by Alice Goldstein, Citrix
Ask the Architect Daniel Feller built a shed with a rolling roof so he could take a closer look at the Minnesota skies
Daniel Feller, Lead Citrix Architect, has built and led a team of technical experts to be the source of best practices for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop solutions. Each best practice is based on real customer deployments, lab testing and product analysis.
CUGC HQ: What is an excellent work week like for you?
An excellent work week would be one with no meetings or very few meetings. There is a lot of new technology I want to get up to speed on and see what can be done with it.
CUGC HQ: How and when did you start blogging and what bloggers inspired you to start writing?
I started blogging around 2007 or 2008. And honestly I don’t think there were bloggers out there that inspired me to start doing it. It was more of a need. At the time, we were creating different white papers, reference architecture, and best practices and they were difficult to find on the Citrix website. I wanted to share the information so I started blogging.
Over the years, I’ve added more stories to the blogs to make them more interesting and funny. That style I probably got from Bob Berman’s Strange Universe from Astronomy.com.
CUGC HQ: Can you give us some examples?
I am a big Simpsons fan and I would always try to figure out a way to tie the Simpsons into a blog. Ages ago I created a blog on how you categorize applications and how to best deliver each of the four categories. The first letters of the categories spelled out BART. So this became the Bart Principle. I guess Mark Templeton must have read the blog and just laughed hysterically how the Simpsons were related to it. And then I remember reviewing some of the education courseware and I saw the exact same table and the Bart Principle. It did not say the Bart Principle but people who knew me and the blog would get a good laugh when they saw it in the courseware.
CUGC HQ: You have a creative side and are excellent at building relatable technical programs like #AsktheArchitect and Tech Update. Can you expand on what helps you put yourself in other people’s shoes?
A lot of it comes from presentations I’ve seen. I get bored easily. And I tend to get bored when people go too far into the weeds. At this point, you notice everyone looking at their phones or tablets or asleep. There is too much detail in some presentations and you are completely lost.
I try to focus a single point per slide using a lot of pictures, and very few words. This tends to simplify things so they are easier to understand.
And a lot of different things I have worked on have been trying to simplify things. We have the XenDesktop Design Handbook and Project Accelerator. The concept behind both are the same but the audiences are completely different. You have to put yourself into the audience’s shoes to figure out the best approach.
The handbook was more or less meant for the architect who needs to understand the design, how to make the right decisions and foresee the impact.
Accelerator was meant for the DIYer. The person at the small company who needs to build a XenDesktop environment but they are not going to be an expert. If you are going to design XenDesktop, one of the questions you see is “How many IOPS do you need?” But most people have no idea what IOPS are. So Accelerator used non-technical questions to create a technical architecture.
CUGC HQ: How have you seen the mobile lifestyle evolve? Do you think people really take advantage of technology to work effectively from home or anywhere in the world?
Everything is a lot easier than back in 2000. Since Day 1 at Citrix I have always had a home office. In 2000, I could access most of my non-graphical apps remotely, good luck with Visio. But I would also have local apps and a manual synced copy of my data local for when I traveled. Then published applications got better so we could do more things, including better graphics. So you started using a virtual app instead of syncing everything locally. But I still had the file-copy problem when I had to travel, I would wonder if I got all the right files?
Now with XenApp, ShareFile, VOIP, GoToMeeting and everything else we have, things are just easier. I get the apps I need. My data is wherever I am. I don’t have to worry about making long distance calls. And I can have face-to-face meetings.
CUGC HQ: You are building Citrix solutions on top of Microsoft. What are you working on?
I spend my days working with Hyper-V, Azure and Systems Center. A lot of people don’t know about the Citrix Connector for the Systems Center Configuration Manager. SCCM is a great management tool for enterprises. So why would you want to not use it for XenApp and XenDesktop? Same for Azure, Hyper-V and Office 365.
CUGC HQ: What interesting implementations have you seen?
There have been so many projects after 15 years, they tend to blur together. I don’t really remember the “what” they were doing, as most simply deliver a desktop or an app. I more remember the “where.” I remember salt mines, in a broadcasting studio, an orange juice production facility, which smelled great, even working in the garage of a building for a few weeks. There was even an instance of working in a flour mill where you learn not to wear black pants. Flour shows up very easily on black.
Stay tuned for the Spotlight on Daniel Feller Part 2.