Our Citrix Synergy 2016 LIVE Blog

Gabe, Jack, and I are attending Citrix Synergy 2016. We'll be live blogging our reactions and commentary of the opening keynote.

Citrix Synergy 2016 is taking place this week in Las Vegas, and Gabe, Jack, and I are here. We have a busy week giving sessions, judging the "Best of Synergy" awards, hosting a Geek Out game show, and trying to stay on top of all the news of the show.

What I'm most interested in is the opening keynote. This will be Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov's first major public appearance since becoming CEO, and we have lots of questions about his plans and what he's done so far.

So here's the thing: The new platform that powers BrianMadden.com does not have the ability to do live blogs, and updating and re-saving content takes about an hour to actually refresh on the site, so we can't do like we've done in the past and keep updating a single page that you can keep refreshing. Instead, we live blogged the entire thing in a publicly-shared Google Doc, and now that the keynote is over we're pasting it into this article. The keynote video was streamed live and has been recorded, so for the full effect, you can queue that up and follow along.

So here you go, our first ever collaborative keynote live blog. The Day 1 keynote is here, and the Day 2 is below.

Day 1 keynote

Brian: Ok, 7:02, time to shower, find coffee, and head over to the venue!

Brian: Hey we can do pictures! But they sometimes go down to the next page, so scroll down. Another option is to go to “View” and uncheck “Print Layout”.

8:26 Jack: We’re in the venue, setting up.

8:33 Brian: The energy level at the show so far is very high. Kind of like how it was at Summit in January. The CTPs were all very excited about the two days of meetings they had Sunday and yesterday. Everyone is hoping for a lot out of Citrix, and I think we’ll see it. Seriously, the energy level.. So different than last year where the hum of the fluorescent lights was the loudest part.

8:43 Brian: I wonder how many different animals Google has? Capybara? Aurochs? Axolotl? Ifrit? Quagga? Have to ask Warren Simondson about those….

8:45 Brian: Is that a micro drone with a VMware logo on it? Best. Giveaway. Ever.

8:45 Gabe: This may not set any records for most number of attendees, but I think we can all agree this is the “widest” keynote room ever.

8:50 Brian: Just had 5 minutes of “Reconnecting…” message, so we’ll see if the conference WiFi can keep up. Ok, I can get on via my iPad, but I can't use wifi to connect to it from my laptop. Typing here will suck, so possibly no live blog. Conference wifi has melted.

9:12 Brian: Back on wifi. I just disabled anonymous comments to see if that affects bandwidth? Dunno if it works that way at all...

9:13 Gabe: Kirill is on stage for the first time. Lot of energy, but don’t count on many “rogue demos”

9:16 Brian: He referred to “IoT” as the “industrial Internet”. I assume that’s not a mistake, more like the internet of industrial machinery? I guess??

9:17 Gabe: IoT is a core thing at Citrix now, but it’s not just about blinky lights and nerd porn. It’s less sexy, but could turn into something really useful.

9:17 Not everyone is carrying a smartphone! (Brian writes from his smart tablet)

9:18 Gabe: This is like a podcast transcript :)

9:17 Brian: BYOD, Kirill says 40% of companies do not provide their employees with mobile devices.

9:18 Gabe: Citrix four core techs right now are Cloud, Mobile, Big Data (new territory, not as crazy as it sounds) and IoT. Big Data for them is leveraging data they already have access to that has so far been left untapped.

9:23 Jack: Kirill is talking about the huge challenge of cybersecurity. What’s interesting is security’s place in mobile. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. Buttom line is, mobile malware and threats exist, but it’s not showing up on the radar as a problem yet. So for most devices, EMM is plenty secure for now.

9:25 Brian: The theme of the show this year is “YES”. (Say yes to new apps. Yes to new ways of doing business. Etc, etc.) Everyone is running around with “YES” badges.

9:26 Brian: Kirill says, “Our strategy is to build the world’s best integrated technology services for secure delivery of apps and data, from anywhere, anytime, to any device, from any cloud.” Note that “mobile” is not part of that, because it doesn’t have to be. Mobile is not a separate thing, it’s just part of all of it.

9:28: 50 million current active XenApp/Desktop/Mobile users

9:29 Gabe: I’ve never once been excited about XenServer. I am now. XenServer 7 is the only hypervisor that supports Intel Iris Pro graphics (for now), which is going to allow EVERYONE to have some GPU without having to buy any additional cards.

9:30 Brian: Announcing support for Citrix HDX Raspberry Pi thin clients, under $100. Wonder what this means for all the existing thin client vendors? I guess nothing. A $100 thin client is a $100 thin client, I’m sure there will be performance limitations, etc. But still, very cool. RPi3 has a lot of power for 50 bucks.

9:30 Gabe: RPi Thin Clients can be in the $75 range at scale. That comes with management, too. If you’ve used ThinLinx, you’ll be VERY familiar with this :) @Brian - there are limitations. Single monitor right now. Limited protocol options. So you’ll never get a better experience than a Windows thin client, but you could replace some SoCs or other lightweight embedded systems.

9:32 Brian: Talking about ShareFile. 20 million active users, but they’re announcing deeper integration with Office 365 with rights management capabilities, native integration with XenApp/XenDesktop. More details in tomorrow’s keynote. (Note from Jack: They announced the ability to edit docs in Office Online earlier this year, so we’ll see what else is new.)

9:36 Gabe: More data on RPi thin client. It is an RPi3, running TLXOS from ThinLinx. If you’re familiar, that’s based on Raspbian. It has Receiver 13.3 for Linux (Raspbian is a debian-based flavor of Linux). Scale has been tested to the hundreds, but more data is needed to see if it can go to larger environments. TLX OS also runs on x86 devices, so you can use it to repurpose PCs or old thin clients so that you can manage everything from a single location.

9:37 Jack: They’re demong Citrix Secure Forms, formerly Worx forms. They’re showing a demo where you can add in elements from mobile device frameworks, like photos or location data. It’s little, quick apps like these that will be an easy way to get more out of mobility.

@Jack (from Brian): I assume that form then works on any mobile OS? This is actually pretty cool! (From Jack: I assume Android and iOS.)

9:39 Brian: Kirill “Simple forms power the majority of business mobile apps” <-- True. Great point!

9:40 Gabe: They have a real doctor on stage...like, an ACTUAL doctor, giving a demo. That’s new. (Nope...fake doctor. NM). He’s not too technical...he has an “iWatch”. That actually makes it seem more legit. He’s using it as a second factor. It failed, so did his phone, and he handled it MARVELOUSLY! (just Ok). That demo was a bust. Some things never change.

9:42 Gabe: Jack just said we have 96 viewers. That’s a record, since this is the first time we’ve done this. Good show, everyone! So far I don’t see any animals duplicated. :)

9:44 Gabe: Demo kind of came alive, but network problems aren’t just relegated to the blogger table. I kind of forgot what the demo was about. Oh, right SD-WAN. I was just informed that they did this demo at Summit with a live Skype video playing. So, since this was a bust, check out the YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts4b3JJACKI

9:47 Brian: Kirill talking about the Microsoft partnership. “We’re taking our partnership to the next level.” Rah-rah video from Satya Nadella (too bad they couldn’t get him here in person). Ok, that video was nothing. Very generic.

9:47 Gabe: This partnership has been in a bit of limbo over the past few years. They’ve been friends, hanging out occasionally, but now they’ve decided to move in together. Brad Anderson will speaking at a keynote this week (though I’m not sure if it’s today or not)

9:50 Brian: Results of partnership (1) aligning EMS, Intune, XenMobile, and NetScaler road maps, (2) integrating NetScaler with Azure for identity management and networking, and (3) Enabling XenDesktop VDI to deliver a Windows 10 DaaS from Azure. This is HUGE. So far this has not been allowed!!! I assume this will be allowed across the board, e.g. for any provider or any cloud? This is a biggest announcement of the show. (Not for the Citrix angle, but the angle that MS will allow WIndows 10 VDI desktops from Azure, and again, assuming any cloud?) See this article from last Oct for more details.

9:51 Gabe: This is the old way that Citrix/MS worked. Embrace and extend (ugh), but this is really awesome.

9:53 Jack: XenMobile and Intune/EMS working together will be huge. This means using the real office apps, maybe a bigger MAM ecosystem...? We’ll have to see how much all the MAM products can work together. But so far this is an unprecedented collaboration in the EMM space.

  • Brian: I assume this means XenMobile can have “real” Office (the cool iOS versions)? Is this something that’s not available via AirWatch/MobileIron/BB/etc?

  • Jack: Today, only Intune has app-level management for Office mobile apps, so if XenMobile gets full access, yes, that puts them ahead of the others.

  • Brian: So this is huge, right? What do the others do? I mean Office is still the key killer app, right? Or does that not apply as much on mobile? Maybe the other EMM vendors have Office-like mobile apps that are good enough?

  • Jack: There are other productivity apps that do have EMM integrations; the other option is to use MDM to control the office apps, but this isn’t always air-tight. One interesting use case could be using Outlook to replace Good.

9:54 Gabe: We were told that at 10am PDT Brad Anderson’s blog would have an article about Windows 10 in Azure. Keep an eye on https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/author/brad-anderson/

10:03 Brian: It’s live now: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/author/brad-anderson/2016/05/24/microsoft-and-citrix-partner-to-help-customers-move-to-the-cloud/

10:04 Gabe: Interesting that it doesn’t say DaaS even though they said it in the keynote. I was under the impression that it was about XenDesktop desktops coming from Azure, but you still managed them via XD or Citrix Workspace Cloud (Or Citrix Cloud). I’m not sure if it’s full-on DaaS where someone else is doing it. Maybe it’s just semantics.

10:05 Brian: From Brad’s blog:

“Also, later this year, Citrix will offer customers who have purchased Windows Software Assurance on a per-user basis the option to host their Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business images on Azure through its XenDesktop VDI solution. This will be an industry first!  This means you can deploy virtual apps or desktops and accelerate Windows 10 adoption for those customers who are using Microsoft Cloud solutions.

Pretty incredible.”

10:05 Brian: Funny he says “pretty incredible”, because the technology to do that has been around for awhile, it’s just Microsoft’s asinine licensing that prevented it. So yeah, I guess it is pretty incredible that Microsoft stopped being jerks here and finally allowed what we all thought they should have allowed since the beginning.

Does this mean Citrix is getting into the DaaS business directly? Like VMware & others? I think yes?

10:06 Gabe: BIG question is...is there SPLA for Win10? Answer: not yet. This is just “Windows client OSes can be run on cloud instances” which was talked about a few months ago. I think we won’t see true DaaS until we see SPLA fixed (well, added), which is almost certainly in works.

10:07 Jack: Scanning the blog now:

“Citrix has integrated with ConfigMgr in a way that allows XenApp apps to appear as another application type that ConfigMgr can deploy. The Citrix Connector for System Center ConfigMgr enables ConfigMgr to be that “single pane of glass” for managing all types of applications. This setup enables scenarios where ConfigMgr can publish apps directly to Citrix Receiver.”

10:11 Jack: This. Is. Huge:

“To begin with, Citrix is integrating with EMS in two big ways 1) Citrix will be enlightening their apps on iOS and Android with the Intune App SDK, and 2) building in support for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) for identity”

“Future collaboration will also include Citrix building a new EMM service on Azure that will integrate with and add value to EMS”

10:13 Brian: Wow, from Brad’s blog. How do you really feel? :)

10:14 Jack: So Intune will be able to manage Citrix apps, but not the other way around? Looks like not at this point. That would be awesome to complete the circle, though.

10:15 Brian: If Citrix gets into the DaaS hosting market, I imagine VMware running an ad like what Apple did when IBM announced the PC:

Synergy Keynote 3

10:18 Gabe: Brad said yesterday that EMS was Microsoft’s fastest growing business. Faster than O365, even. It will hit the $1Bn mark faster than any other product, too. How many is that now??

10:21 Gabe: Kirill: “At Citrix, we are all in on the cloud” Applause. I guess that’s from the infrastructure peeps. This leads into WaaS or Workspaces-as-a-Service. Before your eyes glaze over from yet another as-a-Service (or yet another “Workspaces”), this is really just integration at the cloud level of NS, XD, XA, XM, and ShareFile.

10:24 Brian: Kirill, “The world of cloud is the world of plurality.” Went on to talk about working with all clouds (then talked more about Azure). But I assume that everything they’re doing will (has to) work on all cloud platforms. I’m sure Microsoft couldn’t allow Win10 VDI on Azure without others. I assume that would be an antitrust problem.

10:26 Gabe: There will be, per the article you wrote last October. I honestly am not sure that this whole Windows 10-in-Azure thing is /that/ new. https://www.brianmadden.com/opinion/Microsoft-inches-closer-to-offering-Windows-10-desktops-in-Azure-Azure-DaaS Like I said, SPLA is the goal, and we’re not there yet.

10:28 Brian: From Kirill, “To industry analysts and the press, we need you to help spread the word about the new Citrix.”

10:30 Brian: Keynote over. We’re going to head to the TechTarget booth on the show flow and do a live streamed podcast now (give us.. 30min?) We’ll tweet the link when we go live.

10:31 Gabe: When Brian says a time, double it.

10:32 Jack: So I guess tomorrow’s keynote will have a lot more product details? They mentioned this earlier today.

Day 2 keynote

8:00 Brian: We’re down by the keynote area. Keynote starts at 9.

9:01 Gabe: Tim Minahan out to start the Day 2 keynote again. I have Citrites sitting behind me (Looking at you, Dan Feller). Let’s pause while I put on my privacy filter. :)

9:02 Gabe: Privacy filter engaged! I’m looking forward to this keynote. Should dig into the announcements from yesterday a bit more. Plus...Brad Anderson! But first, Innovation Awards time.

9:07 Gabe: Arca Continental wins the Innovation Award. Now Bill Burley is out, talking about how Citrix has seen 3x more innovation in 2015. I want to call BS on this, because when you list out all the small things you did in one year but only the major things you did in prior years...eh...it’s just apples to oranges. Whatever. Citrix is doing things. Things are good.

9:09 Gabe: Chrome devices as a business device? I haven’t seen that. EDU yes, but business? Also talking about how Linux is in the majority of organizations. That I am seeing, though I haven’t run into anyone using the Linux VDA yet.

9:10 Jack: Bill is also talking about browser-based apps and secure browser, but what about modern federation with SAML, SAML provisioning, support for provisioning APIs and  etc. for SaaS? This just isn’t their thing yet, apparently, but it will be a huge part of EUC.

9:11 Gabe: Secure browsers is a bit more popular this year than I thought. Smart X is on the show floor demonstrating something. They’re the company that started, then spun off ControlUp.

9:11 Brian: So Citrix is doing FUD on browser apps now? Like, as the world moves away from Windows desktop apps (even though that’s a slow move in the enterprise), Citrix is like, “Hey! Guys! We’re still relevant!!! Browser apps will be bad security and fill your cache and break everything.” Eh, I guess if you do it via a service if it’s cheap enough, that’s ok? I dunno, we’ll have to explore this more. (Gabe says: “We’ve explored this already.”)

9:12 Gabe: Nah, just reboxing XenApp. It’s literally publishing a browser. It’s like $20/user/month or something. All in cloud, hands off.  I wrote about this when it was released a while back https://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/opinion/Citrix-Secure-Browser-is-a-new-way-to-deploy-Web-apps

9:14 Brian: Best watermarking is to hook into AD to put their personal phone number, social security number, and salary into the watermark. Or heck, just print their password in the watermark :)

9:16 Gabe: Trying hard to justify Platinum. SCOM extension packs (formerly Comtrade’s stuff) is a $95 value. Director is a $50 value. AppDNA offers 90% time savings. StoreFront self-service password reset saves $70 per help desk call. That’s my favorite one. Let’s say you had 100 password reset calls a week. That means that you’re going to save ($7000 x 52 weeks) $364,000 per year in password reset calls alone...just by buying platinum. Sign me up?? Ugh. https://www.brianmadden.com/podcast/How-to-lie-with-cost-models

9:19 Jack: Outlining what they say are the 5 areas of innovation for XenMobile: Productivity (like the forms app we saw yesterday), MDM (incl. Win 10 and OS X), Sharefile as a feature of XM, Per-app VPN, and finally, cloud-based EMM. “Consider delivering mobility from the cloud.”

9:22 Gabe: 56% of enterprise users access a graphics accelerated app. Also, they see 50% of enterprises deploying Win10 by 2017. In my session yesterday, there were 75 people and just a few even had any Win10. Win10 requires more GPU to look decent, which is why that was in this section.

9:23 Gabe: They’ve added support for vGPU for Linux desktops, but the biggest accelerated graphics news this week is around XenServer’s exclusive (for now) support for Intel IRIS graphics. There are demos of this on the show floor that we’ll be tracking down today.

9:24 Jack: Okay, now Bill is talking about their federated authentication service. He’s talking about using SAML to create B2B trust. It’s brand new apparently. Still no mention of using it for SaaS, though.

9:27 Jack: Microsoft partnership time. Bill: “There’s been a bit of rub between the companies, we’re going to try to normalize that.”

9:28 Gabe: Love fest begins…..now. Citrix & MS want to drive adoption of Win10, Office 365, Private and Public Cloud, and Mobile.  Here comes Brad Anderson. Hey VMware...you had random product guy from the Windows 10 group at your keynote. Citrix got Brad Anderson. :)

9:30 Gabe: 300M active Windows 10 devices. 299,999,030 of them are consumer, I bet. Outpacing Windows 7 growth by 145% is sort of a BS number. People were so married to XP that they couldn’t upgrade fast, and so pissed off by Vista that they were content to wait. Win7 to Win10 is not that big of a deal.

9:31 Gabe: Microsoft is pushing AppDNA to help validate apps to move from Win7 to Win 10. Makes sense, but need Platinum to do that.

9:32 Gabe: Provisioning desktops to Azure via XenDesktop is excellent. Not because everyone is going to rush to do that now, but because it finally means we’re getting changes to Windows licensing. Sure, some people will do it right away. I want to try it. But there are a lot of other things to consider before you just start throwing desktops at Azure.

9:35 Gabe: Bill Burley says that Citrix will be ready on Day 0 for Windows Server 2016.

9:36 Jack: Now for mobility. Like we saw yesterday, Brad is talking about how Citrix apps will have Intune SDK. This results in a large MAM ecosystem, but you still need Intune to manage all this. The new future Citrix EMM cloud service was mentioned (different from current XM Cloud), but still it looks like this will heavily leverage Intune.

9:39 Gabe: If you’re wondering where Brian is...he’s next to us, frantically working on his presentation for later today: State of the DaaS Industry in 2016. You know...like we do. Nothing better than a “fresh” presentation deck.

9:46 Gabe: These benefits of the next version of ThinWire are interesting. It will release in June, and I’m very curious to see if there really are increases in scalability and reduction in bandwidth. Per Dan Allen and Nick Rintalan at the BriForum London session, bandwidth in Thinwire + on Windows 10 was nearly DOUBLE that of the legacy Thinwire that ran on WIndows 7 and prior OSes.

9:49 Gabe: RPi thin clients are Viewsonic products available from MicroCenter and Ingram. I thought there were two vendors, but I guess not. I wonder how much Viewsonic makes on these. I’m sure they get a deal, but you can get a Pi + case + power for around $50. They have to carve off some ThinLinx, and the rest for Viewsonic and distribs. Not making a ton...I really think these are a good deal (performance aside...have to test that)

9:51 Gabe: Bashing the vTax. I mean, yeah, we know it’s a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such direct VMware bashing in a keynote before.

9:53 Gabe: Comparing XD to View in the keynote. Cortana integration (You can tell WIndows to launch an app. Citrix can do this but VMware can’t. Thing is….nobody cares about that. Sick burn, guys.) (From Jack: How long until Horizon has this? This seems... petty?)

9:55 Gabe: Yep. Petty. I just don’t buy this. Give me someone independent. It made Horizon look horrible. If it came from literally ANYONE other than Citrix in a Synergy Keynote, I might buy it, but my BS meter’s needle just broke off.

10:01 Gabe: I want to be clear. I’m not supporting either product. I’m just saying that Synergy keynote is not the place.

10:23 Gabe: We’ve been in Netscaler mode for a while now. They just showed the SD-WAN demo that failed yesterday, cutting various network connections while maintaining a Skype video connection. It’s a great demo. You can see the version from Summit here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts4b3JJACKI

10:30 Gabe: I think I’m going to quit Twitter. Too much noise.

10:34 Gabe: We talked about apps. We talked about network. On to the data.

10:35 Jack: Now it’s ShareFile time. Jesse Lipson is coming onstage. He’s talking about something called Connector Sharing. This was announced last year. Basically it takes all of the file sharing and control features and allows you to use them with all of your other connected repositories.

10:42 Gabe: As I’m sitting here watching ShareFile, I’m trying to think of the last time anyone other than a Citrix employee sent me a link to a file from ShareFile. I can’t think of one. Not that there’s anything wrong with ShareFile, but I don’t run into that often in the wild. This seems to be confirmed when I look up and see people leaving the keynote.

10:43 Jack: Sharefile announcements:

  • Today they’re announcing a key management service for cloud Storage Zones in ShareFile. I’m pretty sure Box announced that a while ago, too. (<—Confirmed, they did.)

  • Next announcement is information rights management functionality. This is sort of the “mobile information management” thing we’ve talked about for years. Files are protected with policies, no matter where they go. You usually need a client to access these files, though there can also be web-based options. He didn’t mention this, so I’ll ask about it later.

  • More announcements: ShareFile Workflows—collect feedback, etc.

  • Also he talked about Office document co-editing, which was announced earlier this year.

  • There’s also ShareFile Drive Mapper for XA and XD.

10:57 Jack: People are leaving in droves now. A ShareFile customer is onstage talking about his TEDx talk about how technology helps people be awesome or something like that. Modern EFSS is great, but this keynote is just fading out.

11:07 Jack: Just finishing up now. And that’s a wrap. Time to us present more sessions and record videos!

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