Build, connect and extend to the cloud with Citrix Workspace Cloud – Part 2
Last week the first part of the ‘Build, connect and extend to the cloud with
Citrix Workspace Cloud’ blog was published. You can find it here. Make sure you have read it before continuing this blog post.
Now it’s time to dig into some details.
CWC from a technical perspective
A traditional Citrix environment has several Citrix related core components within the IT infrastructure. So, besides the workloads, functionality to employees, we have a XenDesktop/XenApp controller, Licensing server, XenMobile Server, ShareFile StorageZone Controller, StoreFront servers, NetScaler and of course a SQL instance, at least for your XenApp/XenDesktop site configuration.
Let’s take a XenApp/XenDesktop environment as an example. An on-premises environment has all these different components installed, which you have to maintain. With CWC most of the core components are delivered “as a service”. The Delivery Controller, Licensing, StoreFront, and SQL are brought to you as a service. The images below illustrate the difference between a traditional on-premises and a CWC environment. The CWC components are ‘in the cloud’.
This is an example for a XenApp/XenDesktop environment. As you can imagine the XenMobile Server (appliance) and the ShareFile Control Plane are deployed into CWC as well.
Citrix Workspace Cloud Connector
So what happens when the Delivery Controllers are moved towards CWC? Well that’s where the Workspace Cloud Connector is introduced. The Cloud Connector works like a ‘relay server’ between CWC and the on-premises components (NetScaler Gateway, Virtual Delivery Agent’s (VDA) and AD).
The Cloud Connector comes as a simple and easy installation package, which is installed on a domain joined (on-premises) Windows 2012 R2 machine. It only requires an outbound https (443) communication port towards the CWC control plane (it will work behind NAT and HTTP proxies). CWC will take care of any required updates so, install, log on and sit back. To guarantee availability a minimum of two instances is required. CWC will take care of staggered updates and reboots to keep the services up and running. All VDA’s are pointed to these cloud connectors instead of the delivery controllers. In case of a migration you only need to change the VDA’s to point to the Cloud Connectors. And as ‘lazy’ admin you only need to change a GPO. All communication between the Cloud Connectors and the CWC control plane is encrypted. The eventual logon process to a VDA machine is done directly.
The images displayed at the ‘CWC from a technical perspective’ section show the StoreFront/Receiver for Web at the CWC environment. A cloud hosted StoreFront is great since you don’t have to set it up and it’s always up to date, but it has its limitations, e.g. using the XenDesktop.net domain and not able to add your company branding. Don’t worry, you also have the option to set up a StoreFront on-premises. The pros and cons of these solutions are:
As described in part 1 of this blog (here), CWC Services has several packages. There are Apps and Desktops, Mobility Management, Secure Documents and Lifecycle Management.
For Citrix Lifecycle Management (CLM) the packages are ‘Deploy’, ‘Design and Deploy’ and the complete CLM set ‘Design, Deploy and Manage’. For Apps and Desktops there are two options; ‘Virtual Desktops’ and ‘Virtual Apps and Desktops’. And last but not least there’s the ‘Integrated Apps and Data Suits’ covering it all.
Currently (February 2016) the pricing is as showed in the following table. These prices are based on one year.
My final thought
To conclude, I think CWC is a great way to start your transition towards the cloud. Organizations are only able to move towards the cloud step-by-step, CWC makes this possible. The core components of any Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop, XenMobile, and ShareFile can be simply used as a service without the need of installing and maintaining them. CWC delivers a simplified service creation and deployment with easy upgrade options.
One of the downsides of CWC is licensing. Only per user licenses are available. For CLM there is a per managed OS instance available as well. Of course I’ll understand this in the XenMobile and ShareFile perspective but for many organizations the Apps and Desktops part can be very expensive if you are coming from a concurrent user license model. It would be great if customers are able to mix and match different licensing models for the various CWC service packages. Also trade-up offers or volume discounts aren’t available at this time.
Another thing is the minimum of 100 seats. For ‘cloud-curious’ customers this is a big step. And don’t get me started on the minimum of a one-year license. In a cloud world I, as a cloud customer, would like to pay on a monthly basis.
As with many ‘online’ solutions the dependence of a reliable internet connection is crucial. Once the Cloud Connectors aren’t able to connect to the CWC control plane it won’t be possible to set up a new session. Connection Leasing is a possibility but this isn’t the same as a Local Host Cache like we had with the good old IMA XenApp. A good consideration perhaps is a failover Internet connection, but everything comes at a price.
So now what, do we have to ask our self if we need to choose between either an on-premises or a Workspace Cloud environment. I don’t think so. Go hybrid. Build, connect and extend with Citrix Workspace Cloud, it’s a great way to start the transition towards a place where no sky is the limit.
My compliments to Harsh Gupta and his team creating the Citrix Workspace Cloud. Stay tuned for the next blog about installation and configuration of CWC Applications and Desktop Services.
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