Citrix Synergy 2018 Perspectives: CTA Benjamin Crill

Citrix Synergy 2018 Perspective: CTA Chris Schrameyer

Citrix Synergy 2018 – An Insiders Perspective

This year’s Synergy was special for me.  I was given the opportunity to participate like never before.  My roles this year included:

  • Citrix CTA
  • External Speaker – Lunch Table Tech Chat Leader
  • CUGC – Local Leader, Midwest XL leadership committee, and participant in the CUCG leadership workshop.
  • Citrix Insider


Synergy 2018: Days 2 and 3

Synergy 2018: Days 2 and 3


Day 2 at Citrix Synergy

Synergy was a very busy time for me. So much so that my intention to do daily blogs… didn't happen.

So- here's a 2 in one with an added wrap up bonus!

For those that don't know- Citrix is talking about themselves and what they are doing on stage exactly once, the first day's Keynote. The second two days had Super Sessions with leadership personalities outside of even the tech world. Think of it as a value-add for your conference ticket. The sessions were not streamed live, you had to be there to hear them.

Synergy Super Session: Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Dr. Condoleezza Rice (@CondoleezzaRice) started day 2 with a rousing speech.

I love the matter-of-fact way that Dr. Rice speaks. I always have, in fact. “It may feel like the tectonic plates are shifting under our feet… That is because… They are.” That little nod to yesterday's earthquake got everyone listening.

Dr. Rice talked about her remarkable early life. About not being a victim… world politics… leadership qualities and what everyday kindness really look like. But her perspectives on modern security I think took the center stage. And let's be honest, she would know. She talked about how rather than attacking from the front as we expect- modern bad actors come from the side; causing disruption rather than directly assaulting.


Talking about Powers Acting Badly… I have rarely thought about how Disruption is their biggest weapon. Guess what? You need to be aware and ready because the days of physical disruption are gone. #cybersecurity #citrixsynergy

— DJ Eshelman (@TheXenMaster) May 9, 2018


The greatest challenge is not what they can do to us, but what we can do to ourselves- @CondoleezzaRice nails it at #CitrixSynergy @citrix

— DJ Eshelman (@TheXenMaster) May 9, 2018

The speech was followed by an onstage chat with Tim Minahan. Dr. Rice said she didn't want to run for President; she understands too much of what goes into it I guess. Still, we were all disappointed to hear she wouldn't try!


Principles to live by per Dr Rice: (1) be twice as good, you will be confident (2) never be a victim, you lose control (3) don’t take on others’ prejudice – they don’t want to sit next to you because you are different, they can move #citrixsynergy https://t.co/tNyDS7Xi0s

— David Le Strat (@dlestrat) May 9, 2018

You can get Dr. Rice's new book Political Risk on Kindle, Hardback or Audible (with a free month trial) [ctxpro.com participates in the Amazon affiliate program- purchases support this site!]


Lunch Table Tech Chats

After some much needed herbal tea to soothe my very sore throat (I had great broadcast voice in the morning but it was difficult to get the volume needed) I headed to lunch to talk with more people about Application Delivery.


Having some tea to help my voice clear up before the Lunch Table Chats at #CitrixSynergy Come join the conversation about your thoughts on Networking in the Cloud era! pic.twitter.com/4dpCgujACt

— DJ Eshelman (@TheXenMaster) May 9, 2018

Right after grabbing a Lego Mini-Fig for my wife of course…

The afternoon was great- I attended a few sessions and volunteered at the Citrix User Group Community booth once again. On Day 2 we had ALREADY run out of most shirt sizes and were reduced to handing out “Extra Large and Extra Larger” shirts to folks!

CUGC Booth at Synergy

The evening for me was quite good. I went to a Citrix Sales appreciation dinner, where oddly enough I didn't really talk with any sales folks at all- but did have several GREAT conversations about where people are in their Citrix journey- even some heart touching stories from some folks that will be joining us in the CTXPro Membership when it launches! Connecting with people is why I went to Synergy.

Ready for the shocker? I was in bed by 11 pm! Either I'm getting older or wiser… or both.

Synergy Day 3 in pictures…

Super Session Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis super session

CTPs and CTAs ready for a session

CTPs and CTAs ready for a session


IGEL giving out a hefty prize to a lucky winner

IGEL giving out a hefty prize to a lucky winner

Robert Randolph Band

Robert Randolph and the Family Band!

check out who liked my Instagram post!

Synergy Badge 2018

Synergy Day 3

Day 3 started with spending an hour with Michael Lewis- renowned author of books like Moneyball and The Blind Side. I think his talk fed well into Citrix's announcement regarding how they were moving forward in Analytics.

How when the stock market spent millions to quite literally shorten the distance of fiber optic links because they couldn't click fast enough, the need for seeing ahead into things we didn't know before is important.


If someone said to me “You're not clicking it fast enough” I would probably counter with “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” #CitrixSynergy pic.twitter.com/PObF2ujAQd

— DJ Eshelman (@TheXenMaster) May 10, 2018


The fact that we are living in a world of literally moving the Earth to gain a better experience is what @citrix is all about. #CitrixSynergyEarthquake #CitrixSynergy

— DJ Eshelman (@TheXenMaster) May 10, 2018

But more important is that we are now getting answers to questions we didn't even know we had. From finding the cause of behavior of overworked cops to weather, analytics are a part of our story. Why is this important? “You can't change the decision maker but you can change the decision making environment.”

Oh- and you may be wondering, why so many tweets? If you were following me you know that I used the #citrixsynergy tag a lot. It was because with every one, a dollar was being donated to STEM programs. Over $51,000 was donated! That's a lot of tweets!

The morning was again filled with sessions, and I even took the opportunity to do a very brief Facebook Live for my Facebook Group (which you should totally join!) before a well-attended session on multi-datacenter setups.

After the final day of Tech Chats, the CUGC leaders that were at Synergy gathered for a training session in how to conduct effective meetings. It was extremely useful and I can't wait to put some of what we learned into practice!

What a good looking group at the #myCUGC Leadership Workshop! Looking forward to some amazing local meetings! #CitrixSynergy pic.twitter.com/S0OZGPSn5C

— Citrix User Group Community (CUGC) (@myCUGC) May 10, 2018

The rest of the afternoon for me was spent in Synergy Park attending to the CUGC table once again, until the final night party at House of Blues!


@rrtfb #HouseofBlues rockin #CitrixSynergy afterparty #guitarsofinstagram

A post shared by TheCitrixCoach (@thecitrixcoach) on

If I'm not listening to Metal or Hard Rock- I'm playing Blues. Sometimes, literally. So I was right up front at House of Blues! Great show (though the line to get in was a bit ridiculous, and it took forever to get any food!)


The evening was great; a bunch of CTAs and CTPs found their way to a corner bar and chatted the night away. Great memories with old and new friends. Great to get to know Neil Spellings a bit more; we ended up walking back together as we both had early flights! Fitting, since we're both known for our Synergy prep guides – but neither of us talked about them.

The next morning – insanely early – I boarded a plane home, after a chat with my buddy Carl Webster. By the way- I'm just going to say if you haven't done so already – support his website! There's a donation button. Do it!


Citrix Synergy 2018 Summary

So- the common question: Did you have a great Synergy this year?

And the answer is of course yes. Even if it wasn't as well attended, I always enjoy Anaheim more than Vegas or Orlando – but this was the first year I was there representing not a company or a sponsor… but YOU.

That's right- I was sent to Synergy as a Citrix Technology Advocate, and I did my best to do just that. I met so many more people this year than I have in years past. I gave out over 150 cards, interacted with folks on Twitter and of course the Lunch Table Tech Chats and CUGC events.

So- what am I hearing?

There remains confusion about Citrix products from a NAMING standpoint, not a ‘what it does' standpoint. Though it was heavily downplayed at Synergy, Citrix did announce some changes to the portfolio on their website. This does away with several names – most notably “Xen” and “NetScaler” but also “ShareFile”. A few of these I'm okay with, a few not so much if I'm being honest. I was ready to give up Xen. But honestly NetScaler and Sharefile were fine from a market alignment standpoint. What they were not fine with however is a name that identifies what it does. And that is essentially what Citrix is after. Each new product name will contain “Citrix” and then a brief description of what it does.

Here's a rundown of what to expect:

Citrix Workspace

This will be a category that will encompass several technologies formerly known as either “Workspace Suite” or “XenDesktop” along with some new things.

  • Citrix Workspace App – announced at Synergy, this expands the capabilities of Receiver to include apps, files and even some analytics and security capability. I haven't been this excited since Dazzle. Ask me about it later…
  • Citrix Content Collaboration = ShareFile
  • Citrix Endpoint Management = XenMobile (Secure Mail and Secure Web apps remain unchanged in name)
  • Citrix Secure Browser = XenApp secure browser
  • Citrix Hypervisor = XenServer
  • Citrix App Layering = Unidesk
  • Citrix Virtual Apps = XenApp
  • Citrix Virtual Desktops = XenDesktop

Citrix Networking

This will be the most controversial, but when you think about it will be the most challenging to change from a technical product standpoint. Bottom line- a few of these software-based items will be easy. But don't expect Citrix to be sending out new physical NetScalers to replace yours.

  • Citrix ADC = NetScaler ADC
  • Citrix SD-WAN = NetScaler SD-WAN
  • Citrix Web Firewall = NetScaler App Security, App Firewall and Web App Security
  • Citrix Gateway = NetScaler Unified Gateway AND NetScaler Access Gateway
  • Citrix Application Delivery Management = NetScaler MAS
  • Citrix Secure Web Gateway = NetScaler Secure Web Gateway
  • Citrix Intelligent Traffic Management = Cedexis Platform

So- many people missed the Cedexis acquisition. I have to admit that I'm having trouble with where it fits into the core sometimes but here's the thing: Think of how many apps your company uses today. Now tell me how many of those are either SaaS (either Web browser or web-delivered like Office 365) or has components that tie in that way? So, while this makes some sense- I can give you a perspective from attendees that came to my Tech Chat table… people don't think of SaaS as “Applications”. Citrix, if you're listening- changing what “App Delivery” means is something people don't seem to be ready for. Everyone who came to my tables wanted to talk about XenApp.

But Xen's dead baby. Xen's dead.

Citrix Analytics

This new cloud-based capability was actually one of the more exciting new features- because of what it can do for security and support. I'll go into this in another post because there is a LOT here. Needless to say, I'm excited to finally see this come about.

Oh- let me answer the most popular question: “Will this be Cloud-Only?” The answer is not exactly. On-Premises installs will have a connection agent – however, when you think about what makes this work; an on-prem solution is not going to be practical. This is using real-time analytics across thousands of instances for behavior-based intelligence. If you're struggling with this I'd simply say that you need to stop thinking in terms of DAT files and think in terms of pre-cognition. Knowing a threat exists by what behavioral triggers exist, instead of by looking for the results.

Finally- the question I got over and over again (I mean, other than “you don't look like your picture”) was – “Since they are killing Xen … What are you going to do about your Twitter Handle?”

Well- here's the thing. I have known about this renaming for some time, yes- we were given some special NDA access to this process to give Citrix feedback about it. (We voiced a lot of your concerns, by the way…)
But the reality is that I have been wanting to change “TheXenMaster” for quite some time now. After being called that by someone (I've forgotten who) I decided to run with it. But I'll be honest- it doesn't fit my personality. So I'd been working to find a new persona; one that uplifts and encourages. Unfortunately I couldn't take over the abandoned Twitter username for this, so I kept a definitive modifier out in front once again.

Going forward- I will be on Social Media as @TheCitrixCoach

I have registered this in several places so far:

more to come! I'd encourage you to follow me on any of these outlets!

Whew! I'm tired. I think I'm going to wrap this up and call it another successful Synergy!

Synergy 2018: Days 2 and 3

Synergy 2018: Day 1

Very early in the morning, I woke with a start thinking someone was in my hotel room shaking my bed. Turns out that the Earth itself was shaking.

So, it was with that early adrenaline rush that I went to the Keynote for Citrix Synergy. Along the way, I did an exclusive Behind The Scenes video using my super-secret CTA powers to get early access to Synergy Park and the Expo. To get access to that video, just join our new Facebook Group.

Keynote Announcements

First, CEO David Henshall announced that it was like Citrix was shaking the world… This was the first moment I realized that I was not crazy; my bed really had been moving. I'll be honest- I did a quick check of the news and verified that everyone was okay! On to business.

I'm not going to play-by-play the announcements – if you want that, I'd suggest Meri's Citrix blog about Day 1. What I will do is mention some key takeaways and thoughts.

First- Citrix is the process of re-formulating the way it's presented in the world- so you will see names like “Citrix Workspace” “Citrix Networking” and “Citrix Analytics”. This is something Citrix is working on in the background to eliminate mystery terms (I mean, how does XenDesktop really tell you it is a virtual workspace?). I have been part of the background conversation about this and can tell you that the decision NOT to focus in on naming changes was wise. So I will also not be talking about it here. I will be discussing it with my members- if you aren't already, get signed up for my membership waitlist at https://ctxpro.com/membership
You want photos? Here's some photos!

Here's how the Citrix Story will look going forward:

Citrix Workspace, Citrix Networking and Citrix Analytics are the future of Citrix

The new Workspace App was announced. Think of it as Receiver ++

This is actually a pretty big deal not only for aggregating resources but also in terms of having Analytics right in your workspace. So- contextually showing you relevant content both from Citrix sources and other feeds from SSO, from ShareFile documents to even workflows within ServiceNow (another integration announced).


Did you know that IT Complexity is one of the leading causes of baldness? Mostly from hair being ripped out.

But Citrix is focusing in on this to reduce how much IT Complexity is costing.
State of IT: User Experience is down, Business Risk and IT Complexity are up

IT Complexity costs $800/user year

There was a fun little demo where she actually spilled coffee on her laptop (like, for real) to demonstrate how quickly you can roam your workspace from device to device. It's the classic Citrix story.

"oh no, I spilled coffee on my laptop..."


In my mind, Analytics is one of the key things Citrix is doing to keep market dominance in this space. This is one of those ‘behind the scenes' benefits to ‘going cloud'.Citrix's view on Analytics - Workspace, User Behavior, Modeling and Policy Control


Of course- we need to talk about the Cedexis acquisition, right? Announcement of Citrix Intellegent Traffic Management (Cedexis)

Demonstration of Analytics in Citrix Cloud


So the keynote got people talking, for sure… which means its time to talk about talking!

Lunch Table Tech Chats

So I'll let you in on a little secret: Several of the CTAs (Citrix Technology Advocates) including myself have ‘speaker' badges because we were asked to facilitate talks every day at Lunch. In years past this has been one of my favorite activities and I'm really glad Citrix asked me to host a table this year! My table's topic is “Application Delivery and Cloud Networking” – but we've talked about everything from XenApp in the Cloud to MultiFactor Authentication and Federated Services.
Lunchtime Tech Chats
I even decided to have some fun with the Lego Minifigs. Since many people were telling me that I no longer look like the headshot I used on my business cards, I decided to have some fun with it with a photo that I posted to Twitter. In fact- there were a lot of Twitter posts with minifigs; all part of the fun!
When I replaced my face with a lego minifig for my business card

Day 1 Summary

As I'm looking at the clock and realizing that I'm already running late I'm going to cut this short and hit publish knowing there is much more I could say.

What I will mention is that I have been busy handing out cards and connecting with people because I am getting really excited to go beyond Consulting work and writing Content and getting more into supporting Community and doing Coaching. If you want to learn more about that, subscribe to my mailing list!

So- all in all I had a great day. A long day to be sure, but I managed to get away across town with some old friends and have a few beers and many MANY laughs.

And that's really what Synergy is all about for me- connecting with people.

How to Prepare for Citrix Synergy

How to Prepare for Citrix Synergy

Each year I will update this page with my tips and tricks for attending Citrix Synergy, the yearly gathering of users, vendors, Citrix and usually… me.

**Not going to Synergy? Here's a CTXPro Tip: The Keynotes will be streamed live! Sign up at https://live.citrixsynergy.com/

Let us know you'll be there in spirit if you are watching the stream:

I can't be there, but I'm watching the #CitrixSynergy live stream. If you will be there, check out ctxpro.com/synergytips for some pointers! Click To Tweet

**Update 5/8/2018

Synergy has launched and that means it's time to get that CUGC T-Shirt! But- it comes wrapped up in a bundle, giving it some wrinkles. Normally, these would come out in the dryer. So what if you want to wear it at the conference? FEAR NOT fair reader, I have a travel tip that will help!



Citrix Synergy Packing Guide 2017

Citrix Synergy Packing Guide 2017

Citrix Synergy is one of those industry conferences that is a lot of things to a lot of folks… but one thing I've always heard is “I wish I would have brought X”

I thought first I'd give a few more complete prep guides out there (this list will be updated as I find more of them):

But what good what I be doing to just say “Ditto”? Here's what I brought this year and why; in the hopes you'll see this before you pack and benefit (or benefit next year):

My Citrix Synergy 2017 Packing List

First off, I've arrived early for Labs, staying for all of Synergy and also staying for E2EVC – so that's a solid 6 days of walking, sitting, walking, sitting, standing, walking, walking, walking and some more walking. I'm going to estimate roughly 11 miles each day for me. I should also mention that my hotel is a little over a mile away on foot. I'll be trying the Trolley this year (Thanks, Neil!) – $9 for the week will work for me; I'll try to remember to report back on that here.

Given the schedule and how IN-SANE certain days and nights can get at Synergy, I use a layering strategy in everything from what I wear to how I pack.  (Note- I'll provide Amazon links when I can)

Layer 1: Clothing

  • Polo Shirts (note- this is the first year I've decided against long sleeve shirts. We'll see how it goes! The key is be comfortable without being unprofessional.)
  • Company Golf Shirts
  • Khaki Pants
  • Denim jeans for evenings
  • Sketchers Go Walk 3
  • ECCO Dress Shoes
  • GoodFeet Insoles (critical for me)
  • Light Fleece (this is the most overlooked item. Trust me- I have never been in a session in all of these years that hasn't kept the room over 70 degrees. If you don't have a sport coat or something like that, bring something to take the edge off the cold) – LAYER!!!
  • Swim Trunks and Shorts (just in case, I've rarely used them – count on being so busy you won't need to)

Layer 2: Accessories and Equipment

  • Water Bottle (Thanks to Dr. Tobias Kreidl for reminding CUGC in including this critical item.) Pretty much every session will have water stations, but it's so very important to keep the ability to hydrate with you. Sure the air is humid outside, but inside- cold and dry. More so important if you plan on taking part of any of the numerous occasions for adult beverages.
  • Vitamins (critical for recovery – I triple my dose round Wednesday just to recover from various adult beverages and late nights that I am never ready for.)
  • 17″ Laptop (I have a Samsung laptop I bought in 2017 that is still rocking. It has HDMI, Display Port and VGA output- which is important for Labs) – used Sunday and Monday and then left at the hotel
  • ASUS Transformer Chi Tablet with detachable keyboard – cheap and effective for note taking and signing into my work's XenApp Applications all week.
  • 2 Battery Packs (I anticipate getting more from Vendor Partners this week)

Layer 3: Luggage and Bags

  • I usually travel with a carry on bag- but mine has the ability to expand. Why is this important? Because you will leave with more than you came. You will. Even if you only take the conference official bag, you will be getting SWAG (Stuff We All Get) from vendors that want you to take their stuff.
    • Leave space or the ability to expand your main luggage
    • Always bring stuff back for your team that didn't have the privilege of going to Synergy
    • Anticipate things like batteries, shirts, various prizes and fascinating solutions to everyday challenges like multiple charging cables.
  • Main bag for laptop (mine is a bag I won in Orlando a few years back that I use every time I travel)- after Monday it stays at the hotel
  • New bag to hold SWAG, tablet, water bottle and battery packs

More Synergy Advice

  • You're going to walk and stand. A LOT.
  • You're not going to sleep much.
  • Go to the parties
  • Visit the Vendors
  • Visit me and others at the CUGC booth!
  • You're going to get tired.
  • Your Brain may try to explode.
  • You'll go home brimming with new information and confidence.
  • You are going to have a blast.

See you there!

I'll be tweeting quite a bit all week- follow me at @TheXenMaster. Include this post with this link: http://wp.me/p7wbbt-2w