I’m pleased to announce the first release of Cortex Cloud Control Panel under the Citrix brand.  Our development team have been busy preparing for this release and we hope you’ll be pleased with the improvements and updates we’ve made. So, what’s new?  While this is generally a maintenance release, there are some exciting new and significant features to take notice of.

A new look

The first thing you’ll notice is the new look and feel, Cortex is one of the first products in Citrix that has adopted the guidelines set by what Citrix calls Project Symphony.  We previewed the new design at Synergy San Francisco 2011 and had great feedback from visitors at our booth. Feedback included “This is great, a less cartoony and more professional look”, “it’s really clean and simple”.   We hope you’ll like the new look.

The same customization or rebranding features exist as before and there will be three base style templates shipped with 9.2.  If you’ve made significant changes to your branding, you will need to adapt these changes against the new Citrix brand; the old look and feel will not be available after the upgrade.

Dynamics CRM 2011

Another big update is support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, you’ll find provisioning and features to be consistent with CRM 4.0.  The import functionality is also supported, as is automation through the Cortex API

Enhancements to reporting

Usage reporting is a key part of the Cortex Cloud Control Panel and version 9.2 brings a new set of improvements.  Our goal was to make it easier and more efficient to extract the information you need from the Cortex system.  With the new reporting foundation, you now have access to over 70 new reports!  I’m sure you will notice the much improved performance of the new reports.  We will also shortly be publishing more blogs that will allow you to build your own queries and reports on top of the data.  Stay tuned…

In designing the new reporting solution, we took advantage of features only available in SQL Server 2008 R2. In order to take advantage of them, you will need to upgrade your SQL infrastructure to 2008R2 or add a SQL 2008R2 server for the reports database in order to deploy the new reporting features.

The new reports are being launched as a public beta offering in 9.2 and will only be available on request – we will continue testing and improving these, feedback on the reports will be welcomed.  When the reports come out of the beta phase later this year, the reports currently available will be deprecated.

Improvements for Exchange Hosting

We gained considerable feedback on our support for Exchange 2010 SP1/Hosting, we’ve taken this on board and have narrowed the functionality gap between Exchange hosting edition and the standard enterprise edition.  You can now manage distribution groups and contacts for SP1/hosting alongside a number of other minor fixes and improvements. 

In the past couple of years we’ve seen larger and larger enterprises move to using Cortex for managing their Exchange environment.  Usability issues with large volumes of users and contacts lead us to make changes to the management interfaces to make the product equally functional for the large enterprise and the SMB. 

ADSync – Easy Identity Synchronisation

ADSync made a quiet introduction over 12 months ago; since then ADSync has been refined and improved for flexibility and scale.  ADSync is a powerful utility that allows easy synchronisation of a customer’s existing Active Directory with Cortex.  It dramatically simplifies the management of hosted services and makes the end-user experience more streamlined.

Over the past 12 months we have been tracking the use of ADSync; usage grows dramatically every month, the feedback from service providers and end-customers has been great and its simplicity makes it far more cost effective to deploy than any other identity synchronisation solution available.  It can be deployed in minutes, delivers a better end-user experience and dramatically eases user on-boarding and maintenance.

How to get it?

Cortex 9.2 will be available from 1st July 2011, contact cortexsales@citrix.com to discuss an upgrade or a new implementation of Cortex 9.2