At Citrix, we pride ourselves on delivering technologies that transform how people work. We create a rich experience that helps users be more productive and improves the experience for admins managing Citrix workloads, wherever they’re hosted. When developing innovative features for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, we always examine ways to further improve the end user experience.
At the heart of delivering that optimized user experience is our HDX technology. HDX spans multimedia, unified communications, graphics acceleration, printing, peripherals, and our ICA protocol with intelligence to dynamically optimize the virtual session.
With every Citrix Virtual App and Desktop release, our HDX team releases a bundle of features designed to optimize the experience of virtual sessions, whether they’re minor end-user enhancements like presenting a battery status indicator or session timeout counter, or something more significant like optimizing CPU/memory load of the VDA. While there have been a number of HDX innovations over the past two years, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of the most popular.
Optimization for Microsoft Teams
The best place to start is our optimization for Microsoft Teams for virtual environments. Meetings have left traditional conference rooms behind, and virtual conferencing software, like Microsoft Teams, is in high demand, especially as more companies explore flexible work arrangements. Optimization for Microsoft Teams for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops was one of the most of the most requested items from our Citrix customer base, especially considering our success with optimization for Skype for Business in virtual environments. Working alongside with Microsoft, Citrix was the first to market to provide the capability to optimize both web-based and client-based Microsoft Teams for virtual environments. By optimizing the way Microsoft Teams voice and video communication packets cross the wire, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops delivers a virtual meeting experience identical to that of a traditional PC.
HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.9 LTSR
Our success in optimizing Microsoft Teams wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for our success in optimizing Skype for Business with Citrix virtual environments. While customers are moving rapidly to Microsoft Teams, there are still some who need to stay on Skype for Business. To help address this demand, we released HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.9 LTSR, which provides stability and long-term support for customers leveraging HDX RealTime Optimization 2.9. Customers who need to leverage an LTSR for Skype can now get an improved user audio experience during conversation pauses, as well as quality-experience statistics and TraceRoute information for Quality of Experience reports.
Virtual Biometric Authentication (FIDO2)
Another popular HDX innovation was aimed at improving security without affecting end user productivity. Every IT admin today is thinking about their organization’s security posture, trying to strike the right balance between allowing seamless access and ensuring they haven’t opened the door to bad actors.
While centralization of data and removing it off the endpoint is one tool to support an effective security strategy, there’s a glaring weakness that can still compromise even the most advanced security solutions: the password. A key piece to our end-to-end password-less authentication story is now available: FIDO2 support. We recently released FIDO2 support in the virtual session in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 2009.
ICA and Gateway Service Rendezvous
Customers who have been looking for a cloud-based HDX proxy that provides secure remote access through cloud-based gateways have long leveraged Citrix Gateway service to front-end their Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environment. If you’re familiar with this, you probably know that ICA sessions would need to be proxied through Citrix Cloud Connectors to reach the Gateway and then the user. As your user base grows from hundreds to thousands of concurrent connections, the Cloud Connectors can become a bottleneck. While you can add more Cloud Connectors, this can be difficult to manage and increase public cloud costs.
To get around this (and I mean literally get around this), we introduced our Rendezvous protocol for ICA sessions. This feature is designed to improve cloud connector scalability. For companies running workloads in public clouds, it can help them save money by reducing the amount of required cloud connectors and reducing their public cloud consumption.
Enlightened Data Transport MTU Discovery
When we released Enlightened Data Transport (EDT), our UDP-based reliable transport protocol, our aim was to enhance the performance of Citrix sessions on higher latency networks, across great distances. This was imperative as more customers were consolidating their data centers and migrating workloads to the cloud, which could mean users are farther from resource locations.
Last year, we made this feature even smarter by introducing MTU Discovery capabilities. MTU Discovery enables EDT to automatically determine and set the appropriate MTU for each session so that every session uses the MTU that is best for that user’s connection, avoiding packet fragmentation and providing enhanced performance and reliability. As more companies consider expanding remote work, this feature can help ensure the best Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops experience.
Other Key User Enhancements
Our HDX team constantly makes performance enhancements and minor end-user feature enhancements. With each VDA release, we optimize the CPU usage, which has an impact on on-premises workloads and helps reduce compute costs for customers running Citrix VDAs in the public cloud. In addition to performance enhancements for the VDA, we also have made several additional experience enhancements including:
- Enhancements to webcam redirection, which is important for remote workers and is detailed in this article.
- SSL Print Job Encryption from VDA to Citrix Universal Print Server
- Windows Local Security Authority (LSA) protection
- Remote PC Access enhancements, namely undocking and redocking capabilities in Remote PC Access
- Rendezvous proxy support, allowing support of transparent and non-transparent proxies
- Drag and drop files between the Citrix session and local endpoint
These were just a few enhancements. We’re constantly ensuring with every release, there are goodies that enhance the end-user experience, regardless of device or network.
Stay up to date on all the latest and greatest innovative features for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops here on the Citrix blog. And let us know about your favorite HDX feature. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @CitrixAppDesktp to let us know!