Citrix Synergy 2017 kicked off on Tuesday morning with the main keynote from President and CEO Kirill Tatarinov. As expected, the main keynote was focused on high-level discussions about the future of virtualization. While the key focus of Citrix is clearly Cloud, he relayed a stronger understanding that on-premises deployments of Citrix technologies are alive and well.
The technical keynote in the afternoon was led by PJ Hough, SVP of product, and included demonstrations of several new products. In that session, Brad Anderson from Microsoft played a key part in showing how Microsoft and Citrix focus on locking down the mobile applications, not just the device.
The theme for both keynotes was the need to enhance security in the workplace. Especially in view of recent cyber-attacks and the focus—as well as budget dollars—that IT organizations are placing on security, this theme was highly appropriate.
Some key announcements from Synergy:
- Citrix Workspace Service. For those who are familiar with StoreFront, which is the user interface for accessing applications, this feature was referred to as StoreFront ++. In addition to showing applications that are hosted on Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop, other resources, such as web-based applications, can also be presented to users. As has always been the case, the user shouldn’t know or care from where applications are launched; they only care that they click on an icon and, automagically, the application appears and functions.
- Citrix Analytics Service. This is a solution that presents the full scope of data as it pertains to the user. It includes data from NetScaler, ShareFile, XenApp/XenDesktop, and XenMobile—i.e., all of the Citrix products—and it is apparent that the more Citrix products in use, the better the analytics provided. While one use for such detailed data is to provide the user with a better experience, the key premise for Citrix Analytics is security. While organizations can take utmost care to address vulnerabilities proactively, having a defense mechanism in place to understand unusual user activities, such as excessive downloads or uncommon locations, can be used to limit or disable user access.
- Citrix Security Practice. This is a group of specialized individuals within the Citrix Professional Services organization who help Citrix customers enhance their security posture.
- Virtualized Skype for Business on Chromebook. As Chromebook continues to make gains in the education and other vanilla markets, this means that a more integrated solution is available. To go one level deeper, it appears that Citrix and Google are talking, which in and of itself is certainly interesting. As you may know, Diane Greene (remember her from VMware?) is now senior VP of Google’s cloud business.
- Cisco and Nutanix join Citrix-Ready HCI (hyperconverged infrastructure) Workspace Appliance Program. While Hewlett Packard Enterprise has already been part of this program, Cisco and Nutanix are new. The interesting part of this announcement is that it implies an on-premises deployment of Citrix technologies, further substantiating that not everyone is moving to the cloud.
- Secure Web Gateway. Not to be confused with Secure Gateway (a Windows Server–based capability that provides secure remote access for XenApp 6.5 and earlier versions), Secure Web Gateway provides encrypted traffic management and filtering control.
As much as there is always a high expectation of an acquisition or major news at a large conference such as this, it was apparent that Citrix is busy at work enhancing Cloud, integrating Unidesk and Norskale, and making incremental enhancements.
So far as overall interest goes, the hallway chatter and booth lineup seem to be focused on Citrix Cloud and Unidesk, now called App Layering. Many questions are being asked, and attendees seem to be clamoring for more information and real-life experiences with these products in order to assess if and how each may be useful in their own environments.
Lastly, rather than spending a significant amount of time discussing competitors, Citrix appears to be proactively focused on new capabilities and delivering on commitments. The new executive leadership at Citrix has been in place for about a year, and it appears that they are now accustomed to their new roles and organizations. Citrix appears to be well poised to address the future of virtualization. As was stated in the keynote, “the future is now.”