So, what did you think of the show? (Citrix Synergy 2018 Edition)

My fast take after the first two days in Anaheim.

During conferences like Citrix Synergy, I’m frequently asked, “So, what did you think of the show?” There’s always a lot to talk about, but here’s my attempt to distill it all down into one not-too-long article.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was curious about several topics:

  • Would we get more of a XenApp and XenDesktop pitch, since these products are facing a lot more competition than they used to?
  • Would Citrix clarify their identity plans, and fill out their “Workspace Experience” efforts?
  • What would they have to say about EMM, and especially Windows 10 management?
  • How much will Citrix Analytics cost?

And all of this was on top of a general feeling that Citrix has been through a lot of rough patches in the last year, with the layoffs and CEO transition. Would the show have a good vibe?

Let’s start with the keynote. (Here’s my live blog.) When CEO David Henshall came on and started talking about millennials and mobility, I rolled my eyes a bit. But then he moved on to more standard state of the industry talking points, and I warmed up to him—he was talking about EUC in a practical way. And then when he promised that all the demos would be live and that everything they showed would be available in 90 days, the energy in the room (which was already at least decent) kicked up another notch.

Last year, we got a hard pitch on security, so much so that we believed that Citrix failed to connect with their core audience. This year, the keynote was much more relatable, but I still think Citrix missed an opportunity to talk more about their core desktop virtualization products. It’s great that Citrix is thinking about a broad yet cohesive product portfolio, connected by common Citrix Cloud services, but a lot of the audience was still there to hear about one topic: desktop virtualization. This same audience is getting inundated with pitches from competitors saying that they can do easier and cheaper.

On the identity front, I was much happier with what they had to say and demo. In previous years, Citrix talked a lot about SaaS and cloud apps, but not much about the essential connective tissue—identity management. This has all changed recently. In April, they announced SSO for web apps via NetScaler Gateway Service, and at Synergy we learned about Citrix Access Control. They’re still not saying they’re competing in the IDaaS space with the likes of Okta and Ping, but they’re finally offering enough IDaaS functionality to be able to walk the walk of SaaS and cloud apps. This is great news.

One of the banner announcements of the show is the new Workspace App. Except... it’s not exactly new and there was some confusion at first, so here’s how I like to explain it: You can essentially think of the Workspace App as the next version of Receiver, but it’s does a lot more than that. It’s the culmination of several years of bringing together ShareFile, XenMobile, Receiver, and SaaS and web apps, as well as the new “workspace experience” we saw last year. It has an embedded browser (which I think is cool because there’s a lot that you can do with it), and in the future, it will have embedded workflow/micro app functionality. Overall, I like the way this all looks.

Speaking of the Workspace App, Citrix got dinged because the name is so similar to Workspace One. However, I believe that workspace is more of a general term, and really just describes how we do EUC (with identity, mobility, SaaS, etc.) in 2018.

XenMobile, which is now Citrix Endpoint Management, got a section during the keynote, too. I like that they mentioned that they’re working on Windows 10 co-management (i.e. MDM alongside SCCM). They recently added support for Chrome OS, Apple TV, and Workspace Hub management, but most interesting, they announced management capabilities for Alexa for Business. I haven’t had a chance to dig into this yet, but in January I wrote an article called Will digital assistants be a security nightmare like BYOD?, so as you can imagine I like this.

One notable absence from the show and keynote was Microsoft. They don’t have a booth here, and they barely got a mention in the keynote. In fact, this is all I wrote in the live blog:

Okay, now time for the Microsoft mention. Three main points: They’re committing to Day 1 support of Server 2019. For RDMI, you’ll be able to access RDMI apps from within Citrix Workspace. Third, they have the NetScaler and Azure stuff.

But that was it. Google Cloud was featured in the keynote, though. For now, I’ll just say the obligatory “that was interesting.”

The last thing I’ll talk about today is Citrix Analytics. Contrary to what I wrote in the live blog, it’s not quite available yet. Also, the pricing and packaging is still being worked out. However, I was told that most Citrix products should include at least some basic elements, as is appropriate for the respective products, with more advanced functionality in higher tiers. So basically, we still have to wait to answer this question.

Wrap up

Over all, I’m happy to report that I’ve been enjoying the show, and it has a much better feeling than last year—many more products are real and complete, and many questions have been answered.

With that, it’s time to head out for one more full day of Citrix Synergy! I wrote this in my hotel room at 8:00 am this morning, and now it’s time to go find more coffee and dig into more products. Stay tuned for deep dives coming soon.

For reference, here are a few handy links:

  • Our keynote live blog
  • The main Citrix press release
  • Citrix’s official Synergy blog posts
  • Citrix’s new product names

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