Over the past 2 years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and listen to Service Providers as they outline their plans for offering Desktops and Apps as a Service. Many talk about how expansion is a blessing and a curse. Or as Dickens wrote about the tension and struggle, “the best of times, the worst of times”. In order to grow their business effectively they need to be ready to scale and scale efficiently – both from a cost perspective but also from on overall time to value. As repeated over and over again, customer demand can be a double edged sword. If you aren’t ready when it comes it can impact your customer satisfaction. If you over prepare, then you risk wasting value capital waiting for demand and if you aren’t able to adapt quickly in production, you can miss your SLAs.

When I talk to Service Providers there are generally 2 categories: those who are built for efficient production deployments and those who ultimately face difficulties building their business.  Or more simply, those who put orchestration at the center of their design and those who haven’t yet.

Each service provider begins with the desire to grow by analyzing different types of desktop and app offerings to meet the desires of their prospective customers. They have to evaluate the needs of each offering for density, customization required, multi-tenant isolation, identity, app compatibility, and price point.  This dilemma usually results in unfortunate trade-offs. They require certain offerings in isolated environments because of app compatibility, but the deployment silos creates challenges keeping a central point of management and control. Or they will want to maximize the shared resources, only to lose track of what tenant is served from what component when it comes time to update/patch/audit the environment.

Enabling Service Providers to meet the differing needs of tenants and the wide-ranging requirements of multiple offerings while maintaining the efficiency, scalability and flexibility of centralized management and control is the reason Citrix developed Citrix App Orchestration. And last week we released App Orchestration 2.5 to our 2600 registered Citrix Service Providers.

App Orchestration is built around a desired state configuration paradigm we call Define.Design.Deliver – enabling repeatable processes and self-service administration of desktop and app services. The desired state configuration engine allows admins to Define their environment including the datacenter locations, multiple Microsoft Active Directory domains, compute resources (hypervisors and clouds) from a central location. Then to Design how the service should be configured including the delivery sites, storefront server groups, session machine catalogs and the different app and desktop offerings.  In the Deliver phase you manage your tenants, assign subscriptions to user groups, and monitor the capacity of each offering.  Only with a subscription of an offering to a tenant is the service infrastructure allocated, session machines joined with the proper Active Directory domain, and users entitled through StoreFront.

Importantly, all of this can be done from a shared management domain across multi-location, multi-isolation modes, multi-tenant, multi-domain, multi-site (XenApp and XenDesktop delivery sites), multi-infrastructure types (hypervisor and cloud) and multi-service deployments. That’s alot of flexibility.

The latest version of App Orchestration extends this value in 5 areas:

Support for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5

This release enables Service Providers to leverage the latest release of XenApp and XenDesktop in addition to previous versions such as XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop 7.1.

Simplified Install and Setup with New Install Center

The new Install Center provides a simplified process for installing the key App Orchestration components, ensuring service providers get App Orchestration up and running quickly and minimizing time to value.

Enhanced Delivery Mode Flexibility with Zero Trust Domains

App Orchestration 2.5 makes it even easier to leverage the full capabilities of different isolation modes including Shared Delivery Group, Private Delivery Group, and Private Delivery Site by providing the ability to manage all shared components from a single management domain without requiring AD-based one-way trusts to a private tenant domain.  This has been the highest requested feature from our existing customers and will provide a simpler and more secure model to orchestrate resources across tenant domains using SSL-client authentication. Read more in a separate detailed blog.

On-Demand Capacity Management with Integrated Provisioning

Integrated Provisioning expands App Orchestration’s session machine creation process beyond Externally Provisioned Machines. Previously, App Orchestration required the session machines to be provisioned externally and imported into App Orchestration in order offerings to be assigned to tenant user groups. With App Orchestration 2.5, we’ve integrated provisioning to allow the configuration engine to discover the compute resources and templates and automatically create session machines. This will dramatically simplify the deployments as well as enable more dynamic capacity management through App Orchestration, which uses its business logic to identity the delivery sites that require additional capacity and dispatch a request to the controller to provision more session machines.

Cloud Enablement with Cloud Provisioning

Many Citrix Service Providers have selected CloudPlatform to power their Infrastructure as a Service. App Orchestration 2.5 now enables the compute resources to include not only any hypervisors (XenServer, Hyper-V, and vSphere) but also CloudPlatform. Hypervisors and CloudPlatform compute resources can be used in hybrid modes with App Orchestration able to select the eligible infrastructure to meet the capacity requirements.

Citrix App Orchestration enables you to avoid sacrificing key aspects required for an efficient deployment to meet the range of tenant needs. If you are an existing Citrix Service Provider or already deployed App Orchestration, jump right to the technical content, or check out how to extend the functionality via the API. If you are new, I encourage you to explore what App Orchestration and the Citrix Service Provider Program has to offer.  Or start with this Citrix App Orchestration 2.5 Overview video.