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News You Can Actually Use

Happy Holidays!

This month, we’re reviewing 2018 with a few quick updates at Citrix to tell you about as well. This one is more about us and less about Citrix. We’ll beg your forgiveness this time around!

Here’s what you can expect in this month’s Newsletter:

What’s New with Citrix

After the release of the super-important LTSR 7.15 Cumulative Update 3, this month has seemed very quiet from Citrix… so we’ll have news from them and from CUGC to fill in some of the space!

  • Synergy. Citrix Synergy will be in Atlanta, GA USA from May 21-23. I not only plan to be there, but I really hope to put together the first CTXPro Meetup while I’m there! I will keep an eye out for opportunities to get you there as much as I can.
  • CVAD 1811. If you are on the Current Release or Cloud cycles for Virtual Apps and Desktops (formerly XenApp/XenDesktop) Version 7 1811 has been released. Building on some fairly big changes in 1808, this new version has integrated a lot more customer feedback. Here’s what I’m excited about among the new features:
    • Granular Reboots – a new Catalog Functional Level is required to take advantage of some restart scheduling that many of us have been begging for since 7.0! How this will be done is by allowing Delivery Groups based on these newer catalogs to apply tags to machines individually and apply the reboot schedules that way in the Studio GUI. If that sounds familiar to you, you probably remember something like this in XenApp 6.0 and 6.5. Keep in mind the default will still be 7.9 functional level so you need to make some changes to your Machine Catalogs to take advantage of the new features.
    • Director – You’ll get a much more in-depth view of the logon process including profile sizes and number of files. Also- if you are using Citrix or VMware hypervisors, you’ll see vital alerts there as well (for Premium license holders). For those using Real Time Optimization Pack (Skype) you’ll see some very valuable information there. Application probing has also been improved.
    • Graphics improvements galore – DPI matching for Windows 10 is a big deal, especially for those with high-resolution displays under about 14″.
    • HDX improvements – client drive mapping and overall throughput have been massively improved. Also, up to 8 displays can be included in the overall virtual display layout with DPI scaling or matching (this has been a pretty significant challenge for many customers in the finance space, for example.)

    Read more about the new features in this Citrix Blog Post.

  • Browser Content Redirection in 7.15 CU3 – Not to be confused with URL redirection, this newer iteration of what was introduced in 7.16 and enhanced in 1808 and 1811. This added plugin installer allows you to basically replace what is being rendered on-screen from your VDA’s web browser with content coming from your local endpoint. As you can imagine there is a host of caveats and things that can go wrong, and it is unusual that Citrix released a feature into a Cumulative Update (way to stand your ground, Citrix… snark)… but this is significant for those that have been struggling with users watching News sites, YouTube, Facebook or training videos that stress the servers past the point of being viable for more than a few logged in. The key difference with Redirection as opposed to URL redirection is that you have the ability to send data thru the ICA channel to be rendered locally. The key difference here is that with URL redirection, the local browser takes over completely so your local endpoint requires access to the internet or wherever the content is coming from. This is not ideal in many scenarios, so having the VDA sending the data stream it is downloading to the endpoint to be rendered is often idea.
    *Important: this does require that the Windows Media Redirection policy is enabled. I have been seeing a lot of issues with this lately especially in Server 2016. So please do a lot of testing before you enable BCR!
  • Masters Retreat. My friend and CTP Fellow Steve Greenberg, along with the Phoenix Metro CUGC are hosting a “Masters Retreat” in Scottsdale, AZ (USA) on May 3-5th. I have the honor of kicking things off with a Master Class on Citrix Leading Practices. I’ll review the do’s and don’ts that I encourage as an Architect and Consultant. You’ll leave this session armed with over 15 years of high-end consulting knowledge that I’ve used at dozens of the Fortune 50 companies. For me to do this in person at your organization would cost well over $6000. But if you attend the Masters Retreat… you’ll get it for free. But wait- there’s more! My friend Patrick Coble is ALSO giving a master class on VDI Security Best Practices that you do NOT want to miss. But the fun thing is… this is just the warm up! The conference itself will be full of breakout sessions, networking times and we are even talking about a Motorcycle Ride that I know Patrick and myself will definitely be doing. So bring your leather and your swimsuit!
    Sign up today and you’ll get access to the CUGC sponsored special rate of $750 (first come, first served- there’s a limited number of seats available). Learn more here.

Since it’s the season of ‘year-end reviews’ a HUGE change at Citrix has been naming conventions. Citrix felt that it needed to unify the branding so that “Citrix” was always the first word you saw, then a more apt (non-branded) description of the product itself. This was not without challenges and very VERY heated discussions between CTAs, CTPs and Citrix… but in the end I have to admit I’m starting to like the direction; even though I have had to massively rebrand myself! [I was going by “XenMaster” as a snarky handle for email, Twitter and more. This change actually forced some improvement on my part by re-branding myself as “TheCitrixCoach” instead. I think that better reflects my viewpoint, but I have a huge appreciation for Citrix’s challenges here!]

In Case You Missed It, here’s the rundown of branding changes in 2018:

Citrix Branding Changes in 2018

Is Now Was Previously
Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops XenApp and XenDesktop
Citrix Workspace app Incorporates Citrix Receiver and extensive enhancements
Citrix SD-WAN NetScaler SD-WAN
Citrix Secure Web Gateway NetScaler Secure Web Gateway
Citrix Gateway NetScaler Unified Gateway
Citrix Content Collaboration ShareFile
Citrix Files for Windows ShareFile Desktop App, ShareFile Sync, ShareFile Drive Mapper
Citrix Hypervisor XenServer
Citrix Provisioning Citrix Provisioning Services

Source: https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops/whats-new.html

Look for some articles in the new year from me that outline more of the changes and my thoughts on what to expect in the coming year. Too much for this newsletter, I’m afraid!

What’s New with DJ Eshelman

The holiday season has found me metaphorically burning the candle at both ends. While I have been making strides with figuring out ways to better connect with you all and am in the process of building out systems to help you understand and grow your Citrix knowledge and career, this is not without its challenges! I am investing heavily in this process behind the scenes, to go much deeper than just offering another blog. Investing time, investing money.

But eventually, I knew the time would come when I would need to pause and ‘refill the tank’ with some consulting work, and that is what I am doing for the next few months. So, while this means I’ll be producing a little less content it does not mean I’m done by any stretch. What I love about being an independent consultant is the ability to say the finest word I know how to say: “no.” I can politely turn down work (even some that pay really well) to focus strategically when I feel it’s important.

For me- I’m in this for two big things:

  1. Giving back to the Citrix community in my unique ways without having my family starve. I know I can only do so much with the ‘blog on the side’ thing while I travel the planet doing consulting work. I also know I can’t keep up the consulting side forever. Like many things- you can only really do one thing really well, or do two things kind of well. I have a lot of dreams for this!
    • A YouTube Channel
    • A more immersive blog experience where your real questions are answered
    • Live Q&A sessions
    • Monthly Best Practices updates
    • Unique courses teaching skills you don’t get from the ‘official’ curriculum
    • An exclusive and vibrant community full of folks who want to help each other grow in their careers and celebrate their wins
  2. Learning how to build a structure from this effort that will be self-sustaining by the end of 2020. I have come to realize that if I can make this a focus, I’ll be able to do a lot more with it- so that is my intention! I’m sure a lot of people will think of this as me wanting to ‘profit from’ the community but the honest truth is I’d make more money by continuing consulting work as a focus.
    What I’m envisioning will take more than just myself doing it. I will need a staff of people to coordinate all the content and communications. I don’t want a second-rate solution for you. I want to give you the best possible experience and tools so you are successful.
    I’ll talk more about this below but I also don’t want this to be all about me! I’ll be looking for more effective ways for YOU to have a platform to share and be rewarded for helping others learn!

If this sounds big- it is because it IS big. We took some time away recently in Kauai, Hawaii as a company retreat… some of the things that are coming up out of that time to brainstorm and strategize have me so excited I can barely sleep!

But you will be seeing me making some offerings soon. Rather than rely on sponsors, we will be offering you valuable content you won’t be able to get anywhere else.

Looking Back at 2018

2018 may have seemed quite honestly like a bit of a boring year for Citrix. And looking back… it kind of was. Citrix is releasing so much so frequently that it doesn’t have the ‘flash’ it once did. Personally, I think that is a good thing.

For DJ and the team here, probably the biggest news is that there is a team here! I (DJ) have brought on a few part time folks to help out with the efforts behind the scenes of building things out. But I’m jumping ahead. The first and probably most important thing is how the year started; with a survey.

In early 2018 I began getting feedback from people as to what would be most valuable to them in learning Citrix as a technology. What I came away with was somewhat of a shock but what I took on as a mission: It wasn’t just about learning Citrix. People want to learn how to be successful in their careers centered around Citrix. The words “I want to do what you have done” came up more than once which was both scary to me and humbling. Of course, I don’t feel successful a lot of the time. To understand that, you need to know my definition of success which is that I have left it better than I found it. I mean, yeah, I drive a paid off BMW and work when I feel it is important to do so rather than out of a sense of need… but that isn’t success to me. Success for me comes from what I leave behind- and that is what scared me.

What scared me was knowing that just simply writing or teaching someone how to run a technology was not good enough. It took a lot more than that for me, and I know it will for you as well.

I shifted my focus from releasing content based on learning the technology and started focusing on how I could encourage people to be successful in the manner I define above. This led me to re-read a few of the survey responses from that view point and I found something that has defined 2018. Survey respondents and those that I talked to after really felt abandoned. They felt that just taking a bootcamp or a course wasn’t really benefiting them long term. They were busy. They had other things they were responsible for. Sound familiar?

But… how could I address this? I went to my methodology: Understand, Plan, Change, Maintain.

Understand

As a Citrix Technology Advocate of the Citrix User Group Community I felt I had a certain duty but also access to a few more resources than many. To Understand, I went to my consulting background. I started looking at the gaps.

Please don’t misunderstand me in this- I love CUGC and well over 10% of my time each month goes towards supporting that community and I’m looking to increase that. But while there is a great reach and good numbers of people in the community, there isn’t really much that can be done to address this in a webinar, quarterly local meeting or blog posts. There is a wealth of knowledge at CUGC. If you’re not a member you really need to be. Get active and you’ll learn things every month. But unfortunately as it is driven by volunteer time, it is hard to set a kind of curriculum (at the moment). But also, the wider platform makes individual or group mentorship very difficult. I came to see that there was a gap in growing people’s careers in the ways my survey was indicating. Frankly, I needed to think smaller but not locally for this. I needed an online platform that could grow a community. One that would not conflict but could proactively and privately mentor individuals from where they currently were to where they wanted to actually go in their careers.

Plan

Armed with this assessment- I began forming a plan to address this. What I first realized was that I had a lot to learn and I had to look outside the tech world to find it. I have spent 2018 immersed in learning about building community/membership sites, online courses, public speaking and how to build out an email list. I put a lot into this- in fact, I have not only earned half of what I normally do in a year in 2018 – I actually dipped into my savings in order to be able to take the time and invest in learning more. I call it ‘tuition money’ but that is how serious I am about doing this. Between money spent on courses, conferences and other material and of course time I would normally be spending on consulting… the bill is approaching six figures for the year. But I’m having a blast learning all of this! Of things to invest in… this is far more rewarding than just accumulating wealth. But as you can imagine I came to an unfortunate conclusion: I can’t run this kind of structure for free and I don’t feel right structuring on sponsored content. So I turned to what others have done and found some exciting ways to offer my mentorship, coaching and teaching to you in ways that are affordable, actionable and operate at YOUR pace.

Change

I have put together what I call the Five Pillars of my business. They are:

  • Content (Blog, Video, Audio and Books)
  • Community (supporting free communities while building a premium membership-based community)
  • Courses (online and when practical in-person learning)
  • Coaching (one-on-one and group coaching – directed time with me for advancing your career or getting you ‘unstuck’ … available NOW at CitrixCoach.com)
  • Consulting (Direct Statement of Work or outcome-based work for businesses and ‘white label’ services)

I feel this structure will find you where you are and equip you fully to be the most successful you can be in your career using Citrix as the vehicle to get there.

Maintain

Just like any system, what you should be seeking is a balance between steady state and identifying when further Understanding leading to Change is required. Because of that, I’m taking steps beyond what is typically expected of a blog and quite regularly taking time to gather usage metrics (who’s clicking on what interest areas), where my readers are in their career, and of course how I can help fill the gaps between all the great education and expert blogs that are already out there!

Please take a moment and fill out my Winter 2018/2019 Survey now so I can better serve and meet you where you are!

Looking to 2019 – CTXPro.com and CitrixHero.com

CTXPro Membership

The first major change to CTXPro will be to add a membership community element. Watch for more of this in the month to come as we come out of beta. The membership is based on a few key elements:

  • Success Lanes. I don’t view ‘career paths’ in Information Technology as being as static as people often represent them to be. Not all Administrators want to become Architects. Many Engineers are called to do the design work of an Architect for a few weeks out of the year but they don’t carry the title because they have other work to do. So I view these not as paths but as ‘lanes’ that you merge in and out of in the course of your career. My job is to make sure you are able to be successful in each lane. So it is all about building up your confidence for each lane. The reason we do this as an ongoing membership is so that I can give you in-depth knowledge as changes happen. Courses can’t cover this rapidly enough, so we cover what you need to know as it comes up- but just that! This is meant to supplement and update courses without that frustrating need to sit through things you already know.
  • Member Support. Key to an ongoing community is support. Not just when you are stuck with a technical challenge and want to address people that understand you- but also in your career as a whole. So we conduct live group coaching and Q&A calls, have a Slack channel and even have mentoring available. Members get discounted one on one coaching as well.
  • Extended Learning. Members will get early access to courses I’m developing and discounted Cohort-style Premium in-depth Courses (going thru the same course with a group over the period of a few months with group support). There will even be membership panels with exclusive access to experts and private hangouts and in-person events to be able to grow with others.

CTXPro Guest Posts and Questions Answered

I am opening up CTXPro.com to guest bloggers! There is a lot of work to do in order to fill in the understanding gap in End User Computing in general, Citrix especially. With a fast-moving technology and such a vibrant community, I am excited to bring others in to provide their perspective and content. It’s why I’ve from day one called this the site for “Citrix Professionals” and transitioned away from my personal site for this information. If you are interested… let me know!

I’m also hoping sometime in mid-2019 to start responding to your questions! I get a lot of questions in consulting and I’ve started surveying people to better understand how I can help you. My hope is to start a kind of video blog series responding to your unique questions. It will be a fun way to give back in ways that you are actually asking for! I have gotten a lot of fun questions such as “How do I explain Citrix to my company?” that I think are a great fit for this sort of platform instead of things like courses and such.

Speaking of- I’d like your feedback! Please fill out this survey to help me better understand your needs and your questions!

Citrix Hero

Community isn’t a focus for everyone. Sometimes you just need to get the ‘inside scoop’ from those in the field that are doing this for a living. You need to know what the experts recommend… but that is sometimes hard to find if you don’t know you need to look for it.

So, I’ve devised a way to bring those expert leading practices directly to you, delivered as a subscription. The most common thing I hear during assessments is “I didn’t know we needed to do that.”
This subscription is how you’ll learn these things – only with three major benefits:

  1. It doesn’t cost as much as attending courses (in fact, much of the information is free!)
  2. It saves you time by not having to search.
  3. It keeps you from getting overwhelmed by focusing on just one thing per month.

Here’s how it will work:

Each month we will choose a topic. These are typically based on recommendations consultants like myself make on a regular basis, but can also include what are assumed to be common practices in the enterprise but may not be as universal because there isn’t an understanding of why they need to be there. Once the topic is chosen, a few key things happen:

  1. A blog post is put out either on citrixhero.com or ctxpro.com which describes the topic, why it’s important for you to do something and where possible. a brief overview of how you can address it on your own with links to read through. As we grow, my intention is to also release a video on the topic.
  2. Email subscribers will get a link to the blog and some additional information ‘unlocked’ in many of the blog posts where feasible. Subscription to the email list is free.
  3. Basic members will be sent a PDF document both via email and as part of a member portal page. This document is meant to be a chapter in an annual eBook, expanding on my current “Top 3 Practices” eBook. If you haven’t gotten my free eBook yet, what are you waiting for? Register at https://ctxpro.com/Top3. As for new content- treated as a new chapter, the document will have full details about what you need to know to successfully implement the topic at hand. But there are also some guidelines for requirements and overall difficulty, importance and user impact for each topic.
  4. Premium Citrix Hero subscribers, however, get way more. They’ll get a guidance video later in the month where I guide them through the aspects of the topic from Understand, Plan, Change and Maintain. But there will also be a monthly Q&A session (live or recorded) to make SURE they are successful.

Have a suggestion for us to consider? I’d love to hear about it!

There is more coming with courses and such but I am first focused on building these two!

CTXPro.com Tool of the Month

As I mentioned in chapter one of my Top 3 eBook, Optimizing the Operating System is a step that when not performed, wastes compute resources and costs your organization quite literally money per user for no reason. Just because the defaults are meant for the general population, not for server based computing. Up until recently, this meant a lot of scripting and manual effort. But Citrix gave the greenlight recently for a project called Optimizer. I mention Optimizer 1 in my book. It is a very easy way to do the same recommendations in a graphical interface, meaning you will be able to easily fine tune the optimization settings that are appropriate for your specific environment. More importantly, you can do them quickly. This is something I get passionate about because I have seen so many people struggle with this or ignore it completely for FAR TOO LONG.

This month, I have to bring up the Citrix Optimizer 2.0. While I knew about it going into writing my eBook, it wasn’t quite ready for release. That all changed this month when Martin and crew released the very aptly versioned Optimizer 2.0 to the public.

I am super proud of the team that is behind this, but most notably Martin Zugec. The guy is not only very kind and generous with his time, but he’s too humble to truly acknowledge how much of a community powerhouse he really is. Optimizer is something I have longed to see happen for well over a decade. For Citrix to finally put some backing behind what was previously a poorly thrown-together series of scripts (as well as an unfortunately distributed series of GPO templates that had the Citrix Consulting name on them).

Here’s what’s new in Optimizer 2.0.

  • Build Your Own Templates – this has been vastly improved from the previous need to play with XML files. For consultants like me, that’s a pretty big deal but it also makes it very easy to deploy across an organization where settings need to change (for example, some may need to turn off Search, while other use cases need it enabled).
  • Template Marketplace – Select purpose-driven templates from Citrix, CTPs, CTAs and other Citrix Heroes! This is a really key thing in my mind because it breaks people out of what I call “whitepaper thinking” where what was written in a whitepaper becomes somehow law. Whitepapers are supposed to call out what works in a very specific situation. By allowing templates to be created for special scenarios, you can quickly choose the best option for your specific needs.

Download the Optimizer 2.0 now: https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX224676

That’s all for this month. I hope you all had a good 2018 and are looking forward to a fantastic 2019! What goals do you have for the new year? Tell me about them! I’d love to get a Twitter conversation going!
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