What Citrix technologies are most important to your work?
Citrix Workspace Apps and Desktops (XenApp and XenDesktop) along with Citrix ADC (NetScaler) are what I work with on a daily basis. Workspace Apps and Desktops is the center of most customers' worlds when it comes to securely delivering application and desktops, which is why it is most important to my work.
What's the biggest tech challenge you deal with, and what Citrix solutions are you using (or plan to)?
Keeping things moving and up to date. One of my clients has five datacenters, with XenDesktop deployments in all of them, and two datacenters that have XenApp as well, along with full test deployments for each site (for 14+ sites). With over 20 vDisks, just doing monthly patching is a lot to get done, and then applications A through Z always need updates here and there. We are starting to consolidate images and scripting things out to speed up the process, along with using layering where possible to try and reduce the touchpoints.
You submitted the winning CUGC t-shirt design that debuted at Citrix Synergy–tell us what it was like to see your design come to life.
It was awesome showing up to the CUGC booth and seeing piles of shirts, along with people already wearing them, on Tuesday. Seeing the t-shirts out there in the wild was much better than just seeing the design in Illustrator and as a Tweet. And, seeing my design on hundreds of people throughout the conference and in tweets was a treat each day. For anyone who wants to try next year, my advice is to sketch it out on paper and then watch some YouTube tutorials on making a t-shirt mockup. You can also use shirt-design websites to mock up your design a bit more. It was hardest for me to get things to line up and space out correctly, so don’t give up if it isn’t perfect. Submit it anyway, and CUGC HQ has your back to help you align things from there.
This was your 10th Synergy event, how was your experience this year?
It was actually way better than I expected. First, I met the CTPs and CTAs who made it to Synergy–some for the very first time outside of Twitter, Slack or random run-ins over the years–which was amazing. Getting to hang out with so many of my nerd idols was great, and getting to hear their thoughts on so many things was even better. This was the best Synergy for me, because I was able to give back to the community that has given so much to me as a career. I worked at the CUGC booth every day and spoke at the Security Lunch Table Tech Chats each day alongside another great group of speakers. Talking to people daily about their security questions and giving them some security nuggets that they could take back to make their deployment more secure made it that much better.
This was also one of my favorite Synergy events because of what I have learned from working with Citrix for over 20 years now, and having participated in so many Synergy conferences. Meeting David Henshall at the CTP meeting and hearing his vision and experience for Citrix, then seeing him again on stage at the Keynote, really helped cement a couple things for me. First, Citrix is changing, and trying to stay relevant in a market that is becoming more and more crowded with other players, and second, they're focusing on the Workspace (which is what it has all been about for the past 29 years). Citrix wants to not only provide the best Workspace experience, but also the most secure and configurable solution too. I believe they have the right tools to do it.
I, of course, loved all the security-related talks and demos, because that is right up my alley. Seeing what is possible with Citrix Analytics, along with Citrix App Control and Secure Browser, was amazing and no other company is going that direction like they are. With all the products Citrix has, they are now really gluing things together, which will help make their Workspace dream a reality. I’m excited to be a small part of it and cannot wait to deploy my first Citrix Secure Browser, Citrix Analytics and Citrix Secure Web Gateway deployments. Though I think the rebranding got a little bit of attention, Citrix’s Workspace goals for contextual and adaptive access will be amazing to see it all work together.
We know it's difficult, but what sessions or events stood out this year for you?
Hrm, that is a tough one! My problem is that I didn’t get a lot of time for sessions between meetings, the CUGC booth and speaking at the Lunch Table Tech Chats. I thought the opening Keynote was great, as I can see the vision coming together. I loved hearing from Dr. Condoleezza Rice on her experiences in government and her experiences growing up and working in government. I thought Michael Lewis was a great speech too, and I think it was the first time there was a “f-bomb" dropped at a keynote. But, in context, it was about his book, "Money Ball," and a coach more worried about his mom finding out how much he cussed, not that he was giving away the secrets of using Analytics to run a better baseball team.
Favorite sessions (some that I was in part of the time, others I've watched on Synergy TV):
- SYN219 "Better authentication made easy" by @ThorstenRood – He has great attention to detail, and was able to show the difference between authentication options to help practically deploy MFA and Brute Force Protection. Very practical advice that you can take home if you have a NetScaler. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH3jqz7eSQU
- SYN241 “How to break the cyber kill chain of ransomware” with my fellow Hackers @MartinZugec & @FlorinLazurca – They went over the world of ransomware and attacks, and how there is more money in Cyber Crime than a job at a company to help secure it. Also, how the availability and anonymity of the Internet has allowed BotNets to rule and what you can do to help reduce your attack surface by thinking like an attacker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQoefIOmLZI
- SYN236 “Multi-Site Scenarios Best Practices” with @dbretty @JarianGibson & @shanekleinert on what it takes to run a Multi-Site Citrix deployment. This was the best collection of best practices I have ever seen when it comes to running more than one site for all the major Citrix Products. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdlvVql5IgQ&t=881s
- SYN237 “Citrix and Nutanix: the 2018 inside scoop” @JarianGibson and @KBaggerman on everything you wanted to know about Citrix and Nutanix, just like the title suggests. If you are thinking about Nutanix, or already have it, this is the session for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE8EaNHE2YY
There were lots of other sessions I was interested in, but those are the ones I was able to watch in their entirety and/or got to sit through for a little bit before having to go. There was such a good mix of speakers and topics that I wish I could have made it to them all. I’m just really excited that there isn’t a paywall up for getting access to these sessions, and that there is a whole YouTube channel to watch. The playlist of Citrix Synergy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evGbZxACACg&list=PLbrnMEdPVDPU6DbD52VMWdcDlx0XYHJ91
You also co-lead the Nashville CUGC. What's that experience been like?
It has been great in Nashville. We have grown just like many other cities, but we have the same struggles as most in trying to find the best location and time for the most people to be able to attend. It has been a great experience and honor to get to re-found it and now lead with DJ Eshelman, also a Citrix CTA. Through this experience, we've both been able to meet other leaders and members all around the world, which is awesome. I think getting to see all four members and talk to them each meeting is my favorite thing, because it all comes down to community. Other people have been there, done that, and can save you time and effort (experience is experience, good or bad, as Loki would say). I’m excited for our upcoming Synergy Recap and Liquidware meeting on June 15th.
Outside of work and CUGC, what do you do for fun?
Being a Dad is the best fun\hobby\life I could ever ask for. We are a traveling family for sure, and do quite a few trips each year. It is so much fun to see the world with your kids. I have a BMW E30 track car, which I play around with when I have time outside of traveling with the family. It's tons of fun and was painted by kids through a charity in south Florida, “Racing 4 Life” (think Make-A-Wish meets a yearly race car meet). I also am Den Leader for Cub Scouts, which is fun, but keeps me #PinewoodDerby #Camping. I think being able to work anywhere because of Citrix has really blessed us to be able to do things that a traditional employee without good remote access may not be able to do.