Citrix Cloud services: Ready for prime time?

With Citrix Cloud services accounting for nearly 20% of new licenses sold by Citrix, the service is becoming mainstream, but not everyone has hit the OK button.

In April 2018, I wrote an article entitled “Raise your hand if you’re using Citrix Cloud services.” At that time, it was estimated that only about 5% of Citrix enterprise customers had adopted Citrix Cloud, and based on the candidly stated shortcomings, as well as the article comments, there were significant business and technical challenges at that time. It’s safe to say that the bleeding-edge adopters, well, they bled.

A year and a half later, much has changed, and adoption has increased significantly. According to Citrix sources, Citrix Cloud services now accounts for nearly 20% of new licenses sold by Citrix, as compared with on-premises deployments. Clearly, Citrix Cloud service has substantially stabilized and improved, and the service is further poised for growth. So far as the key offerings, what has changed, and is Citrix Cloud ready for more substantial enterprise adoption?

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service

Citrix Cloud services is largely comprised of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (CVAD) service, which is basically the cloud version of the former XenDesktop and XenApp service. CVAD service is the core service and can be packaged with additional service offerings under the Workspace umbrella.

Aside from the benefits of having Citrix host the core infrastructure components, my favorite feature of CVAD is the included Gateway service. While I know and love Citrix ADC/Gateway, many enterprises just don’t have the staff to occasionally modify and update it. So, allowing Citrix to maintain the Gateway service makes business and technical sense.

Citrix affirms that CVAD service is the product experiencing the most significant growth. Years ago, naysayers said that Citrix wouldn’t be needed in the future as apps became Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enabled. Not only has the SaaS conversion not happened as predicted, but SaaS applications, as well as CVAD-hosted resources, can be accessed via Citrix Cloud services, making it a one-stop shop.

The stability of CVAD has greatly improved over the past 1.5 years. While downtime or limited functionality does occur on occasion; when an issue does arise, Citrix has greatly enhanced its responsiveness and communications, i.e., the Citrix status site. In particular, the Cloud Connector function, which is a critical component that serves as the intermediary between the on-site resources and CVAD infrastructure, now has detailed information available and allows for scheduled updates, rather than ad hoc updates controlled by Citrix.

Citrix indicates that CVAD service usage is expanding fastest in terms of the number of unique active users in comparison with the number of enterprises, meaning that IT departments initially deployed to a limited number of users or use cases and now exponential expansion is motion. As with any new product or service, this is common, and, more importantly, it signifies that the product has achieved an acceptable level of maturity.

Citrix Managed Desktops

In late August, Citrix released a new service, Citrix Managed Desktops (CMD). A key feature of this service is the ability to easily integrate Microsoft’s new Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) functionality and quickly enable domain-joined or non-domain-joined VDI workloads. While the administrative interface is easy to use, it’s a new concept and service that will take a few more months to gain momentum, so watch this space.

Shortcomings

Citrix Cloud still has a few shortcomings that may give potential adopters pause.  

The greatest of these is Studio, the primary administration pane. Studio is slow, really slow. And sometimes it doesn’t appear at all, and you must refresh and try again. Word is that a native web interface is on the horizon, and all administrators anxiously await this update.

Workspace, i.e., the presentation of applications and desktops to users, is still somewhat generic and does not provide the complete feature set of StoreFront. Some user-impacting features such as password changes aren’t possible yet, which may impact adoption of Citrix Cloud. Within many environments, corporate security teams set password updates as a stringent requirement.

Wrap-Up

Citrix Cloud services is no longer a 1.0 offering. It’s matured enough that substantially more enterprises are taking the plunge with less frustration. With additional key improvements, we will see a dramatic surge in the percentage of cloud versus on-premises licenses.

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20% of *new* customers is basically nothing.
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