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Earlier this week I attended “The New Wave of Healthcare IT Virtual Seminar” from SearchHealthIT.com. Unfortunately, I had to leave for the airport, but I did catch one of the first sessions on mobile health by Claudia Tessler and C. Peter Waegermann of the mHealth Initiative, Inc.
mHealth is basically the area where electronic medical records (EMR), mobile computing, social media and direct patient / doctor communication intersect.
The vision is clear: Patients and their doctors communicate via all the modalities we’re already enjoying as consumers: eMail, text messages, and sometimes social media. The obvious challenge is that the desire for convenience must be carefully balanced with the mandated need for privacy and security.
Application and Desktop virtualization can confine the protected data to the datacenter, while enabling clinicians to interact with the data securely over any device without the need to re-write the application. Application vendors sometimes offer secure patient portals that allow for direct communication between patients and doctors and nurses. With app and desktop virtualization, even the relatively new iPad is supported out of the box through Citrix Receiver.
The following resources provide a best-practices based approach to designing virtualization environments based on Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop technologies:

  • Windows XP Optimization Guide for Virtual Desktops
    Description: If Windows XP is still your desktop operating system of choice and it is going to be used within a virtual desktop environment, you need to optimize it appropriately. The optimizations will help deliver a better user experience and greater scalability on the hypervisor of choice (XenServer, Hyper-V, or ESX).
  • XenDesktop Modular Reference Architecture
    Description: The architecture explained within this white paper is a recipe for creating a scalable XenDesktop environment using any required FlexCast option. This reference architecture discusses how to configure the controllers, imaging layer, application layer and the desktop layer.
  • High-Availability for Desktop Virtualization – Reference Architecture
    Description: In environments where desktop virtualization is a critical business resource, it is imperative that the solution remains available even if a component or data center is lost. This reference architecture looks at all levels of the entire XenDesktop solution, and provides an architecture for creating a highly-available solution.
  • High-Availability for Desktop Virtualization – Implementation Guide
    Description: Implementing a desktop virtualization solution oftentimes requires an investigation and implementation of the high-availability options. This white paper provides step-by-step instructions for enabling high-availability in XenDesktop within a single site and across multiple sites.
  • Virtual Applications or Virtual Desktops
    floirDescription: Trying to decide between virtual desktops and virtual applications is oftentimes challenging. By understanding the core expectations and requirements for each delivery method helps make this decision easy. This white paper focuses on the decision and how to identify the most appropriate type of delivery solution.
  • Networking topics, including Global Server Load Balancing- it’s like never having to worry about datacenter failures again.

These and many other good nuggets on real world implementations of virtualization and networking practices can be found at the Ask the Architect sites.

Florian Becker
follow me on twitter: @florianbecker



Want a quick way to configure many iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices that run Citrix Receiver? There is a way to do it without having to write pages upon pages of documentation for end users, or even worse personally configuring the devices for them. We have created the Citrix Mobile Receiver Setup URL Generator just for this purpose. The best part is, it takes a few seconds and can be reused over and over again (remember? Write once leverage infinitely?).



The steps to making an admins life exponentially easier are:


1.) Go to the Citrix Mobile Receiver Setup URL Generator
2.) Save it to your bookmarks .
3.) Enter in an Account Description.
4.) Enter the Server Farm address.
5.) Enter in the domain of your farm.
6.) If you are using an Access Gateway, check the box to show your options.
a. Choose the type of Access Gateway in your company.
b. Choose the authentication type for the Access Gateway.
7.) Click the “Generate URL” button.
8.) Under “Your Result” a link is given with all of the info you populated in the form. You can email it, copy it and paste it, etc. 

The great thing is, the user is responsible for the username and password for the account (user information is not in URL ) so it is secure enough to email!

The user will then get the email on the device, tap the link, and Citrix Receiver will open and ask the user to save the profile.

So there you have it, an easy and secure way to configure 1000′s of devices with just an email.

Remember to let the user know they have to fill in the users name and such before saving the profile on the device.


 Citrix Receiver for iPad is now top of the charts number 1 ranked free app in the App Store business category !  And GoToMeeting is number 4 !
 
So even though the initial flurry is over the downloads for Citrix Receiver continue to grow. More and more people are downloading the top rated app and putting it to work. Sometimes from home and sometimes from work. That’s part of the beauty of the Receiver on the iPad, being mobile has never been so productive.
 
Some useful links if you have have bought an iPad or are thinking about it. 
 
 Dan Fellers blog post with recommendations for IT on how to prepare your corporate environment.
 
 Mick Hollison’s post on Consumerization of IT.
 
 Harry Labana’s post on The iPad, Citrix and BYOC. 
 
 Top 10 Business uses for the iPad Take our Poll.

 CitrixSynergy iPad site Come learn how to prepare for the iPad first hand and make your organization more productive ( and happy    ) 

 
 

The iPad was released, and people were happy.

People brought the iPad to work, and users were excited.

Users connected the iPad to the corporate environment and IT got scared.

If you went to the Apple store and did a demo of the iPad, you might have noticed the installed Citrix Receiver (honestly, did anyone actually demo these things before buying? I bet most of us just bought it without playing around with it). But, let’s say you did demo and you selected the Receiver, what would you have seen? Windows Applications.

Yes, Windows Applications on the iPad.  I admit, that is pretty cool. In fact, why not put Windows 7 on the iPad.  It is possible. I’ve also seen reports that people are now using the iPad at work, although right now it is for minor tasks, but this will only increase.  Chris Fleck recently posted a blog talking about some of the top business use cases for the iPad.  These are great ideas, but before our employees start using a virtual Windows 7 XenDesktop desktop on the iPad for work, we need to get the environment prepared.

These items are HOT.  And you know what happens to new technology? It gets stolen. It gets hacked. First, let’s make sure our environment is secured. Second, let’s give the user the best experience.

To secure the environment, there are a few things that should be done:

  1. Require authentication. Seems pretty obvious, but you can connect to virtualized applications and desktops with anonymous accounts (there are business reasons why, but this is not one of the).  If the iPad is stolen, the thief can only see the Receiver, but cannot log in.
  2. Enable encryption: Citrix can encrypt the communication between the iPad and the virtual desktops/applications with RC5-128bit encryption.  As users will connect over any number of wireless networks, it is recommended that the communication is encrypted from prying eyes.
  3. Disable device mapping: Although some of local iPad objects cannot yet be seen within the virtualized desktops/applications (drives, clipbard, etc), it is recommended to still disable  these features from within the XenDesktop/XenApp farms as a precaution.  The Receiver will go through updates and will add new functionality. You, as the administrator, don’t want to be surprised when users start copying materials to/from their iPads.

By doing these simple items, we can make our iPad connections to Windows 7 desktops and Windows applications more secure. But how do we make the user experience better?  Here are some recommendations:

  1. HDX: Many users will browse web sites on their iPads.  By enabling HDX browser acceleration, we can compress the images and give the user a faster browsing experience.  Also, because the iPad does not support Flash natively, by accessing a hosted browser, users can view websites with integrated flash content. By enabling HDX Flash (Server-side rendering), we can allow users to view flash animation content at reasonable performance levels by slightly degrading the flash quality.
  2. Visual Effects: Windows has many features that provide an interactive experience, but some of these items require additional bandwidth.  For iPad users, it is recommended to disable menu animations and to disable window content while dragging.  This allows the desktop to have faster response times.  Although we can also disable the user’s desktop background, I prefer to keep the backgrounds enabled. Hey, it’s the first thing the user sees that helps create that personalized environment.
  3. Audio: Although we can disable audio, that really diminishes the user experience, especially if we are using a hosted browser so users can access flash content.  Let’s keep audio enabled, but only provide medium sound quality, which will give better performance.

The last thing we must be concerned with is that these settings do not interfere with other users. Not everyone is going to have an iPad.  Even iPad users will still access their virtual desktops/applications over other devices.  We don’t want these security/optimization settings from impacting others.  In order to accommodate iPad users, we need to create a policy with all of these settings and apply the policy to only iPad devices. By filtering on the client name of iPhone* and iPad*, we can accomplish just that.

Remember, it’s a balance between providing an acceptable user experience, while allowing for performance and security.  By tweaking the policy we can provide. So before your first user tries to use the iPad on your XenDesktop and XenApp environments, better get your infrastructure ready. No matter what you do, users will start to use their iPads to change how they access their applications. They iPad might even have an impact on what devices they use to do their work.  To get ready, you need to prepare and secure your environment appropriately.

Lead Architect – Worldwide Consulting Solutions
Follow Me on twitter: @djfeller
My Blog: Virtualize My Desktop
Questions, then email Ask The Architect
Facebook Fan Page: Ask The Architect

Fill in the blank if you will.  There are many people who are super excited about the upcoming release of the latest tablet PCs (iPad, Slate, etc).  I recently received a comment from someone on Facebook related to a previous blog saying that the iPad Will Not Replace Your Desktop.  The comment basically said
 

Does the iPad and like devices need to be fully functional to be successful?  How many people have more than one mobile device like a laptop and a netbook?”

 
That is an interesting question.  But I’m starting to wonder if we need a laptop and an iPad?  Do we need a laptop and a netbook?  Depending on what you do, the iPad or the netbook could potentially replace your laptop.  As I see it, most users have a smartphone and a main work computer, for many that is a laptop because they require a larger form factor device while not in their office.  But what if we did the following:
 
•    Main computer: Thin client
•    Mobile computer: iPad/Netbook
•    Ultra-mobile computer: Smartphone
 
If we have Citrix Receiver on all of these devices, we access the same applications/data/environment.
 
Think about all of the problems we hear about with laptops: stolen, dropped, lost, expensive, etc.  If we went down the virtual desktop route, stolen, broken or lost laptops would not be a problem because your data would be in the data center with your virtual desktop.  So why use a laptop?  
 
Is it possible that tablets and netbooks could mean that those of us with laptops can toss them away?  If the tablets/netbooks provides us with a connection to a virtual desktop from anywhere, why would we need the laptop functionality?
 
Of course this won’t work for everyone. Some people will need a laptop. But what we will see in the coming months/years is a much more diverse end point environment. We know this is coming, so it is  good idea to start planning how you will integrate all of these endpoints into your infrastructure while still trying to keep the environments secure.

Daniel

Lead Architect – Worldwide Consulting Solutions
Follow Me on twitter: @djfeller
Blog for Next-Gen Desktop: Ask The Architect
Questions, then email Ask The Architect
Facebook Fan Page: Ask The Architect

1.2 times a day!

Sometimes more, sometimes less. Over the last 284 days, that is the average number of times I have been asked about Citrix Receiver for Blackberry.
I know what your thinking…. “Marcus, why didn’t you Blog on this topic 283 days ago?

It’s a story of intrigue, suspense, broken promises and big money. More on that latter…

For those of you who have followed Citrix for any length of time, you might have heard that Mobility is the Next Big Thing. Almost yearly; usually around mobility industry events.

So what makes this year different? – Devices and network speeds.

Citrix Receiver unlocks the power in these fast and eloquent devices, allowing us to create a terrific user experience.

Before you start screaming that the iPhone is not an Enterprise solution, hear me out. When the iPhone was introduced, it provided an ideal form factor to deliver applications. Fits in your pocket and it has a big, beautiful screen with lots of real-estate for users to interact on. Citrix users agree. We are quickly trending towards the 500,000-download milestone. Meter readers, land surveyors and even motorcycle cops are getting their principle applications delivered to their iPhones daily.

Recently I had the chance to meet with Samsung, HTC and other key manufacturers in the “Smartphone” business. There are devices being introduced this year that dwarf the 3-year old iPhone technology. The first on my list was announced today.

The HTC EVO 4G delivers. It has a 4.3-inch touch screen that just looks beautiful when Citrix Receiver is delivering applications to it. Many similar devices are coming soon for all of the Mobility Operating Systems.

Currently we offer a Citrix Receiver for Android, Windows Mobile and iPhone. We also have a Symbian client.

We understand how important the Blackberry is in the Enterprise. In fact, through a Company called Rove, the Blackberry was one of the first mobile devices to have a Citrix client. At Citrix, almost 35% of our Smartphone users have a Blackberry.

Our intent was to come out with Citrix Receiver for Blackberry about the same time as the iPhone. Each platform has it’s own teams, so this goal was very realistic. In an effort to further accelerate this development, we took some time and acquired outside technology, believing it would provide us with a solid platform that we could quickly iterate on in the future. We were not happy with the result.

We decide to start again from scratch, armed with the knowledge gained from delivering Citrix Receiver on the other platforms.

I am pleased with the internal build I am using and feel comfortable sharing that with you today.

We hope to announce registration for the beta program shortly. Those who have already signed-up, your names have been retained and you will be contacted. If you haven’t registered, please send me your name, device, OS version and memory size. We want to test against as many configurations as possible. When you come to Synergy, be sure to bring your Blackberry to the opening Keynote.

On a separate note, look for Citrix Receiver for Android 1.0, with full CAG support, to be available on the Android Marketplace within a few weeks.

I’ll have a special post for you on April 3rd that you won’t want to miss.

In closing, I sincerely thank you for you patience and suggestions as we look forward to getting Citrix Receiver onto your Blackberry.

No doubt you have heard about the iPad by now and you may be already pondering whether or not you will be buying one. Chances are you have a Laptop or PC and a Smartphone already so you need to rationalize how you will use it beyond e-books and browsing. Well if your company has XenDesktop or XenApp you will be happy to know you will be able to use your iPad for real work as well. It turns out the 9.7 inch display on the iPad with a 1024×768 screen resolution works great for a full VDI XenDesktop. Windows applications run unmodified and securely in the data center, and even multiple applications at once. The advancements that were made for the Citrix Receiver for iPhone will carry over to the iPad, however the iPhone restrictions of screen size and small keyboards are overcome with the iPad. It’s a beautiful thing ! The iPad looks to be an ideal end point device that can empower users to be productive were ever they are and IT will be able to safely deliver company hosted virtual desktops and apps without worry.

So tell us if you want Citrix Receiver for the iPad and let us know how your going to put it to work. ( even it’s just to rationalize buying another gadget )

Learn how to make the iPad work for your organization at Citrix Synergy

http://twitter.com/chrisfleck

Regardless of what it was designed for and despite all it’s limitations, I expect the iPad to be the best thing to happen for Desktop Virtualization in 2010. No it’s not always the best Thin Client but as a sales, marketing and awareness enabler it won’t be beat, here’s why:

Purple Cow effect - Seth Godin, the new media marketing guru defined the Purple Cow as something remarkable. Something that stands out from the crowd and worth noting. A great example is the screen shot of Windows 7 on the iPad. This picture was replicated and written about in hundreds of articles  and  blogs… because it was remarkable. The Gizmodo post alone now has over 62,000 views and 520 comments.

Early adopters will show friends & colleagues - The iPhone started the new phenomena of showing off your latest cool or useful app. Everyone with an iPad and Citrix Receiver will show it off. Godin also makes the point that it’s not the best ideas that win, it’s the best ideas that spread, win.

First impressions count - The iPad is beautiful, when prospects recognize they can also do work with it they will sell it to themselves. The $500 entry price is low enough to justify for companies or many individuals.

Peer envy - As more iPads show up in the workplace and they are put to work visibly and effectively, others will follow.

Executive mandate - When execs see they can run all their work apps from an iPad and get their work done where ever they are, they will better appreciate the benefits of Desktop Virtualization. They will also approve projects faster and demand IT support for their own iPad.    

Internal IT promotion - Internal company Desktop Virtualization champions will set up demos on the iPad, hand it to users and management … Sold !

Preferred device for conference room meetings - The iPad will be ideal for bringing to meetings without the intrusion, distraction, boot up or power cables of a laptop. In the future the laptop will be staying in the office/cube while you grab the iPad to bring to the meeting down the hall or down the road. ( and everyone else in the meeting will ask you how you like it )

Sales demo tool - Sales pros everywhere will use iPads to demo their products, check inventory and bring up photos and then hand the iPad to a prospect. Not something you see happen often with laptops. Desktop Virtualization will enable the apps and be the answer to ” how did you do that ? “

Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare - Doctors will sell more iPads with Desktop Virtualization into healthcare than anyone. Even if they have to buy the iPads themselves.

Vertical Market Solutions - Besides healthcare, many other verticals like legal, insurance and field workers will adopt the iPad rapidly if the Apps they need are available via Desktop Virtualization.   

Desktop Virtualization overcomes iPad limitations - Multi-Tasking, Flash, Windows apps, all resolved with Desktop Virtualization.

BYOC - As described in a prior post , The iPad with Desktop Virtualization will lead the “Bring Your Own Computer” BYOC movement and provide IT a safe way to allow personal devices inside the company.

Multiple Desktop Virtualization options - The iPad will work great with VDI ( XenDesktop )  or shared Virtual Desktops ( XenApp Published Desktops ) or selected Apps on-demand ( XenApp ). VDI only solutions will not always be justified for every user or app.

Multiple Device Management - For most iPad users this will be a 3rd  or 4th device, in addition to a smartphone a work laptop and a home PC/laptop. The hassle of making sure you have the document you need on the device you have will be solved by the centralization benefits of Desktop Virtualization.

Standard Desktop Virtualization benefits - In addition to all the above reasons , the standard benefits of security , manageability and TCO still apply. But now it’s really productive and cool…

Besides the overall benefit to the Desktop Virtualization industry I expect that the Citrix Receiver for iPad will expand the advantage that XenDesktop already has over VMware View. The Citrix user experience will be superior to the other 3rd party RDP/VNC options available and create very visible differentiator. As a result I predict that VMware will end up building their own View client to try to catch-up and take advantage of the emerging iPad phenomena. ( For the VMware execs reading this … please prove me wrong and don’t follow my prediction …  )   

Come see the iPad enabled by Desktop Virtualization at CitrixSynergy. Learn how to make it work for your organization and sell yourself on the idea. ( you may even win an iPad ! )

Or Windows on Mac, Thin Client, WinMo, iPhone…

The list grows as Citrix Receiver continues to make the end computing device ambigous. In a previous post I showed how Windows applications or desktops can be delivered to an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

Right after the post, the guys in engineering called me up and said, “Hey, we’re not finished yet…”. In addition to iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, Citrix Receiver also runs on Android, WinMo, Thin Clients, Mac and PC platforms.

The small feat of magic is that all of this can also be run from a web browser.

I can see it now, you are roaming somewhere, and think, ok let me login to work for a couple of seconds to check something. You launch the browser on your mobile device, Mac, PC or Thin Client and your Desktop is streamed to you. While checking a few things in your work desktop, you navigate away to take a call or use a local app, then navigate back to your work desktop … the way you just left it.

Mobility and the way we live, play and work has just been turned on it’s ear. Bring your own computer (BYOC), an industry momentum started by Citrix, is now a reality for companies that don’t mind providing the desktops and applications for employees to get their work done, but would rather do without the time and expense of maintaining specialized hardware out in the field, or even on employees desks.

Citrix runs Windows applications and Desktops from a central server, called XenDesktop, and pipes it out to your mobile device through the NetScaler AGEE so the data is secure on both the Client and Server side. So, just in case you are not fanatical about the iPhone or iPad, you can still take advantage of the most awesome technology to hit the computing model for the average person. Citrix Receiver along with XenApp and XenDesktop becomes an incredible deal for organizations with a number of different Clients … after all the personal computing device is personal, and you can’t always choose the device the end user will show up with.

Having seen a Windows 7 Desktop running on an iPhone, a PC and a Mac, I wasn’t all that surprised when engineering showed me Windows 7 Desktop running on Android. If you don’t think you need the entire Desktop, you can pipe one or two applications to these devices using XenApp and Citrix Receiver.




We used the previous infrastructure for this Proof Of Concept, because it was already setup with XenApp and XenDesktop. The only new pieces were the end devices. Once again, we used the Citrix Web Interface in XenApp for authentication to keep it simple, however, we have done POC’s with the same setup using LDAP and two factor authentication from the NetScaler AGEE.

Guides

You can have this setup, by following the guides we wrote up as a result of this testing.

Download the Deployment Guide – ICA Proxy for Citrix Receiver.
Download the Deployment Guide – ICA Proxy for Citrix Web Interface.

Citrix Products used in this POC

XenServer
XenApp
XenDesktop
NetScaler AGEE
Citrix Receiver v2.1

Client devices

iPhone
iPod touch
iPad
Mac
PC
Android
WinMo
Thin Client

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Or any Application for that matter.

Chris Fleck gave fair warning. I’m here to tell you that it works and its here, now. The computing model just got turned on it’s ear.

Why would you want this? Because it increases your mobility without having to reboot your laptop everytime you want to use it, it saves time and money, and it delivers any Windows platform or application to your iPhone, iPod or iPad.

What was previously just a future scenario is now a reality.

Citrix runs Windows and Windows Applications from a central server, called XenDesktop, and pipes it out to your mobile device through the NetScaler AGEE. This is perfect for the iPad which has a screen size of 1024×768. Now the touch, squeeze and pinch is available for all of your Enterprise applications, making them usable on an iPad.




The small form factor of the iPhone was a little hindering for Enterprise applications. Now, with the iPad and Citrix Receiver, Enterprise Apps are usable. Although, while putting together this POC the Product Manager sent me an eMail from Microsoft Office 2010 running on a Windows 7 Desktop … from his iPhone. This confirms that form factors and the computing model is about to be rocked.




The magic is in the way that Citrix hosts the Windows desktops and delivers them to the mobile device. The advantage is all of the computing power of multi-core processors and large memory can still be utilized by Windows, while all of your touching and pinching power is localized at your mobile device.




All of the communication is done over secure tunnels, so all of the information is secure.




For this Proof of Concept, We started with XenServer, installed XenApp and XenDesktop, built a NetScaler to Front-end and secure the infrastructure, and fired up our iPhones and iPads. Its fast, easy and cool. We used the Citrix Web Interface for authentication to keep it simple. You can also use LDAP or any other type of authentication method.

Guides

You can have this setup, by following the guides we wrote up as a result of this testing.

Download the Deployment Guide – ICA Proxy for XenApp & XenDesktop for Citrix Receiver for iPhone, iPod and iPad.

Download the Deployment Guide – ICA Proxy for iPhone, using LDAP authentication.

Delivery Center has arrived.



Products

XenServer is free

Get XenDesktop here.

Download NetScaler VPX here

Citrix Receiver is available for Free on the App Store

Get an iPhone, iPod or iPad from Apple.



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