UK Citrix User Group, Spring Meeting 2015 in Newcastle – Meeting Review

by Chris Marks, UK CUGC Steering Committee Member

The twelfth UK Citrix User Group Meeting saw us return to Newcastle and the city served us very well indeed.

We’d like to express our gratitude to our event sponsors – eg InnovationsfslogixPernixdataNorskaleAtlantis Computing and Liquidware Labs – in helping us to make sure this event remains open and free to attend. We’d also like to thank the most important people at the event, our community members who came in person or contributed by joining us online via GoToWebinar.

There was a slant towards application delivery in this meeting and we saw some great presentations and discussions around this topic and much more besides. Like other recent meetings, we broadcast the event via a GoToWebinar session to allow attendees to share the love by connecting remotely. On the whole, this again went well, though some technical improvements can certainly be made to enable more of you to enjoy these meetings in full. This is something we’ll continue to work on.

We began with a rapid fire summary of the developments Citrix has announced in the last quarter. This included: the acquisition of Sanbolic, XenServer 6.5, Receiver X1 Tech Preview, the X1 mouse, XenMobile 10, FP1 for XD/XA 7.6 and receiver for Chrome 1.6
More information on these announcements can be found here.

The running order then proceeded as follows:

Know your Enemies – Application Analysis in Virtualized EnvironmentsJames Rankin: Independent Consultant
James focused in on how insight is gained into your existing application estate with a comparison of a number of solutions which can be used to help organisations do this. James delivered a common sense presentation with a “no one size fits all” message with some great examples and recommendations.

Implementing XenApp and XenDesktop Case Study: Dan Butler: Virgin Money
Dan very kindly agreed to share his experiences in transforming the applications delivery at Virgin Money for both existing environments and brand new commercial ventures they are undertaking. With user performance being the focus, Dan discussed the key contributors in the solution they have implemented.

An Introduction to FSLogix: Jim MoyleCitrix Technology Professional
Jim always tells it as he sees it and in his presentation on Platinum Sponsor FSLogix, an application “layering” solution which functions at the operating system level, was no different. He showed us what makes it a really interesting product, where delivering application versatility at the OS layer allows FSLogix to not only be hypervisor agnostic but also to operate on a fat-client architecture. He also stressed the importance of the acceptance from Microsoft that FSLogix is a valid, auditable way of controlling license usage.

Delivering with AppDNA : Sheldon Lachambre: Director, Product Engineering App Management, Citrix Systems
Sheldon returned to the UKCUG to press home the benefits of having AppDNA at your fingertips and how it can really help streamline the process of application management as well as integrate with a number of supporting technologies. Those customers with Platinum licenses are strongly advised to make full use of this advantage, including within your license subscription.

Key Things To Know Storefront/Receiver Deployment in 15 Mins or LessSimon Frost, Product Architect, Citrix Systems
Simon has as near to a rock-star status as anyone at Citrix. Over the years he has contributed significantly to the community and this presentation added to that. Simon not only highlighted the architectural changes in Storefront that have made it simpler to use but also the thing holding development back as well as changes constantly being made by other vendors which organisations such as Citrix need to rapidly react to, to ensure a consistent experience for their customers (example given of changes made by Google affecting operation of Chrome). This reinforces the importance of the relationships Citrix maintains with the other vendors in the App Delivery ecosystem and helps us all understand how constant the need for change is.

Sponsor Session: Nutanix
We then heard from one of our long standing gold sponsors, Nutanix who demonstrated that their army of hyper-converged specialists is growing by sending UKCUG first-timer James Sturrock to enthusiastically extoll the virtues of the “webscale” vendor.

Sponsor: Pernix Data
James Smith from Platinum Sponsor, Pernix Data. Described and demonstrated how this VMware-focused storage acceleration approach decouples performance from capacity and breathes new life into existing storage assets.

On Understanding AppVolumes Peter Schraml: Senior Engineer VMware
As part of the “the UKCUG is friends with everyone” approach, we invited Peter Schraml from VMware to provide a great presentation on AppVolumes….and this is exactly what he did! AppVolumes allows application layering to be put into place to deliver individual and groups of apps to specific users running on virtual desktop infrastructure hosted on VMware.

Sponsor: Liquidware Labs
Event sponsor Liquidware Labs was represented by Fraser Norman who educated us in how they are evolving their User Environment Management portfolio, including their FlexApp approach to layering applications. This drastically simplifies base image complexity.

Why I tweeted “My best user experience for me is #Citrix XenApp and @AtlantisSDS combined with @NVIDIAGRID and managed with @ressoftware” Thomas Poppelgaard, Citrix Technology Professional, Technology Evangelist
We were then on the verge of delaying Thomas Poppelgaard’s presentation as he’d not arrived from his mammoth journey including a flight from Denmark to Edinburgh and a car journey from Edinburgh to Newcastle. But as the words were leaving my mouth, in rolled Thomas – living up to the “Rock Star” persona of a CTP – with 14 seconds to spare. Following this dramatic entrance, Thomas went on to explain why the integration of GPU is becoming more and more important, including some interesting data based on his experience that it is becoming a requirement for users to have access to a physical GPU and is no longer the reserve of those using high-end specialist applications. Thomas promised some more GPU demos will be made available too.

NetScaler – An Update : Andrew Scott: Lead Systems Engineer, Citrix Systems. 
Andrew Scott gave us some specific examples of the impact of recent updates to the Netscaler platform, with some nice canned demos including GeoIP policy restrictions to restrict access from specific regions.

Understanding XenServer Storage Performance : Felipe Franciosi: Staff Software Engineer, Citrix Systems.  We then had, as every conference seems to have at some point, a slight technical hitch in hooking up Felipe, who was connecting to us via GoToWebinar from Germany (or was it Italy…?). We continued to have some audio challenges; however, Felipe’s content cut through this and he delivered some really great information around the ever-improving performance output of XenServer, particularly in the most recent 6.5 release including how remapping the network datapath into Dom0 gives enormous benefits. He also demonstrated various methods of measuring this performance ourselves. By the time Felipe was done, we were also left in no doubt that Felipe loves a good graph (or 3).

Sponsor: Atlantis Computing
We then left it to our long-standing gold sponsors, Atlantis Computing, to deliver the final presentation of the day. Andrew Wood was tasked with delivering “something different” and certainly did that, going through the answers to five specific questions which ranged from “Do fish sweat?” (they don’t) through to why so many CTPs are now at Atlantis Computing (they now number 5 worldwide on 3 continents).

Round Table
Finishing the recorded session was the obligatory “GeekSpeak” session where we recalled the topics of the day and specifically discussed thoughts and opinions from the attendees around all of the above and specifically how application delivery approaches can simplify complex app environments and how we need to plan for GPU to be a standard part of app virtualization from now on.

Congratulations to Sylvie and Ben who won prizes from PernixData and Atlantis Computing respectively.

Following this, a short stroll around the corner saw some further networking opportunities and free-flowing conversation, where the final topic of the evening in my particular social circle was “Egg in a Hat”. Interested to find out what on Earth THAT is? Well, come along to the next meeting and perhaps you’ll find out.

Follow the event on Spotify

Once more, a massive thank you to our sponsors eg InnovationsfslogixPernixdataNorskaleAtlantis Computing and Liquidware Labs in helping enable the UK Citrix User Group to remain free to attend and to be a totally community-focused event and thank you to the speakers and attendees for making it a truly worthwhile experience. We literally couldn’t do it without you!

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