Citrix released Citrix Cloud platform almost 3 years ago. A lot has been done and improved since the release. But Citrix can do more! Let’s review how the company could make Citrix Cloud better! 

TheRegisterUK published a biased article trashing Citrix Cloud this week. As always on that website with articles about Citrix, the post was not constructive and was pretty much just a big troll. But it got me thinking about Citrix Cloud. And while Citrix has been continuously improving its product, we have to admit that there is still a lot to do. In this article, we will make constructive suggestions on how Citrix could improve Citrix Cloud. And because today is Friday the 13th, this article will include 13 things that Citrix could do better.

Thanks to the CTPs who participated in the creation of this wish list for Citrix Cloud.

Let’s jump right in!

13. Unify Cloud agents

Citrix Cloud requires different software that need to be installed locally in hybrid environments depending on the Cloud services you have:

  • Sharefile requires the install of StorageZones Controller to be able to aggregate local storage locations and also a management tool to be able to provision employees directly from AD .
  • XenDesktop and XenApp Service requires the install of Cloud Connectors (at least 1) to be able to bridge your local delivery controllers and AD with Citrix Cloud
  • MA Service requires to install an agent (Unix VM)

All above could be simplified for the customers by merging all agents into a “super-agent” with roles that can be installed separately or all together.

12. More Customization

Citrix Workspace should be highly customizable from the console and for free. Currently only few items are available in the settings panel. See below what is available in Citrix Cloud:

Workspace UI customization
Workspace UI customization

That gives you something like that:

Customized Logon screen for Workspace
Customized Logon screen for Workspace

And the Workspace interface can be customized as below:

Workspace interface in Citrix Cloud
Workspace interface in Citrix Cloud

As you can see above, you don’t have a lot of options available to customize Workspace.

Note: This item should revamped with the release of Workspace 2.0 promising more options for customization.

11. Audit Logging & Delegation

There is not audit logs or delegation of controls available in Citrix Cloud. You can’t get financial customers without these basic features.

10. Cloud native for all services

Citrix Cloud - Studio legacy console
Citrix Cloud – Studio legacy console

The example above is the legacy Citrix Studio console embedded into Citrix Cloud with HTML5 Receiver. It works and was alright when Citrix Cloud was released in 2015 but we need modern UI in 2018.This console often hangs and throws error messages because it is based on Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and has the same issue we are facing on-premises. It is even sometimes required to contact Citrix Support to perform a reboot of the Citrix Cloud Delivery Controller because it has become unresponsive. Clearly not adapted to modern needs.

Everything should looks like the Azure Quick Deploy feature:

Citrix Cloud - Azure Quick Deploy
Citrix Cloud – Azure Quick Deploy

The screen above has a sleek design which is easier for the customers. Cloud interface must be usable by non-tech people. Citrix should learn from Microsoft and Amazon on this point.

9. Make trials request easier and give approval faster

Citrix Cloud - Azure Quick Deploy
Citrix Cloud – Request Trial

The process to request trials and for some get approved is slow and painful. A trial request should be auto approved and delivered in few minutes. Customers should not have to wait weeks to be able to test Citrix products and all the features (even enterprise) should be available during the trial period.

For some Citrix Cloud services, you can’t even get approved without having to ask your Citrix Sales Engineer to enable the trial for you manually.

8. Simplify the services and the UI

Citrix Cloud UI
Citrix Cloud UI

The current Citrix Cloud interface could be improved. There is a lot of space wasted. The menu system makes it difficult to find what you want and key features are hidden in the sub-menus.

Below all services available with Citrix Cloud:

CloudEquivalent on-premises
XenDesktop And XenApp ServiceXenDesktop and XenApp
NetScaler Gateway ServiceNetScaler Gateway
NetScaler Management and Analytics ServiceNetScaler Management And Analytics System
WorkspaceStoreFront
ShareFileN/A
AnalyticsN/A
Smart ToolsN/A
Citrix App LayeringN/A
Secure Browser ServiceN/A
Web App Security ServiceNetScaler Application Firewall
XenMobile ServiceXenMobile

Citrix is planning to unify all its Cloud services behind the Citrix Workspace brand. I wrote an article about the benefits and the challenges of this rebanding. Ultimately, this will greatly benefit Citrix Cloud as the current offering is confusing for customers.

7. Simplify & reduce the pricing

For customers, subscribing to Citrix Cloud is a 1 year or 3 years commitment. Citrix offers notable discounts for customers committing for 3 years. There is no monthly, no pay-as-you-go subscription models available at this time. There is also a minimum number of licenses (25) required at the time of the purchase.

In Azure Marketplace, you can subscribe directly to Citrix XenApp Essentials and Citrix XenDesktop Essentials products with monthly billing but the features are limited.

ServicePrice per user/per month Commitement
Citrix Workspace$34.381 yr - 3 yrs
XenApp & XenDesktop Service$22.501 yr - 3 yrs
XenMobile Service$8.311 yr - 3 yrs
ShareFile Service$15.001 yr - 3 yrs
Secure Browser Service$4.501 yr - 3 yrs
XenDesktop Essentials$12.00Monthly auto-renew
XenApp Essentials$12.00 (+ $6.00 for each RDS CAL license)Monthly auto-renew
XenApp Service$15.001 yr - 3 yrs
XenDesktop Service$15.001 yr - 3 yrs

In term of cost, Citrix marketing would probably tell you that Citrix Cloud is more efficient because you can scale up and down as needed and therefore save money. But in reality, only few customers leverage that feature which bring the cost of Citrix Cloud up to more than on-premises infrastructure. For some customers, the cost of Citrix Cloud can reach 2x or 3x the cost on infrastructure located on-premises over 3 years. This is valid for all Cloud solutions. Microsoft make the same claims with Azure but at the end of the day, you will probably pay more.

6. Simplify the message

Citrix Cloud is is not like AWS or Azure
Citrix Cloud is is not like AWS or Azure

When working with customers about Citrix Cloud, the first half an hour is  always focused on explaining what is possible and what is not possible with the product. How many times do we need to explain that Citrix Cloud is not like Azure or AWS and that Citrix does not host any workloads for customers. This would be easily resolved by renaming Citrix Cloud to Citrix Cloud Services and have the marketing delivering a better message around what is possible and not possible in Citrix Cloud.

5. Make all services cloud-agnostic

Today, pretty much everything is available for Microsoft Cloud(Azure) and most are for Amazon AWS. We are starting to see features available for Google Cloud.  Just make all new features available for the BIG 3 on DAY 1!

4. Make Citrix Cloud console and provisioning faster!

Citrix Cloud console is often slowed down by unresponsive Resource Locations.

Azure Quick Deploy
Azure Quick Deploy

Provisioning with MCS and Azure Quick Deploy are often ultra slow. On this blog, we deployed both in Lab: Part 32 – Configure MCS with XenDesktop and XenApp Service in Citrix Cloud and Lab: Part 33 – Configure Azure Quick Deploy with XenDesktop and XenApp Service in Citrix Cloud. For both services, it took many hours to deploy the default configuration. And this can be done manually a lot quicker.

MCS Deployment in Citrix Cloud
MCS Deployment in Citrix Cloud

3. Missing features

Below are some features that are not available in Citrix Cloud:

  • Local Host Cache is not available in Citrix Cloud. We will talk about that one later in this post.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA/2FA) is not supported with NetScaler Gateway Service
  • Radius Authentication not supported
  • Enabling FAS (Federated-Authentication-Service) integration with Citrix Workspace for Pass-through-authentication experience for Azure AD accounts and likely other Cloud Identities by allowing SAML ticket transferring
  • HDX optimal routing is not available
  • NetScaler Enlightened Data Transport Protocol (EDT) Integration within the Citrix Workspace / NetScaler Gateway Service
  • Ability to have DEV/UAT environments running within the same Citrix Cloud account
  • Identity providers support: currently Citrix Cloud only supports Azure AD and Citrix identities and should also support alternative identity providers (such as Okta and Safenet/Gemalto Cloud)
  • Audit Logging & Delegation
  • Restart your instance from the console
  • Provisioning using PVS is not supported
  • No authentication at outbound proxies for access to the internet with NetScaler Gateway Service
  • Windows 10 deployment with Azure Quick Deploy

While it is understandable that Citrix needs time to implement everything in Citrix Cloud, that’s a awful lot of features that are currently not available. Some of them including Audit Logging or MFA are deal breakers when considering Citrix Cloud.

2. Make the transition easier!

Citrix does not really have anything to help customers making the transition from on-premises to Citrix Cloud. Thanks to the Citrix community, there are some alternatives:

Citrix should have a migration program to help customers moving to Citrix Cloud!

1. Bring back Local Host Cache

The Local Host Cache (LHC) feature allows connection brokering operations in a XenApp or XenDesktop Site to continue when an outage occurs. LHC was an extremely popular feature with XenApp 6.5 that was discontinued with the release of XenDesktop 7.0 in 2013. Citrix brought back a somewhat equivalent of Local Host Cache in Sept 2014 with the release of XenDesktop 7.6 and the Connection Leasing feature which had serious limitations.

Local Host Cache made a return with the release of XenDesktop 7.12 in Dec 2016. i wrote a post about the challenges with LHC in Citrix products a while back.

LHC was available in Citrix Cloud but was secretly removed few months ago by Citrix (without telling anyone) because it was causing “issues”. Local Host Cache is a critical feature that helps selling Citrix Cloud to customers and its removal made it more difficult to justify subscribing to Citrix Cloud services.

On the positive side, Citrix is aware that they messed up and the engineering team is currently working to bring back Local Host Cache in XenDesktop and XenApp Service in Citrix Cloud. However, no official date has been released by the company.

 

That’s all for my Citrix Cloud wish list. The good news is that there are some significant improvements coming to Citrix Cloud in the upcoming months. Hopefully, Citrix Workspace next-gen release will address most of the points discussed in this post.



2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with all of this… From a partner perspective, the notion of 350 seats @ $4000 for partner use/demo licenses is also a bit of a laugh. – Give Silver Partners and higher an instance matched to their Org ID with 25 seats to PLAY with. Then we can innovate, promote, learn and ultimately SELL and increase the uptake of the service.

  2. LHC doesn’t work for pooled/shared workloads. There’s no equivalent zone failover in 7x. This is a big problem for shared desktops, not so much for apps as apps does have the ability to set priorities for failover. For desktops you have to manually drag user associations from one zone to another during failover AFTER you had someone complain of failures to launch desktops. For global site deployments with a single cloud control pane this is poor. Alternatively you create multiple delivery groups which means multiple icons so not ideal

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