Citrix Synergy 2014 Review

My preview of Citrix Synergy 2014 a few weeks back highlighted the ever growing focus on mobility and data sharing that was certain to be a big topic this year. Following on from the purchases of Zenprise and ShareFile, Citrix have finally got to grips with integrating these products into the brand and with NetScaler and XenApp/Desktop – which have also seen several enhancements. So off to LA on a long Virgin Atlantic flight for a few days.

The first day keynote from CEO Mark Templeton was a stirring opening. Some great use cases for Citrix Cloud services (BT) and AutoDesk winning the heralded Innovation award. “Autodesk??” you say.. “The 3D CAD people?”  Yes Sir! That’s the one.

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Above, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton

An emotional speech at times, with Mr Templeton due to stand down this year – there were certainly a few teary eyes among the crowd. His successor may not have been announced just yet, but his parting words “Leave it better than you found it” will certainly be remembered.

The main Expo hall had plenty to see and do with many great products from numerous partners. We spent a good bit of time at the CA Nimsoft stand and got a great demo of their monitoring tools for XenApp and XenDesktop.

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A welcome product update due in Q3 is the latest Citrix Receiver X1. For anyone using Worx Home for XenMobile – this is will integrate the on-boarding and corporate app store features of app Controller with a built in Citrix Receiver client. No more having to configure two clients, one with dummy settings to avoid the prompts etc. 

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Other new features include easy branding for your app store. This was previously very tricky to do on StoreFront with hardly any on mobile devices. The new X1 will allow you to add corporate logo and colour schemes to your heart’s desire.

“Big News”

Another key announcement was Citrix Workspace Suite. This suite bundles XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile and ShareFile into one customer license for $450 per user. This is said to represent a saving of some 70% on purchasing the individual products. That’s a lot of product for your $ or £.

Back to mobility. Several really nice tools will be out soon for mobile devices including Worx Desktop which connects back to your PC and gives seamless access to documents. Worx Notes, a simple note taking utility that will give you access to save a quick note back to ShareFile or your corporate folders. ShareFile has shipped over 1,000,000 licenses in the past year and can now hook into GoToMeeting and other cloud storage services.

XenDesktop and XenApp have had some major enhancements to HDX with the addition of Adaptive H.264 encoding, double the speed frame refreshing on 3G connections, a reported 100% increase in bandwidth efficiency across a WAN for video quality and 10x reduced bit rate for HD video on low speed connections. Citrix certainly are not taking the foot of the gas on the virtual desktop front.

Putting all this together in a cloud infrastructure sounds daunting – or great fun if you’re a techie! To help with all that hosting Citrix now have WorkSpace Services. You can start from the bottom and use an automated tool called “Design and Automation” to build it all. Ideally a platform for service providers – it sure looks impressive on the demo.

Of course to access all of this you need the Citrix Receiver and apart from the X1 release, new HTLM5, MAC and Chrome book versions are able to provide even better user experience with added support for USB3, flash, webcams and  Microsoft Lync enhancements for Linux and iOS devices.

There’s lots more over on Citrix TV and YouTube   – for now, here are a few links to the key topics and announcements.

References:

AutoDesk Innovation Winner:

Receiver on Chrome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN3ORK8P9fM

Receiver X1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIjCXnPB4XE

ShareFile update:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJsrxns-BYc

Workspace Suite:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYVx7dyotN8

Works Desktop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTRmcSgsyco

What’s New in XenDesktop and Xenapp:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD9SdceZOfo

WorkSpace Services – Design and Automation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-l4cc0y-E8

Securing Mobile Devices – Use Case:

http://youtu.be/6yYOwfr-pYY

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Session Printers in XenApp 6.5

Citrix has several ways to enable printers in user’s sessions including network print server based printers. These are called Session Printers and are configured in the Policies node in the Citrix AppCentre Management console.

Printers can also be mapped using a login script or Vb-script. In this case, all the print server drivers for individual printers need install on the XenApp server of PVS image. Printers mapped in scripts are outside of the control of Citrix Policies and management.

By Using Citrix Policies, administrators have more control over when and how printers are made available.

For example, a set of Printer Policies filtered by IP Subnets could be used to enable roaming printers on mobile devices or laptops. Users would then find printers in session that are close to the department they are working in at the time. Other filters include Groups/Users and client device names.

So, you could have a Policy that is enabled by “IPAD*” for example where all devices called IPAD will get that policy – and enabled printers and other settings.

Client connected printers (not addressed here) are either locally attached OR may be mapped network printers on a PC or Mac client machine. These can be controlled in Citrix AppCentre Management and are known as Client Connected printers.

Citrix XenApp servers can use server printers in two ways:

  • Citrix Universal Print Server (requires UPS server and client install, on XenApp media).
  • Native Manufacturers Printer driver.

To install a native driver

  • login as an admin to the XenApp server.
  • browse the print server and find the printer (must have x64 drivers).
  • double click and install the printer as normal.
  • then delete the printer from the Control Panel/Devices and Printers – leaving the driver installed.

Creating a Policy with Session Printers

The three steps you need to enable Session printers are:

Create a new User Policy

Under Policies – select the User tab, and click on New – or edit an existing policy. Givr your policy a name.

Assign the Session Printers

Go to Settings and look for Printers

Click on Add/Edit at Session Printers – when prompted type the name of the print server – and browse the servers printers – select the printer you need.

Add in other printers if required – you can also set the Default printer as shown above.

Filter by AD User Group

Click on the item you want to use as the filter – for example, User of Group.

You should then test the policy by using a suitable test account or known user. If the UPS service is compatible with the printer – the device should be shown as an available printer in the users session and applications.

Issues:

  • Citrix UPS is not compatible with manufacturers Universal Drivers.
  • If the Citrix UPS Driver does not print to the device – the native driver will need to be installed. The server policy should be set to “fallback” to native in this case.
  • Some printer drivers may not be Citrix ready. It is recommended to check the vendors support or documentation regarding suitable models and drivers.

Some manufacturers support references:

HP Supported Printers in XenApp

http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/10498-102-649930/HPprinters_CitrixXenApp_1053.pdf

Ricoh Terminal and Citrix supported printers

https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX121349

Sharp

https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX135670

Xerox

http://www.office.xerox.com/support/dctips/dc14cc0492.pdf

Brother

http://www.brother.co.uk/g3.cfm/s_page/257810/s_name/citrixreadybrotherdevices