Major news items from Citrix Synergy

Citrix Synergy is going on now in Houston. We're barely two hours into the conference, and there have already been some major news items.

Citrix Synergy is going on now in Houston. We're barely two hours into the conference, and there have already been some major news items. I can't possibly do justice to write about each of these things today, so I'm going to use this article to aggregate and provide quick overviews of all these stories, and then I'll go in-depth into each of them more over the next few days or so.

Here are the big stories, in random order:

Citrix is bundling XenApp into some versions of XenDesktop

Citrix XenDesktop is officially launched today. There are several editions available, but note-worthy is that at the Enterprise edition ($295 per CCU) and higher, Citrix is bundling in XenApp / Presentation Server as well. This is not for an integrated suite, rather, it's just that they're including the XenApp license. You can then use XenApp to stream or provide remote ICA seamless apps, but the catch is that you can only to this to your virtualized XenDesktop users. If you want to use XenApp for non-XenDesktop users, you still need to buy the full traditional XenApp package. This somewhat addresses the "Application Tax" I wrote about two weeks ago, although not entirely.

Current XenApp Platinum Customers can add-on XenDesktop for $95 per CCU

I guess that headline kind of says it all! Again, XenApp and XenDesktop are not integrated--this is just a licensing / product bundle. (Although of course you can integrate the user experience of these two products by creating a single Web Interface page for both environments.

Citrix acquired Sepago for their profile management product

We've been talking about the importance of profile management (or "user environment management") for awhile, and Citrix has always had a huge hole in their offerings around this. Sepago was a smaller profile management company who solved the problem the "traditional way." There are other companies who are virtualizing user environment settings altogether (RTO and RES immediately come to mind), so we'll have to work out how those stack up to Sepago,

Virtualizing a XenApp Server on XenServer only amounts to a user reduction of 7.6%

Citrix released a white paper (which was independently verified by The Tolly Group) where they ran performance tests on a typical XenApp server running natively, and then they took the same server and virtualized it via XenServer and only saw the number of users they could put on it drop by 7.6%. Interestingly they focused this paper on only running one XenApp VM per XenServer host, with the idea being that you can trade off the 7.6% fewer users for the other soft benefits of virtualization, like live server migration, ease of deployment, and the ability to use a standard image across different types of hardware.

Also interesting is that Citrix compared the performance of XenApp on XenServer to XenApp on "a leading virtualization vendor's platform." (Hmmm.. who could that be?) The other vendor had a much worse performance hit, and the XenApp/XenServer combination was able to host 70% more users. There are some catches though, that I'll address in an article in a few days.

New Appliance: Citrix Branch Repeater

The branch repeater appliance is based on Windows Server, and can kind of be thought of as a "XenApp" appliance, although it also acts as a WANScaler appliance. The idea is that you set up your apps in your central XenApp environment, and then they're streamed down to the branch office appliance where they're served locally to branch office users. Pricing starts at $5500.

"Receiver" clients

Mark Templeton has always loved comparing server-based computing to the cable TV industry. "Why can't you just get a box and have all your apps, just like the way the cable company gives you a box for all your tv content." Citrix talked a bit about their "App Receiver" concept at iForum last year, and this year they're talking about it more.

But in addition to the "App Receiver," Citrix is also showing off a "Desktop Receiver." The Desktop Receiver is a lightweight client that can be pre-installed into thin client devices (or "Desktop Appliances, in today's vernacular) to give them a good desktopy experience (instant on, connect right in to remote desktops, etc.). A bunch of the typical thin client vendors are getting their stuff certified as Citrix Desktop Ready. There will also be an installable software version of the Desktop Receiver, which is kind of like the traditional ICA / Program Neighborhood Agent client, but with a UI specifically designed for connecting to remote desktops instead of single apps.

New Brand: "Citrix Delivery Center"

Citrix has created a new family name called the "Citrix Delivery Center" to encompass all of their products. The CDC includes five parts:

  • Controllers - XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer, NetScaler
  • Gateways - Citrix Access Gateway (SSL-VPN)
  • Repeaters - The new Citrix Branch Office Repeater
  • Receivers - The client software.. App Receiver and Desktop Receiver
  • Orchestration - Citrix Workflow Studio

That's it for now. I'll update this blog entry as more news comes out.

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Brian has been following the Synergy Underground site.
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See what happens when you use twitter!  :)

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CDC - Citrix Delivery Center or Center Disease Control?  I hear the Center for Disease Control is changing their name to avoid the negative association.

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Oh no, we had the name first!!!
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Sepago's stuff is cool but what about folder redirection, printers, etc.  Still a big hole here that makes you look elsewhere to half baked solutions like Group Policies.
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After looking over the documentation you can still use folder redirection with Sepago.
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Do you know which flavor of XenDestkop for $95 per CCU for current XenApp Plantinum Customers?
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Advanced since Plat Customers already have everything else.
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Did Citrix just buy the Sepago profile software or the entire company because on Sepago website it just looks like they bought the software and Sepago will help Citrix develop it for the next 18months?. That sounds a bit dumb if they just bought the software and not the company as they would be ,oosing the brains behind the product.
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XenApp Platinum customers don't have EdgeSight for Endpoints or GotoAssist that's included with XenDesktop Platinum.

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It looks like they just bought the product.
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http://communities.vmware.com/blogs/virtualdesktop/2008/05/20/xen-desktop-confirmed-dead-on-arrival


Such a big hitch for a product which has been tested and touted for long time..

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Hardly a big hitch to be honest!  I'm sure this sort of thing neve happens when you run any VMWare products. haha!
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To be fair to VMWare my ESX 3.5 Installation(Installed 3 weeks after it was released) is working a treat, first time no problems.  It just works.


Now I'm a huge fan of Citrix but can anyone honestly say that, a few weeks after installing a release of a major citrix product for the last few years. (CAG+AAC, PS 3-4.5 etc)  I mean they've only just fixed the 10.x clients after like a year of duff releases.

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The demo was not a problem with XenDesktop. It was a bug in the video support software running on the beta version of the new Wyse appliance they used. Mark knew this, but didn't want to say anything bad about a good partner from the stage.
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And XenApp Platinum customers don't have Provisioning Server which is also included with XenDesktop platinum.
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Yeah Warren's blog post from VMware was definitely, ummm... what's the polictically correct word here? Well, it wasn't cool. The reason I say that is because VMware can't do the feature that Citrix was demoing! So sure, a failed demo sucks. But VMware's VDI product is based on RDP, so I don't think thye have a leg to stand on when it comes to making fun of someone's multimedia capabilities.
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I have to say that geek speek is the best think that iforu...synergy has done as of yet. Real technical content at a trade show, say it isn't so. Don't think they are where they need to be yet, but it is a big change from the normal marketing conference it has been in the past. Everyone was asking for more technical content, and to several smiles and claps, I blurted out briforum.... oops
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Yeah, maybe but it requires a separate tool like convoluted Group Profiles or scripting.  That's what I mean by there is still a big hole in the offerings.
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THere are other solutions out there that can do both like Script Start ProfileUnity.  And Script Start Community is a lighter open source version you can use to do profile creation and mangement but yeah, I agree that there is still a hole in Citrix profile offerings with Sepago alone.
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So does anyone know for sure which version of XenDesktop for $95 per CCU for XenApp Platinum customers?
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I think Warren's blog post was legit and I especially liked the part where he said...


"They were using what they call a Xen Desktop Appliance. A purpose built device which is not a thin client, Ok sure."


I am assuming this was tongue in cheek by Warren because it is purely see-through Citrix Marketing trickery.  Just like Templeton said in 2005 that they had always been in the "virtualization" business.

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As I said over on my blog, the post was all in good fun. I hope Brian knows as well as others that I have a lot of respect for Citrix and their contributions to a very common goal we all have. As I have said many times, perhaps one day they will release ICA as an open protocol like Xen Server as a way to potentially drive innovation around display protocols to solve common customer problems we all have? Maybe not? On the multimedia front we have been integrating and shipping multimedia redirection though our partnership with WYSE for a while now. The demo today was based on the WYSE Xen Desktop appliance which one would assume was leveraging the WYSE MMR so in that case we are all cooking with water. A  bad demo is a bummer, I can relate with the challenges of a demo such as this as I have to live the same thing at all of our shows. VMworld 2007 was a great example where all week I demonstrated a pre-beta of VDM 2.0 and WYSE MMR integration to 1000s of visitors

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Why do you want ICA to be released as an open protocol? It has NOTHING significantly different from RDP. This is all just speculations of how ICA is better than RDP, but actually ICA has no know-how behind it. The overall architecture of ICA is the same as RDP's one.
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Stupid is as stupid does.  So stupid in fact, he posted twice!
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Moreover, i have serious reasons to think that ICA is dead already. It hasn't been updated for a long time and the new XenApp release for Windows 2008 Server just confirms that. Unlike RDP, there are no innovations happening to the ICA protocol. Citrix offers some add-ons like SpeedScreen but sooner or later smaller vendors will implement the same set of features for RDP. I just see no technical reasons why other companies can't do it eventually.
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You must be a guru on both RDP and ICA, aren't you? I have deep knowledge of both RDP and ICA internals, do you?
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Must not be very deep...... That is why Microsoft stands behind XenDesktop. Also plenty of videos on the net showing the difference.

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Hey, you shouldn't consume too much marketing stuff. The ONLY significant difference between RDP and ICA is that ICA uses JPEG encoding for compressing many bitmaps, that's why it consumes less traffic when remoting graphic intensive applications like Internet Explorer. RDP doesn't support any lossy codec yet but i suspect it was a political decision because the implementation alone wouldn't take any significant time. I could do this in a few days myself but it will require patching mstsc.exe and rdpdd.dll, who will use it then?


When we had to support ICA in our product it required NO changes in our graphic rendering engine. Only the decoder/encoder engine had to be created from the ground-up for ICA. It's like someone uses WinZip and the other one uses WinRAR, the data inside the both archived packages are THE SAME, only encoding is different. This is, of course, oversimplified point of view but it's a real (and verifiable) technical fact unlike all that marketing BS you're referring to.

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When you say "our product", you mean TSFactory - RecordTS? 
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Yes. I didn't want to advertise it here, that's why i didn't mention it directly. But you can see now that i'm too far from marketing of any kind and prefer to talk about technical implications of both protocols. I guess that not many people outside Citrix are intimate with the ICA protocol, this perfectly explains why people think of ICA as something totally different than RDP. It's not the case, actually. Both protocols are like Portugal Portuguese vs. Brasil Portuguese (sorry, i don't speak either one but our CEO does).

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These mandatory profile based solutions are OK to a point, but they don't support things like users importing certificates for encrypted emails etc.  We have tried these in the past with limited success.  We now use a redirected roaming profile for our desktop servers and a read only roaming profile solution with flex profiles for our application servers.
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By the way Brian, your fame is spreading. Vmware are quoting you on their latest partner release as dissing Citrix XenDesktop.


 


 

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Yes, I saw that press release. Talk about agressive! VMware certainly seem to be worried about the release of XenDesktop and are not acting calmly at all.
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Where is XenApp 5? When will this be released? 


I look forward to the day when Citrix moves everything off CMC or PSC or whatever they call it now and have everything in the Access Management Console MMC.


At the Citrix download site is the new Beta ICA 11 clients. What does this mean?

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ICA may not have anything significantly different to RDP, but sit an RDP client next to a Xen Desktop ICA client, inject some latency and lossiness into the network and see for yourself which protocol you would rather have delivering your apps.


I agree that there is probably little work involved in improving RDP, but until it happens I can only choose products which are 'out there' and available.


 In any event, ICA is far from the only differentiator that Xen Desktop offers, I'd say that the provisioning piece is actually a more compelling one. And yes, I'm sure you can probably knock something up that does the same job in 10 minutes, but for now I'll take what is on the market.

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According to this article the CCU licenses for XenDesktop are yearly subscriptions.  Is this correct?


http://www.crn.com/software/207801442


 


 


 

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No updates for ICA? No innovation for ICA? You seem like a very uninformed person. ICA for XenDesktop isn't the same as ICA for XenApp. The ICA version for XenDesktop was built from the ground up and includes a lot of updates and innovation that can not be done on the XenApp version. In fact I would be bold enough to steal from Microsoft and call it ICA NT (new technology) because it's not a re-engineering of the protocol, but a new engineering of the protocol. I believe Brian wrote a recent article on it's differences.

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It didn't look like "good fun", or sound like there was "a lot of respect for Citrix". It looked like an unprofessional sideswipe at an unfortunate incident. And what does "cooking with water" mean, for heavens' sake? Do get a grip.
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Has anyone had a chance to read through the administrator guide for XenDesktop 2.0?


Here is an excerpt from the Key Features section of the guide, I am hoping the information in the guide is dated or simply incorrect.



The following ICA features are available through the Virtual Desktop Agent:


• Session reliability


• SpeedScreen Image Acceleration


• SpeedScreen Browser Acceleration


• Endpoint device drive, LPT, and COM port mapping


• Printing using the Universal Printer Driver


• SecureICA


• Bi-directional audio is available when connecting to Windows XP virtual desktops, but not those running on Windows Vista


• Multimonitor support


• Microsoft ClearType support


• USB flash drive support through dynamic client drive mapping



There is no support for the following ICA features:


• Smart card authentication


• Single sign-on using the Kerberos virtual channel


• TWAIN mapping


• USB PDA synchronization


• SmartAuditor


• SpeedScreen Multimedia Acceleration


• SpeedScreen Flash Acceleration


• SpeedScreen Latency Reduction Manager


• Shadowing


• SSL Relay direct to the virtual desktop


• Session monitoring and control


Seems there are more features not supported in the XenDesktop port of ICA than those that are supported. Was there a timing issue that forced them to remove these features to meet the launch date? Will these features be added in the near future. It seems that the desktop experience is not going to be very desktop like if you cannot sync your PDA, scan from your scanner, watch multimedia, or have good experience with flash animation.


On top of that how good a time are the admins going to have if they cannot use SmartAuditor, shadowing, or session monitoring and control? According to this document that I downloaded from the Citrix website, last updated on the 19th of May, the release version of XenDesktop is a little castrated. Hopefully these missing features will be added soon and they are not intentionally missing because of idiotic product managers at Citrix.


Also, where the hell did the Advanced-Enterprise version distinction come from? XenApp licenses for XenDesktop users is the only difference. Would be great if you could deliver XenApp hosted applications seamlessly to the end user outside of the hosted desktop, but it sounds like the person needs to be logged into their hosted desktop to access the XenApp applications. OK, nice but come on Citrix. If I want to deliver a desktop I have to buy a license for that, if I want to deliver a XenApp application directly to that same user I have to buy a separate license. This distinction has benefited Citrix more than any of their customers. Notice how the Platinum and Enterprise editions have become more expensive with the addition of the Advanced version. According to an earlier post by Brian the versions were Standard, Enterprise, and Platinum for $75, $175, and $275. Now there are Standard, Advanced, Enterprise, and Platinum for $75, $195, $295, and $395. I guess nobody a Citrix wanted to raise the price of the Standard version because it sounds so nice for their marketing and sales to be able to say "XenDesktop, starting at $75" Which makes it look reasonable at first glance :)

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To introduce myself, I am a Product Marketing Manager for AppSense. As an advocate of user environment management, I would like to take two minutes to ensure we are all clear on the difference between user environment management, and profile management. Profile management focuses on ensuring user personalization persists within the user session.  Essentially recording the changes a user has made to their environment after logon and saving them out at logoff, ready to be brought in again next time.  This is typically implemented via a term perhaps better known as hybrid profiles. User environment management, however, is different on many levels.  User environment management solutions are enterprise scalable and abstract all aspects of user personality from the operating system and application set.  Personality is then managed independently from O/S & apps, and is applied on demand.   User personality is a combination of tailored policy and user preferences.  True user environment management enables heterogeneous on-demand desktops across all application delivery mechanisms.  The Sepago technology in Citrix UPM ensures a user’s personal settings persist from one user session to the next.  It does not set up the desktop or apply all the start up and log on actions. User environment management extends the functionality available in Citrix UPM by applying tailored policy and personalization on a per user or per applications basis. Thanks.Gareth Kitson.

 

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ICA for XenDesktop and ICA for TS are quite different under the hood. That's what Brian needs to focus on. He needs to go down that rabbit hole and uncover things.
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There has been some focus on what makes ICA for XenDesktop (PortICA) different from a normal implementation of the ICA protocol.  Brian wrote an article about it a month or so ago that can be seen at https://www.brianmadden.com/blog/BrianMadden/Accessing-Windows-XP-and-Vista-via-Citrix-XenDesktop-ICA-portICA-How-does-this-really-work.

We haven't gone tit-for-tat yet with a feature comparison, but that article is a good introduction to the fact that they're very different implementations of the same protocol.

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Sorry - I forgot to hyperlink that link.  If anyone has trouble cutting and pasting, just click here .
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Yeah, Gareth, I am pretty clear on the difference, it's how you accomplish these two feats that I'd debate.  I agree that the Sepago solution only answers half of the need. But additional software or a shell on desktops (wether virtual or not) does not make sense to me.  We're using Open Source technologies already mentioned here that solve this by taking advantage of existing technologies already imbedded in Windows (i.e. at logon pulled from the netlogon share).  And Group Policies does not do it well either, even in Server 2008.
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RES PowerFuse or AppSenses products do a good job of user workspace management. Provision Networks includes the ability to manage the user environment by controlling what applications a user can execute, controlling the look and feel of the desktop, taskbar, start menu, mapping drives, mapping printers, setting environment variables, modifying the registry, running logon scripts.
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Any chance of a link to said press release?
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The 7.6% overhead is for a single vm running exclusively on a XenServeer host.  Quad core, 16GB RAM on local disk.  The application was either word or excel.  The operating system was Server 2003 64-bit. 


The testers found this to be the sweet spot.  They had run other tests using other configurations and found that the overhead was much higher - although they did not reveal how much higher.


There was more overhead with creating 2vm's with dual cores and 8GB each, although 4vm at 4GB RAM did better.

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Yes but you are still talking about running additional overhead on clients with all of those solutions.  That just adds something else to manage and install on desktops.  We tried nearly everything out there after starting out by using logon scripts but needed something more. We wanted to get away from Scripts and have something that documented automated profiles.  What we found does not do portability **yet** so it is not perfect but it was exactly what we were looking for.  We use Script Start from Entrigue which is agentless.  What's cool is that compared to other solutions we tried it makes logon times so fast you can miss this part of logon it if you blink.  It covers the admin side of profiles, i.e. mapping drives, mapping printers that you mention. The downside is that it does not make personal profiles portable yet  but from what I have read soon they'll do this too so users can seamlessly switch between any Windows environment, not just Citrix, and I understand that will also be agentless.  This is a big win for us because now we only have to manage one profile per user, not per desktop/laptop they are using.   Interestingly enough, their focus is not soley on Citrix solutions but they are a Citrix Partner.  What we love best about it is that it installs on the server only so there is no software to install on desktops, non, nada.
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Change the name, change the location, change the content, try to be all things to all people. Spend $500 million on an open source set of code, so supposedly you have an even bigger audience....and yet you STILL manage to attract 1/3 LESS people to the event. Less than 2,000 showed up and that includes Citrix people.


So, the real story here is what the hell has happened to the management at Citrix to all this to happen. And yeah, they;ll spin it all around to make it look good. And even you Brian will help them with that. Afterall, you do have a vested interest in all this, not like a real independent journalist anymore.


So, This synergy thing was a disaster. I suppose we'll see how they react based on what they do at the next big hoopla.

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Yep, they picked up the least capable "solution" out there and who knows what it will look like once it actuall makes it into the product.

Remember what they did with the RTO code.....<shudder>
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The most likely cause of the lower attendance is conference fatigue - being held only 8/9 months after the previous conference probably caused a significant number of people to skip the event. If attendance is still down next year, then you may have a point - but I don't think it will be. Xensource was bought before the last conference, so that shouldn't figure in your equation.


In any case, the industry changes year to year, so you might expect the conference to change too. Citrix's product range is exanding, so you would also expect the conference to cover a wider range of subjects. The location changes every year, simply for variety - why is that a problem for you? Describing Synergy as a "disaster" is clearly an exaggeration so outrageous that you don't deserve to be taken seriously.


<pedantry>Finally, I'm going to criticise your grammar: it's FEWER people, not LESS people. Don't you read your posts before pushing the SUBMIT button? (But then your use of "101" suggests you're American, so to expect good English is to expect too much, statistically speaking.)</pedantry>

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Same Guest again: apologies to those Americans that can write good English. It's just unfortunate that there aren't more of you.
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Least capable in Sepago is right.  Maybe they wanted to leave room for other vendors that can honestly solve the entire profile management issue, not just part of it.
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It's XenDesktop Advanced.

XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum includes XenApp for virtual desktops which a XenApp Platinum customer would not need.
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I agree with the previous post.  There was no respect in the original post, but a lot of backtracking afterwards when someone got called out on their comment.  

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But you really have to love how they spun it as great attendance in the "inaugural" event - making it sound like this is Citrix's first ever annual conference.  Love them or hate them, the one thing you got to respect Citrix for is their masterful command of marketing and hype.
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