by Chris Jeucken, CTA
Last week (September 28th, 2022) there was another meetup of the Dutch Citrix User Group (DuCUG). This bi-annual event in the Netherlands has a focus on all-things Citrix (and anything related). This edition was once again fantastic and that’s why I want to share this recap with the rest of CUGC.
It started at around 9:15 with DuCUG crew member Niek Boevink opening the event with a warm welcome. He looks back at the previous edition (and the evaluation of that edition) and also mentions all the sponsors that make the event possible (ControlUp, Liquidware, Liquit, Nutanix, eG Innovations, etc.).
On to the sessions: The first ones up were Eltjo van Gulik and Ryan Ververs-Bijkerk with ‘Accelerate your Microsoft Teams experience in a virtual desktop’. Although Microsoft Teams was already a pretty big thing before the recent pandemic, it grew to one of the most important apps in the EUC space (or in most IT environments for that matter). Which makes decent performance with it kind of a big deal. This was the main focus of Eltjo and Ryan’s session. They talked about the setup of their testing environment and what defined a good user experience. The most interesting (well to me, that is) was the metrics they used to compare the different setups: ViSQOL (Virtual Speech Quality Objective Listener) for audio and SSIM (Structural SIMilarity index) for the video-stills. These can quantify the quality difference between the original and the ‘processed’ sample (after compression, transmission, etc.).
They compared Azure Virtual Desktop with Citrix Cloud and Windows 365 Cloud PC. It takes Teams some time to reach the best possible quality (about ten seconds or so) for that configuration, but after that, AVD and Citrix outperformed the Windows 365 Cloud PC (although this is still a fairly new product). Key takeaway was that offloading to the local endpoint gives great benefits. But that requires that endpoint to have enough resources for this.
Some pointers: Always use the most recent version of all the used software and drivers, confirm that offloading is enabled and be sure to disable hardware acceleration when not using a GPU. But I believe there is a blogpost coming up about their research, which will be much more helpful than I am right now. Keep an eye on go-euc.com for this and subscribe to their Slack channel.
Next up was the first sponsor session of the day: eG Innovations. Erik van Veenendaal walked us through a big part of the products monitoring capabilities. Of all the monitoring products I have seen, this one stacks the most information into their quick and snappy console. Although for departments like a service desk this might be a little overwhelming.
He showed us how they monitored the Digital Workspace, how they can perform Application Performance Monitoring and how they monitor various Cloud providers.
Interesting, quick and to the point.
After that it was time for the first coffee break. As usual at recent DuCUG events we were supplied with a ‘Bossche bol’. This is a famous Dutch pastry from the city of Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch). It basically is like a cream puff, although a lot bigger and covered in chocolate fondant. Great if you are into eating lots of whipped cream.
While eating/drinking/chatting for half an hour we were asked (or rather ordered) by DuCUG team member Kees Baggerman to move back to the main room. Here it was time for DuCUG’s Barry Schiffer. This year is a bit special for them since it is DuCUG’s ten-year anniversary. For that reason, Barry provided us with a bit of event-history and how everything started and led to the first meetup at the Cisco offices in Amsterdam which already had a larger attendance than expected. It is really nice to hear that they still are so enthusiastic about organizing these events and have no plans of slowing down.
The next session (titled ‘The different cloud: The true story of Server Based Computing on Google Cloud’) was something different from the usual Azure and AWS cloud solutions. Google’s Michiel Brinkman went through how Google was founded, where they are located, where the Google Cloud machines are located and what Server Based Computing on Google Cloud looks like. He talked a little bit about Chrome OS Flex, which you can now run on non-Chromebook machines. The enterprise version even offers support. A great way to breathe new life into old hardware.
As for Google Cloud, while it’s a valid alternative to the other cloud providers, Michiel did provide some drawbacks:
– No native file storage available (so nothing for FSLogix profiles for example).
– No support for Office 365 running on Windows VMs in Google Cloud.
– Windows Server licenses need to be bought from Google, you cannot bring your own.
In short: A great session about a Cloud solution that funnily enough doesn’t get consideration when moving to the Cloud.
Next, the stage belonged to Gaby Grau for her session ‘How to be a better ally’. Gaby took us away from all the technical stuff and talked about diversity in IT. She shared her experiences (and those of fellow women in IT) and reiterated that IT is still for the most part a man’s world and that this should change. This can be done by hiring more diverse, improving the job description (for example: remove biased language and only list necessary requirements) and improving the culture in meetings. Gaby showed statistics that women are interrupted three times as often during meetings compared to men.
So we still have a long way to go in this area.
After once again being ordered to the main room by Kees, it was time for another sponsor session. This one was by Liquidware’s Berry Haverman. He looked back at the good/bad old days where XenClient was still a thing, XenMobile was widely used and App-V 5 was still new. He walked through all the disadvantages of legacy apps and how Liquidware’s FlexApp Application Layering can help with these applications. Berry also mentioned that support for App-V 5 will stop in the future (April 14, 2026) and organizations using it should start looking for other solutions.
At around 13:30 it was time for DuCUG veterans Anton van Pelt, Patrick van den Born and Ryan Ververs-Bijkerk (his second presentation of the day). They explained everything about DevOps. What it is, how it’s used, how Azure DevOps helps, etc. They also gave pointers on how to improve your code when working in a DevOps environment and explained the use of Git. Very informative and they work together very well when presenting.
Now it was time for Thorsten Rood to take the stage with his session ‘Defending against the unknown: The reverse proxy myth’. Usually when organizations want to publish a web-based application online they configure a reverse proxy and call it a day. Thorsten showed us some of the vulnerabilities that are still present in such a setup and which mitigations you could use. For example, implementing Anonymous Authentication (like captcha), hiding your software stack, using well formed access, blurring website responses, adding a rate limiter to the authentication process, etc.
Thorsten is usually very thorough and this session was no exception. Check out his GitHub (https://github.com/t-rood/ADC-in-a-box-RP-L1-samples) to setup a configuration like this on a Citrix NetScaler.
After another coffee break it was time for the last sponsor session of the day. Peter Nap from ControlUp gave a live demo of Solve and Edge DX. Together with Remote DX this can be very powerful, especially when you have lots of people working from home. It is able to show the entire chain (from session host to the local (private) device) to determine where there is lag for example. Peter also showed that ControlUp now has the option of monitoring Teams.
Last up was CTP Fellow Benny Tritsch with his session ‘The future of EUC, CVAD and the digital workspace’. This was (in my humble opinion) the best session of the day. He speculated about the recent merger of Citrix and TIBCO, which will bring some uncertainty to the EUC space, since nobody knows what will happen with Citrix and its portfolio.
Also, while looking at the Microsoft Support Matrix for Windows and Office, he asked some valid questions (no support for Office 365 on Windows Server 2022 (yet?)). These kinds of things might be very important for the future of EUC. Although he was sure that this year won’t be the ‘year of VDI’, but it might be the year of DEX (Digital Employee Experience). Bottom line: As long as there are Windows apps, there will be a need for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops or something similar. EUC knowledge will still be relevant, but what EUC exactly is will change.
Since it’s a ‘Dr. Tritsch’-session, it wouldn’t be complete without some performance testing, so he ended the session with a comparison of the graphical performance of a local RDP connection and a remote Citrix/HDX connection. Even in these situations HDX is often faster. Although it very much depends on the available resources (on the session host and the endpoint).
To close of the day, Niek thanked everyone for showing up and reminded us to fill out the evaluation (which they can use to make the next event even better). But the day didn’t end there since the DuCUG organization offered a very decent diner for each attendee (if they signed up for it when registering). They also arranged four Formula 1 simulators, which were great fun. The goal was to set a lap time on the Austrian Red Bull Ring. The top 4 would then race against each other to determine the winner of the day. I managed to set the fastest lap but could only manage 3rd in the race and was bested by Jeroen Tielen and Wilco van Bragt. Although Wilco, as a member of the DuCUG organization, backed out of the final result which resulted in myself moving up a place.
In short, great fun, great food, great sessions and an overall great day.