“The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with the First Step” – Lao-Tzu (6 B.C.)

Bring Your Own (BYO) and Mobility trends have taken off in the enterprise with a vengeance, making a lot of new users and organizations sit up and take notice.

Many of them belong to traditional desktop and IT management. The jargon and concepts of the software-defined workplace are sometimes unfamiliar to them (like this term itself!). What they want is a way to get past the mumbo-jumbo in the least amount of time, and get busy evaluating benefits of the technology to them.

For just this reason, we have different technical resources for each stage of this learning curve, beginning with the evaluation and going deeper. After developing some familiarity with the key concepts, it is generally easier to come back and do a deep-dive into the areas of interest.

If that’s you, read on to know more about many of these interesting tools.

Learning Curve
Learning Tools for XenApp and XenDesktop

Stage 1 – Test the Water (Evaluate)

In Release 7.6 of XenApp and XenDesktop, Citrix has raised the bar on innovation adding tons of new features for easier management, tighter security, and high-definition user-experience. For new administrators and users, first step is to quickly install the basic set up so the evaluation can begin. For existing customers, the goal is to understand what has changed and what’s new.

Both these goals are easily met with the Free Evaluation Kit, which provides a 90-day, 99-user full-featured license (click to try XenApp or try XenDesktop). Reviewer’s Guides bundled with each evaluation copy guide you through step-by-step screenshots to publish your first desktop and set of applications, only within a few hours. Alternatively, use the direct links for XenApp and XenDesktop guides.

Other useful resources are short technology videos by Citrix TV and free trainings to gain high-level overview of different concepts. Project Accelerator is an excellent online tool to create a project space powered by crowd-sourced best-practices. Simply answer few questions about your current physical environment, and see detailed sizing and architecture recommendations in the free report. When you are ready to move to the design stage, this could be the basis for your custom reference architecture.

Stage 2 – Get Comfortable (Design)

Once the building blocks are well-understood, you delve into how they fit together. You start with the question: what does your user need to do? The XenApp and XenDesktop Deployment Blueprints walk through the 5-layer model to build the answer, neatly arranging diverse parameters such as hardware sizing, authentication policies, type of resources, grouping of users, and many more into a few logical buckets. The Design Guides take this a step further, providing prescriptive recommendations for common situations such as mobilizing Windows apps, optimizing the cost of PC refresh, remote access to enterprise PCs, virtualize 3D graphics workstations, and so on.

Other useful resources are reference architectures based on consulting best practices, and partner-validated architectures such as from HP, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Amazon, and others. Formal training on administration and management of Citrix environment will help at this stage, available both as self-paced online labs or classroom-led.

Stage 3 – Deep Dive (Execute)

In the execution stage, there is abundance of tools and documents available. Some examples are the formal Product Documentation, White Papers on different features and sub-components, technical blogs (usually the most direct line to the engineers who built it!), and Consulting services. The Virtual Desktop Handbook is a living document that collects in one place much of the knowledge and best-practices learnt by Citrix Worldwide Consulting. It is one of the most popular resources, containing links to tips and tricks, best practices, and sample configurations.

Other useful resources are Support Forums where Citrix experts in the community (both within and external) chime in with answers to tricky questions, and blogs maintained by Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP). The CTP program is an elite group of external consultants with decades of real-world experience supporting complex Citrix environments around the globe. Follow them on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all things Citrix. Also look for Citrix User Groups (CUG) in your local area, where they exchange best practices at annual or semi-annual events. Advanced training and certification is always a good idea to prove your chops.

Citrix is one of the most experienced vendors delivering virtual desktops and applications. We have been enabling cloud and mobile workstyles since before they became these buzz words. Whether it was the iPhone or the Chromebook, high-end graphics or far-flung branch offices, Citrix has been there with a solution on day one. This collective wisdom of over 25 years means that nearly every use-case, whether niche or common, legacy or modern, has been caught, fixed, and documented. This unique repository of learning is now going to set you up for success.

Go on, then, sign up for the free trial. These tools and documents are here to guide you each step of the way!

If you have any questions or comments during the trial, do not hesitate to email me or send me a tweet.