I’m going to be completely honest. I was not looking forward to writing this What’s New with Citrix Workspace update for September. Why? The simple reason is that I knew it was going to be a difficult task to top our incredible month of Workspace releases in August. In August we released the Citrix Workspace app for all major platforms. If you haven’t already heard, Citrix Workspace app is the Holy Grail of Citrix Workspace front-ends with support for all application types, virtualized apps/desktops even distributed file stores.

After reaching a major milestone with Citrix Workspace app, certainly our product development teams would need a break, right? Wrong! Our hard-working engineers kept the pedal to the metal and have delivered a productive month of new Workspace features and services.

Here is a list of the most noteworthy feature additions to our Workspace solutions:

Auto-update re-enabled for Citrix Receiver to Workspace app upgrades

When we released the new Citrix Workspace app last month, our goal was to temporarily pause the auto-update feature that was built into Citrix Receiver to allow our customers to gradually transition their users over to the new Workspace app. We even put together a simple transition kit to help our customers with this transition. It can be found in our Workspace app release blog post. In the middle of September, we re-enabled the auto-update for the Windows and Mac Workspace app clients, so users with this enabled will start seeing their Citrix Receiver applications change to Workspace app. In order to prepare the end-user for this change, we included an in-product pop up that informs them of the change while ensuring the way they work and access their corporate resources will remain the same. For organizations that have their users on Citrix Receiver but haven’t enabled auto-update, we continue to encourage you to have your users migrate to the new Workspace app. Our end-user communication kit can help inform your users of the change at a time when you’re ready for user migration.

Getting on the same team with Microsoft Teams support

When Microsoft Teams, a communication and collaboration tool that’s a part of the Office 365 subscription productivity suite, was released, we had a few customers inquire about our plans for Teams support. After our successful collaboration with Microsoft about the Real-Time Optimization Pack for Skype for Business (which, as of July 2018, has over 600,000 daily active users — 25% of them on Skype for Business Online), we wanted to bring that same value for end-users to Microsoft Teams.

Teams comes in three versions, mobile app, a web-based version, and a native Desktop version (built using the Electron Framework plus some additional native code. The web-based version of Teams relies on WebRTC; Microsoft has stated that WebRTC will deliver an experience similar to the desktop and mobile versions.

Knowing this, our HDX teams have been beefing up our Citrix HDX technologies to support web-based teams by making enhancements to Browser Content Redirection. Browser Content Redirection (BCR), our feature of choice for redirecting an entire website to the endpoint for local rendering. With this month’s release, BCR will support WebRTC redirection, enabling web-based Teams support. The new Citrix Workspace app will include an embedded browser that Citrix HDX will harness and leverage. You can learn more about our Microsoft Teams support with our recently published blog post.

Citrix Casting Technical Preview for Mac and iOS 

At Citrix Synergy this year, we announced the Citrix Ready workspace hub, a low-cost, enterprise-grade endpoint device designed to improve productivity as well as reduce hardware costs for many of our Citrix customers. One of the most exciting features of the Citrix Ready workspace hub is Citrix Casting, the ability to seamlessly roam Citrix sessions from a tablet or mobile device to any workspace station with a workspace hub. At launch, we support Citrix Casting from Android mobile and tablet devices. Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of the technical preview of Citrix Casting for both Mac and iOS devices.  

Extending Delegated Admin with the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service 

Delegated Admin has been a top enhancement request by customers. Earlier this year we introduced the Help Desk Administrator role, in addition to the Full Administrator Role. This month, we have extended these capabilities with additional roles and customizable scopes. Now, you have more granular capabilities and control over who has access to what, and can even limit management capabilities to a certain component of the service, such as Deliver Groups or Machine Catalogs. This enables you to break down admin access by department or function – such as granting administrators the appropriate access to update images and publish apps and desktops for their respective business units, without giving them configuration rights to the entire site. This improves the overall control you have in securing your Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service environment.

Improving visibility into your Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service deployment with Config Logging 

Config Logging is another new capability we recently brought to the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service. This is a long-time capability of the on-prem platform and another highly requested feature by Cloud customers. Config Logging logs changes done to the configuration of your environment by any administrator. This is a critical feature for many enterprise customers that require an audit trail of their system changes. If you have a large team of Citrix admins, Config Logging can also help you when troubleshooting your environment, since it will show you when changes were made and who made the changes. The reporting of administrative activity can also assist with your internal change management processes. Overall, bringing Config Logging to Citrix Cloud improves your visibility into your Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service environment.

Enhancing Reliability and Resiliency of your Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops deployment with Local Host Cache

Local Host Cache has been a feature of the on-prem platform since XenApp and XenDesktop 7.12. This capability enables users to continue to access their resources even if the Delivery Controllers or site database are down or unavailable. Bringing this feature to the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service means that if the Cloud Connectors in the Resource Location loses the connection to the Citrix Cloud control plane, users will still be able to start a new session and reconnect to disconnected Apps and Desktops sessions. This is a big step forward toward getting customers to trust the reliability and resiliency of our Cloud offering.

XenServer 7.6 is now available, plus a new XenServer training course!

Earlier this month, we announced the availability of the XenServer 7.6 Current Release. XenServer 7.6 introduces GA support of two highly requested features, thin provisioning with block storage and networking SR-IOV. When using block storage with XenServer, such as iSCSI or Fibre Channel, thin provisioning allocates storage space as needed. This means the virtual disk starts out small and consumes more space only as more data is written to the virtual disk. For Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops deployments that leverage Machine Creation Services (MCS), this could amount to huge reductions in storage space and enable massive savings. For customers looking to improve system I/O performance, Networking SR-IOV provides an effective alternative to traditional network virtualization methods. With Networking SR-IOV, virtual machines communicate directly with the network adapter via Direct Memory Access (DMA), enabling sharing of PCIe devices, extending device capacity, lowering hardware costs, and improving system performance.

We are also excited to announce a new XenServer Administration e-learning course. The new course includes 11 modules on the administration based on 7.1 LTSR, as well as a module covering new features of each the current releases, from 7.2 to 7.5. The course is roughly 5.5 hours of lecture and demos covering architecture, installation, configuration, management, and troubleshooting.

Bringing the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business to Google Chromebooks

Citrix is extending the capabilities of our immensely popular Skype for Business optimization solution for virtual environments. Our HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business was co-developed with Microsoft and has over 700,000 daily active users. Now, with the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.6, we are bringing this industry-first innovation to Google Chromebooks. It works with both virtual desktops and with Skype for Business as a published application, giving you the device flexibility and choice of low-cost endpoints, while still providing the best possible experience to your users to ensure improved productivity and collaboration. This capability requires HDX RealTime Media Engine 2.6, the Citrix Workspace app 1809 for Android, and Intel-based x86 Chromebook devices that can run Android apps (ARC++), as well as access to the Google Play store. Check out this video of optimized Skype for Business on Google Chromebooks in action!

Now available – Citrix Cloud Government!

We are pleased to announce the unveiling and general availability of Citrix Cloud Government, a platform built directly on Microsoft Azure Government. Our Citrix Cloud Government platform is a US government-grade cloud that is FedRAMP High Authorized Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Citrix Cloud Government is designed for US local, state and federal agencies and commercial organizations working directly with such agencies.

Citrix Cloud Government is a unique, dedicated instance of our Citrix Cloud platform. We have leveraged the robust Citrix Cloud services and migrated these services to government compliant, secure infrastructure that meets the needs and requirements of our public sector customers. For more information regarding Citrix Cloud Government you can read our announcement blog.

By bringing traditionally standalone components together, Citrix Workspace delivers greater value and problem solving strength than could otherwise be possible. One example is the combination of Citrix Content Collaboration teaming up with Citrix Analytics to combat the very difficult security problem of ransomware. Both of these components are found in Citrix Workspace Premium and Premium Plus. Applying machine learning and sophisticated algorithms to enterprise-grade file sharing capabilities can help detect and prevent damaging and costly ransomware attacks. Check out this short video on how this works.

Application Layering – User Layers now available

User personalization layers are an exciting new addition to our App Layering solution. Available for VDI deployments of both Win 7 and Win 10, user personalizations as well as user-installed plugins and apps are captured into this unique layer and will persist even through OS or Image updates. This technology allows administrators to benefit from the cost savings of pooled desktops, while giving end users many of the benefits of a dedicated environment. Watch our October blogs for more information on the best ways to implement User Layers in your environment!

Secure Mail integration with Call Kit (iOS) is now available

New Caller ID capability for Secure Mail provides a better, more native user experience. Users can make sure that they don’t miss an important business call by leaving otherwise unknown callers unanswered. Also, Caller ID for Secure Mail contacts provides a more native experience as caller ID displays the lock screen: the same interface users are accustomed to on their iOS phone app. While the user experience improves, IT can also bolster an organizations’ GDPR program. Instead of exporting contacts to mobile devices for Caller ID, leaving corporate information behind, integrating with Call Kit supports GDPR compliance as the contact names and phone numbers are shared directly with the device, but not with other apps. 

Export Secure Mail calendar events

Secure Mail now provides users with more options to choose the way they work. The new export Secure Mail calendar events feature, allows end-users to export Secure Mail calendar events to a device’s native calendar app, transferring subject, location, availability and notes. End users that prefer to access calendar events from their native apps or from a third party app that connects to their native calendar app will have the flexibility to access their Secure Mail calendar events.

As you can see, our Workspace development teams didn’t let up for the month of September.  The continued rapid development of our Workspace offerings allows our customers to deliver a great end-user experience while enjoying a great IT experience for themselves.

Stay tuned for our October update, and check the Citrix blog for additional posts on new features.

Kevin Binder
Principal Product Marketing Manager