Recap: CUGC XL in Louisville, October 2022

by Stuart Donnelson, CTA & Indianapolis CUGC leader

Wow! I can’t believe 2022 is almost over, and CUGC XL in Louisville, KY is in the books! It was another fabulous event, and we couldn’t have asked for a better venue. It still feels strange that we are finally moving back to in-person events after so much time in the virtual world, and it has certainly been refreshing to see everyone in person again.

Our first two in-person CUGC XLs of the year (Kansas City and New York City) were fantastic, and I encourage you to check out the CUGC blog for recaps of both. CUGC XL in Louisville was hosted at the Muhammad Ali Center downtown, which offered a gorgeous view of the Ohio River and provided a truly unique experience for attendees. If you’ve never visited, I’d highly suggest checking it out. There are some great exhibits, and it was a fitting place to host our final CUGC XL event of the year. Mohammad Ali spent a great deal of time leveraging his amazing career in boxing as a catalyst to do some great things for the world in the hopes that it would inspire others to do the same. You can see the same “servant heart” in the staff at CUGC and in all our local leaders who give up their free time and energy to make our CUGC events, regional meetings, and community so great!

CUGC XL Louisville Recap:

Like the other XL events this year, we were fortunate to have some great sessions from our guest speakers and from sponsors. Citrix, ControlUp, Google Chrome OS, IGEL, eG Innovations, Goliath Technologies, Automai, Liquidware, and Flexxible IT provided technical dives into their product suites (not to mention some awesome swag). I know we say it all the time, but we can’t thank our sponsors enough for their continued support year after year. We couldn’t do these events without you!

Our first guest speaker, Tom Pesce, an award-winning magician, mentalist, and 20-year veteran New York State educator, spoke to us about creating elite teams and cultures within our organizations by being willing to set yourself apart from others and developing a must-have arsenal of tools to dominate in our fields. Tom did a fantastic job weaving the keynote message within an interactive, audience-driven magic show. I was amazed at his sleight-of-hand and mentalism/mind-reading tricks, and even though it was still early in the morning, the audience was completely engaged and having fun. It was a great way to kick off the day and was probably my favorite portion of the event.

“Citrix Session Recording” – Shane Kleinert, CTP

Following the keynote, CTP Shane Kleinert joined us to discuss Citrix Session Recording. I’ll admit, like many of you, I hear “session recording,” and my stomach churns a bit as I think back to the Smart Auditor days. Hear me out, though: today’s session recording features have evolved substantially since it was initially released in 2015, and Citrix moved from Smart Auditor to Session Recording.  As a Citrix-focused consultant for the last decade who worked with well over a hundred clients, not one was interested in using this feature. As a result, I paid little attention to it. So, for the uninitiated, Session Recording enables you, the Citrix admin, to record active CVAD sessions based on user, application, or server and then archive that recording for reference when you need it.  

Shane did a great job running through the latest feature set, and I was blown away by how much things have changed since the Smart Auditor days. I left the session thinking I needed to take another look at this product. End-User experience monitoring tools, in my opinion, often get overlooked as “nice to have” rather than a critical tool in your support arsenal. Shane showed off the new performance overlay on all recordings, which gives you timestamps and measurements on CPU, memory, ICA latency, etc. He also showed new trigger-based recording options that initiate a session recording for things like app crashes, URL access, and resource launches. He discussed how teams could use these trigger-based recordings on virtual channel events like copy/paste. Perhaps the coolest feature included in all DaaS editions is the pause/resume capability, which helps organizations deal with compliance concerns that were often a showstopper for organizations implementing this technology. If you’d like to know more, check out the recording here.

“Custom Offline ISO Deployment for Windows Image Builds–Fast, Easy, Portable, Sustainable” – Owen Reynolds, CTA

Next up, CTA Owen Reynolds joined us to discuss custom offline ISO deployment for Windows image builds and his experiences creating fast, easy, portable, and sustainable images. He took us on a deep dive into his methods for approaching image builds and his best practices gained over many years of experience in ensuring that your environments are sustainable. I’ve seen Owen present about sustainable implementations before, and this session didn’t disappoint! This concept is common in IT and covers the scenario of…” if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, will my team be able to continue with my projects?? All this amounts to having a very structured approach to testing and documentation and is extremely important if you work in highly regulated industries. Let’s be honest though, it’s just courteous to ensure your work can be understood by all who come after you! Check out Owen’s work on sustainable environments in his blog post here and in this CUGC user-share webinar. It’s a great concept and one that we all should be practicing.

“Citrix Panel Discussion with Sarah Vogt, Dwayne Dunivan, Brian Holzer, & Patrick Coble”

Next, a fantastic group of people joined us for our panel discussion, which is always a favorite format of mine. I love hearing unscripted conversations by our community members and wish we could do more of them. Sarah, Dwayne, Brian, and Patrick did a great job “pontificating” (Patrick’s words, not mine) on topics ranging from AVD integration with Citrix, the new Cloud Software Group, the return of the NetScaler, the concept of “Imposter Syndrome,” the importance of events like CUGC XLs and Citrix Synergy, and much more. Check out the full conversation here!

“Citrix Cloud Platform: What’s New and What’s Next” – Jose Augustin, Citrix

Our next speaker, Citrix Director of Product Management Jose Augustin, focused on something that’s always a hot topic: what’s new & next for Citrix Cloud. Jose walked us through the current Citrix Cloud offerings and his specific responsibilities, focusing on Cloud Infrastructure, Cloud Identity, and On-Premises Connectivity. It was great to hear directly from the product team, and Jose did a great job providing a technical-focused session. Jose had me at “additional Citrix Cloud logging!” and “easier licensing!!”Check out his presentation here to hear about all the newest features and get a preview of what’s in the pipeline for the Citrix Cloud Platform.

“Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon – How to Taste Bourbon Like an Expert” – Peggy Noe Stevens + Bourbon & Snacks

We finished out the afternoon with a fun and enlightening bourbon tasting session with bourbon expert Peggy Noe Stevens. An amazing end to a fabulous day – and very fitting to our Louisville host city!

Postgame Bourbon Tour

We started by catching a ride on a gorgeous historic trolley to the distillery. We learned about the past, present and future of bourbon at the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery. It’s a distillery drenched in the rich history of bourbon’s past that’s pushing the boundaries with innovations for the future. We walked in the footsteps of bourbon legends (Pappy Van Winkle!), saw an active barrel house, cooper shop and micro still-house. The journey ended with a tasting of Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye*, I.W. Harper Cask and Blade & Bow.

Thanks again to our CUGC members, speakers and sponsors for another amazing XL event! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2023!

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