Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Review

Good end-to-end solution for Zero Trust, enabling us to log off compromised users

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case became present during the COVID-19 pandemic where we were forced to send all employees home and deploy Citrix Cloud Virtual Apps and Desktops to enable users to work remotely.

It's deployed as a hybrid cloud, the Citrix cloud with on-premise workloads. We deployed the hosted shared desktop, so we have terminal servers running on-premise in our data center, and users connect via Virtual Apps and Desktops to their desktops. This allows users to use their own laptops.

We also use Citrix Gateway, Access Gateway, and SD-WAN to protect our environment.

How has it helped my organization?

It has given us the ability for people to access the apps that are on-premise, meaning users can work from home or from anywhere. It's allowed the business to carry on like it did before COVID. As a result, COVID hasn't had an impact on the productivity of our users while they're working remotely. Users have been able to carry on working the way they did when they were in the office. If this was not in place, our staff would not have been able to work and we would have lost productivity.

Our company supports Zero Trust as a security strategy and Citrix is excellent as an end-to-end solution for implementing Zero Trust principles. We are able to use security analytics to determine whether a device or a user has been compromised and we can actually then log the user off or block the user from accessing our Citrix environment. That gives us great peace-of-mind.

In addition, the security of our intellectual property and data when remote employees are using the solution is strengthened significantly because data does not leave the business thanks to Virtual Apps and Desktops. Our previous solution was a full VPN, and that gave users the ability to leak data. With Virtual Apps and Desktops, it's a lot more difficult to do that.

It has also given us the ability to implement business continuity plans, with the example I mentioned above being one that we have already implemented.

Another way this solution improves the way we function is that it provides intelligent analytics for proactive detection of malicious user behaviors. We're using the security analytics from Citrix and it improves our security operations because we've made central rules. If somebody breaches the rules, the analytics will kick in and stop that user from working. It has enabled us to detect breaches both before and during their occurrence. It has saved us a lot of time because it automatically blocks malicious users.

Furthermore, it provides access control based on device, location, end-user device, or application. That improves our security posture because if you don't want somebody from a malicious location to access things, it will block them.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to connect to our on-premise applications, through the Workspace app and the Workspace experience.

The user experience when using the solution's technology remotely is outstanding. Our users are able to work and it's seamless with fantastic performance.

The solution provides the flexibility of being used on any device. It improves the user experience because users are able to use whichever device they prefer.

The solution’s centralized policy control and distributed enforcement is a major benefit because it allows us to manage everything in one place. We can enable users to remotely connect and access local devices, and we can change that in one place. It will then either lock it down or give the user the abilities granted. It's all done in one place.

In addition, the solution's user behavior analytics for detecting anomalies and enforcing security policies works. When you put rules in place, they are enforced and the solution will immediately prevent unwanted activity from happening. Our security is improved as a result because our staff who manage security don't have to worry. Citrix is doing the work for them.

What needs improvement?

At the moment, we are not using Citrix Endpoint Management. It has provided obstacles preventing it from working on our system.

The visibility the solution provides across SaaS, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, for user and application traffic, is also limited if you do not enable all the services and is based on which services you are utilising. Citrix provides end-to-end visibility based on their services you are utilising.

In addition, improved "how-to" guides would be hugely beneficial in setting the products up.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops for the last seven months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable at the moment. We haven't had any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is incredibly easy to scale.

We have about 200 users of the solution in our company. Everybody, every single role in the business, uses it. It has been adopted 100 percent in our company, but we use the solution to showcase what's possible to other companies.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is not too bad. It's okay. It's not 100 percent great. I would give it 85 or 90 percent. There's room for improvement.

With the cloud services there isn't enough understanding of the different services within the solution. We've got more than one product from them and for some of the products there is good support and for some of the products there is not good support. I've had a call open for quite a while and it's still not resolved.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before Citrix we used VPN. We enabled Citrix for the business because it was a simpler solution and provided a great user experience. To roll out the VPN solution for everybody would have taken too long during a state of urgency. Also, there was a concern that capacity on the firewall might not handle all the user connections. With Citrix, there will be limited impact on the network and cost savings on data usage compared to normal VPN.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy. The team built the whole environment in two weeks, and it would usually take six months if you had to do so on-premise. With the cloud, it's a lot faster.

The implementation strategy was to make sure we enabled users to work from home and that we provided them the tools they needed to be able to do their daily work. The strategy was to go with the cloud because it was quick and easy to deploy. With on-premise, while it wouldn't have been more expensive, the time to do it would have been much longer.

We use two people to deploy the solution, senior engineers or one of our leading architects.

What about the implementation team?

We did it ourselves as we're a Platinum Citrix partner.

What was our ROI?

There would have been increase in data cost for the business as the usage for VPN would have required bigger data bundles to be provided for the end users and with Citrix the data usage went down as the technology does not required a lot of data. The users were also able to process more activities with Citrix Workspace in comparison to utilising VPN connections. The business had capacity on our current infrastructure which limited the cost to deploy the solution, the only cost was the software that was required like Citrix.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The licensing, in general, is expensive. A lot of customers battle to pay the amount. It's very difficult to ensure that your solution provides the business value that the customer is after.

In addition to the standard licensing fees you need to pay Microsoft licensing as well.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you do a proper assessment and plan the rollout properly. That will ensure that the product is a success. Understand what the use cases are and if the Citrix solution is the right use case for the problem that you have. Explain what the business value is, because sometimes it's difficult to explain that.

User training is something that is important so that people understand how to use the product. This is important because the new way of working through one workspace is something that users still need to understand and get use to.

It provides an integrated platform but I wouldn't say it does everything you need to do. It's a step in the right direction. The value that the security analytics bring is to ensure that there are no malicious attacks. You enable the product and you don't have to worry about it. You need to do some maintenance on it at times, but it improves security for you.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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