What Citrix technologies are most important to your work?
Working as a Senior Solutions Architect for Choice Solutions, the Citrix technology stack is our bread and butter. We work with various customers and industries of all sizes. To me, that is the most exciting part of our work–taking the opportunity to understand the problems our customers are facing and building technology solutions specifically for those use cases.
For those working with Citrix for any length of time, you will realize while the Citrix technology stack is important, the surrounding technology making up the Control Layer, Platform Layer, and workspace layer (See Virtual Desktop handbook 7.x for Architecture Layer explanations) are just as important, if not more critical. Citrix is a delivery fabric creating an experience. If any one of those underlying layers falls short, there can be degradation in the end users’ experience.
We always build redundancy into the platform to help mitigate risk. This is why we always recommend time to evaluate the supporting infrastructure with a health check prior to kicking off any projects! If you’re not a consultant and working as a Citrix architect/admin for a company, it's easy to want to take on the persona of saying, “That’s network… or the security team’s problem, not a Citrix issue.” BUT we must remember all problems related to inside or outside of Citrix pertaining to accessing your Citrix resources IS a Citrix problem and we must work as a team to help solve them, ensuring a consistent experience for your users. So, the bottom line, it's all important!
What are the biggest technology challenges you deal with and how do Citrix technologies help resolve them?
As a consultant, we see the full spectrum of problems being solved with Citrix. I’ll highlight one area in which we are seeing an uptick. In the past two years, we have seen a large increase in customers wanting to leverage their investment in multiple data centers for Citrix resiliency outside of the traditional Active/Passive deployment. We have been building a lot of Active/Active Pinned (A/A+P) Citrix deployments to leverage the customer’s existing hardware investments across their data centers. There is a HUUUGE dependency here on exactly all the underpinnings which are required to make any multi-site scenario work. The keyword here is “Pinned” - a true A/A architecture requires the User/Apps/Data to support true multi-site access, meaning at any time a user can log into either Site A or Site B and will be able to access their apps/data without requiring any failover workflows. A lot of apps do not support having the back-end tiers across two data centers. In our A/A+P cases, we split the user population into groups and pin them to a specific data center and failover at the app or desktop level as needed to the alternative site. Depending on the scenario, we leverage image replication technology for MCS to ensure the master image is in sync to both data centers or look to use PVS and replicate the VHDs using your preferred method. Again, it all depends!
This is greatly oversimplified, but the point here is to capture an uptick in multi-site interest. We are also seeing interest in customers who are more cloud-focused, making additions to their strategy to include multi-cloud architecture to ensure their solution is not dependent on a single cloud provider. What a world we live in! Fortunately, Citrix has a great deal of technology built into the stack to support the various multi-site scenarios, and I personally really enjoy these designs! I am actually in the middle of two right now, one A/A Epic build with CTA Ozzy (Scott Osborne) and CTP Dave Brett. The other one I am working on locally, which is upgrading one of our A/A+P Customers from traditional on-prem Virtual Apps and Desktops to the Citrix Workspace Premium Plus offering. This offering includes the Virtual Apps and Desktop service, removing the need for the SQL Layer, and simplifying the Customers Control Layer Infrastructure, now relying on the Control Plane provided by Citrix. The migration went very smooth and it was done in parallel, seamless to the end user which is even better! For more details on multi-site (shameless plug) you can see a recording of our recent Synergy 2018 session on (Multi-Site Design Scenarios). After a lot of positive feedback, and many requests, we are planning to submit for 2019, a 90-min session covering updated content, customer examples, multi-cloud designs, and configuration examples!
Tell us about your experience leading the South Florida CUGC.
Leading the South Florida User Group has been a lot of fun. We had some great meetings over the past few years. This year, after my co-leader moved out of town unfortunately, I dropped the ball and we missed our two final meetings. No fear though, thankfully I have had another end user step up to the plate to assist. David Martin has offered to help lead going forward and we have some big plans for 2019!
One huge benefit of being in Citrix’s backyard is we have the many Citrix PMs and engineers who come to hang out and chat with the end users, sharing ideas and knowledge with the community. I would say our most fun meetings are always at the local pubs! Funky Buddha is the group’s favorite. I'm very thankful for having a great group of community members, looking to really ramp up our efforts in 2019!
CUGC South Florida Meeting at Funky Buddha
As one of the leaders of the first-ever Florida XL coming up in January, tell us about planning for this event and what you're most looking forward to.
Planning has been smooth thanks to Jennifer Gibbons and the CUGC HQ team coordinating our calls and handling logistics for our upcoming XL meeting! Planning started with our kick-off call with the various Florida leaders and the CUGC team to first pick our proposed locations. Then we sent out a community survey for final feedback. We had a few follow up calls to review the various speakers and session topics. Going forward, the plan is for additional bi-weekly planning calls to review logistics, and as of right now, we are just under 100 people signed up! A lot of my close community friends who are leads at other CUGC User Groups have had XL events and they have been an incredible success. We are excited for this being our first of many future XL events!
This will be a great time to join our community groups to share knowledge, and hopefully, a great opportunity to help each of our groups grow with new users! Sooo... if you haven’t already, and you are located in Florida, SIGN UP! https://www.mycugc.org/page/floridaxl2019 Look forward to seeing you there!
How long have you been a member of the CTP program and what has that experience been like?
I have been a member of the CTP program since 2015, WOW time flies!! It has been an incredible journey and I enjoy it very much. Over the years, the Citrix community has grown immensely. myCUGC was founded, the Citrix CTA group was founded, and the overall awareness of both the CTP and CTA community programs internally at Citrix has really gained some awesome traction. In fact, last year (unfortunately due to family reasons I was not able to attend) there was an in-person CTA/CTP meeting combined (First Ever!) with Citrix Product Management. Attendees even got a briefing, as well as open conversation with David Henshall, who thankfully really gets the community and the value it brings to Citrix. I truly enjoy and appreciate the great community of friendships I’ve built around the world over the years of being a part of this great community. The awesome access to Citrix leadership and PM’s to help provide feedback to shape future product directions, and collaborating with the many community members across CTP, CTA, CUGC, and the overall community.
As 2018 draws to a close, any technology predictions for 2019?
Technology Predictions… this is always an interesting one. I would say keeping it laser-focused on 2019, I feel we will see more contextual intelligence built into the workspace, machine learning slowly starting to help shape the workspace based on working patterns, more abstraction of the user workspace from physical/virtual desktops, ensuring continued seamless roaming between various devices/form factors. In addition, we will start to see increased focus around stateless workloads, automation, and security. From a cloud perspective, I feel hybrid will continue to be the model of choice for a lot of customers and, for those going all in without proper planning/design, once those monthly consumption bills start coming in, they will start to move to a hybrid approach and only extend where it makes both financial and business sense. As for Citrix specifically in 2019, I'm hoping to see the feature parity gap continue to close between on-prem and Cloud service products, continued integration across products, and getting our hands on the recent acquisition Sapho’s technology, as I feel this is the glue to bring Citrix’s current vision around the intelligent workspace together.
Finally, outside of work and your CTP and CUGC involvement, what do you do for fun?
I’m a bit of a couch potato–honestly, it should be illegal for Netflix and these streaming services to roll right into the next episode! You get like a seven-second countdown now, not enough time to refill a drink, grab some more popcorn, or hit the head for a quick pee break! Yes..I know there is a pause button, but I tend to hit it at all the wrong moments, so my wife has banned my remote privileges. I LOVE watching all these awesome original TV series on the various streaming services. It's pretty amazing to see how the entertainment industry is evolving to be more focused on TV series, and original movies as well. Pretty cool! So yeah, my wife and I love to watch our shows and have movie nights, which is a nice way to mentally detach from the long work days!
On our downtime (when all our core shows are on break) we tend to head out for date night. I enjoy cooking classes, doing some occasional handyman projects (very selective, banned from 90% of them due to flooding the entire upstairs), constantly reading up on the industry trends, listening to audio books (LOVE Amazon Audible), and it's always a fun time heading to Disney with family, since we are only a few hours away!
I really enjoy building things and need to spend some more time on these sorts of projects. I would share a picture of me sitting on the couch watching Netflix but not sure the effect is as cool as me cutting some wood with power tools (haha).