More notes from Citrix Synergy 2019: Cloud resilience, UEM strategy, IGEL, Samsung, and more

Also including Flexxible IT and eG Innovations.

Citrix Synergy 2019 is still fresh in our minds (even though the recent holiday weekend here in the U.S. makes it feel like it was a long time ago). We already shared six articles about Synergy (see here and here), and we have several more planned for the rest of June. I have pages of notes from meetings with Citrites and partners, so today I’m sharing more of what I learned at the show.

Citrix Cloud reliability

Reliability and troubleshooting Citrix Cloud has been an ongoing concern for at least the last year. (It’s easy to see why eG Innovations was a finalist for the Best of Synergy Awards for their ability to monitor Citrix Cloud via new APIs.) So, I brought this up when TechTarget interviewed PJ Hough, Citrix’s chief product officer.

PJ told me that one of the more interesting things Citrix is doing to address this is to make the Workspace App clients themselves more resilient, by allowing them to operate more independently of the Citrix Cloud management plane.

In the past, logging into a remote desktop workload might have failed if the client wasn’t able to access a particular management service, for example licensing. Now, they’re working under the assumption that clients might not be able to access every single service all the time, and they’re making the communications less chatty. Some settings may be cached, some don’t have to be checked every single time, and some things may be handled at different services. (For example, it may be that Azure AD is handling authentication, rather than Citrix Cloud.)

Citrix Endpoint Management strategy

I talked unified endpoint management strategy with Citrix’s Suzanne Dickson and Frank Srp. We know that supporting iOS and Android is a matter of keeping up with the latest Apple and Google APIs, and that Citrix is always updating their mobile apps to keep up with consumer expectations. But, what are they doing with macOS and Windows 10?

It’s a big time for Mac management in general. With their support of iOS, Citrix Endpoint Management can readily support all the MDM-based management features on macOS. At Synergy, I learned that Citrix is partnering with Addigy for Mac management scenarios that require traditional agent-based management. Citrix has built SSO integration between the Citrix Endpoint Management Console and the Addigy console.

Citrix Endpoint Management has had MDM-based Windows 10 management for quite a while, and it supports coexistence with SCCM and other traditional endpoint management platforms. One piece of news from Synergy is that shortcuts to native, local Windows apps will be able to show up in the Workspace App client, too.

Suzanne and Frank told me that they’re seeing a lot of BYOD MDM-enrolled Windows 10 devices, and one new feature they’re working on is the ability for the Workspace App to kick off MDM enrollments. There are a lot of ways customers could build this into policies—say, a user can access resources through the Workspace App client on their BYO device, and then if they want to install some enterprise apps locally, then they could be prompted to enroll.

I also learned from Frank that Citrix Workspace Environment Management can work on physical devices. He told me that he’s been working on devices covered by SCCM, Citrix Endpoint Management, and WEM all together, with some help from the Windows 10 policy conflict CSP. This is another sign of a trend coming our way: Various app virtualization and profile management techniques that were pioneered for non-persistent virtual desktops could someday have a big role with MDM-managed physical devices, especially as Microsoft works towards making future operating systems more and more stateless.

IGEL and WVD

I last caught up with IGEL when they released IGEL Workspace Edition, back at Disrupt U.S. The big news from Synergy is that they’re working on a Linux client for Windows Virtual Desktop, which will run on IGEL thin clients. Here's the statement that was shared:

“IGEL is working on support the cross-platform reach of Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop with the IGEL OS Linux client (RDP) for the Enterprise. We will have more to share later this year at Inspire and Ignite.”

This is the first I’ve heard of a Linux client or thin client support for WVD, but it certainly won’t be the last we hear about new clients. Thanks to primarily to Azure AD authentication, WVD clients are different from standard RDP clients, so we’ll get a whole new wave of them.

In other news, since IGEL’s pivot towards software a few years ago, they’ve been banging the drum of displacing Windows and other OSes on thin clients. At Synergy, they shared IDC data that showed that in 2018, Linux displaced Windows as the top thin client OS, in terms of unit shipments.

Samsung DeX

Not too long before Synergy, I wrote a case study about Samsung DeX and the Chula Vista Police Department. At the show, I spoke Samsung’s Abhinav Gupta, who’s responsible for getting Knox and DeX to the market, and by the sound of it, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are plenty of other DeX pilots going on, especially in law enforcement, and Samsung has put together a full coalition of partners and integrators. As a matter of fact, just before Synergy, another managed service provider, FSET, reached out to tell me about their DeX deployments, including one that’s already entering production with the Treaty Three Police Service in Ontario, Canada.

Abhinav also told me that retail banks have been working on DeX pilots for branch locations. (He assured me that someday I’d be able to come to a bank in the Bay Area and see a deployment for myself.)

One key DeX feature for bank branches is Dual Mode. With Dual Mode, you can run apps on both the device and the connected display at the same time, and they can each receive input from separate sources, i.e., a customer is filling out a form on a tablet using the onscreen keyboard, while the retail employee is using the connected display, keyboard, and mouse to work in another app at the same time, with everything connected to one device.

Flexxible IT Apps2Digital

Lastly, I was introduced to Flexxible IT before and during Synergy. You may be familiar with their workspace appliances, but at the show, their big news was their Apps2Digital software.

Apps2Digital is a set of lifecycle management tools designed to help channel partners, resellers, and even end customers through the process of virtualizing apps. The idea is that resellers might be looking for ways to get their customers do use more Citrix resources, for example (they support other technologies, too). The tooling can help inventory apps, prioritize them, help end users find the newly virtualization apps, and track the whole process, along with a variety of other tasks. There are a lot of ways to put together a digital workspace, and it seems like there will be space for many tools such as Apps2Digital.

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