Hello everyone, I hope you are all well despite all the COVID-19 craziness. For the last couple of days, I’ve been asked how organizations can expand their remote workforce from home, so I put together some picks for getting that done in the quickest and least intrusive manner.
2. Nutanix XI Frame
3. Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop
4. Amazon WorkSpaces
5. VMware Horizon Cloud
A Closer Look
Of course, mileage will vary based on your needs, but whether you’re already a customer or thinking about becoming one, here’s a closer look at what these technologies have to offer:
Citrix Licensing – Existing customers with user/device licensing are entitled to a 10% license overdraft. This doesn’t apply to concurrent licensing, but customers can buy themselves time by allocating a 90-day trial license to get around that restriction until they decide what to do.
Citrix Remote PC Access – This is the easiest and least intrusive option that lets end users remotely and securely connect to their physical Windows desktop in the office. With this approach, no datacenter or cloud compute resources are used. Simply install the Citrix VDA agent on the office desktop, which can be remotely deployed. Customers with Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops Advanced or Premium licenses (formerly XenApp & XenDesktop – Enterprise & Platinum license) are already entitled to use this at no additional cost.
To help with powering-on the machines, some organizations manage their physical desktops with software like Microsoft Configuration Manager (formerly SCCM), which gives them the ability to power-on the physical desktops with Wake-on-LAN. Group Policies can also be set to keep the physical PCs powered on.
Citrix’s secure and control policies can be introduced to secure the connection and prevent any to and from copying & pasting of text, graphics, etc.
Citrix Managed Desktops – This is a new pay-as-you-go Desktop as a Service (DaaS) turnkey solution for delivering virtual apps and desktops in Azure that entitles you to use Citrix Gateway (18+ points of presence), Workspace URL, Cloud-Hosted Director, Autoscale, etc. There’s also support for the new Windows Virtual Desktop – Win10EVD (Enterprise Virtual Desktops) Multi-Session OS, and it can support non-domain and domain-joined VDAs. For more information, check out this video:
• 0:21 – User Experience
• 1:04 – Architecture
• 2:02 – Deployment
• 4:59 – Admin Experience
Citrix CVAD – With Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops (formerly XenApp & XenDesktop), customers can expand their resources by installing a new Pod architecture (DDCs, Director, SQL, VDAs, etc.) on-premises or in the cloud. Host connections for VMware vSphere, Citrix Hypervisor, Nutanix AHV, Microsoft Hyper-V, AWS, Azure, etc. are supported. A 90-day Citrix license trial can be temporarily deployed. If using server-based hosted shared desktops, a 120-day trial Microsoft RDS license can also be temporarily deployed. Six feature set license editions are available to choose from.
Citrix Cloud – This is the recommended option for having a hybrid solution with VDAs in the cloud & on-premises. Customers would be entitled to use Citrix Gateway (18+ points of presence) and Workspace URL services (*.cloud.com) as an option. Moving Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler) and StoreFront to the cloud is also optional—and you could tie things up for a single URL via GSLB. If placing VDAs on Azure, Win10 EVD (Enterprise Virtual Desktops) Multi-Session OS is supported. For additional info, please see my 3-part EUC blog series: “Citrix Cloud – Helping you Decide”:
• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3
A Citrix end-user adoption kit is available to help organizations new to Citrix get ramped up. A new Citrix Business Continuity Assurance Program offer helps organizations quickly scale environments to a broader number of employees so they can employ work-from-home and remote work programs as needed.
XI Frame – This is a great enterprise-ready solution, particularly for small and medium organizations that use graphic-related virtual apps and desktops. XI Frame was built for the cloud but now supports on-premises with Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). A great starting point is the Getting Started Guide.
Windows Virtual Desktop – I wrote about this solution when it first appeared and I am beginning to love this solution more and more as it advances. Consider it to be another enterprise-ready solution with great adds, such as FSLogix for new ways to handle user profiles, MSIX app attach for new ways to quickly attach apps as users log-in and keep your master image clean, Windows 10 EVD (Enterprise Virtual Desktops) with Multi-Session capability, plus the ability to extend support for Windows 7, if required. Microsoft commits to ensuring your apps work via their App Assure program.
WorkSpaces – Is another great enterprise-ready solution. Please check out our great case study of this technology.
Horizon Cloud – Yet another great enterprise-ready solution that gives you the choice of three protocols: PCoIP, RDP, and Blast Extreme to provide your workforce a great remote experience. A universal license is now offered to give customers the ability to deploy on-premises or in the cloud, and Windows Virtual Desktops on Azure is also now supported. Organizations can test-drive it with a free 45-day trial license.
The Final Word
All of these picks have great single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) integration, which is a must nowadays to ensure a good user experience and a protected environment. Vendors such as Okta even provide integration relief to get you started by offering their SSO and MFA product free for five apps. And Cisco has expanded their support with free offerings for three of their key security technologies: Umbrella, DUO, and Anyconnect.
As for video conferencing (the norm these days), Zoom is being used a lot—for business and home use. And Cisco has Webex with a great Webex Contact Center Quick Deployment Solution.
Lastly, if your internet speed becomes a challenge when working from home, give Speedify a try. This lets you combine internet connections by spreading their individual packets across a channel bond (Wi-Fi, cellular, ethernet, etc.) to boost performance and connectivity while uploading, downloading, video or voice conferencing, or while streaming movies, etc.
To learn more about everything Anexinet can do to help your organization during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to get you started.
Architect, End User Computing at Anexinet