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RECAP: Citrix Synergy 2017

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This past week closed out Citrix Synergy 2017, held in Orlando, Florida. I always look forward to the annual Citrix conference, spending time with customers, peers and networking with industry experts and friends. The format of the event changed this year with many of the announcements happening online at Citrix blogs as well as key pieces during the Citrix keynotes, which all occurred on day one of the annual Citrix conference. I think the format changes helped with the flow of the event as well as allowing external speakers such as Malcolm Gladwell and General Colin Powell to provide their viewpoints to attendees, which can relate to the Citrix message but also go beyond it.

RoundTower Technologies had a team of multiple employees in attendance who contributed to the Citrix Synergy conference. Our very own Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) Eduardo Molina made a presentation on stage with fellow CTP, Jarian Gibson, called SYN304: Comparison: delivering virtual desktops with XenDesktop 7.x or Horizon 7.x. The session filled up so quickly that they had to open a second spot for it.

I had the pleasure this year of being a host in the Hot Topic RoundTables. This is always one of my favorite aspects of Citrix Synergy, as I get to network and talk with Citrix customers about their thoughts, questions and issues with Citrix products. This was my third year having the opportunity of hosting a table. This is an open round table discussion. Each table hosts one topic such as Apps & Desktops, Cloud Services, Data Sharing, Mobility, Networking and Security. I hosted the Mobility table for two days and the Apps & Desktops table on the third day. The conversations were engaging, varied and dynamic throughout the three Hot Topic RoundTable sessions. The tables were manned by CTPs and the newly formed Citrix Technology Advocates or CTAs. You can learn more about this program and apply, if you contribute to the Citrix community. Check out Citrix Blog Recognizing our Community Leaders: Citrix Technology Advocates.

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I also had the pleasure of presenting a Booth Session with new CTP, Marius Sandbu,at the NVIDIA booth on NVIDIA GRID technologies, about which I am pretty passionate. Marius and I are both part of the NVIDIA GRID Community Advisors program. This select group engages with NVIDIA team members to help drive the future of graphics virtualization and cloud technologies by providing feedback on product strategy, shaped by their experiences and expertise. Marius and I presented the session on NVIDIA GRID options in both the cloud, such as Amazon and Azure, as well as GRID options in popular Hyper- Converged (HCI) solutions from Nutanix, Dell EMC, and Cisco.

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Some of the big themes of Citrix Synergy are that Citrix is a Cloud first company and a security company. The CEO of Citrix, Kirill Tatarinov, discussed some of the Cloud statistics—50% of companies world-wide will use some form of the public cloud in the next 12 months. Office 365, for example, or Azure/AWS will have 67% of their users working via the cloud by 2020. Cloud is an important part of the Citrix strategy. 

Kirill led the Citrix Vision Keynote with one of the primary announcements. The release of Citrix Workspace with its new unified logon portal, which can interact with all the other Citrix software programs and/or custom apps, by providing Single Sign On (SSO). So, Citrix will focus their platform more on a multi-cloud approach. While the controls are all cloud-based, customers who use it for apps, desktops, and data can place their workloads on any public or hybrid cloud, or on any on-premises virtualized environment. 

What is Citrix WorkSpace?

Citrix Workspace unifies all apps, cloud services, data, network and identity services in a secure digital workspace with a single control plane. This means you can now secure all types of enterprise apps, data and collaboration workflows in a system that is easy for your employees to use and simpler for IT to support. You can aggregate apps across different cloud services, federate identity across all of the apps (Windows, web, SaaS, mobile) and unify data sources, providing users a single view to everywhere they store files (network, OneDrive, SharePoint, Box). You can also eliminate manual processes and increase efficiency by automating business and document workflows—all without ever leaving your Workspace.”

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The Technology Keynote kicked off the afternoon, led by PJ Hough, VP of Citrix Productions. Citrix has changed its organizational structure to enable deeper integration and teamwork between product teams. Now all Citrix products roll up to PJ Hough. Microsoft is still a key partner in Citrix strategy and PJ Hough was joined on stage by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of Enterprise Client & Mobility.

Brad put on demos about the EMS mobility integrations for XenMobile and SSL VPN Client configurations. Brad demonstrated Citrix Secure Mail app and the Intune SDK, which is now built-in. This gives the ability to set conditional rules, offering greater control. You could, for example, allow a copy and paste between Microsoft Word and a message in Citrix Secure Mail but not into a personal email, keeping the abstraction from the personal device. This also supports per-application NetScaler VPN so you are only able to connect your VPN client when settings are correctly applied, contextually based on different factors such as location etc. 

What about Security?

Citrix is showing they are very focused on Security. The new MAS platform adds a cloud-based web application gateway and real-time analytics with machine-learning and anomaly detection. This, along with other security enhancements, helps administrators proactively identify and rapidly troubleshoot application performance and security issues across the application infrastructure.

In addition, Citrix will deliver a comprehensive Security Analytics SaaS offering later this year, and potential users who are interested can sign up here to get on the waiting list. This tool will work across all the Citrix product lines, not just Netscaler. Machine learning and AI are going to be big trends in the corporate world and Datacenter is another space to monitor for massive innovation and transformation.

Citrix is also releasing Secure Browser Essentials built on Azure, coming in late 2017. This tool is a simple cloud-based offering for secure remote access to the Internet, isolating end user internet browsing from enterprise endpoints and networks.

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