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At the Citrix Synergy event today in Las Vegas, we made a number of significant announcements that will help our customers accelerate their digital transformation, and we want to share some additional context on a few of the big things that we’re announcing together.  These announcements are a huge step in delivering new customer value from our long-standing partnership.

Over the past couple months, we have spent a lot of time with customers gathering input and direction on what you need and what you want us to do.  One big piece of feedback has become clear:  Every organization is looking for their strategic vendors to help them accelerate through the digital transformation they’re facing right now.  With Microsoft and Citrix, there are four areas that we’ve heard (loud and clear!) that you want us to focus on:

  • Help accelerate the move to the Cloud
  • Help accelerate the move to Windows 10
  • Help accelerate the move to Office 365
  • Help further empower users on mobile devices

Accelerate the Move to the Cloud

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an article that emphasized just how fundamental the cloud has become to Enterprise Organizations.  This article notes the move to the cloud undertaken by General Electric:

By 2020, General Electric plans to move 70% of its computing workloads to the cloud. Greater integration among software vendors and cloud providers makes it easier for developers to access needed data and speed the acceleration to cloud, said GE Power Chief Information Officer Clay Johnson.

We are seeing this move to the cloud all over the world – and it is accelerating.

The reasons for this acceleration are obvious:  Organizations love the real-time ability to provision more capacity, they love that they don’t have huge initial CAPEX expenditures that depreciate over time (vs. a pay-as-you-use model), and they love that they can deliver to their users the latest and greatest innovations via modern cloud services.  This move to the cloud empowers and enables organizations to achieve much more.

Building out (and then maintaining) the infrastructure or farms for centralized apps and desktops can be really daunting.  Why not let Microsoft and Citrix do this for you?  This request has come up from a lot of our customers.  In fact, one of the most common requests has been for Citrix to offer managed services that Citrix maintains and operates.  Moving forward, Citrix will deliver “as-a-service solutions” hosted in Azure for all of their customers.

Also, later this year, Citrix will offer customers who have purchased Windows Software Assurance on a per-user basis the option to host their Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business images on Azure through its XenDesktop VDI solution. This will be an industry first!  This means you can deploy virtual apps or desktops and accelerate Windows 10 adoption for those customers who are using Microsoft Cloud solutions.

Pretty incredible.

Citrix has selected Microsoft Azure for its preferred and strategic cloud for its future product roadmap.  Azure is where they will center their cloud investments going forward.

Any conversation about clouds also has to keep in mind that we live in a hybrid world:  On top of the work being done in the Azure, Windows Server 2016 is right around the corner.  In addition to the incredible features we’re baking into WS16, Citrix will also be adding value from Day 1.

WS16 is interesting to XenApp and XenMobile users for a lot of reasons, including:

  • The new security functionality, including capabilities like Nano Server that reduce the threat surface and enhance enterprise security.
  • Enhanced identity and access management for both on-prem & cloud deployments – including enhanced Azure AD integration.
  • UX enhancements via graphics virtualization on the RDS platform.

Why is this important to you?  You can move your application and desktop virtualization to a modern cloud model – that means no huge up-front costs and the ability to dynamically scale your infrastructure up and down based on usage with a pay-as-you-use model.  Let Microsoft worry about building and maintaining the cloud infrastructure, and let Citrix worry about building and maintaining the Citrix apps and services.  You focus on empowering your users to achieve more and grow the business!

Accelerate the Move to Windows 10

The growth and momentum of Windows 10 has been tremendous. Demand for Windows 10 in the enterprise has been emphasized by organizations all over the world, including the U.S. Department of Defense who is in the process of upgrading 4 million PC’s because of the expanded and proven security capabilities built into Windows 10 (all managed by System Center Configuration Manager). Windows 10 is simply the most secure platform/OS for business.

As part of the expanded partnership, Microsoft and Citrix will offer customers flexible options to deploy Windows 10 Enterprise within their organizations. Later this year Citrix will offer Windows Enterprise per user customers the option to manage their Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business images on Azure through its XenDesktop VDI solution. This will help customers deploy virtual apps or desktops and, along with existing Citrix’ migration services, accelerate Windows 10 adoption for those customers who are using Microsoft Cloud solutions.

Microsoft and Citrix have been working together for many years to support customer migrations to new platforms. Citrix has delivered innovative approaches to make Enterprise deployment of any new OS easier, addressing the historical challenge of app compatibility in an Enterprise deployment of a new OS. At Microsoft there has been an exhaustive amount of work done to make Windows 10 and Windows 7 highly compatible – but organizations will often want to verify this for themselves. To aid with this, Citrix now offers AppDNA that can quickly help identify any compatibility issues with your apps and offer recommendations on how to address them. This is a great way to reduce the time to prepare for Windows 10 and accelerate the deployments.

System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) is the most commonly used tool in the enterprise to manage Windows devices; it currently manages more than 2 out of 3 Windows devices in the Enterprise and is the most common way to both upgrade and manage their Windows 10 devices. Citrix has integrated with ConfigMgr in a way that allows XenApp apps to appear as another application type that ConfigMgr can deploy. The Citrix Connector for System Center ConfigMgr enables ConfigMgr to be that “single pane of glass” for managing all types of applications. This setup enables scenarios where ConfigMgr can publish apps directly to Citrix Receiver.

Why is this important for you? This significantly reduces what has been the most expensive and time-consuming part of an enterprise deployment of Windows – app compat testing. With AppDNA and the proven virtualization capabilities of Citrix, you can confidently accelerate the move to Windows 10 for your organization. And, with the ConfigMgr integration, you can manage all apps on Windows 10 devices with a single console.

Accelerate the Move to Office 365

Every day, Enterprises move more of their current Office workloads to the cloud with Office 365. In fact, a 3rd party recently published data noting that 22% of Enterprise employees are using Office 365 – up from 7% in September 2015!  This move to Office 365 is growing dramatically all over the world because, by moving to Office 365, organizations are able to deliver the empowering, modern experience that end users really want:  A work environment that users love, that enables them to be more connected, more collaborative, and more productive than ever.

To give you a sense of the growing scope of this:  There have been more than 400M installs of the Office mobile apps on iOS and Android devices.  That is a huge number!  These native apps are beautiful, powerful, and users love them.  Organizations have other needs and use cases, too, however.  For example, many organizations use plugins with the Win32 apps they rely on, and we also see macros in the Office apps that businesses have created that are core to getting work done.  For any scenario where you need to also deliver that Win32 Office app to users, Citrix (again!) has the most comprehensive and scalable solution for hosting the full Win32 apps and remoting it to any device.

One of the Office 365 capabilities getting the highest levels of interest is the new Skype for Business.   With Skype for Business, users have the freedom to make and receive voice or video calls anywhere in the world – on any device.  IT loves Skype for Business as well because it empowers their users and its saves them significant expenditures – often taking out ~ 30% of the traditional telecom costs.  Microsoft and Citrix have done a lot of work to optimize the Skype for Business app to provide an outstanding user experience with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop environments.  This unique optimization – something requested directly by customers – has only been done with Citrix solutions.

Why is this important to you?  If you are running centralized desktops/apps for security or mobility reasons, your users can have the same high quality “dial-tone” level experience with Skype for Business that they have running locally on their devices.  Enterprise Mobility is all about making users productive anytime, anywhere – and this is a key part of doing that!

Further Empower Users on Mobile Devices

One big piece of direction from you has been to more closely align our enterprise mobility capabilities.

The Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) has emerged as the fastest-growing and now largest EMM solution on the market.  It has more customers than any other EMM solution (over 27,000!) and the quarterly gains are still accelerating – just take a look at this chart.

QtrGrowth2-imageOver the next few months you’ll see a number of really interesting releases from Microsoft and Citrix that deliver integrated value across both companies’ solutions.  Existing XenMobile customers will get added incremental value from EMS, and EMS customers will get added value from the Citrix assets.

To begin with, Citrix is integrating with EMS in two big ways 1) Citrix will be enlightening their apps on iOS and Android with the Intune App SDK, and 2) building in support for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) for identity. By participating in the same ecosystem as other key business apps (e.g. the Office mobile apps, SAP Fiori apps, Adobe, and Box), the Citrix apps (Worx, and Receiver) will able be able to share information across apps for corporate use, while protecting data using the Intune App SDK controls (ShareFile is already Intune enabled). These apps, and the fact that Intune can also manage and configure AppConfig-enabled apps, makes this the largest managed app ecosystem in the industry.

Citrix is also integrating NetScaler into EMS.  NetScaler will be able to provide conditional access to on-premises apps and data based device and app compliance.  Microsoft will embed NetScaler capabilities into Intune App SDK which will enable apps to securely access on-premises assets without having to launch a VPN.  This combination is unique in the market in that conditional access policies can be defined and enforced for on-premises and cloud apps. Citrix will also embed a number of EMS capabilities into XenMobile, such as self-service password reset and multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Future collaboration will also include Citrix building a new EMM service on Azure that will integrate with and add value to EMS.  A big area of focus will be on compliance and industry verticals with significant regulatory requirements.

Why is this important to you?  Existing XenMobile customers will benefit from the comprehensive capabilities of EMS.  If you are an EMS customer, you will get conditional access to on-premises apps and data on a per-device, per-app, and a micro VPN level with NetScaler.  Every customer will benefit from the fact that all the Microsoft and Citrix apps will participate in the same MAM container and be able to securely share information.

* * *

So, where should you start?

First and foremost:  It’s important to recognize that the four areas outlined above are actually all inter-related.  Rather than looking at this as separate pieces, these solutions all have a foundation in the Microsoft Cloud and this will make current and future integrations far simpler.  All of these solutions focus in on empowering people to achieve more and be more productive.  Now customers can get Windows 10 deployed faster and IT can enable users across all their devices based on a common way of managing/securing access to the apps that users need – all while protecting the business data in the apps.

You can start this process by using the Citrix Cloud services hosted on Azure and evaluate if/when you want to move to an entirely hosted service.

Next, identify the work and business value you would create if you could suddenly free up a lot of extra time by letting Microsoft and Citrix build and maintain your infrastructure with the Citrix Cloud.  You can use AppDNA to do your sanity checking and verification while you upgrade to Windows 10.

Then evaluate the use of Skype for Business in your organization and look at the use cases of Skype for Business with Citrix Cloud solutions.  If you’re a XenMobile customer, you can start using the EMS MAM and identity management and protection capabilities.  By doing this you can bring Office 365 under management – along with the incredible the portfolio of Office 365 and other business apps from Citrix and SAP.  The Citrix apps with EMS enablement arrive in 2H 2016.

Finally, if you are an EMS customer, start getting educated on NetScaler.  You’ll be able to define conditional access policies in EMS/Intune in the 2H 2016 that NetScaler will enforce on a per-device, per-app and micro-VPN basis.

If you are an EMS customer, start piloting and getting familiar with the Citrix apps.  In 2H 2016 you’ll also be able to deeply manage all the Citrix apps as a part of the MAM container.

 

Brad Anderson
Corporate Vice President, Microsoft

Bill Burley
Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Citrix