Category Archives: Citrix

Citrix XenMobile, Cloud Gateway, ShareFile, XenApp, XenDesktop

Journey to The Nirvana Phone within the Workplace Part 1

Does it even actually exist? Truthfully it depends on how we as humans (employees) choose to consume the apps, data and network services on them for the purposes of personal and workplace usage.

In preparing to write this article I googled “The Nirvana Phone” the top search result is a Wikipedia entry – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_Phone (huge smile) along with 3 YouTube videos and very very very familiar face followed by yet another huge smile + found memory flashback because its Citrix CTO of Emerging Technologies Chris Fleck demonstrating using an iPhone 4 running a Windows 7 VDI (DaaS) delivered by Citrix Receiver on iOS connected to a monitor with a Apple VGA adaptor and portable paired Bluetooth keyboard. This is actually a key subconscious moment for me that has had a profound affect on me, and how I approach and look at the world around me today. So when I first saw that video I immediately hunted among work colleagues and friends for that Apple VGA cable adaptor to test it out for myself with my iPhone 4 and oh boy I was NOT disappointed yes it still had a way to go but as a real world working prototype concept enabling anyone in the world who uses Citrix and is the owner of an Apple iPhone 4 to use it in such a way is mind blowing even now while also demonstrating the WOW effect that this gaming changing technology will have on the workplace, even today nearly a decade on I am using one of many Nirvana Phones out there in the market running Citrix Workspace app available from all major app stores to actively take full advantage of my iPhone XR “Nirvana Phone” as it was intended in Chris Flecks original video below to be flexible and adaptable between sandbox vs. native mobile apps, browser based SaaS web apps and of course Citrix virtual apps* & desktops** formerly known as XenApp* and XenDesktop**.

I mentioned earlier it was a “key subconscious moment” for me personally as it validated and meant to me that I can use a devices as such as the Apple iPad or iPhone as a work device this is super cool and practically appealing to me, even today at Citrix they are evolving this a reality of the “Nirvana Phone” with the Intelligent Experience – https://www.citrix.com/lp/intelligent-workspace.html by distilling the friction + complexity of apps into simple to consume actions and insights from Citrix Workspace app vs. web portal.

Lets go back in time to late 2012, I’ve joined Citrix and at Christmas I’m gifted with an Apple iPad Mini which I used a lot running and working from @WorkMail, @WorkWeb (inclusive of my iPhone) and occasionally I consume my Windows 7 VDI on my iPad Mini because I can’t find a Bluetooth enabled mouse that works with it but it does work great for tasks such as lengthily emails using the soft/digital keyboard while travelling to and from events around the world like Citrix Summit and ServTech likewise locally on trains tethered to my iPhone as train Wi-Fi does not really exist in the 2012.

Fast world to 2015 and Citrix releases a prototype Bluetooth enabled mouse called the “Citrix X1 Mouse” and who is back demoing this capability? Yes Chris Fleck is back again continuing to edge closer to the “The Nirvana Phone” workplace operating model. What most folks are not aware of I could not make Citrix Summit that year due to a family member whom was medical very unwell, yet one of the best humans I have ever had the privilege of working with in my professional working career is Caz and she brought me back an original X1 Mouse prototype because she knew its importance and value to me with my digital first nature with modern touch enabled devices like iPhone’s and iPad’s beyond today’s modern day typewriters which to be honest looking back I was held back by the technology interfaces of my time VGA to HDMI and finally entering into the main stream market late 2018 and into 2019 casting capabilities matching what we use at home Google Casting for example now coming into the Workplace like Click Share but for me they are still both a v1 they need to mature over time.

Fast forward later in May of 2015 and the final piece for me falls into place with the Citrix Workspace Hub prototype demonstrated again by Chris Fleck with the at current CEO Mark B Templeton.

Fast forward again now its 2018 and the Citrix Workspace Hub officially launches and is available through select thin client vendors that choose to be in the program. I get a Citrix WorkspaceHub device for my own personal usage from Citrix ServTech and the first thing I do when I get home is plug it in and start using it, you can see me demoing it the first time I used it at home in 2018 from my annual series of “How I worked in 20XN” obviously 2018 edition which is embedded below, fast forward to 2 minutes, 30 seconds to watch it.

Today its 2019 the current year of this post and well lets say I have totally shifted to using “The Nirvana Phone within the Workplace” because I choose to but more important the technology of my current time allows me to, and I’ve ditched the modern day typewriters up to 12-17% of my total workplace through-out 2019. You still need a larger screen and laptop for creator personna’s but for the consumer personna’s personally I don’t believe you do at a high level. You can read my journey over 2019 transferring to the “The Nirvana Phone” operating model in the workplace, starting with the original post in the series of “The Future of Work is Today NOT Tomorrow” – https://www.mycugc.org/blogs/lyndon-jon-martin/2019/03/17/the-future-of-work-is-today-not-tomorrow-part-1, followed by part 2 –https://www.mycugc.org/blogs/lyndon-jon-martin/2019/03/28/future-of-work-is-today-not-tomorrow-part-2 and part 3 – <coming>.

In closing part 2 series will focus on how to get started and work they way I do every working day at Citrix where ever I am.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

HDX Offloading for Microsoft Teams within a Citrix Virtual Desktop

Consider this an evergreen article with *pro-active adds/moves/changes inclusive of errors/mistakes until I remove this statement.

The following content is a brief and unofficial prerequisites guide to setup, configure and test delivering Microsoft teams within a Citrix virtual desktop powered by Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops (CVAD) Service in Citrix Cloud prior to deploying in a PoC, Pilot or Production environment by the author of this entry. The views, opinions and concepts expressed are those by the author of this entry only and do not necessarily conform to industry descriptions or best practises. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Shortened Names
SKYPE FOR BUSINESS – skype4b
CITRIX VIRTUAL DESKTOP – cvd
CITRIX VIRTUAL APP & DESKTOP – cvad
VIRTUAL DELIVERY AGENT – vda
HIGH DEFINITION EXPERIENCE – hdx
VIRTUAL DESKTOP – vd
VIRTUAL APPS – va
REALTIME MEDIA ENGINE – rtme
CITRIX WORKSPACE APP – cwa
MICROSOFT TEAMS – teams
CURRENT RELEASE – cr
LONG TERM SERVICE RELEASE – ltsr

Very Importantly Notice*
This feature depends on a future Microsoft Teams release. We will update this description as information about the version and release date become available.” referenced directly from – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops/multimedia/opt-ms-teams.html#system-requirements.

Introduction
In May 2016 I published the following blog post entitled “Deploying Skype for Business 2015-16 (Offloaded) from a Citrix HDX Optimised Virtual App or Desktop” available at – https://axendatacentre.com/blog/2016/04/25/deploying-skype4b-2015-offloaded-from-a-citrix-hdx-virtual-app-or-desktop/. Suggested before you continue reading this post please read the “Optimization for Microsoft Teams” documentation on Citrix eDoc’s at – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops/multimedia/opt-ms-teams.html or study if you are pressed for time the below architecture diagram for ease of use, of the joint Citrix + Microsoft solution to offload the audio/video processing of Teams from a Citrix Virtual Desktop to the employees local endpoint that is required to run a supported OS + Citrix Workspace app + Real-Time Media Engine (RTME). I still encourage you to please read the documentation in full prior to continuing reading.

The Employee Experiences with Teams HDX Offloaded

Understanding a HDX Optimisation vs. Non-Optimised Deployment
Coming….

Pre-requisites & System Requirements
Coming…

Deploying the HDX Optimisation Pack for Microsoft Teams for a Citrix Virtual Desktop
Coming…

Suggested HDX Broadcast (Remote Graphics Mode) Policy for 7.15 Long Term Service Release (LTSR)
*Please be aware that Citrix eDocs is very clear when it states that Citrix does NOT support Teams HDX Offloading Optimisation for 7.15 Long Term Service Release (LTSR) as it is NOT listed as a supported CVAD platform, you still may wish however to test Microsoft Teams operationally e.g test out its impact on compute, I/O, user profile e.t.c and then purely for fallback failures aka NO HDX Offloading Optimisation BUT you will not be able to test the employee experience of HDX Offloading the audio/video traffic as it is NOT supported remember*). You’ll make use of your UAT 7.15 LTSR environment to be ready for a 2020-21 deployment on a supported CVAD release that supports HDX Offloading for Microsoft Teams, therefore use the built-in default HDX policy “Use video codec for compression” selecting  “Use video codec when preferred” which means the following “This is the default setting. No additional configuration is required. Keeping this setting as the default ensures that Thinwire is selected for all Citrix connections, and is optimized for scalability, bandwidth, and superior image quality for typical desktop workloads.” reference the 7.15 LTSR documentation at – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-15-ltsr/graphics/thinwire.html which will probably be ok for testing under the current release that you are consuming. Final Remember: CVAD formerly XAD 7.15 LTSR platform is NOT supported for Teams Optimisation. TIP: Definitions can change between CR vs. LTSR within the HDX stack which is consistently improving and being updated to offer better employee experiences all the time e.g introduction of net new H.264 standards so always be sure to check the differences between CR vs. LTSR and CR vs. CR versions.

UKI Field Example of an HDX Offloaded Teams Video Call
Pending…

Transitioning from Skype for Business to Teams
A number of few folks have asked the question can I mix and match Skype for Business and the Teams Optimisation Packs together? Its actually a complex answer but the immediate answer as of 03/08/2019 is below, BUT always be sure to circle back and review Citrix’s documentation for the latest supporting statements and interoperability at – https://docs.citrix.com around Teams Optimisation and when searching use “Teams Optimization”. Tip use American spelling for better results.

The response is complex and is as follows, answers received vary dependant upon your role Citrix vs. Skpye4B/Teams SysAdmin or Consultant. As I work at Citrix today (Aug 2019) lets focus on a Citrix based role to Teams response:

(1) Complete LOB app readiness of Teams including new HDX services/API’s to enable HDX Offloading within a the master image but hidden + unavailable using techniques like disabling the services for each (whatever you prefer), Citrix app layering, MSFT app masking e.t.c. TIP: Pay attention to understand the compute utilisation differences between Teams vs. Skype4B there is a difference.

(2) I still need to push out the required RTME to all employee end-points so I don’t want to break the employee experience while we transition to Teams. It is expected to have backwards compatible within Citrix Workspace app for older Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) versions check eDocs for the backwards compatibility.

(3) I only want to transition employees by AD or Citrix Delivery group (department, trusted test groups e.t.c) to Teams based upon point 2 and perform a staggered canary rollout like Citrix Cloud does for each of its services.

(4) The person(s) within the Skype for Business/Teams based role(s) need to setup/conf and then test the audio/video codecs prior to enabling Teams at a company wide scale, for me personally this point is actually the most critical because as you offloading the audio/video to the end-point when using HDX Offloading the back-end compute + network resources low aka aren’t taken any much of a real hit HOWEVER if the HDX Offloading fails then you really, really need to understand the impact of processing of the A/V within the Citrix session and what affect it will have on the employees experience so when he/she is completed there final tests, you should prior to a final rollout perform a test side by side two identical end-points one optimised and the other un-optimised and be sure to capture the compute + network requirements client and server side, including the network traffic and score the experience out of 10 for voice and video, the test should be done with wired (where possible today), wireless (Wi-Fi) and 4G internet connectivity in two separate locations an Office (think QoS) and at home (no QoS).

(5) Once you have the results from point 4 you may want to re-evaluate your existing HDX Broadcast policies (remote graphics mode e.t.c) and take into account a fall-back scenario if HDX Offloading fails whatever the reason, you may also prefer to leave it as is, however I would strongly suggest creating an emergency fallback HDX Broadcast policy stack but it should be DISABLED and only manually pushed out only if required. The fallback HDX Broadcast policy stack is to preserve the employee experience as best you can if something goes wrong and when I mean something goes wrong I mean a non-Citrix update breaks the optimisation somehow as in reality the Citrix components e.g VDA, HDX Services/API, RTME and Citrix Workspace app are less likely to change within a 12 month period.

Suggested “Balanced” HDX Broadcast (Remote Graphics Mode) Policy for Fallback
In 2016 I proposed the following HDX policy for remote graphics “Use video codec for compression” to be set to “For actively changing regions” to preserve the employee experience in a fallback scenario, its now 2019 and my Suggested HDX policy remains unchanged as long as the key goal is to preserve the employee experience to meet that HD experience and it will come at a back-end compute + network traffic spike, including increased network traffic between server and client to process the video H.264/H.265 streams.

Once upon a time I was a SysAdmin and still am at my core so I’ll have an emergency HDX policy in place BUT disabled I call it “HDX Adaptive Display v2 (Balanced)” you configure it as follows selecting the following HDX policies in Studio:

1.”Use video codec for compression” then select  “For actively changing regions
2. “Preferred color depth for simple graphics” then select “16 bits per pixel” and also try 24.
3. Select “Frames Per Second” and select the target FPS to circa 25 from the default which is 30.

NEW 11/10/2019 you could look to utilise “Progressive Mode” – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops/graphics/thinwire.html#progressive-mode, I have not tested this myself yet however it may work for your organisation if you already have it in-place actively.

I wrote a myCUGC article entitled “HDX Leading Best Practices for your Modern Secure Workspace” at – https://www.mycugc.org/blogs/cugc-blogs/2017/09/15/hdx-leading-best-practices-for-your-modern-secure which has some interesting thoughts and insights from nearly 2 years ago which you may find useful and yes I will write an updated article this year time permitting to complete my testing which requires extensive field testing with different devices I don’t just use a lab + network at home, I base 95% of all my article suggestions of what/how to configure settings vs. practises from my personal lab hosted in AWS EC2 in N.Virginia to delivered to end-points in the City of and Greater London, England so its not definitely poppy cop its real world + life scenarios and use cases that I test.

Suggested “Preferred” HDX Broadcast/RealTime/MediaStream (Remote Graphics Mode, Audio and Video) Policy inclusive of Fallback
YES I am contradicting the above suggested HDX Broadcast fallback policy, which I have now renamed to “Balanced” from my initial post and why it still remains is that it will support organisations of any size vs. scale vs. deployment rollout vs. connected devices supporting a balance between video, audio and the remoted display so when an outage occurs and neither I nor will you know what its going to be impacted for example it could be 1x MPLS circuit failure (tip check out Citrix SD-WAN link bonding demo from Jan 2016 vs. case study vs. product page) vs. degradation of all internet circuits due to bad BGP route injections, you get the idea. I’m cautious being an ex-SysAdmin/Consultant and therefore I will summary the key differentiators from my own perspectives as follows in order:

1. How important is the employee experience? For me personally this is always #1 as today’s 2019 reality, employees want an HD 4K experience consistently therefore my personal advise is utilise the built-in default HDX policies within the Current Release (CR) typically minus 2/3 of current CVAD release with your desired HDX employee experience policy tweaks.
2. Once you understand how the humans (employees) within your organisation work using Skype for Business vs. Teams you will have better context as to the WHAT should be in your fallback policy for DR, business continuity or just individual employee devices going into fallback mode. For example understanding your employees is key lets take a look at a practical example by industry vertical, a call centre employee is more interested in better audio quality with customers vs. a clinician on a video call discussing a patients surgical/recovery plan looking at patient records.
3. Re-evaluate once every 3-4 months by asking, polling quick surveys and looking at the metrics made available in both Skype for Business vs. Teams as lets be honest its not a light switch its a journey from one to the other.

Now that you understand your humans (employees) keeping point 3 in mind and begin building out your HDX employee experience policy which most likely be the using the defaults in the 19XN releases as the HDX product management team have done an brilliant job working with engineering decreasing the amount of toggles and dials to tweak the HDX protocol and its now these days automatically adapting and adjusting to maintain the human (employee) experience.

1.”Use video codec for compression” then select  “Use video codec when preferred
2. Select “Frames Per Second” use the default which is 30 or increase up to a maximum of 60.
3. Select “Visual quality” set to “High” going beyond this will incur high network bandwidth utilisation, but going beyond this is ok but remember if you are having continual networking performance issues unrelated to Citrix or the HDX offloading capability and employee experience has decreased overall think about a micro change for the current window and then revert. An example of using “Always lossless” is the clinician use case described above.

What Supported Hardware Can I Use With Microsoft Teams?
Strongly suggested to only use Microsoft Teams certified headsets, speaker phones, conference phones, cameras e.t.c are listed and available at – https://products.office.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/across-devices/devices. Are my existing Citrix Ready thin clients, headsets, cameras e.t.c using with Skype for Business using Citrix’s HDX Offloading capability compatible? You will need to check with your vendor for there support status with the new optimisation pack for Teams and Microsoft Teams as there have been changes made from both Citrix + Microsoft.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Employee Personalisation Experience in Citrix Workspace

The Citrix Workspace experience always employees to personalise there workspace beyond the enterprise branding that IT may or may not enforce. So what can a use personalise?

The following options are currently available:

First Name
Last Name
Company Name (Optional)
Custom Avatar vs. Initials

The following shows the difference between with(out) an Avatar and does make a significant impact even as a Citrix employee that its my personalised workspace that I go to get work done.

How do you enable your own personal Avatar within your Citrix Workspace? I will be honest its not obvious and its driven by the Citrix Content Collaboration (ShareFile) platform.

1.Login into your Citrix Files (ShareFile) portal e.g https://axendatacentre.sharefile.eu or .com
2.Once you logged in you should be taken to “Dashboard” UI and in the middle of the web page at the top you’ll see your name e.g “Lyndon-Jon
3.Next to your name it will say “Add profile picture
4.It will then open up the “Edit Profile” web page and within the “Name and Company Details” area you’ll see parallel to your name “Profile picture” select “Upload” and browse to the picture that you will use and select it.?
5.Your picture will be upload and a green notification will appear above (right side) saying “Your profile picture has been updated.” which means your profile picture has been saved successfully.
6.Next login to your Citrix Workspace either the app or HTML5 portal and you’ll see your personalised Avatar appear instead of the standard initials Avatar. Note I did find that Citrix Workspace app across all my devices required either more than 1x refresh to propagate the new Avatar or sign-off/close Citrix Workspace app and re-login at the change propagated.

In closing you now have a personalised avatar within your Citrix Workspace available across all your devices as seen below, although I primarily use Apple devices you can see the experience persists from a HTML5 browser to the mobile and desktop apps for Citrix Workspace.

I have not checked what feature entitlement is required but considering that you personalise your Avatar in Content Collaboration its a little obvious at a glance, I will update this article in the future once I have fully investigate the entitlement required. This feature had positive impact on me that I believed a brief post about setting it up was a priority for me to share with the Citrix community.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Did you know that Slack is interoperable with Citrix #SecureMail?

This is paramount to my productivity as I can get context externally from Citrix customers/partners and internally switch an email thread to a slack conversation(s) that are far more memorable and collaborative and if I or the other person is miss understood in anyway we can switch to a #SlackCall at the tap or click of a button and if necessary I can share my local vs. #virtualdesktop screen or view theres to get 360 degree feedback on a presentation, proposal e.t.c Check out – https://slack.com/apps/AAGN5FH9C-citrix-secure-mail to learn more today.

This micro blog post was originally posted at – https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6543957667881205762.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Setup MFA for AWS EC2

Why setup MFA for your AWS EC2? Its pretty simple in this day and age if you don’t setup MFA against your AWS EC2 account(s) remember if any of your account(s) become compromised the hacker/intruder can consume virtually an unlimited number of EC2 resources that bills directly to your personal vs. corporate credit card (end of the month)! They can consume alot of compute even before the AWS folks notice abnormal behaviour against your account and notify you.

  1. Successfully login into your AWS EC2 account e.g https://console.aws.amazon.com/console/home?nc2=h_ct&src=header-signin&region=us-east-1 and under your name select the drop menu and next select “My Security Credentials” e.g https://console.aws.amazon.com/iam/home?region=us-east-1#security_credential.
  2. On the “Your Security Credentials” select beneath password “Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  3. Select the large “Active MFA” blue button.
  4. You now have three options available to you to setup MFA against your AWS EC2 account which includes as of 30/12/2018 “Virtual MFA device“; “U2F security key” and “Other hardware MFA device“.
  5. If you consuming your current AWS EC2 account as a home vs. test lab then select option one which is “Virtual MFA device” its simple and free to consume and provides that extra level of security prior to aiming for UAT vs. pilot workloads of/for anything. This option supports the “TOTP: Time-Based One-Time Password Algorithm” – https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6238.
  6. Check the app compatible list to find a suitable app for your chosen platform of choice. In my case I choose “Google Authenticator for iOS” e.g https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/google-authenticator/id388497605?mt=8, which I downloaded.
  7. Now open up the app to begin the setup process and select to “Enable/Allow” the “Google Authenticator” to access your camera. NOTE: It needs access otherwise you cant scan the generated QR code on the AWS EC2 web page coming up.
  8. You can choose to scan a QR code ( my preferred choice) or type a secret key. Now select “Show QR code” in blue which will generate and display a unique QR Code for you to scan with the “Google Authenticator” app.
  9. Once scanned you’ll need to be patient and enter in 2x MFA codes. Once you have completed this step select “Assign MFA” the blue button and you should receive an onscreen notification stating that you have successfully setup and assigned a virtual MFA and select “Close”.
  10. You will be now be prompted to login using your username, passwd and a one-time-token (OTT)

AWS have simple yet affective overview of the available MFA form factors at – https://aws.amazon.com/iam/details/mfa/. Finally if the above overview is not clear enough check the following AWS video below explaining how to enable MFA against your AWS EC2 account.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

How vs. where I worked from in 2018

I’m often asked why Citrix? The answer can be a simple vs. complex one, therefore I choose to demonstrate why Citrix through proactive evangelism by recording myself using my Citrix Workspace actively through-out the year, which initially began in 2016 and lead to the original How vs. where I worked from in 2017 video available at – https://twitter.com/lyndonjonmartin/status/949316537021812736.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Apple FaceID Authentication for Citrix Workspace app on iOS Devices

I recently moved from iPhone 5S (Ja Ja or Yes Yes) to iPhone XR and thought I’d enable Apple FaceID as my primary authentication method for my corporate owned device vs. PIN/Passcode and … to unlock my device + Citrix Workspace.

I have to say I’m impressed thus far it’s a really super authentication method and defiantly not a gimmick! Example I setup notifications for Citrix Secure Mail with the Show Previews set to “When Unlocked (Default)” this means that when an unknown vs. family individual picks up my iPhone they’ll see a Secure Mail badge with just “Notification” as the message see below.

However when I pick up the iPhone I see something quiet different, as you’ll notice below. I now very quickly get the right vs. relevant context surrounding the email(s) content sent, therefore I am better informed to decide when to respond e.g right now, in a few minutes or later dependant upon the activity/task that I am busy with, within my current Citrix Workplace setting e.g Citrix Paddington office, London tube vs. bus, Train up north to Manchester e.t.c as at Citrix it’s recognised that work is not a place anymore.

Workplace setting? What’s that? 

Think about yourself, you’re probably consuming  1-2 LOB apps at least 2-3 times before arriving in your first workplace setting for the day for a meeting or attending an event? Take note you’ve already signed into WORK at what 06:00-30 if you have children or perhaps later. Did this behaviour exist 5 years ago for you?

Ok back to Apples FaceID.

I wanted to truly test, push the limits and capabilities of Apple FaceID as a primary authentication method for my Citrix Workspace + Workplaces going beyond what we all test it seems e.g different coloured lighting, in the dark, twilight, dusk, low vs. bright light and the list goes on and it all worked perfectly so great job Apple so far!

I wanted more, I wanted a sudden change in my face to truly push FaceID to its limits so as many men do in November I to pulled a Movember – https://uk.movember.com (perfectly timed) so I had a thickish but full beard + moustache which was timely for me testing its limits so I registered my face with both (yes it was passing the scratchy stage) so I then decided to leave it post Movember for 3 days to see if it was learning more about my face to better recognise me and then implement the dramatic change by shaving it all off clean and what do you think happened? Did Apple FaceID recognise me? Yes it did first time, great job again Apple!

So can you be confident in consuming FaceID for Citrix Workspace app or even for unlocking your iOS devices? Yes, if it’s a supported feature on your iOS device and obviously if your corporate IT policy allows for it by not blocking it through policy controls.

How-to Enable FaceID for Citrix Workspace app on iOS
Authenticate yourself within Citrix Workspace app for iOS e.g – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/citrix-workspace/id363501921?mt=8 using your current method e.g TouchID and or user/passwd/token e.t.c and then to enable it Apple FaceID navigate to the settings “Menu” tap your desired configured account or the default which is “Store”, next tap “Edit Account” and finally toggle the “FaceID” option to the ON or ENABLED position/state and then you are ready to begin consuming Apple FaceID as your primary authentication method to Citrix Workspace app on iOS.

Final Thoughts
I was not a fan of Apple FaceID initially when it launched as I wanted to do some homework + research it a bit more and see and hear what other peoples experiences where, but most of all wait for the technology to mature a little.

One thing I do keeping thinking about is that Apple FaceID lets you add up to 2x faces only on the iPhone XR*. I wonder if it needs to support up to 4x for family vs. 1x for business scenarios controlled by MDM/UEM polices?

I will continue my testing over time and circle back in a few months with a new blog post of simply update this and do more background research on Apple FaceID* but until then enjoy it, its worth enabling!

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix or Apple.

Simple Effective Rules for Public Cloud Consumption

Conversations today (2018) with customers, partners (current vs. boutique), consultants, ISVs and vendors alike have a laser focused attention (bias) towards business or digital transformation including the adoption + consumption or Public Clouds (IaaS) providers which in my definition by example are providers such as the following in alphabetical order but not limited to Alibaba Cloud, AWS EC2, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud e.t.c

I would like to offer some simple rules that I have see in action, understood and learnt personally + professionally from some engineers I have had the privilege of working with when I was working at a MSP in central London and through my own experiences. Some of those engineers today within teams run/manage Tier 1 IP transit carriers e.g the back bone of the internet and some of them actually in a previous life built the infrastructure to support these carriers e.g the data centres. Two of them also within a team (pre that MSP) built world class banking trader platforms so resilient + fast it still blows my mind way today writing this sentence thinking about those conversations so YES I have learnt alot from some exceptionally talented individuals, my own observations + experiences + mistakes (not major thankfully) and through customer advocacy which has also enabled me to work alongside some of the smartest people on the planet.

Some of the technology from over a decade ago is only hitting the enterprise today which has made me think more about my technical + technology roots and what I call “the core vs. going back to the core” which is powered by Tier 1 IP transit carriers and Tier 3/4 data centre providers. Naturally over time I have created a simple but very important set of rules or principles that I adhere to and that should be understood by any organisation at all tiers from the CxO to the Head of IT to the Engineers or SysAdmins deploying, configuring and running workloads, mgmt. infrastructure (plane) before embarking on a journey to the Public Cloud vs. developing a Hybrid Cloud strategy.

Yes 100% you can consume Public Cloud however the follow rules must apply and will naturally lead towards a Hybrid Cloud strategy.

1. +Recognise that Hybrid Cloud (or Service) is king for all tiers
2. Respect (IaaS/Public Cloud) it e.g how it works vs. operates
3. Move only workloads that are *right vs. relevant+
4. Switch to PaaS services for mgmt planes to support business outcomes + transformation journeys again * and also only move WHEN * and don’t just assume it’s like a light switch ON vs. OFF like often most organisations + individuals think public cloud & PaaS is like.
5. Build your mgmt. planes if choose NOT to consume PaaS the way they would e.g local connectivity east & west + north & south consuming separate physical IP transit carriers and consume separate data centres + providers in separate countries if at all possible. However for some customers due to compliance this is simply not an option for them so deploy this strategy in country well over the minimum required distance by certification vs. compliance.
6. Your core + critical LOB apps should be able to with stand both minor and major outages of any type while keeping your business operating and transacting with customers vs. suppliers.
7. Do not be afraid to work with a MSP the best ones become an extension of your IT team which is very important for several operational, compliances reasons including continued DevOps, Transformation and Innovation. Note: The really good ones are NOT cheap but well worth it and equally VERY VERY hard too identify so ask!
8. Don’t dive into any cloud type model without a trusted advisory to support you e.g a competitor just did it, they saved alot of costs and improved share holder value by x we are going to do it now. They probably brought in a boutique advisory firm 12-36 months ago whom keeps them regularly updated with trends and outcomes at multiple tiers enabling all of there current success. Again ask!
9. Revisit your TCO https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_cost_of_ownership, ROI models – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_on_investment in a DevOps style approach but not as frequent as DevOps.
10. Sizing and scaling workloads based upon existing vs. net new traditional h/w setup & configurations just doesn’t work most of the time. I minor exception to this is if you are running a cloud style HCI appliances you are way better prepared all around but again don’t just assume.

Experience has taught me managing customers in a previous life that a managed public cloud powered by a MSP is very fruitful (follow the rules) for everyone involved as it enabled true live business continuity, burst capacity + agility where required, stronger security controls, IT skills of world class engineers, the customers engineering team has down time to support innovation + transformation and finally better overall app + infrastructure management resulting in awesome outcomes and experiences for customers.

I also quickly observed with customers they went from consuming the managed Public Cloud platform as a strategy play to it becoming the primarily platform of choice with the existing data centre fabric running in the managed colo racks upgraded with new kit to reflect an internal managed Public Cloud linked to the MSP’s platform or they converted the kit to become a DR site.

If you choose to follow a handful of this rules or principles at the start even during of your journey to the Public Cloud you’ll be a little better off I believe. I am a huge advocate of IaaS so its important to me that organisations are able to embrace it but on there own terms where it is right vs. relevant to them.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Upgrading to Citrix Workspace app not App at a glance

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Why this blog post?
I am excited its finally available in the Apple app store, and I’m an advocate of Citrix + IaaS + SDWAN technologies.

Getting the Citrix Workspace app
If you are looking to update/upgrade to Citrix Workspace it’s now available on Citrix.com at – https://www.citrix.com/downloads/workspace-app/ which contains download installers for PC, Mac, Linux, HTML5 (clientless) and hyperlinks to the app for each major app store e.g Chrome, Microsoft, Apple and Android vs. search for it in your app store using the search term “Citrix Workspace” from your smart device e.g for iOS https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/citrix-receiver/id363501921?mt=8.

Upgrading clients to Citrix Workspace app
Smart devices (Mobile)
The Citrix Receiver to Workspace upgrade on smart device(s) is simple, the app store of your chosen smart device e.g iPhone will notify you of any/all pending mobile app updates and you can simply tap to begin the upgrade as seen in the below short video. I’d like to point out this is my personal bring-your-own (BYO) device so it’s not enrolled into the corporate UEM solution as I consume + access corporate LOB apps when right vs. relevant in emergency scenario’s via my corporate Windows 10 Citrix virtual desktop (XenDesktop), Slack is for the Citrix Technology Advocate (CTA) and iGel Community channels and ShareFile Workflows, Citrix SSO is for testing purposes.

PC, Mac, Linux (Machines/Laptops/Devices)
Now lets take a look at traditional/current workplace end-points that we consume as when/how within our workspace. The example below depicts me as a Citrix SysAdmin (lets test this prior to a PROD rollout organisation wide) so download the Citrix Workspace app installer from – https://www.citrix.com/downloads/workspace-app/ for your choosen end-point, and be sure to visit eDocs at – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-workspace-app.html to check out the deployment configuration options for your organisations supported end-point(s) strategy e.g Thin Clients, CYO, BYO, Corporate issued.

What can I do with Citrix Workspace app?
Begin exploring the Citrix Workspace app web page at – https://www.citrix.com/products/workspace-app/ to learn about the business outcomes, transformation capabilities now enabled by IT (not just a cost centre anymore) and end-user value + benefits + experience. If you are short on time then watch the below embedded video which provides a brief overview in little over a minute, however if you do have time then please read this blog post entitled “Citrix Workspace App – Answers to Your Burning Questions” on Citrix.com – https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2018/06/01/citrix-workspace-app-answers-to-your-burning-questions/ and be sure to read the comments section at the bottom of the blog post.

For Citrix SysAdmins, Consultants
Download the “Citrix Workspace App 1808 Feature Matrix” today at – https://www.citrix.com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/products-solutions/citrix-receiver-feature-matrix.pdf to learn what is vs. what isn’t available e.t.c.

Understanding the Citrix + ServiceNow Integration

The following content is a brief and unofficial prerequisites guide to setup, configure and deploying the ServiceNow ITSM Adapter (Connector) version 1.0.8 for Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop Service prior to deploying in a PoC, Pilot or Production environment by the author of this entry. The views, opinions and concepts expressed are those by the author of this entry only and do not necessarily conform to industry descriptions or leading best practises. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Shortened Names
IT SERVICE MANAGEMENT – itsm
XENAPP/XENDESKTOP – xad
SERVICENOW – sn
CITRIX CLOUD – cc

Technology Introduction?
The Citrix ITSM Adapter (Connector) is now available in the SN App Store – https://store.servicenow.com/sn_appstore_store.do#!/store/application/bb5ca9a2db9bd700677d3437b996190f/. So what does this actually mean for you and your organisation? If you are a Citrix + ServiceNow customer the integration or rather release of the ITSM Connector allows for the automated provisioning of Citrix virtual apps & Citrix virtual desktops, including monitoring and management via the Citrix Cloud Connector. The offering includes defined roles and permissions for End-users (request new virtual apps, desktops or even reset there own sessions) vs. Administrators defined for Citrix (Consumer of ITSM, adds XAD and or Site Aggregation Service e.t.c ) vs. ServiceNow (Performs the integration).

Suggested read the following announcements “Introducing Citrix Integration with ServiceNow” – https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2018/08/20/introducing-citrix-integration-with-servicenow/, “Citrix and ServiceNow Improve Workspace Automation and Employee Experience” – https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180820005155/en/Citrix-ServiceNow-Improve-Workspace-Automation-Employee-Experience. Finally relive/recap from Citrix Synergy 2018 surrounding the initial ServiceNow Integration announcement below.

Architecture Overview

The diagram (page3*) above is from the Citrix + ServiceNow documentation which deceits the follow of communication and traffic.

Brief Deployment Overview of the ServiceNow ITSM Adapter for Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops
1. I would strongly advise that you download, read the documentation below carefully in the following suggested order as well.

– CC ITSM Guide* – https://store.servicenow.com/appStoreAttachments.do?sys_id=3781a14ddbfb9b002b9ed040cf96197e
– Installation (Guide) of Citrix ITSM Connector** – https://store.servicenow.com/appStoreAttachments.do?sys_id=7381a14ddbfb9b002b9ed040cf96197f

2.1. If you have not already sign-up to CC following the on boarding process carefully for new vs. existing customers – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-cloud/overview/signing-up-for-citrix-cloud/signing-up-for-citrix-cloud.html.
2.2. Refer to the ServiceNow documentation for on-boarding of new vs. existing customers – https://docs.servicenow.com/category/london.
3. You’ll need to obtain a “Client ID” and “Secret” from Citrix Cloud e.g https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/service/install-configure/cloud-connectors-install.html along with your AD user domain (You’ll know what that is).
4. Complete the setup & configuration of the Citrix ITSM connector with your organisations ServiceNow SysAdmin by installing the connector from the ServiceNow app store – https://store.servicenow.com/sn_appstore_store.do#!/store/application/bb5ca9a2db9bd700677d3437b996190f/.
5. Navigate to the newly provisioned connector in ServiceNow for Citrix select “Home” and complete the simple on-baording process which will take you to Citrix Cloud and you’ll see “IT Service Management Adapter” service available subscribe to it. Next return to ServiceNow.
6. Authenticate to Citrix Cloud from ServiceNow entering the pre-created “Client ID” and “Secret” and once authed its IMPORTANT select the CORRECT “Customer ID” and commit.
7. You can now utilise the available ServiceNow Sysadmin tools to configure your chosen XAD environment. See listed documentation links for details for configuring for XAD Service however for now I am going to focus on on-premises XAD environment integration which requires the use of the Site Aggregation feature available from Citrix Cloud – https://citrix.cloud.com/. To setup Site Aggregation following this eDocs article – “Add an on-premises Site to Citrix Workspace” – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-cloud/workspaces/add-on-premises-site.html, note you will need to install + deploy the Citrix Cloud Connector within your resource location to communicate with the XAD environment on-premsies e.g 7.x FMA Site (NOTE: Full XAD SysAdmin credentials are required!) which needs to be added under the IT Service Management Adapter Service in CC. You can now return to the ServiceNow Sysadmin tools for the Citrix ITSM and begin configuring for Citrix virtual apps & desktops as page 5 of the installation guide**

I’ll publish a more detailed blog post in a follow-up blog article or I may update this blog post so stay tuned folks.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.