Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Review

Offers more flexible possibilities of managing business continuity plans and performance everywhere for end users


VIDEO

What is our primary use case?

In the beginning, the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops was designed for our COVID-19 business continuity plan. We use a lot of Citrix Desktops (for around 600 people). The desktop was built for out of office work, whitelisting clients, for all work done with a personal computer, and for the business continuity in a white room with dedicated computers. Today, we have changed the total design using enterprise laptops for everybody, so the desktop is gone and we only publish applications for end users.

The profile between the Citrix published applications and the broker profile on the laptop is permitted to use the same profile and the same settings for the user in Citrix and the laptop. It is a mix of both environments.

We are deployed in two parts: Belgium and Luxembourg. In Belgium, we have around 20 sessions concurrently, which are 100 percent deployed on-premise. In Luxemburg, we have around 400 sessions concurrently.

Today, we use only Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. In the past, we also used Citrix Gateway to bring Citrix on a government forum or working with a personal computer, though this part is totally void today.

While we use it on-premise, we are using it more and more for cloud applications and infrastructure. Workers run applications on-prem to segregate correctly the access rights. All our tasks are on-premise, which is a positive for our security and the regulatory authority.

How has it helped my organization?

There was a scenario where a user built very small films for internal communication on his laptop via the VPN using the NAS file system. It's not the best solution. This takes around 45 minutes. With this use case, we installed all the tools on Citrix. Now, the user can build his film in a maximum of two minutes. It was an incredible improvement for the user. Today, this is the best case of Citrix usage for end user experience, using the full capabilities of the server in the data center.

Our organization supports Zero Trust as a security strategy. However, the Zero Trust strategy in the bank is done via the VPN. Also, all laptops connected out of the bank are via VPN. We don't use the full Citrix landscape to do this today.

For all applications in the bank, we set up Active Directory groups to have access rights. All users can access a lot of applications, but the rights are given one by one for each application. Therefore, it's very centralized at the Active Directory level.

The business continuity plan was 100 percent based on Citrix and the client. Today, it is a little different because everybody has a laptop, but the main applications are still available on Citrix. This offers the more flexible possibilities of managing business continuity plans and performance everywhere for end users.

In Luxembourg, a user can use business applications with Citrix inside the building. Then, outside the building, that user cannot use the business applications because we cut the usage of Citrix.

What is most valuable?

We can provide tons of applications with different settings, behaviors, and operating systems. It is the same way for the user. Then, we are totally transparent for the user to use a lot of totally different applications, which is the most important part of Citrix today.

Remotely, the user can use his personal computer with a VPN to the bank, as there is not always WiFi. We have seen very low boundaries in some cases. With the Citrix application, we provide very beautiful applications. We are running without a lot of resources in the data center and the user doesn't see it. It's totally transparent for them.

What needs improvement?

In the bank, a major part of all our applications is Microsoft App-V. If App-V is at end of life, then we need a new technology to replace it. As of today, I haven't seen in Citrix Studio that there is a new technology embedded directly in it to replace App-V.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops for more than 10 years. We started with a full complement of Citrix features, but today we only use a small portion of it. This changed over the years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is great. It is not evident to me whether the lack of stability is linked with the new data center, due to a Citrix issue or new component in the new data center. However, in the past, Citrix was very stable. 

In the beginning, we had more than 70 users with only one reboot per week. I have heard that some companies rebooted every day at night. For us, that was not mandatory. The solution has been very stable with the condition that our applications are packaged correctly.

We plan to migrate to the latest LTSR version next year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of Citrix is incredible because we use the Provisioning Services (PVS) solution. With this technology, the same image can be streamed to all servers. With this technology, I don't need to install, reinstall, nor repackage it. 

Globally, we have 600 to 700 users with Citrix access in the company. Their roles of Citrix users are private banker, operations, and sales. 

How are customer service and technical support?

There is not so much support because the solution is very stable. However, we use Citrix ShareFile, and for this, all calls are solved within five hours. Citrix is very good for our usage today, and we haven't had a big issue.

How was the initial setup?

We have been using Citrix for a long time. Building and first implementing Citrix was a little complex. We have a lot of components. However, when you manage all of them correctly, then it's easy. 

The first time, it was a little complicated to build the first images. Today, with versions, this is easy. We built a new image in four hours, which is incredible. Over time, we have improved the function and management of Citrix.

Implementation in the bank was in three steps: 

  1. We implemented it in a test environment, like a beta environment, with a beta tester and system engineer to improve the solution and application, then checked everything was working. 
  2. In the acceptance environment, we set up all the same settings as production. We asked key users to validate everything: applications and behaviors. 
  3. We copied-pasted this environment (if everything was okay) into production for end users and key users. It had totally the same environment with the same behavior. Then, we validated all the environments from acceptance to production directly on the same Citrix environment. 

Acceptance and production are only one big environment where acceptance and production workers cohabit in separate tools and where all users can go into the acceptance or production environments by default. When we validate a new disk or function in a new application, we go to acceptance with just an Active Directory group to validate the solution. This is really great.

What about the implementation team?

In the beginning, we used a partner as an integrator to help us design the Citrix and implement the first part. We have been using a partner for maintenance and upgrades because we don't have the knowledge at this moment about the newest version of Citrix. 

As partners, we used Acidos to build our first version, then we used SecureLink. However, I don't think the Citrix partner aspect of SecureLink's company exists anymore.

We deployed the first bit with our partner. We did this with seven or eight system engineers to build and go through tests. That was the first version. Today, for Belgium and Luxembourg, we have only three system engineers to maintain and publish new applications.

What was our ROI?

With Citrix, we saved a lot in the past for the business continuity plan. Today, it is not so much, but we still make money because the performance is there.

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

If you look at cost, then you must look at the number of users that you are covering. If you are only using it for some users, then it is very expensive. However, if you have a massive amount of users, then it begins to be interesting to use Citrix. Because once you are managing thousands of servers with one guy, your maintenance costs decrease per user.

Another major cost is Microsoft because Microsoft Windows costs them. We also need a license for SQL server, Windows Server, and Citrix Remote PC. These are extra costs for the solution that are not covered by the license.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We haven't evaluated similar solutions. We don't have any other solutions for replacing the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop. Therefore, I think we will stay with Citrix for a long time.

We use other tools for analysis, not the Citrix tools and analytics. We don't use the Citrix tools because all our firewalls are not Citrix Firewalls.

All our detection and monitoring are not done via the Citrix environment because we have other tools for that.

What other advice do I have?

There has been a lot of improvement in the application. We use the application for so many different things and areas of security. It is incredible what we can do with Citrix. It provides total transparency for us.

Today, it does not provide the flexibility of being used on any device because we use it on enterprise laptops. However, in the past, users could use their personal computer. It covered a lot of models and brands, and it was totally transparent for us. We only asked, "Please install Citrix receivers," then the rest is transparent for the system engineer. 

It is not clear for this moment if we will increase the usage of Citrix, because we don't know where the user will be working going forward (at the office, home, or another country).

I would rate it an eight out of 10. It's not only Virtual Apps and Desktops. Also, other products that I see from Citrix on the market are good. They look for the best performance solution for the end user.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

7.15 LTSR
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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