In 2014, agencies across Federal and State Governments continue to choose Citrix for their Mobile Workspace needs spanning solutions for Desktop and App Virtualization. Why is it that Citrix is chosen as the preferred solutions vendor year after year? Third party industry analysts, such as IDC have shown Citrix as the industry leader year after year due to ease-of-use, Enterprise Scalability and End-user experience.  Here are a few unique differentiators that separate Citrix from the competition for Government specific use cases: 

It’s all about the Apps

The numerous agencies we’ve supported for 20+ years learned early on that App Delivery provides the quickest ROI and lowest TCO in any virtualization initiative. Our leadership in App Delivery developed over a number of years during which we perfected key features such as universal Printing, USB redirection and SmartAccess. Agencies have trusted us to deliver Logistics, Financial, Medical, Productivity and even Mission Systems apps securely to users across the globe. Our commitment to making any App, regardless of Windows platform, into a deliverable service is the reason why we continue to lead in the market we created.

Smartcard-saavy Citrix Receiver

The HSPD-12 mandate is over 10 years old and we still see agencies planning their adoption of PIV-based auth for their IT resource access. Government users love the fact that they can use their Receiver from any device to get access to Windows-based Apps and Desktops. Agency IT admins love the fact that they no longer have to create username/password exceptions for devices that don’t natively support PIV-based authentication (here’s looking at you, iPad). 

Only Citrix provides the most comprehensive Smartcard-support for key end-user platforms which are in production today at Government agencies. No other vendor offers Smartcard support this broadly across these platforms. To see a demo and learn more about our newest smartcard capability in the iOS Receiver see Bob’s latest blog here.

Real Enterprise Scalability

While other vendors claim enterprise scalability for VDI and App Virtualization, Citrix actually has real world Gov’t customers reach true scale into the tens of thousands of users with XenDesktop and XenApp. A few key examples of how we provide scalability:

  •  Storage Optimization – While the storage market has been undergoing a renaissance, we’ve been busy making our provisioning solutions even more efficient to drive Citrix TCO even lower. Our software solution can minimize Virtual Desktop/App workload IOPS requirements down to 1 IOPS! All while sustaining key performance metrics on commodity SATA drives.  You can now stop buying expensive storage solutions for your VDI environment or using unproven software-based solutions that aren’t meant for “Tier 1” workloads. Provisioning Services has been in production use for years by our largest agencies and continues to drive HW costs down. 
  •  Image Management – The one thing several agencies struggle with is how to constantly update their desktop images to stay compliant with IAVA.  When managing your desktop image using hypervisor-based cloning technology, this can result in limited scalability as it can take hours to update 1000s of VMs in this fashion. Using our provisioning services technology, we can provide image updates to thousands of VMs in less than 10 minutes. 
  •  Remote Access Scalability – Several agencies take advantage of their virtual desktop/app environments to provide users with remote access for telework. Doing this securely for internet based traffic requires a DMZ-based access control mechanism. Instead of deploying multiple Windows-based servers in the DMZ to secure remote access for 1000s of users, agencies deploying a Citrix solution enjoy the enterprise scalability of NetScaler. One single appliance can server up to 10,000 remote user connections, using secure FIPS 140-2 compliant encryption and even provide Smartcard-based authentication and access control. Also our DMZ configuration is much simpler requiring only one external firewall ports (SSL/443 + 3 internal ports) versus 12 TCP+UDP firewall ports needed for the other guys! Try explaining those to your network admin.    

HDX performance over any Federal network

Our award winning HDX protocol continues to evolve and get even better. While any vendor can provide a great user experience with unlimited bandwidth on a LAN, we have led the charge with optimizing the user experience over adverse WAN conditions while remaining bandwidth efficient. This is no easy task, and is one of the key R&D efforts that Citrix continues to invest in.  One of the most difficult network conditions that some of our agencies deal with is high latency and massive packet loss (think SAT-based connections). We’re working on on making some critical improvements to HDX to address these use cases with our Framehawk acquisition. Here’s a sneak peak of things to come.

True vGPU performance

Virtual Graphics performance is mission-critical for agencies that have heavy-computational or 3D-based workloads. Citrix has helped to pioneer this field with over 7 years of virtualizing 3D applications using GPU graphics with our HDX 3D Pro technology. Last year, we announced an industry-first with our strategic partner Nvidia: a truly virtualized GPU that can be shared across multiple users. This has helped agencies achieve enterprise scale for virtualizing this hard-core workload, that has always  been the most difficult to bring into the datacenter. The most critical component of virtualizing these applications is the driver compatability of the latest DirectX and OpenGL codecs — only a vGPU solution with HDX 3D pro can deliver this capability.

Want to see what this looks like compared to the competition? Took a look at this Comparison Video 

Common Criteria Certification

Common Criteria Certification is an international standard with which technology products are evaluated against from a security perspective. Several Information Assurance agencies within the Federal Govt require that software/hardware that is introduced into the network has been
Common Criteria Certified. This is usually a precursor to an Authority to Operate (ATO) or DIACAP accreditation. Common Criteria evaluates against such NIST Guidelines as FIPS 140-2 for encryption and FIPS 201 for strong authentication.

Citrix is the only vendor with Common Criteria Certified solutions for Desktop & App Virtualization (VDI). Citrix sees Common Criteria as vital to providing solutions within the Federal space and is vested in continually updating CC certification to ensure customers can deploy the latest and greatest virtualization solutions securely.

Currently Certified (Details)
Citrix XenDesktop 5.6
Citrix XenApp 6.0
NetScaler 10

Currently In Evaluation
Citrix XenDesktop 7.next
Citrix XenApp 7.next
NetScaler 10.5

Ready to discuss why Citrix for your agency? Feel free to contact me directly here: Faisal.Iqbal at citrix.com.

See what IDC had to say about Citrix in the Worldwide Client Virtualization Software 2013 Vendor Assessment