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Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Application Virtualization tools. It is most often compared to VMware Horizon View: Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops vs VMware Horizon View

What is Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops?

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provide granular access control, advanced system monitoring and an inherently secure architecture by providing remote access to Windows and Linux apps and desktops secured in the datacenter. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops enable IT to deliver on-demand apps and desktops to any device.

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is also known as XenDesktop, XenApp (Citrix Virtual Apps).

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Buyer's Guide

Download the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Customers

Exelon, Aeronamic, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alameda County Medical Center, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Aloysius Stichting, Amarchand Mangaldas, AmBev, Amnet Technology Solutions, Arval

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops pricing:
  • "In terms of pricing with the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, I think it has gotten better over the years. Citrix has found more dynamic ways to be able to revive licensing models that fit many different scenarios that organizations have. We have been able to evolve our own licensing over the years to accommodate our situations between concurrent versus user device licenses. Now, when we move into the Citrix Workspace realm, we definitely have some awesome options there."
  • "The cost of the Citrix software reflects what I would expect a product of that nature, in that market, to be. Understanding the licensing is quite a bit more complicated, because one of the things about Citrix is that you can buy licensing at different levels... Yet I still like the idea because it means that if all you need is a basic load balancing solution, then you don't need to buy an advanced or premium license."
  • "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."
  • "Citrix is a mid-range cost solution compared to some others out there."
  • "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."

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Reviews

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Rod MacCormack
Technical Team Lead at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Video Review
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Allows the end user device flexibility when remotely accessing my organization's resources

Pros and Cons

  • "In terms of scalability, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops have a lot of technologies baked in there that allow an organization to scale up or down, as required. Further, leveraging Azure for scalability has added value to our organization. For example, pre-COVID-19, we had very few resources in Azure. We had some Virtual Desktops and no application servers. When COVID-19 came along, we knew people were going to be home. We knew that we had to ramp up very quickly. We fully leveraged MCS to be able to scale. Being able to take a single image and build 400,000 Virtual Desktops, all within minutes, was second to none in terms of any other technology out there that we could have used. The scalability to be able to do that in Azure, where we really don't have to worry about storage and compute power because Microsoft does that for us, was fantastic. It was almost like giving our environments steroids. It has been amazing in terms of that scalability. Now, as people start coming back to the office, we can just as quickly scale down so the compute and resource costs in Azure aren't so great anymore."
  • "I think improvement around the Analytics piece is super important. There has been a lot of maturity over the last year in that area, though a lot more needs to be done. Also, a lot more of the value of those Analytics needs to be sold to end users. Citrix is working on a lot of things that are ahead of the curve and a lot of organizations aren't quite there yet with implementing those technologies and capabilities."

What is our primary use case?

We have a ton of use cases. Ever since COVID-19 happened, my organization sent everybody home to work. Using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has been absolutely critical in keeping our core business functionality going as well as keeping everybody happy, like our customers.

We are a utility. Within our municipality, we are considered an essential service. As an extension of that, using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is absolutely critical to making sure that customers are happy, because we keep the lights on, literally and figuratively, for our customers. 

We currently use Citrix across the board. With people working from home, whether they're on a laptop that's maintained by our organization or a personal laptop, they use Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops primarily. We have about 98 percent of people using it today. The use cases vary from actual developers using EDIs to customer service agents who answer the phone for actual customers of my organization. We also have an IT support staff. 

We have all kinds of use cases today, pretty much right across the board. With the agile and dynamic way that Citrix technologies are, we are able to solve each one of those use cases quite well. It is quite impressive how it has all come together

What I currently use in my organization is Citrix Cloud. Within Citrix Cloud, we use Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops as a service. So, we are fully-baked into the cloud in regards to that. Being in Citrix Cloud, the version gets increased on a regular basis. I'm not sure where we are at right now, but it's always pretty new.

How has it helped my organization?

My organization is an essential service. It has been very conservative when it comes to any lockdown policies within our organization. So, they sent people home very early, and it will be awhile before people are working from the office again. Keeping the lights on at my organization, both figuratively and because they are a utility, is absolutely critical and all of that work right now is being done on the backbone of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops with its easy ability to connect via my organization's resources regardless of what device that the user is working on, having that ability to connect from high latency or low latency connections, having consistency of experience when logging in is super critical, and having the analytics to give us data around performance and security has been fantastic because we have been able to make tweaks and optimizations as we go after putting so much load on our Citrix infrastructure.

All of those things combined have been super important in adding value to my organization and how we work now. Before COVID-19 and work from home happened, my organization had approximately 500 concurrent sessions connecting at once. Now, we are up to (because of work from home and COVID-19), we are up to 2,000 connections at once. So, the whole organization is pretty much going through Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, utilizing those services. Having the agility to be able to build out our infrastructure to match the increase in usage has been super key as well. This means technologies within Virtual Apps and Desktop service, such as Machine Creation Services (MCS), and having the ability to build Virtual App and Desktop servers in Azure or on-premise as needed. This has also been super critical because as our user base has grown by four times, then we have had to grow our resources within our Citrix environment by four times.

Remotely, it allows the end user to have the flexibility to be able to access my organization's resources on whatever device they are on, whether it be an iPhone, Android, device that my organization gave them, or their own personal laptop. That is number one. It starts there around that end user experience, giving those users that flexibility to use whatever endpoint device that they want. Around performance and metrics, the Analytics are key. It allows us to identify any pain points that users might have and make quick actions around those things, whether it be increasing resources on some servers/Virtual Desktops or looking at our group policies to optimize them some more. That has been pretty critical for us.

Overall connectivity has been great. Citrix is an industry leader in remote access protocol. This allows anyone from a super high latency connection to fiber Internet connectivity to be able to access our resources and have a similar experience because of the protocols that Citrix uses. It is all of those things combined that allow us to offer end users the best experience that we can. This is really piggybacking off of the mature technologies that Citrix has to offer.

Our organization sports Zero Trust in a few different ways, but we have a ways to go to that model of security. Citrix will be pretty crucial in that. Whereas, we have those capabilities there to offer conditional access, in regards to our end users, we're just not there yet. However, just having the capabilities there and knowing that we can implement them when my organization is ready. This is really crucial because that is one roadblock that we don't have to worry about. The technology is there to be able to do it. It is just a matter of figuring out how we are going to implement those Zero Trust policies, then implementing them when the time is right.

I would describe the solution's centralized policy control and distributed enforcement as robust and agile. I would describe the policies around it as being super secure and well-thought-out. They have the ability to implement policies, getting those policies applied to the sessions and devices that we need them to in a super quick time, which is critical.

Citrix has always been super-focused on being platform agnostic. That has been one of the core tenants of their approach to their technology. I keep on going back to Citrix being flexible with whatever technology that their clients are on, and that certainly is the case with my organization. That is super critical. We know that whatever decisions are made in our organization, in terms of where our resources go, Citrix will be there to support us around that. Having that layer of security offered around those analytics and ability to action items based on those analytics right away is super key.

The utilization of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has been highly secure. Right from the get go, we have policies in place that prevent anyone from copying data from the data center, application servers, and network share drives to their client device, then back the other way. We have that ideal perfect segregation between corporate data and personal endpoint devices. So, we have had no concerns in regards to security, because of these policies, features, and security are inherently built into Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops are a part in our business continuity strategies: 100 percent. With the agility that it provides, it is able to connect to whatever resource locations are out there, whether it be Azure, AWS, or on-prem. It has been super critical in allowing us to build out that business continuity strategy now. Over the course of the last year, we have built out our business continuity strategy a great deal. What that looks like is that we still manage everything through our central Citrix Cloud service, but our resources are equally split between two of our on-prem data centers, Active-Active. So, we have an Active-Active Citrix strategy in place today. Being able to build two to three years down has really been a huge value to my organization, ensuring that whatever happens out there, we will be able to keep the lights on and keep people working.

What is most valuable?

Overall, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops are highly agile and supported on pretty much whichever platform that you're on. So, the features of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops that we find most valuable in my organization overall are the agility, where we can deploy Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops at my organization. We have resources in Azure, primarily, but we also have resources in AWS and on-prem. We have all kinds of different operating systems as well. We have users who need to access applications on sort of a one-off basis. We also have users who need to access full-blown desktops that live within our data center, either in Azure or on-prem. Just having the ability to serve all those use cases and needs by using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is absolutely critical. 

Another thing that we really enjoy about it is the fact that we're in Citrix Cloud. Using the service within Citrix Cloud really gives us the ability to not worry about the infrastructure components, because it is a software as a service methodology. Citrix really worries about what those updates look like and ensures that the uptime is as high as possible. This allows my team to focus on the high value items, which is the end user, end user security, and user experience. I think having Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops as a service is really critical for us to do what we need to do and really focus on the things that are important to us as an organization, and we were able to do that quickly, rapidly, seamlessly, and without any user disruption.

When COVID-19 happened and other companies were faced with sending their workforces home, it was very quickly recognized that organizations, certainly in the city where I live, who weren't using Citrix technologies were really struggling with having their folks work from home. However, it has been widely touted within my organization, when we sent everyone home, there were no disruptions whatsoever. We were able to quickly and seamlessly build out and up our environment to suit the company's needs. All of those things have been of super high value, allowing our company to operate.

The third thing that we find absolutely valuable and critical are the Analytics. Citrix has been maturing their Analytics platform over time. It is in a mature state now where we are able to highlight any user's pain points around user experience, security issues/vulnerabilities or bad actors, and security scenario concerns that might be out there. This has been very important for us, as it allows us to get that data into the hands of the right teams so they can action it as quickly as possible. This way, we can offer a safe, secure, highly capable user experience.

We use Citrix ADC. Currently, that is where all of the traffic flows in for us. Anybody connecting to Citrix today flows in through a Citrix ADC environment. Through that, we are able to monitor all the traffic, where they are coming from, and how often they come through. So, we have our security analytics tools that tie into that information quite tightly. Therefore, any bad actors or anomalies get quickly identified, then they get quickly actioned by our operational team as soon as IT security makes us aware of them.

We also use Remote PC Access, which has been a huge bonus for us. It is number one from a security perspective. Our employees can sort of connect through to our Citrix portal and access desktops sitting in the office in a safe and secure manner. We have segregation and data leakage policies in place, which prevent any data from flowing outside of our organization. So, it is quite secure. If you think of it from a full-on perspective, we have Citrix Cloud users connect into our Citrix portal, then we have Analytics there monitoring for traffic and any anomalies or bad actors flowing through our Citrix Cloud implementation, where we have more analytics baked in where we can identify any sort of scenarios that might pose a danger to my organization. To the actual endpoint itself within our building, there are rich analytics, which are being drawn, and can help inform us around any sort of security concerns that might be going on.

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provide everything for us within one integrated platform. With COVID-19 and working from home, it has become clearly apparent that all the use cases currently in my organization have been absolutely met with the services and capabilities that Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provide. This comes down to our users having a better end user experience and us having the capability of having analytics around that we can tweak and optimize as we go. The ease of manageability for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is huge. We are able to get away with doing a much better job at managing that environment now with less people than we did before.

What needs improvement?

I think improvement around the Analytics piece is super important. There has been a lot of maturity over the last year in that area, though a lot more needs to be done. Also, a lot more of the value of those Analytics needs to be sold to end users. Citrix is working on a lot of things that are ahead of the curve and a lot of organizations aren't quite there yet with implementing those technologies and capabilities. 

Another area that Citrix could improve on, which has nothing to do with the technology, is just selling to its customers, e.g., the importance of taking advantage of those capabilities that are right within the services that they already pay for. 

These are two key areas that Citrix could improve upon and are kind of an extension to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

For how long have I used the solution?

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has gone through some sort of an evolution over the years. Personally, I have been using it for a good 17 to 18 years altogether. In its current iteration of using Citrix Cloud and more of a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops as a service, I have been using that for the past five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops stability is completely robust. With Citrix Cloud, Citrix manages all the infrastructure, taking care of the availability. They take care of any business continuity worries. We really just need to focus on our core skill sets. It has been fantastic.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops have a lot of technologies baked in there that allow an organization to scale up or down, as required. Further, leveraging Azure for scalability has added value to our organization. For example, pre-COVID-19, we had very few resources in Azure. We had some Virtual Desktops and no application servers. When COVID-19 came along, we knew people were going to be home. We knew that we had to ramp up very quickly. We fully leveraged MCS to be able to scale. Being able to take a single image and build 400,000 Virtual Desktops, all within minutes, was second to none in terms of any other technology out there that we could have used. The scalability to be able to do that in Azure, where we really don't have to worry about storage and compute power because Microsoft does that for us, was fantastic. It was almost like giving our environments steroids. It has been amazing in terms of that scalability. Now, as people start coming back to the office, we can just as quickly scale down so the compute and resource costs in Azure aren't so great anymore.

We have really leveraged Smart Tools to be able to scale up and down. They let us see what the cost looks like, because that is always a consideration. An organization always wants to be able to build the right amount of resources to serve our end users needs, but not more than what is actually needed, because that will just cost an organization more money. The Analytics, Smart Tools, and Machine Creation Services are allowed to do all of these things in a transparent way as well as scale up and down very quickly.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support has been fantastic. We have the ability to call into our Citrix technical support folks and create tickets within the Citrix Cloud console. The ease of creating tickets has been great. The support that we have been given around issues ranging from very small to very large issues has been fantastic. That support has been even more motivated by our account rep who lives in the city that we are at and we have a good rapport with, as well as our sales engineer. Between the partnership of our account rep, sales engineer, and the IT supports folks, we have had a great experience. It is something that we never hesitate to utilize. They have been great consultants whenever we have had to ask general questions. They have been great troubleshooters whenever we have had minor or major issues. Across the board, it has been really great. We are super happy with the support.

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

We had a previous iteration of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, which was a XenDesktop farm. We have just continued to grow with Citrix over the years as Citrix evolved. 

We have tried VPN solutions and Microsoft Remote Desktop, but none have provided the agility, robustness, and stability that we have needed to give our end users when it comes to doing their core functions.

In terms of security, VPN definitely raises some eyebrows. You have endpoints out in the wild at people's homes and cafes utilizing a VPN connection that is a full tunnel into our data center. So, if that device becomes compromised, our data center can rightly become compromised. That was a huge concern for us. That is what Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provide for us: the segregation between our corporate data and the endpoint device. 

Remote Desktop uses RD Protocols, which are not nearly as mature as the protocols that Citrix uses. What we are seeing are stability issues, particularly during high latency and connections. We see jittering when it comes to videos. We just don't have that robustness when it comes to the connectivity that we do with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. So, in my experience with other organizations as well, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is just a really mature product that has been evolved over many years and continues to evolve. Citrix tends to always go back to those core capabilities, which have been super key for organizations like mine to be able to do as well as we can in such a distributed workforce.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is completely straightforward. We are in a Citrix Cloud environment, and that means that Citrix manages the entire bulk of the infrastructure components of our Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops farm. On-prem, what my folks really need to manage, are those high level things within the service of Citrix Cloud, like which apps get installed on which desktops and how we deploy absent servers. This is pretty high level stuff. There are just some servers that act as connectors to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop service, which are on-prem and in our Azure tenant that just allow that connectivity to Citrix Cloud. There is no maintenance whatsoever; they're evergreen. They get updated all the time. We basically set it and forget it when it comes to the Citrix connectors.

Because Citrix Cloud supports any kind of operating system out there, all we really need is an agent running on each of the endpoints, then that's it. We run the agent and make sure it is kept up-to-date. On the endpoints, we make sure that the agents are connecting to our Cloud Connectors. Then, Citrix basically does makes sure that infrastructure is up, running, and available.

For the deployment, not much staff at all was required. I was the main technical lead when it came to the deployment. Citrix Consulting services just needed some inputs that were pretty specific to the organization itself. Those types of inputs included what the environment looks like, service accounts, etc. That low down deep technical stuff is really specific to each organization. 

Citrix Consulting services did everything else. They did the solution design and the implementation itself. They did the additional training with additional individuals, so it was an easy implementation from my organization's perspective. There was not much overhead at all. That's why we go to Citrix time and time again for these implementations.

When you are in my position as a leader, finding a technology, such as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, that you believe in, which does a great job as well as will be there for whatever future plans your organization has, that is super key. You have to keep selling that technology and make sure it has a footprint within your organization as much as possible, because that's technology you can rely on when the time comes and everybody has to work from home, or things happen around natural disasters. So, it is super critical.

What about the implementation team?

Our deployment took probably three months altogether, not very long at all. For Citrix Cloud, we had Citrix Consulting services come in and do that for us. We have always been super happy with Citrix Consulting services. They have such fantastic people. They have such huge talent on their bench. They help organizations, such as ours, do what we need to do in the Citrix space. So, we had them come in, and for three months, they implemented the product. It was super straightforward. Everything was documented. 

When it came time to hand that service off to our operational staff, it was super easy. The overhead of managing Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is way less than it was when we had our on-prem farm with Citrix. So, we are super happy with the ease of manageability and the implementation that took place as well as the professionalism and maturity of that implementation. Things went super smoothly, and we couldn't have been happier.

What was our ROI?

It has absolutely saved the organization money. If you think of just overall support of having all that support and manageability within a single pane of glass, that has been super critical. We have two people who manage the workloads of 2,000 people working from home, and that's critical and super key. That saves us time, effort, and money. With Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops being so mature around being centrally-managed, we are able to send people home and not need to have any consideration for what devices that we need to send home with them. Whatever device they have on their desk, they can take with them. We know what will be fully supported when they try to connect to our Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service when they get home. That has also saved us a lot of time, money, and support.

I just can see the tremendous value that it has given us. The stability that the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has given people to be able to keep up their productivity and mitigate their downtime. In theory, I can see it with my own eyes every day, but we haven't actually crunched those numbers. That would be something I would be very interested to see.

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

In terms of pricing with the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, I think it has gotten better over the years. Citrix has found more dynamic ways to be able to revive licensing models that fit many different scenarios that organizations have. We have been able to evolve our own licensing over the years to accommodate our situations between concurrent versus user device licenses. Now, when we move into the Citrix Workspace realm, we definitely have some awesome options there. 

I think Citrix is always willing to negotiate different models. They try to offer their clients flexible options to license their products. We have been very happy with the way that our licensing has worked out with Citrix.

What other advice do I have?

For anyone who is thinking about getting into Virtual Apps and Desktops and utilizing that in their organization, I would really start thinking about what use cases would make the most sense. In the past, Citrix has been very heavily focused on the remote worker. So, at other organizations that I've worked with, we've had people distributed in the field: working in mines, the fields, and at oil and gas plants. Having that centralized management for people who are working out in the field is a critical use case. Think about the workers in your organization who meet that use case and it is a no-brainer in terms of trying out the technology with them. There are other use cases as well, like developers and other business units who may require a second or third desktop for testing and development work outside of their primary machine that may be managed by their organization.

Often organizations have third-party contractors who come in and do work for that organization. Having that segregation of data between what is in the data center and what is on the endpoint is critical when third-party contractors come in with their own company's laptops and want to do work for your organization. Having the ability to ramp up or down and give or take away access very quickly without a worry for security and data leakage is another no-brainer use case. 

It all comes back to use cases and which ones you start implementing. As organizations get more used to this technology, they will see the true value in it build very quickly.

When you look at this pandemic, all our use cases had to start using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops in my organization. They did this without any downtime whatsoever. That has been super key. Another critical use case that people don't often think about that you're going to need to be ready for is a natural disaster that may hit your company where people can't work from that office anymore. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provide that readiness for you right out of the gate.

We do have the capability today to provide intelligent analytics for proactive detection of malicious user behaviors. However, it's not a capability that we're utilizing a great deal. Over the next year, that's certainly something that we're going to be building more into our strategy. I think that's the real critical thing when it comes to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops; it's not a stagnant type of technology. Citrix invests a lot of development in maturing this product and building it out along with more capabilities. So, a lot of companies, like ours, are playing catch up with a lot of these capabilities. Knowing that Citrix is putting research and development in their product as much as they are and we have those capabilities, that barrier is non-existent when it comes to the technology. This is really critical because now we are able to plan and implement those types of strategies in a timeline that is best for us, because we know that the technology will be there to serve that.

We do have a posturing policy in place today that does a sort of loose assessment of what the endpoint looks like, providing access accordingly. That posturing is done at the Citrix ADC level. The engine that does that has been pretty important in allowing us to ensure that only those devices that we allow into our organization get into our organization and get access to only the resources that we allow them to get access to.

Admittedly, we haven't really gotten too far into the behaviour analytics capability at my organization. I do see it as supercritical. It is a capability that we want to build into our solution over the next year, but it's not something that we are using right now. From what I have seen, it will serve all of our needs. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, its analytics, and security policies will allow us to quickly identify any anomalies in an automated type of fashion using AI, which will allow the technology to act upon those anomalies without any human intervention. I think that's key. Whenever you see huge outbreaks in vulnerabilities at organizations, it always tends to come down to that human intervention and the delay in an actual human doing that analytics themselves by assessing and acting. Whereas, Citrix technologies, within the Virtual Apps and Desktops space, have those capabilities already automated. That will be really important when my organization moves to implementing this methodology in the coming year. 

Another capability that we could be using that we're not currently today is the solution’s automated analytics. The infrastructure has been maturing at my organization, and we are moving into a place where we can utilize these technologies and capabilities. Right now, we're not really using it, but I do recognize its value and that's something that my organization will definitely be looking at over the next year.

In terms of identifying malicious actors within my organization, we have only implemented it and are using a very tertiary level. However, as my organization matures more than moving into those types of capabilities over the next year, that is definitely something else that we'll be able to take advantage of.

Our Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environment is very well-organized. About 98 percent of our organization currently relies on Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops to keep the lights on and our business going. As the situation evolves with COVID-19 and work from home programs, where some people come into the office and some people continue working from home on an ongoing basis, we will continue to leverage these technologies. I think we are going to continue to evolve the technologies that Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops use as we go. As an organization, we have serious eyes on Citrix Workspace. In the near, if we can use the Citrix Workspace and all its additional capabilities in conjunction with Virtual Apps and Desktops, I see that as a natural evolution of our Citrix environment. That will mean a better, more secure experience for the end-user community and organization as a whole.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using Virtual Apps and Desktops is how truly dynamic and scalable it is. COVID-19 and working from home has really put that environment and technology to the test, putting everyone to the test. It has allowed us to scale up as our user base has scaled up. The licensing model has allowed us to have that flexibility to scale up as needed. We have had a very small learning curve, as people have just picked up on the technology. They know exactly what to do because it has been very intuitive in that regard.

I would probably rate this solution between an eight and nine (out of 10). That rating would certainly be way above and beyond any other remote technologies that I have used in the past.

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.
MB
CIO at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Helps us deliver a range of services, like load balancing, remote control, remote access, and a unique thin-client workstation on wheels

Pros and Cons

  • "Among the most valuable features is the Citrix Workspace, which allows us to drive that thin-client connection and the remote control/remote access capabilities. Those things have allowed us to connect an awful lot of people quickly from home and that's obviously helped during the pandemic."
  • "Where improvement could be driven is in terms of clarity as to the functionality of some of the solutions. If you go back to the older Citrix Xen products that we had, we understood those really well. As we've come into the new workstation premium suite, there is a lot of additional functionality that we perhaps have not yet fully exploited. It is not because we can't, but simply because we don't yet understand the depth of functionality that's offered."

What is our primary use case?

As a care provider we provide hospital and community health services with around 3,200 staff at the hospital and a further 650 community staff who work in local clinics and in patients' homes. On 1st April 2020, we acquired our first primary care practice as part of our move towards being an integrated care system.

In terms of Citrix our biggest use case is for remote access and remote control. The former provides a VPN connection and the latter a published desktop. Prior to the onset of the COVID virus we had a 200 concurrent connection license covering both types of connection but today, following an NetScaler upgrade we now have a license for 1,000 concurrent users. Typically we're running 500 to 600 connections out to those locations every day.

Our hospital systems are a mix of SaaS and on-premises solutions. Our primary clinical platform is the Cerner Millennium electronic patient record (EPR) system, and that is delivered entirely over Citrix. However, we also use Citrix on-premises to deliver a range of services, including modern workspace, sharefile, load balancing (over 4 NetScaler’s) and of course remote control and remote access. Recently we have been working with Citrix to develop a thin-client workstation-on-wheels, for use on our hospital wards and believe this to be the first of its type. That's really where the relationship with Citrix has stepped up, because we're doing some new, innovative work.

We've consolidated all of our previous licenses into the latest version of the Citrix Workspace Premium Plus package to optimise the value received from the investment and are shortly to tender for a new support package that we expect will see us engage directly with Citrix.

How has it helped my organization?

The Citrix technologies allows us to do some clever things. For example, it has enabled our Radiologists review images that are quite large at home. Imagine trying to squeeze a 20Gb mammogram down a broadband connection, it is simply not practical. Yet by combining the Citrix technology with a specialist workstation from our Imaging partner, we're now able to have radiologists working successfully from home, reviewing MRIs, CTs, plain films, etc., because all we're sending are keystrokes and screen updates.

In terms of Security. Our organization has achieved the Cyber Essentials Plus security accreditation. My organization takes security very seriously. In fact, as far as I know, we're the only hospital in our region that has three full-time staff who work on security within the IT department. We very much take that Zero Trust position and ensure that we provide the necessary policies and controls to protect our organization, but not to the point where we impact our agility or flexibility in terms of supporting people who genuinely have a need.

We've built a strategic relationship with Citrix and we use a lot of their products for everything that we do. I would rate the Citrix stack highly as an end-to-end solution for implementing Zero Trust principles. It's allowed us to do a lot of things quickly and flexibly, and some of the functionality that has become available as we've moved into the newer, more advanced versions of the Citrix software, have proved very beneficial.

What is most valuable?

Among the most valuable features is the Citrix Workspace, which allows us to drive that thin-client connection and the remote control/remote access capabilities. Those things have allowed us to connect an awful lot of people quickly from home and that's obviously helped during the pandemic. There's a concern right now that a second wave of the Corona pandemic is on its way so we're gearing up now to enable a second wave of staff work either from home or from an alternate location. This way we can reduce the number of non-clinical staff in the hospital whilst not degrading the services we provide in any way. Fundamentally we are seeking to keep the number of staff working at the hospital down to only those who actually need to be there.

The user experience, when using Citrix technology remotely, is very good. It's easy to use and I say that with some authority because I've been working from home now for about six months. I've been able to do my role as the CIO entirely from home. I log on through the Citrix gateway first thing in the morning when I start the day and I stay logged in until 5:30 or 6:00 o'clock at night. I've been able to gain access pretty much whenever I want and it's just two clicks to get me there.

I've got friends who work on the wards who use the Citrix client on our workstations-on-wheels and they find it relatively easy. They load the Citrix client, they click on the link to the EPR, and that's it, off they go. Because it's a thin client, because we're not dragging huge amounts of stuff over the network, they get very good performance out of their equipment. And that's allowed us to extend the life of some of our very early workstations-on-wheels. Some of them are now four years old and are coming up for replacement. Indeed that's what we've been doing with Citrix, building the next generation of workstations-on-wheels, to benefit from what we've learned by working with Citrix and partners to deploy this new technology.

The prototype is built and is currently being tested. When we go live we'll see a big step forward in terms of the performance, a notable increase in battery life and the corresponding reduction in the number of times the unit has to be recharged.Those are things that our nurses have told us will be of benefit to them.

The solution also provides the flexibility of being used on any device. We have a mixture of Windows PCs, Android mobile devices, Apple tablets and other Apple devices. We have Citrix installed on all of those and it allows our users to use these devices for any number of things. They can use it for clinical access, bringing patient data quickly to the clinician. For example one such system is the EDM (electronic document management) system that holds the scans of all of our paper documents and using Citrix staff can switch between the EPR and EDM and so get a complete picture of the patient's health. On a more basic note it can also be used to access tasks lists, calendars and email – helping to manage busy lives at a time when hospital staff are working under extreme pressure.

It affects the employee experience in a very positive way because of the way in which we have combined the remote connectivity with the Citrix tools. That means that as long as you have the right level of authorization, you can access a great deal of information from anywhere, and you can do it in one of two ways. If you have a hospital device that belongs to the Trust, then you've got a very high level of access to a lot of information because we can then employ end-to-end security. But if you're at home and you're using your home computer, you can still connect. It's just that there is no data transfer and the performance is less through the published desktop than it would be through the remote connection. But both situations work really well and, obviously, have been tested very severely with the Coronavirus where, very quickly, we had to give a lot of people the ability to work from home. One of the ways we did that was to allow them to use their own computers and come in through the Citrix desktop connection.

It takes a little bit of work upfront to get it configured and operable, but given the length of time we've been working with Citrix and the strength of our relationship, we're normally able to get any glitches ironed out and resolved quickly. That allows us to provide both a strong suite of applications to our users and a good user experience.

In terms of automated analytics to detect serious performance issues, what happens is that Citrix work with us and provide a monthly health check. This service monthly provides a series of analytics reports and tell us that it's all working, or if there is any issue they work with us to get it resolved.

What needs improvement?

Where improvement could be driven is in terms of clarity as to the functionality of some of the solutions. If you go back to the older Citrix Xen products that we had, we understood those really well. As we've come into the new workstation premium suite, there is a lot of additional functionality that we perhaps have not yet fully exploited. It is not because we can't, but simply because we don't yet understand the depth of functionality that's offered.

We made the upgrade to the Workspace suite last year we had planned to train this year but then the pandemic struck. We've only had one thing on our minds since March and that's how do we keep the hospital running? How do we make sure we keep people safe? And how do we treat patients in the face of a once-in-a-century experience?

Citrix have offered to help with demos or presentations of these new features, but we also simply haven't had time to dive in.

For how long have I used the solution?

I joined the Trust on the third of January, 2017. At that point the Trust was already engaged with Citrix, so it's at least five years or more.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is absolutely rock-solid. I'm almost scared to say this, but throughout the whole stress of what we've been through over the last six or seven months due to COVID, Citrix hasn't missed a beat. It's been solid and reliable. We've had no downtime. It's been absolutely on the money, and given how critical it has been to get people connected and working, the 100 percent reliability has made me very happy.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're happy with the scalability. We were able to increase a 200-user solution to a 1,000-user solution simply by buying an upgrade to the license. We chose to buy two additional NetScalers, bringing our total to four, but that was largely because we bought the initial upgrade from 200 to 1,000 to allow us to connect the 640 staff who work in the community. But then, the hospital's need for remote access and remote control overtook that. That's what drove us then to buy a second set of NetScalers because we didn't really want to put some 4,000 users through just one gateway (pair). We felt having two gateways would be safer from a resilience point of view. And having two NetScalers per gateways means that we can take one down to do maintenance updates without disrupting the service.

In the next couple of months, we'll start to plan what next year's digital program looks like. The way in which we operate is that through November, December and January we engage with operational and clinical colleagues to determine how we are going to exploit IT to enable transformation going forward. We then build a digital program for our Digital Board to sign off on. As we go through that exercise, looking at how we can deliver better healthcare for our patients and improve the clinical experience, we will be looking to Citrix to help us understand how we can better exploit the new software that we've invested in. Normally by now, having bought it last year, we would have been well into it, but the pandemic has somewhat focused our minds elsewhere.

How are customer service and technical support?

Given that we are building these new, next-generation workstations for use in the clinical areas, it's been great to see just how much support and help we've had from our partners including Citrix. They've recognized that it is something new, that it is something that will help hospitals (not just ours) to deliver services that are more reliable and quicker in busy clinic areas and on wards. It's been a huge pleasure to work with some of their very senior people on a project of this scale.

You often find when you're working with tech organizations, and you step it up to do something that's not straight out of the sales catalog, that some step up well and some don't. Citrix have really stepped up well. They've kept in close contact with us, they've supported the design and they've helped us to consider options at the build level. We're delighted with that. We've built a prototype that's being tested at the moment and we look forward to that going into production. We'll probably hold some sort of press event to talk about what we've done. It's the strength of the partnership that we enjoy with Citrix has allowed us to do that.

How was the initial setup?

The very initial setup was done before I arrived at the Trust, but I have been involved in all the major iterations that we've gone through since. Some of them were relatively easy to do, others were more complex. Getting the license upgrade to increase the number of remote access sessions and upping the size and capability of the gateway was relatively easy. It took a few phone calls, purchasing of the license, and off you go. But configuring the VPN and the Citrix published desktop so that they work within the security model that we have did take more work than we had originally expected.

In some aspects, when you bring software products together from three different vendors, there is always a little work to do to get APIs aligned and to get the solutions talking to each other so that the user then gets a very slick experience. We do such things all the time with our IT department usually spending the most time on testing, especially when the solution is for use with patients. We seek to ensure that when we hand something to a busy doctor, a senior nurse or a therapist that they don't need to have an enormous amount of tech knowledge to be able to use it. They just click on the buttons, enter the information and press go, and it does what it needs to do.

In terms of how long these updates take, the remote access and remote control was a solution that was built for 200 concurrent users. Today, it's built for 1,000 concurrent users. It probably took about two weeks to agree on exactly what software license we needed to buy, about a week to procure it, and about three hours to embed it. That was quick and easy to do. 

In terms of the Citrix desktop, we couple that with a second form of authentication that comes from a third-party, and that took six to seven weeks. It didn't take that long to get it to work—we got it to work quite quickly—but it took that long to get it to work smoothly. It took time to work with the three different application vendors that were involved and iron out the bugs and make it work as we wanted. But most of it, particularly where it's just us dealing directly with Citrix, happens quickly and easily.

What was our ROI?

If you think about our ability to continue to operate as a healthcare organization during the pandemic, without Citrix we would have struggled. We would have found it very difficult to have so many people able to continue doing their day jobs from locations other than their normal bases. It is therefore fair to say that the ROI on our connectivity investment was excellent. Yet this does not stand in isolation as the delivery of our electronic patient record system using clinical workstations-on-wheels is all built over Citrix technology. Absolutely, for every pound we've spent, we've seen a good ROI.

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

I'm happy with the pricing. The cost of the Citrix software reflects what I would expect a product of that nature, in that market, to be.

Understanding the licensing is quite a bit more complicated, because one of the things about Citrix is that you can buy licensing at different levels. You can buy a basic license, which will give you the core functionality. You can buy an advanced license that will give you the core plus another layer, or you can buy a premium license, which provides a much wider set of functionalities. In truth I still struggle with some of the variations but with the aid of our reseller we usually find what we are looking for. Yet I still like the idea because it means that if all you need is a basic load balancing solution, then you don't need to buy an advanced or premium license. On the other hand, if you want to use the extra features that come with those higher-grade licenses, you can choose to do so, but you only pay for what you need.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The only comparable I can think of is that we use software from a different party for virtualizing servers. But we were aware that in terms of the ICA-type protocol, Citrix was the product that everyone was saying was the best. Indeed, I've worked with Citrix for a very long time - I guess a little over 20 years, so I never had really had any intentions of looking anywhere else because I believe that it's the right tool, to do what we need. In truth I have not seen any compelling evidence to make me think otherwise.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is to spend more time planning than you do implementing. Get what you need—the components that make up the solution—all agreed and lined up before you then commence the build work. I know that's really easy for someone like me to say, when you're under pressure and your organization needs something built very quickly. Therefore, to make sure that you generate the most benefit from your investment and you drive the features that really help, spending a little more time in the planning phase and making sure that you've got the right type of license, the right application or appliance required to do the job as this will save a lot of rebuild work or remodelling work down the line. It will also mean that if you want to grow it for scaling purposes, it will be far easier to do if you've thought about that before you implement the solution.

One of the lessons I have learned from using this solution is the fact that we have been able to be agile and respond to the needs of the organization through the use of the product. That has been a very good side of things. Another side of the lessons learned is that when we paid for the upgrade to move to the premium suite, we could have engaged earlier with Citrix to understand the additional functionality. We knew ahead of time that there was additional functionality, but in terms of the detail, we didn't get into that and then we got overtaken by the pandemic. In a normal year that wouldn't have mattered, but the lesson I've learned is that if we take an upgrade in the future, if we take the next step forward to a next generation of that software, I want to try to ensure that the purchase and the training of my engineers are closely coupled.

As for protecting our environment, we use Citrix Gateway, but the single sign-on is provided by another partner of ours. We have Tap and Go, Remote PC Access, Web App Gateway. We do have Web/URL filtering, but not from Citrix.

In terms of maintaining the solution, I have resources at both 2nd and 3rd line engineering that have Citrix skills and who look after the day-to-day stuff. In addition we have a contract through a Citrix partner and so can escalate calls that we can't handle. We spent time and effort putting our engineers through Citrix training. But occasionally, something comes up and we're not able to resolve it. At that point, we log a call via the partner and the partner's engineers, and Citrix's own engineers, get involved. Normally that results in a relatively quick resolution. The Citrix engineers clearly know the product really well. They'll quite often say, "Oh, we've seen this before. You need to do this or that or the other." As I said, we've had very few issues with reliability on the Citrix platform so those calls are actually quite rare.

Overall, I love it. It's been a really good product. It's helped my organization and helped me to deliver what the organization wants. For me, Citrix takes 10 out of 10.

For example, right now I'm at home, and my connection to the hospital runs over the Citrix VPN that we've created. We also have Citrix Remote PC Access, so if you are home and you're on your own computer, rather than one that belongs to the hospital, you can access the published desktop rather than having full VPN access.

We're a fairly big Citrix customer. We're doing some quite ground breaking stuff with them. We're beyond just being a customer. Traditionally, Citrix is positioned in the marketplace as a manufacturer. They sell through channels and the customer deals primarily with the partner. Because of the amount of work we've done, we primarily deal directly with Citrix themselves. There is a partner involved because that's the only way of doing the sales component of it, so if we want to buy something that has to be through the channel. But the work that we're doing is being done alongside engineers who are employed by Citrix rather than by the partner.

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.
Learn what your peers think about Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
541,108 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Jim Grimm
Citrix Engineer at a legal firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Provided us the flexibility to seamlessly get people working from home, even though that model wasn't the norm for our company

Pros and Cons

  • "The Provisioning Services are the most valuable feature. We have Premium licensing, so Provisioning Services is huge for us, along with the Virtual Apps and Desktops part. It allows us to have a vDisk for every region, one that can easily be copied between them if we need to, to limit the amount of updates we have to do."
  • "If anything could be improved, it might be some of the Director functionality, and some of the dashboard customization, or the overall Director customization."

What is our primary use case?

We deliver mainly desktops to all of our offices, using thin clients. Since we've been working from home during the pandemic, people just use their home computers to access their desktops. We deploy a desktop full of a standard set of applications, and we have a few published applications that are not on a desktop. People access those from that desktop, and some people access them as a published application and not a desktop.

We have people who have laptops and some of them just use one or two applications, so they don't get a full desktop. They'll just VPN from their laptop and use Citrix to access those few applications.

The following represent how Citrix technology is leveraged in our organization: application virtualization capabilities, on-premise desktop virtualization, and Remote PC access or remote access to physical desktops. We don't do the latter a lot, but we do publish remote desktop as a published application. Some use remote desktop to get back to their machines. We don't use the remote PC functionality. I wish we did, personally, but those are decisions that unfortunately get made elsewhere, and RDP was chosen versus publishing them as an ICA app to people.

How has it helped my organization?

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provides the flexibility of being used on any device, which makes it easier to work for many anywhere. The transition from people working in an office every day to working from home was seamless, for the most part for us, because almost everybody has a personal computer, whether it's a PC or a Mac. We had a lot of people go out and buy Chromebooks and any other type of device that they saw fit for themselves. They just logged in to our portal and launched their desktops, like they always would. It's very flexible.

The biggest benefit was when we had that transition when offices were closed due to the pandemic. We had thin clients in the offices, so people were already using Citrix whether they were in the office or not. The flexibility provided by that alone was invaluable, in just getting people able to work from home. That's what the product is supposed to do. We didn't really have work-from-as a model. People could do it, but it wasn't a big thing for us. It was more along the lines of when you were done for the day you went home, and if you had to log back in, you could. But for the most part, people were done with work until the next day.

Citrix also plays a part in our business continuity strategies. We have in-house applications and, since we have data centers in various regions, we need the ability for a given application to be live in other data centers, even though we only currently have it running from one. vSphere is the platform that we use for virtualization so we have infrastructure that's the same in every data center. We have a Citrix environment just for DR that we can copy our vDisks into, in Provisioning Services, from one data center to the next. We can then just spin up a Citrix desktop that has access to that DR environment. The other teams then spin up their pieces of infrastructure within that DR bubble and test it. Citrix gives people the ability to quickly get into that DR environment once it has been stood up.

Another aspect is that the solution has resulted in IT efficiencies because we can be pretty agile with quickly reverting changes and quickly implementing new changes. It provides a lot of flexibility for us.

What is most valuable?

The Provisioning Services are the most valuable feature. We have Premium licensing, so Provisioning Services is huge for us, along with the Virtual Apps and Desktops part. It allows us to have a vDisk for every region, one that can easily be copied between them if we need to, to limit the amount of updates we have to do. 

The ability to deploy shared, hosted desktops and published applications, is also important.

And I would rate the user experience, when using the solution’s technology remotely, as high as it can be. We have offices all over the world, and some of them are in areas that have absolutely terrible internet service. For users in those areas, while we do get complaints that the experience is bad, on most days it's tolerable, and that's even on the bad days when there is extremely high latency. Especially not knowing where people are going to be working from, I would say the user experience is very good.

When it comes to the solution’s centralized policy control, as in the policies you apply to ICA sessions and session hosts or virtual desktop agents, you can control those through group policy, in addition to group policy, or put them in from the console. But either way, as a central management point for the Citrix sessions, in general, it's very good. It gives us flexibility. For example, with the users who are in the bad internet service areas, those policies give us the flexibility to lower their user experience, to dim down the graphics and sound quality. We can do that on-the-fly when they report problems. That generally helps their experience a little bit. So the policy control is good.

And if you have the full line of Citrix products deployed—NetScaler, MAS, all of those items tied together—the visibility is second to none from a monitoring perspective. We use the NetScaler and the MAS and the data that comes through there is almost invaluable, if you have the licensing to use it.

In addition, the security of your intellectual property and data when remote employees are using Citrix, is very high because, with Citrix you can limit access to the local device and access to the network, so you can't copy files if you have certain policies set between the Citrix session and the endpoint. You can prevent printing. You can prevent any data from ever leaving that desktop. And if you're licensed for it, which we are not, they've recently added the ability to watermark screenshots and to have keylog protection in Citrix sessions. If you're licensed for it, that's just an added bonus to the security features that are built-in by default.

What needs improvement?

The version of Director we're on, the 1912 version, has improved some of the monitoring capabilities that went back to what EdgeSite used to be as a product, when it comes to real-time analytics. If anything could be improved, it might be some of the Director functionality, and some of the dashboard customization, or the overall Director customization. We're limited in what we do. We use Director, as administrators, more than the service desk does, and we limit their access to Director to a few screens. They don't even get to see the full scope of what we see in there. Director is one thing that could be improved upon.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops for about 10 years. My first experience with any type of virtualization technology was with Citrix. My first helpdesk job was supporting a company that deployed Citrix applications specifically, not desktops. I started out doing it from a support perspective and then got into the administration and engineering side, at that same place. I've never worked on any other products like Citrix.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I would rate the stability very highly, as high as it can be, due to my long-term experience with the product and how it's evolved to the point that it's at. That rating is based on my firsthand knowledge and experience of seeing it used and implemented, day in and day out, not only here, but at other places I've been that are larger than where I am now. I have a high opinion of it in general. It's been my career choice to work specifically with Citrix products.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales very well. The limitations we face are our own hardware constraints, because we purchase what we need and we don't generally provide much overhead. Our scalability problems come from limitations on hardware purchases, probably due to budget. If our company doubled in size, we would not have a problem scaling what we have today to meet that. We could probably do it in a couple of days and be just as fine.

We're licensed for 3,000 users. Our primary usage is in the U.S. and the AMEA region. We have about 2,400 users in that region who are active on it at any given time. The rest of those licenses are used in the Asia Pacific region. They're not as active in Citrix because a lot of their stuff is not as centralized as our other infrastructure is. They still don't use a lot of the same stuff. But they do use Citrix for email and for a couple of other things.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't used them recently, but I generally have a high opinion of Citrix technical support. They have the knowledge and give us access to the expertise. I've worked with them in the past on a lot of things and, in some instances, if not for working with them, some of the problems we faced wouldn't have been solved. We didn't have access to anyone else with that level of knowledge.

How was the initial setup?

I just started here about a year ago, but I was involved in setting up the 1912 environment. The process was straightforward. While they've changed the product names over the years, the underlying architecture and the technology, for the most part, has remained the same. I know there have been technological advancements and changes in the underlying architecture, but the overall end result, and some of how it does things, has remained the same. The setup was very easy for me and I think it would be easy even for somebody who is slightly new to the product.

Our most recent deployment did not take long at all. The longest part of it was the formal requests to the other teams and having them provision the virtual machines that we requested for the infrastructure. The longest thing about the deployment for us is getting to the point where we're comfortable putting a desktop out there for user consumption. It's getting them to test and validate that we built that desktop the same as the current one they're using. It's not so much that the deployment takes long because of any Citrix product problems. It's more due to user acceptance testing of the functionality of the desktop itself and the software we use.

Four or five people are involved in deployment, between the ones on our team who build, install, and configure the various infrastructure pieces, and the people that we make requests to who build the database servers and the other virtual machines.

We deploy according to the best practices. We don't follow any specific guides, but we deploy with the minimum specs, plus what we know we need to scale for the user base that we have.

What about the implementation team?

We did it ourselves.

What was our ROI?

Citrix provides everything in one integrated platform—even the lowest licensing version. It depends on your needs. But if you have the Premium Edition, it provides absolutely every tool you could need to virtualize and deploy.

I'm not involved with the licensing, purchasing, or cost-comparison types of discussions. I'm primarily on the technical side. But I would imagine the integrated platform plays a large part in providing value. Citrix is a leader in this space. Our company has to see some value in the product to pay for it as it is. I would always advocate for it over other similar products.

What other advice do I have?

If you're looking at implementing it, plan as best you can at all levels. Citrix has its consulting methodology for how to properly plan and deploy an environment. I've been in a lot of places where I haven't seen the planning phase happening. Planning goes a long way towards a successful deployment, because you test a lot of things during the testing phase of that, in particular. You see things that you wouldn't otherwise see if you just built it and threw it out there and said, "Hey, use this." You would run into a lot of problems that you wouldn't understand, things that need to be tweaked for any deployment, no matter where you're deploying it. There is a set of standard things that you need to do. Planning goes a long way towards making sure that it's not only accepted by your end users but that it's supportable.

Access control comes into play because we have different Citrix environments for different regions and they don't really cross-talk. We do limit certain things to certain environments, or some things are only available from one environment. People from the other environments have to access it from a different environment, but to them it's seamless because they're all behind the same store-front environments.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
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.
Jeff Vincent
CEO at Lucid Tech Services
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Enables us to work from any device from any location

Pros and Cons

  • "Security is a shining point of the Citrix Workspace. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is a very robust solution when security is a concern. Furthermore, the content collaboration data-hosting that Citrix integrates with Virtual Apps and Desktops is among the best there is."
  • "Templating the deployment process could use improvement. When you start, there are a large number of details that are quite client-specific, although they do share common themes. To get somebody up and running in a day is very difficult to do. They should streamline by use case."

What is our primary use case?

My primary use cases for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops are for:

  • Anyone who wants to modernize their business continuity plan
  • Anyone who wants to deal with data regulation compliance
  • Anybody who wants to promote a work from home or remote-first strategy for their employees and team members.

In terms of the hardware and software that the service requires our company to make use of, we can typically decommission if our client has existing servers. We can decommission after moving the data off of them. 

My firm is hardware apathetic. I don't care if it runs Citrix Workspace. If our clients want low cost and high performance, we generally point people to the Ncomputing RX420(HDX) which is a Raspberry PI 4 device that mounts very neatly onto the back of the monitor and it can link into their network via wifi or ethernet connection.

It's a fantastic little device that is very manageable, cost-effective, and tends to last for quite a long time. Every time I've put them into place, the desktop environment is a little bit different than what people are used to. The mouse movements are not quite as good as a full house computer, but we're spending a couple of hundred dollars for something that's going to last five to 10 years, versus buying a desktop or even a lightweight desktop for $600 or $700 which is going to last three to five years. Most of my clients have been pretty excited about that trade-off.

How has it helped my organization?

There have been radical improvements in IT efficiency. Cost savings are on a case-by-case basis. Some of my clients were not going all-in on any kind of management solution, so their initial monthly cost was higher when they went to Citrix. In most cases, it's a push. They're spending about the same money in either direction. But in a lot of cases, when you start to factor in the cost of downtime, the cost of inefficiency, the cost of a data breach, everyone is realizing much lower costs of management and ongoing costs to their IT department.

It's difficult to approximate how much it has saved because on one hand, I have a client that has 45 or 50 users and they realized a much higher increase of efficiency. A task in the previous model took half an hour, and under the new model, it takes five minutes.

When you spread that over 50 employees, that's a much higher percentage of drop than if a client has 10 employees. It's difficult to approximate but averaged across all of our clients, there is around a 25-to-30% reduction in costs.

What is most valuable?

We leverage the following technologies: 

  • Application virtualization capabilities
  • On-premises, desktop virtualization
  • Cloud-hosted desktop virtualization
  • Citrix managed cloud-hosted desktops

The fact that we can work from any device from any location is the most valuable aspect of the solution for us. In the last year, people have been restricted in their movements and we haven't been allowed to just show up to work. The fact that my clients can leverage a remote-first workplace that allows them a greater ability to recruit from a larger geographic area is valuable for us. 

You don't have to be able to commute to a major Metro in order to work there, you can work from any location. If you want to take a few days with your family but you have some projects that you're working on, it's going to take some of your time, but not all of it. You can just go to your Airbnb or wherever your family is staying and work remotely, do your job, and spend the rest of the time with your family.

Team members are relieved that they can continue to work and put bread on the table. They are relieved in the dichotomy that says they can put their family's needs ahead of their workplace's needs or vice versa. Maybe a child has a medical appointment or a social engagement that they would like to be at. You can fit those around your work schedule, work it out with your children and with wherever it is that they're going. In that way, both the employer and the employee realize a lower cost of operations. They realize increased flexibility and agility in their life. That dichotomy is either minimized or removed entirely. That's been very, very groundbreaking for them.

The deployment and management of hybrid Cloud Apps and Desktops is not 100% seamless, although it is very good. When you start mixing a third-party or a cloud-hosted app, it is generally pretty seamless. You don't notice a difference between a web-based app that you run on a physical machine, on a virtual machine, or through a Workspace. I have not seen any problems with that. A legacy application or a computer-aided design program has very specific requirements that can be a challenge. But with a little bit of research, once you settle on the solution, it's pretty good.

Security is a shining point of the Citrix Workspace. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is a very robust solution when security is a concern. Furthermore, the content collaboration data-hosting that Citrix integrates with Virtual Apps and Desktops is among the best there is.

It is the same for the security of clients' intellectual property and data when remote employees use the solution. Content collaboration allows you to share data securely and is supported with two-factor authentication. You can have a consolidated data set with a widely distributed workforce and they can all be on the same sheet of music, all accessing the same data. Version control, access control lists, anything you could wish for, is available in their solution stack.

Citrix simplifies the adherence to industry regulations for data protection and for compliance. HIPAA, for example, if you share that data over two or three different clinics or facilities, you have to create and maintain some sort of SD-WAN or VPN in order to make sure that those applications and those datasets are shared only between those locations. With Virtual Apps and Desktops, that either reduces or removes the need for either the VPN or an SD-WAN, because they aren't actually sharing between various locations. You are accessing that data set through various locations. The benefit to that is that you have reduced complexity at the infrastructure level so there's less to troubleshoot. There's less to go wrong.

What needs improvement?

Templating the deployment process could use improvement. When you start, there are a large number of details that are quite client-specific, although they do share common themes. To get somebody up and running in a day is very difficult to do. They should streamline by use case.

There's always going to be an outlier that doesn't really fit neatly into any one use case, so that's going to have to be more customized. An accountancy firm has sensitive data. They are prime targets for identity thieves that are always looking for an easy target and low-hanging fruit. If they were to template a deployment for an accountancy firm with all the needful things that every accountancy firm is going to have to have, it should be that you can just radio button the Apps so that accountants can tell the backend that they're going to need certain things. Then you can say, "We have this number of users and they need this number of spare desktops - go." And it just built the Azure environment. That would be really great. I don't know that it's actually possible, but it would be really good. 

The other issue is the stocking orders and the monthly reports. They're difficult because we don't do it every day. We do the stocking order once a year and there's always confusion on the backend.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops for Azure for a little more than a year now. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate their support highly. They're very good and very responsive. We had an incident last year that dragged on and on but that was in the thick of having half the workforce that they were used to having and a radically increased call for service because of the pandemic. That's not really a true representation of what they could do. 

Most of the time, if there's an issue, I can fire it off to one of my account managers or through the Citrix portal and get a response back within, depending on the severity of the incident, a few minutes or up to the next business day. Depending on the severity of the problem, the next business day might be just fine. If it's just a little slow and it's irritating, but it's not causing anybody to not be able to work, the next business day is fine. If we're down and we need help right now, having 24-hour support would be excellent but that's kind of impossible.

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

I've had a client on board with me that was moving from another Citrix provider. They were working on hosting their own Citrix environment and they needed something that wasn't going to fall apart on them. Their customer service really flagged over the last year or so. They moved from a Citrix provider to me.

How was the initial setup?

The deployment strategy widely varies between clients because, on one hand, I have an accountancy firm as well as another very similar solution for a defined benefits management firm. They have very similar needs but their business model is such that even though they've got the same needs, the way I have to meet those needs for each different client throws a monkey wrench into it. 

On the other hand, I have construction companies and engineering firms that could not be more different and customizing the solution for each of them and their needs is challenging. I can get the bones of the infrastructure up in two or three days. Then it takes another two or three days, at minimum, as much as maybe a week or two, to get everything dialed in just the way they like it before we start going into production.

The shortest amount of time I've seen it take to complete implementation is a week but it has taken a lot longer. 

What was our ROI?

I have seen ROI. It's opened me up as an outsourced IT department to seek and win much more lucrative contracts. Citrix has allowed me to pursue larger clients. Because when you are all on the same sheet of music with how this solution works, how it's supported, where you can deploy, and how onsite support really becomes almost a non-issue, you can seek clientele from every location, not just where you can drive to. It's allowed me to scale quite a lot.

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

My pricing advice would be to watch your Azure costs. If you're not used to it, like I wasn't last year, they can get very high very quickly and you can go upside down on your agreement very easily.

What other advice do I have?

There is a steep learning curve. In the Cloud-hosted Virtual Apps and Desktops model, as a general rule, there's a high learning curve. If you're going from only providing local assets to your clients, a local server, local workstations, and you're going straight into Virtual Apps and Desktops for the Cloud in Azure, really do your homework. Really learn the tool, really understand how it's supported because you'll save yourself a lot of trouble down the line if you do. If you've got the resources available, throw one person at cost analysis for Azure. So that at least one person in your organization really understands how much something is going to cost to deploy and keep running so that you can size your agreements correctly.

If I could, I would rate Virtual Apps and Desktops an 11 out of 10. I will rate it a ten out of ten. 

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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SC
Manager of Virtualization Services at a university with 10,001+ employees
MSP
Top 20
Enables us to do specialty, secure network offerings for particular faculties and researchers

Pros and Cons

  • "The user experience when using the solution's technology remotely is definitely superior to our VPN and/or Windows Remote Desktop. It's a much better user experience for those folks."
  • "We've been able to scale the environment quite nicely by using the Citrix Remote PC. I can't say enough about that. And because that relies on utilizing your existing hardware resources, and making those available as a part of your Citrix farm — with a second level of authentication and security pieces around it — we added some 4,000 workstations without an additional overhead or cost."
  • "There is room for improvement on the hypervisor side, providing better integration between the hypervisor and the product line. I suspect that they haven't put the work into that because of the move to the cloud. They want everything to be cloud-hosted. But for folks like us, who will always be a hybrid model, that's of some concern."

What is our primary use case?

We offer our Citrix platform to all faculty, staff, and students at the university. We are a university on eight campuses throughout the state with about 130,000 potential users. We have the capability to offer any applications that we're licensed for and that fit well, being virtualized on that platform, to everybody. We offer it to everybody, but not everyone shows up.

We have special use cases where we're using the same physical infrastructure, but have carved up specialty virtual apps, desktops, and networks, for certain pockets of the university. We offer them to the School of Medicine, our Dentistry School, and to the university Online Program, where we have certain faculty that teach their courses exclusively online. We have to customize desktops for those particular fields of study, or for faculties that want to teach in via online learning. 

In addition, for the School of Medicine and Dentistry, we do all of our clinical offerings. Anytime that we can virtualize a clinical offering and extend that beyond the brick and mortar part of the university, we do that. So that also applies to our Speech and Hearing Sciences. We train all of our future audiologists on the virtual platform. And it goes for Optometry.

We also offer assistance to our on-campus health center.

Another use case is that we offer the employees like me, people we call our "staff employees" of whom there are about 5,000, the ability to support their other IT infrastructure environments remotely. We have a special network that we've isolated for security purposes and streamlined for certain types of special research projects.

We also have a global network operations team because the university runs something called the Internet2. That's important. We give the folks who support Internet2 the tools, virtualized through our Citrix environment, so that they can work from home and support that in a secured manner.

We have Citrix Gateway but we don't have Single Sign-on. We have a lot of the Remote PCs, which has naturally been beneficial in dealing with the surge in usage due to COVID. We don't have Citrix Secure Browser deployed in production, but it is in test. We have Web/URL Filtering on the NetScaler. We also use the Web App Gateway and Citrix ADC. We deploy a two-factor authentication environment, on the security side. So we definitely force a second-level authentication. We have that integrated with a product called Duo.

It's deployed as a hybrid model. At the university, we have contracts with all of the big three cloud providers. It's our intention to be able to extend workload to all of them: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

How has it helped my organization?

The user experience when using the solution's technology remotely is definitely superior to our VPN and/or Windows Remote Desktop. It's a much better user experience for those folks.

The solution provides the flexibility of being used on any device. That allows the employees to be truly mobile in their remote work environments. They don't have to worry about running back to their physical homes to get on a laptop. They can use their phones if they need to. They can just be connected at all times.

The solution provides intelligent analytics for proactive detection of malicious user behavior. To some extent, we do have that on the Netscaler. We have analytics constantly collecting information and setting the alerts for deviations that we would see in our network traffic patterns. It has helped us to detect breaches before damage was done. 

Once it's fully deployed, I believe the solution's automated analytics will help us to detect serious performance issues. We are not there yet.

The Citrix solution also provides everything in one integrated platform. We haven't found the need, yet, to go out and buy another product to help us in that space. There is still depth that we need to explore with the existing product line. In terms of the value this brings, while user experience is something that is quantitatively hard to express, certainly our university is touted for being very forward-thinking and for its advancements, compared to other universities. That's especially true in our particular state as it relates to the flexibility in offering our solutions remotely. I don't know anybody else that does that.

What is most valuable?

We certainly get more bang for the buck with the XenApp environment because we can really stretch that platform to many. It's a low cost when you look at the number of users that we get to access our Citrix XenApp-published desktop and individual applications. Citrix doesn't really even talk about XenApp anymore. They are marketing everything under the XenDesktop piece of the product line. Traditionally, XenApp was just anything that was a server-based OS, and Desktop was anything that was a desktop-based OS. We do both here at the University. We just have more workload on a server-based OS environment than we do on desktop OS. There are ebbs and flows. We used to not have very many virtualized desktop OS deployments, before COVID. We've had to do a whole lot more of that in the last few months. So for us, XenApp is number one, and Desktop is number two. 

The other product that has really helped us quite a bit is that we have a Citrix NetScaler. They now call that ADC. That is our hardware appliance, the physical appliance that sits on the perimeter of our network. It acts as a firewall, router, and load balancer. That's where we can add the extra pieces of security. That's how we're able to use the same physical infrastructure to deliver virtual apps and desktops to everyone at the university and, at the same time, do more specialty, secure network offerings for our School of Medicine and researchers.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement on the hypervisor side, providing better integration between the hypervisor and the product line. I suspect that they haven't put the work into that because of the move to the cloud. They want everything to be cloud-hosted. But for folks like us, who will always be a hybrid model, that's of some concern.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this Citrix solution since 2000.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We're very stable. We have a 98.9 percent uptime. We operate with just a little, rolling outage window that we'll use once a month for patching and the like. We're never, ever fully down, which is really crazy when you think about it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales very well, but it can be expensive. We've been able to scale the environment quite nicely by using the Citrix Remote PC. I can't say enough about that. And because that relies on utilizing your existing hardware resources, and making those available as a part of your Citrix farm — with a second level of authentication and security pieces around it — we added some 4,000 workstations without an additional overhead or cost. That has been key for us through the COVID pandemic.

In our environment we have about 20,000 people who use it regularly.

How are customer service and technical support?

Citrix technical support is average. It's not below average; it's not spectacular. If you stay with it, you can escalate your issues and eventually get to a design engineer, if you need to. We've had to do that and have been successful with it.

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

I have supported Microsoft, using regular Windows Virtual Desktop and things like that. Those solutions can definitely serve some basic purposes, but when you want to do something more complex and you want to offer it for the whole enterprise, you want the extra bells and whistles and features that you get from the Citrix product.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. Because I've been doing this for so long, I have been able to build on my prior knowledge. But the documentation that exists is, for the most part, well done. For some of the more complex pieces, they have, just lately, missed some key pieces that we've had to have escalated to higher engineers on the inside. But, when escalated and when we finally get the right team of people on the line, we've been able to progress and move through those issues.

I wasn't here for the initial deployment. Since I've been here, the rebuilds that we've been able to complete have been done in about six weeks.

In terms of our implementation strategy for the rebuilds, we knew that we needed to keep a hybrid model. We first looked at the options for design of that hybrid model. Most of my concerns centered around two-factor authentication and being able to keep that. That was something we weren't willing to let go or bargain with. It created a little bit of challenge for us because Citrix offers a form of two-factor authentication, their Duo product in the Citrix cloud, but that would be a different two-factor authentication. The last thing we wanted for our 130,000 students was to be confused about which Duo environment they were required to log in to. We needed all of ours to be on-prem and we worked with Citrix to design that strategy, so that everything would first filter through our on-prem points of authentication. That was key in strategizing how we would do our new build or deployment.

What was our ROI?

I believe we have seen ROI from using Citrix. It's been around at the university now for going on 12 years. That's a long time, at a university, to constantly keep shelling out dollars. But the ease of use and the flexibility that it offers to our entire university, and having the ability to do really forward-looking designs and offerings with special use cases around HIPAA in medicine and research, makes it well worth the money.

What other advice do I have?

You need to know your workloads very well. And that isn't something that you just know. So you should probably buy small, really small — smaller than you ever thought — and see what your workloads look like, and then grow into it. That's the key when it comes to sizing or implementations. Vendors generally want to come in and oversell you. They want to license you to the max for your number of projected users. That's really not necessary for a product like Citrix.

The biggest lesson I've learned from using the solution is to start small and find a small success story with the particular use case. Then let that success speak for itself. The way that my team operated is that we had the core service offering to all 130,000 faculty, staff, and students. And then we started slowly coming along and doing these customized service offerings within the university for specialty areas. Once a particular group sees a successful deployment or operation, it just spreads. Today, we have many more use cases that are waiting to be onboarded to our platform. I don't have to go soliciting for that. The work and the experience speak for themselves.

A lot of people who are just starting out with Citrix go straight to the cloud product. If it's your first introduction to the Citrix product family, that is the way to go. If you believe you have any use cases that will not likely move to the cloud — generally, those are some of your protected workflows — you can still give the product a try. Remember that the hybrid model is probably the most commonly used model that's out there today with this product family.

For a remote solution and connectivity I think it's the best that there is on the market compared to the other two, big, competing products. It's definitely superior so I would give it a nine out of 10.

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.
ED
System Engineer Windows and Citrix at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Video Review
Real User
Top 20
Offers more flexible possibilities of managing business continuity plans and performance everywhere for end users

Pros and Cons

  • "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."
  • "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."

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.

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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Patti Henderson
IT Director at a legal firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
Provides us with more secure offerings for remote access; security is leaps and bounds ahead of our previous solution

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature has to be the non-persistent desktop. If one of my users messes something up and blows away their desktop, it goes back to what it was originally, before they had an issue."
  • "The only thing we have found to be detrimental is when we have tried to find training. I realize that we're looking at it at the worst time possible, with a pandemic going on, but it seems that most of the training offered is learn-by-yourself online."

What is our primary use case?

We initially implemented it so that our attorneys had an option to work from home. The majority of them did not want to carry a laptop back and forth. Prior to 2020, we did have four of our 40 attorneys using it almost full-time on a work-from-home basis.

We use the following in protecting our environment: Citrix Gateway, Remote Desktop Access, Citrix Secure Browser, Web/URL Filtering, and Contextual Access.

How has it helped my organization?

It's amazing that if someone has a sick child, they can still work. It's not that they are completely dead in the water. They can log in and access 99 percent of what they need to, as if they were in the office, and the workflow is the same.

Our previous solution was Terminal Services and that had very low security. My only security concern with this solution is users saving their logins and passwords in the browser. The security it provides is relatively high. The built-in security of Citrix is leaps and bounds above what the basic Microsoft solution had. I did request we add two-factor authentication, but that has not yet been approved. My management feels that I am doing a disservice by trying to add security measures.

But something that makes our security easier is that Citrix provides access control based on device, location, end-user device, or application. One of the reasons we chose Citrix was because it was one of the more secure offerings for remote access. I have faith that Citrix will continue to have that.

In addition, when COVID hit and I maxed out my Citrix licensing, I used the automated analytics to try to ensure everything was running well. It was very nice to be able to log in and see that I wasn't exceeding any capacity of Citrix or the servers themselves.

It provides everything in one integrated platform, and most of it is on one dashboard, which makes it even better. Monetarily, Citrix is a mid-range cost solution compared to some others out there. It does help our attorneys because, with attorneys, time is money. It helps alleviate downtime. I don't think that Citrix actually saves me any money, but it prevents me from losing any.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature has to be the non-persistent desktop. If one of my users messes something up and blows away their desktop, it goes back to what it was originally, before they had an issue.

Our employees also absolutely love the flexibility of using it on any device. We have quite a few people who use iPads and they really like the experience on that, regardless of where they are. The only difference is that the speed of the connection changes, but nothing else does. The consistency is huge.

The solution's centralized policy control and distributed enforcement work well. We have the desktops locked down so users can not add their own software. That's centrally controlled and it does make it easier to be able to present a consistent experience.

I also like that we have redundancy built in. The last time we upgraded, which was three years ago, we put in dual controllers and dual storefront machines. We have never had an outage that the users were aware of. I did have a desktop server crash and was able to restore that from backup. Nobody ever knew. They had had the same experience regardless.

What needs improvement?

The only thing we have found to be detrimental is when we have tried to find training. I realize that we're looking at it at the worst time possible, with a pandemic going on, but it seems that most of the training offered is learn-by-yourself online. I have a desktop admin who would love to be able to dig deeper into group policy and settings, to be able to admin Citrix a little bit more easily. That's the only thing that I would like to see an improvement on, the availability of training for novice users.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Citrix for at least 14 years, maybe 15.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. It's one of the most stable software applications I run. You set it up and it just goes.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, it seems that the only things that limit you are your number of licenses and your compute. So scaling is very easy.

Prior to the work-from-home initiative, I had about a dozen users who consistently used it. After COVID and the work-from-home, even though I had only 20 licenses, I had 24 people who were using it. Those four extra people were working part-time in the office and part-time from home so they shared the license. When one was in the office, the other would use it, so I never exceeded my license capacity. And now, since the State of Idaho lifted work-from-home, I'm back down to about eight people who are on it consistently.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is excellent. They are wonderful. Luckily I have only had to use them once for a critical issue. I got on the phone, was transferred to an engineer, and had it resolved in less than 20 minutes. For minor issues that are questions, they usually have those resolved in less than 24 hours. And usually, the delay is on my end getting their fix implemented and responding.

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

We had tried Microsoft Terminal Services and found it sadly lacking for the user experience. We went ahead and implemented Citrix and we have been using it ever since. Terminal Services was Microsoft's attempt to do a remote desktop presentation and it failed miserably. There were a lot of issues and items with Terminal Services. The biggest advantage with Citrix was the consistent experience. Terminal Services was not consistent. If you got too many users on it, desktop icons would move and applications wouldn't load.

What about the implementation team?

While the centralized policy control and distributed enforcement work well, I wish we understood it better. I had a local engineer with Citrix certification build my farm for me. Since it was a brand new concept for me, it was very difficult to grasp at first. He did some preliminary training for us: How to admin it, how to update, how to make things run. But I am in no way an expert on the back-end. If I was able to take the time, which is kind of hard, to learn how all of the nuts and bolts work, I could improve the user experience a little bit. It's a lack of knowledge from my side.

From start to finish, our deployment took about two weeks, and that was mostly because the engineer could not dedicate his full time to me. It was a couple of hours here and there. Overall, the time billed was about 20 hours.

We built the servers, we tested the servers, and then we pushed them out to the handful of attorneys who had requested the ability to work from home. Then we fine-tuned it from there. I really let my users be my test-bed.

Any maintenance is done by me, but it requires minimal maintenance, mostly upgrades.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is get an engineer. Their knowledge can't be matched. A very good one will do it as an educational experience, so you learn as you go. Having somebody who knows Citrix inside and out build it, with best practices and what would suit our needs the best, was invaluable to me. And our engineer has provided support on the minor things afterwards and that has been wonderful. I love the support.

My users either love it or hate it. There is no in-between. The ones who love it do so because it is very consistent in how it works. You log in, everything works. It's the same desktop, the same software, every single time. The people who hate it are the ones who use their desktop to store things, and I don't save the world on their desktops. As soon as they hit that 2 GB mark, I start deleting things. Those are the people who don't know how file stores work.

Even though we run the servers on-prem, we advertise it as a "cloud solution" since it's accessed through a web portal, and that has helped quite a bit in pushing my user base to understand what "cloud" really means. I can see moving this off-prem to a cloud solution in the future, but at this time my budget is frozen, so it's not going to be anytime soon.

I usually don't have to refer to the solution's behavior analytics for detecting anomalies because if something isn't working optimally, my users let me know immediately. They're very vocal if something isn't the way they expect it to be.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
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.
JacquesBodenstein
Senior Engineer at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Good end-to-end solution for Zero Trust, enabling us to log off compromised users

Pros and Cons

  • "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 good. Our users are able to work and it's seamless. The performance is also good."
  • "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."

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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