July 2017 – John Flanagan & Aaron Hutchinson


John Flanagan – Raleigh, NC, USA

Aaron Hutchinson – Olympia, WA, USA

What Citrix technologies are most important to your work?

John: XenDesktop, NetScaler, and PVS. I’m in their consoles at least once a day.

Aaron: Our big Citrix items right now are NetScaler and XenApp, with XenDesktop taking a distant 3rd place.

What current tech trends are you most interested in?

John: The Internet of Things is the next wave of technology that will completely revolutionize the way that we work and live. In the not too distant future, your refrigerator is going to let your grocery store know you forgot to add eggs to your shopping list, again. Your driverless car will not only be aware of the cars and pedestrians around it, it will also know that Wednesdays are the best day to pickup your dry cleaning because you have a meeting and work late. Your FitBit will finally be able to share data with your doctor and prompt you to schedule an appointment for something it picks up rather than waiting on the next yearly checkup when it’s a bigger issue. The future is going to be pretty awesome.

Aaron: XenDesktop is a big one–we are working to replace workstations in the agency with RaspberryPi devices that connect to XenDesktop. And, XenMobile.

Both of you stepped up to lead the State & Local Government SIG–thank you! What are your goals for the SIG?

John: Most of us in state and local government see the same problems and provide similar services. The biggest differentiator is the scale at which we do it. With Citrix technologies, the solution is the hard part, since everything is designed from the ground up to scale out quickly and effortlessly. I’d love to see more discussion about how people are leveraging Citrix to solve problems to help prevent others from having to reinvent the wheel.

Aaron: I think the biggest goal, for me, is to bridge the skills gap that exists between what skills agencies need and what they have available with staff on hand. I have found that, while the skills may be available to be developed, more commonly it is a trial and error process that public employees struggle through. If we can help people who have been thrown into the mix, we can foster that idea of community, and grow the SIG.

What are some of the biggest technology challenges in state and local government? And what solutions are you hoping to see?

John: The sheer number of services that we provide in local government can be daunting. Public safety, finance, revenue, register of deeds, human services, public health, libraries, environmental services, and GIS are just some of the departments that we provide services to on a day-to-day basis. Each department has very different needs and their own unique services to support. Innovation in a diverse environment like this can be difficult with the demands of day-to-day support pulling us in all different directions. Sharing ideas and experiences on what works and what doesn’t is an invaluable resource that a SIG such as ours can offer as we all work to simplify and streamline our infrastructure. 

Aaron: Compliance is a big one for us, whether it is industry standard compliance, such as PCI-DSS/FIPS/HIPAA, or local standards set by the state CIO. We have many standards that, as a public agency, we must abide by. These standards are not always written by people who fully understand the technology behind it. These standards are often times very difficult to adhere to at first, but in time, become commonplace. I would very much like to see the day where PCI security standards are not something out of the norm, where it is just industry best practice to build secure systems everywhere.

What announcements from Citrix Synergy 2017 will impact this subset of users?

John: Citrix Workspace Service looks like it could really be beneficial to smaller government agencies that lack the resources to manage and maintain Citrix StoreFront servers. The fact that XenDesktop 6.5 and the legacy Web Interface still have market share despite 7.x and StoreFront having been out several years is a testament to this. Having a cloud-hosted service such as this will really help a lot of these smaller agencies who have not made the jump to StoreFront much easier since they can still maintain their on-prem delivery controllers while leveraging a StoreFront service in the cloud.

Aaron: As a NetScaler administrator, zero-capacity hardware and flexible licensing I think will be huge. Because of the limited budget of public agencies, the option to purchase additional hardware or virtual hardware is not always available to move loads easily to the cloud. With Zero-capacity hardware and flexible capacity licensing, that now becomes less of a stumbling block.

What pie-in-the-sky tech innovation would make your jobs easier?

John: I’d love to be cloned for those times I need to be in several places at once. Who needs to prioritize projects when you can have yourself working on all of them at once!

Aaron: I think a huge emerging technology that would definitely make my job easier (especially as it relates to providing information to the travelling public) will be automation in the form of self-driving cars. With all the new technology that is going into vehicles these days, why we still have the huge amounts of collisions and roadway deaths that we do have each year is mind boggling. When we get to the point where cars will not allow themselves to hit other vehicles (which, in talking with some friends in the automobile business, may not be far off), my job will become a lot easier.

Tell us about your lives outside of work–what do you do for fun?

John: Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Melissa, and our two dogs Mike and Karma. I enjoy camping and hiking, so it’s not uncommon for us to load the dogs up on a whim and hit the road on the weekend. We’re lucky enough to live in central North Carolina and no more than four hours from the beach or the mountains. I’ve been home brewing for several years and usually have a batch or two of beer fermenting. How good I am is still up for debate, but I enjoy it. I’m also an avid hockey fan. From October through April, you can usually find me at the arena cheering on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Aaron: Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, outdoor hobbies are a big part of my life. I enjoy mountain biking and paintball in the spring/summer/fall months with my family, and snowboarding in the winter months. 

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