Last year, Citrix and Microsoft demonstrated how a strategic partnership should work by providing a sweeping roadmap that includes new services and powerful innovations. Our collaboration now extends across our Citrix portfolio and reinforces our joint commitment to help our partners and our customers migrate to the cloud.
Our partners and customers are counting on Citrix and Microsoft to simplify the secure delivery of apps, desktops, mobility and data, and they want us to make it easy to run these services directly on Azure. And we’ve been working together non-stop to make these promised solutions available, while at the same time, introducing new innovations to the products and services that we already deliver. From secure app delivery, VDI, mobility management and more, we’re making it easier for IT to provide people with the apps, data and resources they need, while helping businesses move to the cloud.
To make it easier to understand the scope of our collaboration, we’ve broken them out into related product sections, matching our promises with what we’re delivering now and in the next few weeks.
Secure App Delivery and Windows 10 VDI on Azure
At Citrix Synergy last year, we promised to make it easy for Windows 10 Enterprise E3 Per User customers to deploy Windows 10 desktops virtually on Azure using XenDesktop. Today, we’re introducing XenDesktop Essentials — coming soon to the Azure Marketplace — which provides a straightforward XenDesktop service for delivering Windows 10 desktops on Azure that partners and customers can manage through Citrix Cloud.Delivering Windows 10 workspaces running on Azure to any device has never been simpler or easier, or more cost-effective.
Last summer, we unveiled a planned Citrix Cloud service that delivers secure apps from Azure. XenApp Essentials from Citrix will become available in the Azure Marketplace, making it simple and easy for Microsoft Azure customers to securely deliver apps running on Azure to any device. The new Citrix XenApp Essentials Service taps industry-leading XenApp technology to provide additional management, user experience, and security features.
XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials make it easier for our customers to accelerate secure app delivery and cloud-based Windows 10 VDI, empowering IT to align apps and desktop services with business needs, while delivering the superior experience, reliability and value associated with XenApp and XenDesktop.
Enhancing Value for Microsoft EMS Customers
The expanded Citrix partnership with Microsoft included powerful collaboration to significantly enhance value for Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) customers with Citrix capabilities for delivering enterprise-grade productivity combined with device and data security managed over the network. This Azure-based Citrix solution for EMS will include micro-VPN capability for secure, identity-based access to on-premises applications on EMS managed devices, providing the most comprehensive mobility solution available in the market.
Later this year, the solution will also include versions of Citrix market-leading productivity apps, such as Secure Mail and Secure Web that customers will be able to manage with EMS. The XenMobile solution for EMS will also provide configurable policies used in highly regulated markets to enable stronger device level security, including the ability for IT administrators to enforce the use of device level passwords. For customers who need to manage Office 365 using EMS and Intune mobile app management (MAM) policies, Citrix already provides its XenMobile enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution to complement Microsoft EMS.
Streamlining Secure Business Communications with the Best Skype for Business Experience Available in Virtualized Environments
A key Citrix and Microsoft milestone last year was the launch of our co-developed solution for delivering Skype for Business in virtualized environments, which is the only virtualized offering recommended by Microsoft. Our jointly developed protocol was integrated with HDX, and is only virtualization solution that Skype for Business has been optimized to leverage, whether the customer’s infrastructure is on premises or in the Azure cloud with Office 365.
An insurance group in Europe and Asia has 12,000 users in production so far, while a well-known U.S.-based insurer ramped up over 1,500 users per week and now have 6,500 users in production. And with plenty of large deployments under our belts, we’ve confirmed interoperability with a vast range of third-party products such as headsets, webcams, IP phones, USB handsets, gateways, conference bridges, transcoders and recording systems.
Driving Windows Server 2016 Adoption
While much of our joint work has focused on making it easy for customers to deploy Citrix secure app delivery, VDI and mobility on Azure, we also worked closely with Microsoft to make sure Citrix products provided support for Windows Server 2016 as soon as it was available with a new XenApp and XenDesktop release. Windows Server 2016 brings some amazing new capabilities for our joint customers which are unique to Citrix and Microsoft, including stronger security, a better GPU experience with Discrete Device Assignment, and higher performing and lower cost storage.
Customers can now get stronger security with XenApp VMs or their Windows 10 VDI environments hosted by XenDesktop on Hyper-V® environments with the Secure Boot and Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM) support enabled, which works to block various attack vectors, from authentication and run-time compute to potential VM disk manipulation by bad actors. With both Secure Boot and vTPM enabled, customers can unlock other security features, which include Host Guardian Service, Credential Guard, Virtual Machine Encryption (state and migration traffic), BitLocker® Drive Encryption within the Virtual Machine, Credential Guard, Device Guard Improved Security, and Shielded VMs.
Windows Server 2016 introduces Discrete Device Assignment, which enables Citrix XenApp 7.11 and later versions to provide Shared GPU on Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure environments as well. As a result, customers benefit from a better graphical Office 2016 and Windows 10 VDI experience leveraging GPU on Windows Server 2016. The rise of Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions presents an array of cost and performance options to be considered when designing next generation data centers and clouds. Windows Server 2016 improvements in Storage Spaces now allows customers to leverage industry standard hardware to build a resilient converged infrastructure for their VDI environments to get lower storage cost and higher performance.
Accelerating Migrations to Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016
New operating systems, whether at the desktop or server level, and even new web browsers often introduce new features and code that can disrupt existing applications. As a result, those apps may need to be adapted to run smoothly on the new OS or browser. Whether it’s a desktop application or a web application that will be run in Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 or Server 2016, Citrix AppDNA can accelerate migrations by as much as 90 percent compared to manual processes, including helping to automatically detect application and operating system dependencies based on customers own operating systems builds and applications, including providing detailed issue reporting and advice to how to fix certain issues.
In 2016, Citrix and Microsoft extended their close partnership, so customers and partners could use Citrix AppDNA to help ease and accelerate their migration of applications to Windows 10, and Citrix made AppDNA available free of charge to all Citrix Solution Advisors to help migrate customers to Windows 10 VDI workloads. For Citrix Cloud customers, the AppDNA express cloud lab service was also launched as a lightweight high level analysis of Windows installer for Windows 10 compatibility. As Microsoft releases newer operating systems, part of the day-one support Citrix provides for Windows Server 2016 included work in AppDNA to provide updated reporting for Server 2016 migrations.
While Citrix and Microsoft have introduced powerful new services and solutions in 2016, we are just getting started. In many ways, the work we’ve done in the past year has built a foundation to further accelerate our joint innovation. It’s going to be a great year.
Author: Nabeel Youakim