We are getting lots of great interest in the Workspace Hub and Octoblu that was demonstrated in the Synergy Day 2 Keynote and again with Brian Madden on the show floor. Brian does a good job asking the right questions and explaining what he is seeing (you can check out the video here).

The best compliments about the demo were around saving users’ time and solving everyday business problems that everyone can relate to. Plus making IoT relevant to the Enterprise (and Octoblu relevant to Citrix) in a compelling new way.

The key new elements of the demo includes Workspace Hub software, Workspace Hub Hardware, modified Receiver plus Octoblu. In addition the solution that many describe as a “Workplace of the Future” also includes Citrix products available now like XenDesktop, XenMobile, GoToMeeting and ShareFile.

WorkSpace Hub Software 

The Workspace Hub is actually more about enabling the Software Defined Workspace than the Hub hardware. The Operating System of the Workspace Hub is Android, which was chosen to be securely managed by XenMobile including the ability to push and run native Android apps locally. The Workspace Hub software includes a new Receiver “ Extender “ app that pairs with Receiver on the mobile device ( iOS in the demo but could be Android, Mac, or Windows ) and allows the mobile Receiver to reroute the HDX video stream to the Hub and a virtual channel to share the Hub peripherals. This app is complemented by Receiver and Gateblu as well as a configuration utility for easy setup. Octoblu provides workflow and contextual management of the Hub devices, locations, peripherals and users. You can expect a Workspace Hub management console for administration as well.

Workspace Hub Hardware 

The Workspace Hub is an ARM based full function Android machine optimized for the Workspace solution, which transforms any PC display or conference room TV / projector into an intelligent Workspace for individuals or teams. The Hub may look like other HDMI dongles on the market but we decided to develop our own because the existing devices did not have the features we needed. For example dual Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct so that direct connections can be made without overloading corporate access points. In addition, dual Bluetooth 4.0 allows flexible peripheral support plus iBeacon function. NFC is also included to allow easy pairing to supported devices. An onboard three-hour battery is included for traveling use cases along with a VGA adapter and unique male/female HDMI connector. For typical fixed installations, expect expandable capability for multiple USB ports and RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet.

Auto-connect via iBeacon

The Keynote demo included a few new features that captured the audience’s attention, starting with an iPad running Receiver with a live session that a doctor entering his personal office might use. In this case the Hub is assigned to the user (Doctor) and the iPad recognizes the iBeacon in the Hub, then automatically the HDX video session moves the virtual desktop on the iPad to the Workspace Hub display and the local keyboard and mouse. This happens securely in two seconds with no log-on, re-authentication or any effort. That is because the session is actually still running on the iPad Receiver, while the HDX Video is now redirected to the Hub. When leaving the office, the iBeacon recognizes the iPad went out of range and transfers the Video back to the iPad.

The Two-Finger “Flick”

When entering the shared workspace conference room (or a patient room or flex desk) the Hub is not assigned to a user, but to a location, and you would not want to be automatically connected. In this case, the session is running on the iPad, then as the device nears proximity to the Hub iBeacon, a notification message indicates there is a Hub nearby. The two-finger “Flick” then moves the HDX video to the Hub-enabled TV or Display in two seconds. A swipe down then brings the session back to the iPad. Additionally the iBeacon can also be leveraged here to enable the session to move when the user leaves. In the conference room, scenario multiple users can take turns “Flicking” their iPad display up to the TV/Projector.

Octoblu Workspace Automation

The Workspace automation leverages Ocotoblu in multiple places of the demo and provides the “glue” to integrate everything together (IoE = Integration of Everything). When the user first enters the office and the iBeacon recognizes the iPad, an Octoblu trigger is initiated which sets off an Octoblu Workflow to change the users Lync status to include not just online/offline but office location. The Workflow also sets the user printer to the local office location. Similarly, when the user enters the conference room, the Lync status and location is automatically updated and the default printer changed as soon as the display is “Flicked” to the TV. In addition a series of other actions are enabled by Octoblu:

  • The Phone rings from GoToMeeting starting the audio with no fumbling looking for dial-in numbers
  • The Conference room IP Camera is automatically started and joins the meeting
  • Amazon Echo is asked, “Alexa, send late reminders,“ and Octoblu identifies who is late based on Outlook invitees vs. those in the GoToMeeting and sends out SMS reminders to only the late ones.

At the end of the meeting the organizer commands Amazon Echo, “ Alexa, End Meeting “ and not only did the GoToMeeting end, but the recording of the meeting was saved to ShareFile and an email link was sent to all of the attendees.

The demo is intended to illustrate some of the innovation going on at Citrix that leverages existing products, technologies and future potential along with the power of Octoblu to tie it all together. If you liked what you see in the demo, we are interested in your feedback to help define the roadmap and priorities.