User Group Summary: Positioning your Citrix services with and around the cloud, Nov 17 2011

Nov 17th – the Citrix UK User Group was 1 year old. We should have had a cake: hindsight is a wonderful thing.

A more intimate affair this time, although still good to see one or two new faces and it was splendid to welcome attendees from the US and the Netherlands who’d arrived even earlier for the E2E Conference the following weekend just to join in and help contribute. If you missed it, you missed a treat: so as consolation, here’s a quick summary of what we discussed and give some food for thought. Topics included:

  1. Everything you need to know from Synergy in 900 seconds or less
  2. Fraser Kyne From Citrix makes it look so easy – how hard can it be to present like Fraser?
  3. Case Study: UPM Workspace Program
  4. Round table: “Delete as Applicable: Cloud Services will compliment/break/replace our Citrix services?”.

Thanks to EMC for sponsoring the event and to Kelway for providing the venue.

Everything You Need To Know About Synergy in <900 secs

About half the attendees had been so this session morphed into a discussion about the headline technologies/strategies that were announced in Barcelona. This may have redefined the use of “<” and “900”. We talked about:

  1. Is Citrix just about delivering thin-client server based computing services. Where the general consensus was ‘no, but we knew that anyway.. let’s actually talk about how AppDNA will be licensed’
  2. Tools-as-a-service was seen as ‘pretty cool’, there was discussion as to where and what this might include.
  3. HDX on a chip was debated in terms of its ‘future-proofness’, but it could be seen as pushing the boundaries of how services could be delivered to different devices and was seen as a play against PCoIP
  4. Cloud Client – if everyone else can “redefine” stuff by putting “cloud” in front of it – so can we.

Despite some quite damning evidence, I’m sure at no point in time did I contradict myself.

Citrix on Cloud

Unfortunately, Fraser Kyne was unable to attend the event – but he did pass on his slide deck. Fraser always delivers an interesting, well considered and useful presentation. We had his deck – all 1,000,000 slides of it: how hard could it be to make it as interesting as he could.

Very.

Still, nil desperandum cum dat tibi lemons vitae, bibendum pedica as my old English teacher used to say. What we did discuss was the impact on existing infrastructures and work styles to deliver on the merge/meld of the personal, private and public cloud resources that are increasingly common in organisations. There was discussion of the CloudBridge, CloudGateway offerings and the difficulty in ensuring adequate bandwidth to join those services together consistently. There was discussion on the rise of NetScaler which is positioned as a core component in delivering  services, and the difficulties in delivering to that given the lack of experience many Citrix partners have in selling that particular service in competition to other more established network vendors, and the difference between the teams managing environments – that the desktop/applications guys didn’t necessarily deal or have influence with networking teams.

Report from the Field: UPM Workspace Program

At the event in the summer on Application Deployment, Dave Holborn from UPM caused a great deal of interest with his way-of-working transformation project  – so much so that we asked if he’d come along and break down how UPM moved from a disjointed, stagnating, difficult desktop environment to a Windows 7, Office 365 based service using tools from Microsoft and Citrix.

Dave did a great job.

Key parts of the project and discussion points included:

  • The new way of working centred on a “traditional” Windows 7 desktop – with Citrix XenApp and App-V delivering specific applications. A published desktop is being tested using the new XenApp 6.5 ‘make-look-like-windows-now’ feature.
  • User data migration was handled by giving each user their own USB stick, then starting again with sharepoint
  • User profiles were kept local – there is no user virtualisation/roaming profile use.
  • Legacy Notes mail and applications moved to Cloud based email with Sharepoint

Dave and the team at UPM rolled out to 14,000 (yes, fourteen thousand) desktops worldwide in @18 weeks as well as migrating 19,000 email accounts.

A remarkable effort. An impressive case study. What was interesting was the commitment and resource given to the project from senior management. I would say a great factor in the success was the clarity of vision – this was not an IT project, this was a business transformation project with the whole business working together to help delivery.

This was the first session we’ve ever done where all feedback answers came back “excellent”. Thanks again to Dave. If you attended the event, we can pass on the slides for your own personal use. Please drop us a line at info@citrixug.org.uk

Round table: “Delete as Applicable: Cloud Services will compliment/break/replace our Citrix services?”

Feedback forms always highlight the round table session as useful. How useful? The venue we were scheduled to be in after the event rang me up asking where we were. I’ve occasionally been asked to leave a pub, its the first time I’ve been rang up asking where I am. But that was because everyone was having such a great discussion.

Key recommendations and discussion points included:

  • “Cloud” is not a strategy – services based in ‘the cloud’ are tools, tools in addition to what you already have. There are technologies and ways of working that are being used that could/should be incorporated (automation, billing, self-service). But  having a “cloud” strategy was seen as misguided. “Agility” would be the strategy, “cloud” as means of getting there.
  • Fit the technology to the business need, don’t shoehorn the business to the technology UPM’s example was cited – the “new way of working” was about collaboration, flexible working, innovation, choice. They did not start with “right, lets do VDI”
  • IT too scared, or too scarred of cloud services there was discussion on how services would be managed, maintained, supported. For many, some of the advantages (rapid expandability, utility compute, on-line delivery) were difficult to get caught up in. Many attendees had good and bad shared services experiences, which when it comes down to it, is what Cloud services are.
  • Connectivity is key discussions on bandwidth and availability for remote users and DaaS,IaaS solutions

And finally..

Thanks again to Kelway for making us welcome and providing refreshments, and EMC for sponsoring.

The next user group meeting should be in February 2012. Suggestions for topics include Cloud Gateway & Branch Repeater – especially on a technical level, migrating XenApp from physical to virtual, unified comms in XenApp. We’d of course love to let you wax lyrical with a case study – good or bad.

Hopefully we’ll get to see you at the next event. It doesn’t have to be in London if you can offer an alternative suggestion we’d like to hear from you. Indeed, if you’ve any questions, suggestions or just want to stick in your 2ps worth on anything on the above feel free to join us on LinkedIn.

If I don’t see you before, have a good winter celebration of your choosing.

Cheers,

A.