’s demo time again. Caroline Long is demoing secure browsing. (<—I assumed this was the Secure Browser Service, but maybe it’s a local browser? Either way, these are both things I like.) In the demo, she’s using it for SaaS app access on unsecured airport WiFI. This is super cool—it can apply policies like watermarks, clipboard control, etc. Citrix Cloud can also block phishing links in cloud services that are accessed via Citrix Workspace. Again, all of this plugs into Citrix Analytics, so that service can continue to look for anomalous user behavior.

10:36: Everything demoed today is already GA, or will be GA in the next 90 days.

10:37: David is back, inviting Christian Reilly up. Christian is talking about how apps can be hard to use, with lots of screens and stuff. What can be done to make apps easier to use? Demo time! Were getting a look at a Workday demo—the demo is being slow to load, but they get a lot of credit for doing them live. A typical task like requesting time off takes a couple of steps, so they’re showing the faster version: Citrix Workspace has an “actions” section. They’re skipping the rest of the demo due to technical difficulties, but it sounds like it’s going to be a “workflow” app thing, along the lines of Sapho, VMware Mobile Flows, etc. This is a preview of future product direction, not anything that’s out today.

10:50: It sounds like David is wrapping up. He recapped the announcements, and how they relate to the changing nature of work. And that’s a wrap!


Here’s the main press release, and a list of all of Citrix’s official Synergy blog posts.

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Underwhelming keynote pitch.

Workspace is what VMware has been doing for a year now. Throwing in content doesn't make sense because large companies don't use Sharefile. They use Box or OneDrive from Microsoft. 

Analytics and SSO is owned by Microsoft Azure AD and Azure Graph. The future looking demo did not work. Ouch.