by Chris Jeucken, CTA
Last week there was another Dutch Citrix User Group event. A bi-annual Citrix event in the Netherlands with a focus on all-things Citrix (and anything related). I was one of the attendees and I will provide a recap of this edition.
As usual, the event was opened up by DuCUG crewmember Niek Boevink. After a sincere welcome, he talked about the evaluations of the previous edition. In this one, the session ‘Automation of Citrix Images’ by fellow Citrix Technology Advocate Chris Twiest was the top rated one.
The first session of this edition was about podcasts. As guests, they had Sander Noordijk and Eric van Klaveren from the Login Techcast (https://soundcloud.com/logintechcast) and DuCUG veteran Kees Baggerman from Frontline Chatter (http://frontlinechatter.com). They were interviewed by DuCUG crewmember Barry Schiffer, through which we learned a lot about how these EUC-related podcasts are being prepared, organized, held and published. An interesting session about a good alternative to regular blogs (like the one you are reading right now).
Next up was Ingmar Verheij with his session ‘20/20 Vision on the Evolution of a Workspace.’ This session was actually a combination of two sessions: ‘Evolution of the Citrix Workspace’ & ‘My Vision on Content Platforms.’ Sessions by Ingmar always have three constants: slick slides, distinct and to the point. The first part was about the challenges of presenting information to your users in the best way and how Citrix can help you with this. However, a couple of things fell into the category NDA and therefore I will not go into them. The second part was about Content Collaboration Platforms (like OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon Workdocs, etc.) and the future of these in the form of Content Services Platforms. The difference between these are that CCP are simply the storage of files and an easy way to share these files with other people. The other variant actively looks at the data in question and is able to generate metadata that will give more information about the contents: ‘What is it about? What sort of data is it? Is it text or an image? Etc.’ Machine learning will over time improve the accuracy of this metadata. These processes require a lot of computing power and therefore this will not be mainstream anytime soon. However, seeing how much information is created every day, it will become consistently harder to find the right information at the right time and in the right form. These new ways of handling information might make it a lot easier for the average user. Examples of companies that are dipping their toe into the CSP business are Dropbox (regular OCR), Microsoft (Cognitive Services) and Box (Box Skills).
After a short break with a cup of coffee and real ‘Bossche Bollen’ (provided by Remko Weijnen), we arrived at the session by CTPs Jim Moyle and Christiaan Brinkhoff called ‘Windows Virtual Desktop – All You Need to Know.’ As the title suggests, this was about the new multi-user Azure-only variant of Windows 10. They talked about all the known (at that moment) facts on this, RDmi based, virtual desktop. I will not be naming them all since Bas van Kaam has already done that:
They also talked about the future of Windows Server and along with it: Citrix XenApp. The gentlemen made some very interesting observations. At the moment, the Remote Desktop Services role is the only role in Windows Server 2019 that requires a graphical user interface. Chances are that the next release will not have any GUI and therefore no RDS role. The new Windows Virtual Desktop can take over this function. While this will make the line between server and client operating systems a lot clearer, it will also mean that there will be no future for Citrix XenApp. Then there is the challenge with Microsoft Office. The 2019 version is probably the last ‘traditional’ (perpetually licensed) release of Office and future offerings will be all about Office 365. With the knowledge that Office 365 is not supported on Windows Server 2019 you could deduce that after the end-of-life date of Office 2019 (in 2025) there will be no Office version with support for a Windows Server operating system. You could go back to Windows Server 2016 which does have support for Office 365, but that OS will reach end of support in 2022 (2027 for extended support). Of course, while these gentlemen work for FSLogix and because of that are now Microsoft employees, they made it clear that these are all assumptions and things might go differently in the near future. Nevertheless, it is interesting stuff to think about as an EUC consultant and brings up questions about the future of server based computing as we know it.
As I am typing this blog, the public preview for Windows Virtual Desktop is available and everyone can try it for themselves. One other thing they mentioned that I thought was neat is that you can create your own VHDX image on premises (based on Windows 10 build 1809 or newer) and upload that to Azure to be used as image for your WVD machines.
Before lunch was served, there was time for one more session. The Dutch Citrix User Group is an event that fully depends on sponsors. Because of this, some of these sponsors will receive a slot to hold their own presentation. This time it was ControlUp that talked about their product. ControlUp has been an important player for a long time when it comes to monitoring in the EUC space. Yevgeni Klushin was here to talk about the latest feature that is ControlUp Insights. This feature will collect anonymous monitoring data from all customers and among other things is able to alert a customer when their data deviates from the global averages. Take, for example, the amount of time it takes for Microsoft Word to start. If the global average is five seconds and the customer’s average is ten seconds, then this will be shown in the Insights interface so the customer can act upon it. Of course, they also showed the monitoring solution itself and it is still one of the best out there. If you have a customer that does not have any monitoring in place yet, ControlUp is definitely worth looking into.
After a (in traditional DuCUG fashion) excellent lunch, it was time to head back into the conference room which already had Andrew Morgan on stage ready for his session ’Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops + VMware on AWS.’ After specifically pointing out that he would be not be talking about VMware Horizon, Horizon Cloud, App Volumes, AirWatch etc. he started on what VMware Cloud on AWS actually is. He gave a good rundown on what it is and what it can offer. He showed how easy it is to setup and how it allows you to create whatever environment you like. Andrew also went into combining it with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, which is a supported solution. I did not take any notes for this session so I am hoping Andrew will do a write up about it.
After Andrew was finished, we arrived at the Bring-Your-Own-Demo part of the event. This time Koen Warson and Frank VandeBergh were the ones who dared to defy the demo-gods. They talked and showed their product X-Config. A web application (https://app.xconfig.io) that allows you to analyse your Citrix ADC (or NetScaler or Gateway, take your pick) configuration. The interesting thing was that you could easily see which configuration items (load balancers, gateways, policies, actions, etc.) were linked to each other without browsing through the entire management interface. This is something that, in my humble opinion, will make troubleshooting a customer-environment a lot easier. You do need to upload the configuration to the website to use it, but they assure us that it will not be stored if you choose not to. If you do choose to save it, you also have the option to share it with other users.
Last up was Thorsten Rood (who is a CTP for ten years now!) with his session called ‘Pretty Much Good Friends?! (WhatsApp, Business Contacts, Data Privacy and Citrix Endpoint Management).’ This primarily focused on using Citrix Endpoint Management with a company smartphone and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) related challenges that come with it. He talked about how WhatsApp uploads a list of all the users in the contacts list to determine which of them uses WhatsApp (for the users’ benefit) and how this goes against the current GDPR-law. Thorsten showed a couple of ways to work around this and the drawbacks of each solution.
After a brief conclusion of the event by Niek Boevink, it was time to have a drink and catch up with other EUC geeks like me. For the people who stuck around there was a nice BBQ. As usual, the atmosphere and turnout (180+) were very good and it gave the opportunity to expand your network in the EUC community.
What I like about events like DuCUG is that the focus is on the technical stuff and not on the vision of a vendor. It is open to everybody, experienced or just beginning and the effort that the organizers (Barry Schiffer, Wilco van Bragt, Kees Baggerman, Remko Weijnen, Bram Wolfs and Niek Boevink) put into it shows. In short: a great day.