Check out the top 10 features coming to Citrix Cloud by end of this year. 

Citrix Cloud was released in 2015 by Citrix and a lot has been done to improve the solution over the years. Citrix initially spent the first years creating the services, then improved scalability and resiliency to meet the cloud-hosted requirements. And over the last few years, Citrix has taken feedback from customers about what was missing in Citrix Cloud to prioritize its development. Since 2018, the company has been working hard to implement the most common enterprise features requested by customers. Let’s review the top 10 exciting features that are coming to Citrix Cloud by end of this year, many of which were previewed at Synergy.

 

10 – Citrix Access Control support for on-premises with StoreFront Sync Utility

Availability: tech preview and to be released by the end of the year 

Citrix introduced Access Control at Synergy last year to support SaaS and web apps with Single Sign-On in Citrix Workspace.

The next step is to bring this feature to on-premises customers who are already invested in Citrix products such as StoreFront and ADC.  During Synergy 2019, Citrix announced a new hybrid configuration that enables organizations to keep their Citrix StoreFront on-premises (including customized deployments) with no updates, yet leverage the Access Control service for only the SaaS and Web applications.

Support for on-premises will require the deployment of Cloud Gateway connectors to bridge Access Control from Citrix Cloud to the local infrastructure.

To help get started, Citrix released the StoreFront Sync Utility tool to synchronize SaaS apps from Citrix Cloud to on-premises delivery controllers.

Here are few links to get started with Access Control for on-premises SaaS and web apps:

9 – Support for Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)

Availability: H2 2019 (depending of Microsoft WVD GA)

Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD)
Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD)

Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is available as a tech preview for a few months now, and remains a hot topic within the EUC community. Windows Virtual Desktop is the evolution of RDS that will deliver multi-session Windows 10 exclusively from Azure. The reception of WVD was overwhelming and many experts are excited about this new solution.

At the same time as WVD, Microsoft released a preview of Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops or EVD (multi-user) which is part of its Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) strategy. This is the only Windows client version that supports multiple users at the same time, and it is only available on Microsoft Azure (at least for now).

Citrix will support Windows 10 EVD in Citrix Managed Desktops and Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops when hosted in Microsoft Azure.

You can learn more about Citrix and Microsoft Virtual Desktops (WVD) in this article. 

 

8 – Autoscale

Availability: already available and to replace SmartScale by the end of July 2019

Power Management is the best way to control your spending in public clouds. Autoscale is the replacement of SmartScale (EOL July 2019), but without hybrid support. All public clouds are supported, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, etc.

Autoscale in Citrix Cloud
Autoscale in Citrix Cloud

Citrix Autoscale is available as part of the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service and is also integrated with Citrix Managed Desktop Service. Autoscale allows customers to configure power settings, load settings and schedule settings on a delivery group.

Autoscale cost analysis in Citrix Cloud
Autoscale cost analysis in Citrix Cloud

It is also possible to have an estimation of cost savings when using Autoscale.

Both virtual desktops and hosted shared workloads are supported by the new tool.

You can learn more about Citrix Autoscale in the announcement here.  You can also find more information in the product documentation.

 

7 – Citrix Analytics for Performance

Citrix has put a lot of effort in Citrix Analytics in the past 12 months. After focusing on applying sophisticated machine learning to Security and User behavior analytics in 2018, the company is moving towards more insights on performance and cost. The company added integration with more partners such as Microsoft Azure, Splunk and identity providers. But the real attraction of Synergy 2019 was Analytics for Performance.

Citrix is adding User-centric experience scores to quantify user experience for on-premises and cloud customers. These new features in Citrix Analytics will help customers to have visibility in their workloads to isolate users and apps with poor performances. Customers will have to the ability quickly sort out trouble spots and mitigate them to provide the best user experience possible.

Citrix Analytics for performance in Citrix Cloud
Citrix Analytics for performance in Citrix Cloud

Citrix Analytics will quantify the in-app end-user experience (UX) by session, with classifications of “Excellent,” “Fair,” or “Poor.”

Citrix also added the Analytics service to more regions in Citrix Cloud. The service now supports Europe and APAC regions.  Previously, only the US region was supported.

You can learn more about Analytics for Performance here. 

 

6 – MCS support for Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Availability: Q2 private tech preview 

Citrix is all about giving the choice to its customers with multi-clouds support. Google Cloud Platform is a strategic partner for Citrix and the third major public cloud platform supported in Citrix Cloud. A lot of customers are looking at it right now because of its cost and features.

Google Cloud support in Citrix Cloud
Google Cloud support in Citrix Cloud

Citrix introduced advanced support for Google Cloud Platform in May 2018 by adding Power Management capabilities for GCP workloads in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service. At Synergy 2018, Citrix also mentioned the upcoming support for Machine Creation Services (MCS) in GCP, but this feature was never released. Citrix MCS provides the simplest means of creating a machine catalog and is built into Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

This support for Machine Creation Service (MCS) automated provisioning for Google Cloud was re-introduced at Synergy 2019 and hopefully can materialize in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service this time.

Note: Customers interested in getting access to this new feature in Q2 should contact their Citrix account manager or Citrix on GCP to request more information.

 

5 – Citrix Managed Desktops Service

Availability: Q2 2019 for early adopters and H2 2019 for GA

During a March webinar, Citrix announced Managed Desktops (aka CMD) Service, its new Desktop-as-a-Service offering. According to Citrix, Managed Desktops is the simplest and fastest way to deliver virtual apps and desktops in Microsoft Azure.

Citrix Managed Desktops Service in Citrix Cloud
Citrix Managed Desktops Service in Citrix Cloud

I reviewed Citrix Managed Desktops Service in few articles on CitrixGuru.com. Check out the following articles to learn more about CMD Service in Citrix Cloud:

Citrix Managed Desktops (CMD) Service is a promising all-in-one cloud-hosted service that can scale as needed, and for the first time ever, you can buy Citrix management services and Microsoft Azure compute together. CMD Service is the perfect example on how well-made and easy to use all Citrix Cloud services should be for customers. We can expect more cloud services to embrace the same approach with one keyword: simplicity.

 

4 – App protection capabilities in Access Control (preview)

Availability: preview

Citrix added the ability to block keyloggers and prevent screen capture within Citrix Workspace App.

These new features can be controlled via Citrix policies for regular Citrix apps and desktops and via Access Control for SaaS applications (both in the cloud or on-premises).

App protection capabilities in Access Control - Citrix Cloud
App protection capabilities in Access Control – Citrix Cloud

Not compatible with HTML5 and mobile versions of Workspace app client at this time.

 

3 – Cloud Connector maintenance schedule

Availability: private tech preview

The Citrix Cloud Connector is a component with a collection of Windows services installed on Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016 that serves as a channel for communication between Citrix Cloud and your resource locations.  Once installed, the Cloud Connector initiates communication with Citrix Cloud through an outbound connection.

Cloud Connector software is automatically updated remotely by Citrix Cloud and the process is theoretically transparent.

Cloud Connector Maintenance in Citrix Cloud
Cloud Connector Maintenance in Citrix Cloud

However, We learned over time that Cloud Connector updates are not always without issues, especially because they are unannounced and cannot be scheduled.

Update information for Cloud Connectors in Citrix Cloud
Update information for Cloud Connectors in Citrix Cloud

To resolve this issue, John Cattaneo from Citrix introduced Cloud Connector Maintenance during a session at Synergy 2019 to offer more granular controls for customers. Connector maintenance allows customers to delay updates to a preferred time of day per for each Resource Location.

You can monitor the health and pending updates of the Cloud Connector from the Citrix Cloud console.

Note: It is only possible to schedule the release for the same day. You cannot postpone updates to another day or another week.

 

2 – Identity providers and authentication modes support such as Okta, Active Directory + Gateway AAA,  AD + TOTP and Cloud-Enabled Federated Authentication Service

Availability: Citrix Gateway is in public tech preview, Cloud-Enabled FAS and Okta identity support are only private tech preview at this time.

Citrix Workspace supports the following identity providers and authentication modes in Citrix Cloud:

  • Active Directory (WSAD)
  • Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
  • Active Directory + Temporary One Time Password (TOTP)

And the following will be released shortly:

  • Citrix Gateway or Active Directory + AAA (already in public tech preview)
  • Cloud-Enabled Federated Authentication Services (FAS)
  • Okta Cloud Identity

Citrix Gateway as IdP in Citrix Cloud introduces support for Smart Card, Pass Through, Radius with Citrix Workspace.

Citrix also hinted at BYO SAML, Google Identity and cloud native Radius support in Citrix Cloud in the future.

 

You can learn more about upcoming Citrix Identity Platform improvements in Citrix Cloud in a new article, coming soon.

 

1 – Citrix Workspace Intelligent Experience (Sapho integration)

Availability: scheduled for general availability later this year, and included for Premium and Workspace Premium Plus customers

Workspace intelligence is, without a doubt, the most exciting development in Citrix Cloud at the moment.

Citrix acquired Sapho back in November last year and showed some of the integration with Citrix Workspace at Synergy 2019.

Citrix Workspace Intelligent Experience in Citrix Cloud
Citrix Workspace Intelligent Experience in Citrix Cloud

Citrix Workspace Intelligent Experience will have an out-of-the-box support for micro apps for over 100 pre-built microapp action templates for the most common apps in the industry such as ServiceNow, Workday, Office 365, SAP, Jira, GSuite, etc. Citrix Workspace intelligence capabilities can be turned on using the new Citrix Workspace Microapp service.

Microsoft and Citrix are partnering again for in-depth integration with Microsoft Teams. This integration will allow users to send micro-apps data directly to Teams and leverage the built-in Virtual Workspace Assistant created by Citrix. We don’t know much about the assistant at this time except that this cool feature can understand and respond to natural language inquiries from users.

Micro-apps builder tool for Citrix Workspace
Micro-apps builder tool for Citrix Workspace

Additionally, Citrix announced its Micro-App builder to easily integrate your own micro-applications with Citrix Workspace without the need to know how to code. API will also be available for advanced developments.

Learn more about Citrix Workspace intelligence here. 

 

Let’s take a look at some of the cool Citrix Cloud features introduced by Citrix over the past 12 months!