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Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops gets UX, security upgrades

Citrix continues to add new capabilities to its cloud products, but getting consumers to adopt as-a-service offerings remains a hurdle.

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops will see some minor upgrades in its 1903 release, including optimization with Microsoft Teams, better multimedia playback and two-factor authentication. The upgrades to Virtual Apps and Desktops 1903 will be released later this year.

The news, unveiled during a webinar, comes at a busy time in the virtual desktop infrastructure space, with Synergy, Citrix's user conference, coming in May and Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop getting closer to general availability.

While Citrix and Microsoft have a close partnership, Windows Virtual Desktop will impact Citrix's VDI offering.

"This forces Citrix to redefine its value proposition and focus on its strengths in management and high-performance remoting protocols," said David Johnson, principal analyst at Forrester. "These [capabilities] will still have value to Citrix customers -- especially those who've already invested in building their virtual desktop capabilities around the platform."

Easing migration from on premises

Citrix is in the process of moving its products and capabilities away from on premises and to the cloud. But its pivot into cloud service offerings can be a hard sell for customers due to time consumption, cost or an ingrained way of working, according to Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

Citrix has a long history of slow-moving customers that operate in a world of 'If it's not broke, don't fix it.'
Mark BowkerSenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"Citrix has a long history of slow-moving customers that operate in a world of, 'If it's not broke, don't fix it," Bowker said. "This mindset slows the adoption of new features and cloud consumption models."

While it continues to push toward as-a-service products and cloud strategy, Citrix will have to guide some of its more stuck-in-their-ways customers, according to Bowker.

"Citrix has arguably some of the best app and desktop delivery technology and features," Bowker said, "but advancing its customers takes some heavy lifting from a sales and relationship perspective."

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops upgrades

Citrix's upgrades fall into three categories, according to Carisa Stringer, director of product marketing for apps and desktops at Citrix. The company is hoping its improvements to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops will help spur some migration and make things easier for its customers, according to Stringer.

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops customers will be able to use the web-based version of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft's collaboration tool and Citrix will eventually extend those capabilities to the desktop client as well, which, if based on previous integrations with Microsoft products, will help Citrix users, according to Johnson.

"Citrix has proven adept at adding value to Microsoft platforms, so we anticipate that they will continue to find ways of adding value to Microsoft's offering," Forrester's Johnson said.

Beyond adding Teams, Citrix added capabilities for ServiceNow customers, where admins can schedule tickets and automate virtual application delivery. Citrix also added a virtual display layout, giving users the ability to break up a single monitor display into eight smaller screens, adding value for employees who need to navigate multiple applications at once.

Citrix CMO Tim MinahanTim Minahan

On security, the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops upgrades included two-factor authentication and configuration logging for admins, which enables them to keep a record of all administrative tasks performed within Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

Citrix is also in the process of deploying Virtual Apps and Desktops on Google Cloud, expanding the product line beyond Azure and AWS.

Tim Minahan, chief marketing officer at Citrix, said users can expect more product announcements soon, as Citrix Synergy is just around the corner.

"The theme of the conference is around how the future works," Minahan said.

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