Viewing entries in
Enterprise

Key Takeaways from Citrix Synergy

Comment

Key Takeaways from Citrix Synergy

As the dust is finally settling after our very busy and interesting week in downtown Atlanta at Citrix Synergy, we wanted to share some high-level takeaways from the event. While we’d love to talk about our obsession with the electric scooter rentals scattered about downtown, we’ll do our best to keep the focus on our takeaways from the interactions we had at our dedicated CloudReady stand inside the larger Google Chrome Enterprise booth.

Throughout the event, we had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of attendees, partners, vendors, customers and everybody in between about CloudReady’s value in converting organizations’ existing hardware to Chrome OS, and also to listen to many presentations made by Citrix leadership. Our conversations ranged from discussing all sorts of Citrix, VDI, and endpoint configurations, to sharing the news about the launch of our new Chrome Experts community as a public resource for people to come and ask about all things Chrome.

CloudReady’s booth inside Google’s Chrome Enterprise booth.


To commemorate the experience, here are some of the highlights we took back to the Neverware headquarters at crazy old 27th Street in New York City:


Citrix is truly focused on “Delivering the Future of Work.”

Leading up to the event, Citrix’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Minihan, shared a post where he wrote, “Increasingly, competitiveness is being determined by how well companies can harness technology to innovate faster and drive new levels of employee engagement and productivity that improve the customer experience and business results.” This was evident throughout all of the keynote announcements and a focus within a lot of the breakout sessions.

At Neverware, we believe that the architecture of the Chromium operating system, combined with legacy Windows apps delivered by Citrix, accomplishes exactly that. With CloudReady and Chrome Enterprise Management, organizations can spend much less time on securing, patching, and managing their endpoints, and more on driving innovation, ultimately improving business results.

3 underlying themes: User experience, security and choice.

As a Citrix Ready verified partner, we had the opportunity to attend the Citrix Ready Summit on the day prior to the start of Synergy and hear first hand about the future roadmap of Citrix Workspace. During this event we listened to the Citrix leadership team, from many different verticals, speak on a number of topics. It was clear that there was an explicit focus revolving around each of the following three themes throughout each presentation:

  • Awareness of what it means to provide a better user experience where the user is less distracted and has all the tools & information consolidated into one pane of glass.

  • Security has become paramount in the enterprise workplace.

  • Users want freedom to choose where and what device they work from.

The intelligent cloud workspace has finally arrived in the new Citrix Workspace.

The era of managing multiple services and devices, and updating and patching with different types of inconsistent tooling, is finally coming to a close. Innovative organizations are implementing a single point of governance to manage their entire organization that can be accessed from anywhere, from any device, and retains all of the appropriate preferences.

Additionally, the benefits of cloud workspaces to improve the employee experience, resource optimization, and overall security. However, the biggest cost savings are found in the reduction of time spent monitoring and managing the parameters and updates for every device in the company’s network.

Google and Citrix Partnership

While we believe the Citrix keynote speech here provides the best overview of this topic, we’d like to point out what we view as the most impactful two elements of the ever-increasing partnership between Citrix and Google:

  • Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) is now available on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Organizations will be able to seamlessly scale their Citrix desktop workloads from their existing on-premises deployments directly into Google Cloud.

  • Google is now an official identity provider for Citrix Workspace. This means that this integration will provide you with a more unified, secure, and seamless authentication experience for G Suite and Workspace.

The announcement of these two features alone elevates Google’s effort to a higher standard alongside the other cloud platforms in the Citrix ecosystem.

We (Google + Neverware) need to continue the push of educating the enterprise community on the value and capability of the Chrome ecosystem and applicable use cases.

Throughout the hundreds of conversations we had with users, customers and partners, we realized that awareness of the enterprise-grade features of CloudReady and Chrome OS, and the available integrations with Citrix, hadn’t yet permeated the enterprise community.

We shared a number of use cases where IT administrators walked away with some great ideas on how to address a pain point, all while improving security and manageability with CloudReady/Chrome OS. A couple of quick highlights of some of these use cases that were found to garner the most engagement and “I wish I knew about this sooner” reactions:

  • The ultimate mobile thin client: We spoke frequently about the use case where CloudReady/Chrome OS customers can run their devices in Kiosk mode, giving users the ability to only log in via the Citrix Workspace app, and launch their Virtual Desktops and Apps entitlements. Taking it one step further, Citrix released a configuration called Beacons that can be managed centrally via a single policy deployed from the Google Admin console, and which allows users to roam seamlessly from the physical office to remote work areas (e.g., coffee shops, hotels, airports), and automatically receive either the internal storefront URL or more secure, externally facing access gateway URL.

  • A secure thin client now, a full robust desktop OS later: The idea that both CloudReady and Chrome OS can offer the full functionality of a thin client device with the purpose of connecting into a fully hosted Windows desktop; AND then transition at the same pace that your workforce transitions to a more web-based way of working of the future, all WITHOUT compromising on security or manageability of these endpoints. Additionally, we found that some folks were incredibly intrigued by the fact that it’s just a simple flip of a switch to turn an endpoint acting as a thin client into this fully functioning, browser-based OS.


Synergy was a fantastic event to interact with many of the great minds within the enterprise community, all under a single roof. We walked away with a lot of knowledge on how Citrix sees the future of its Workspace computing platform and just how well this aligns with a secure, managed, and cloud-focused endpoint, like CloudReady and Chrome OS.


Feel free to comment with your thoughts below!

 

Nick Fuchs is a Product Specialist in Virtualization. When he's not supporting animal rescue, feeding the Neverware team, and drinking Don Julio, you can find Nick on his IT blog, NickyFixIt.com, or Neverware's Chrome Experts community.

View all posts by Nick.

 

Comment

5 Easy Steps to Set Up Your VDI

Comment

5 Easy Steps to Set Up Your VDI

For the past 5 years, IT thought leadership has espoused the benefits of cloud computing, and enterprise adoption is finally taking action. In Deloitte’s most recent CIO survey, 53% have cloud guidelines and strategy in place, and 94% recognize they need to substantially change their IT operating models. And yet, technical complexities still represent the primary challenge to shifting to a “cloud-first” organization.

At Neverware, we work closely with businesses, from startups to global enterprises, and they all want to secure, manage, and modernize their IT infrastructure. Though our primary focus is improving their endpoints, we've found that many don't realize that VDI has matured into a mainstream market of solutions that can help smooth the transition from local, legacy computing to a more secure, robust, cloud-first world. Paired with CloudReady, VDI can help your company achieve:

  • Universal access to the same applications and files, no matter the location or endpoint device

  • Significantly more secure, reliable and consistent user experience

  • The flexibility to manage and deploy applications remotely to thousands of machines

  • Simplified and centralized device & credential management


VDI has a reputation for being confusing and difficult to implement, but it’s easier than ever to get started. If you are new to the VDI space, here is our high-level road map to get the right solution in place for your organization.

1. Know Your Needs

As with any IT project, the first thing to do is perform the necessary due diligence to fully understand the needs and requirements of the problem you are solving for your organization and its employees. We recommend focusing on:

  • End User Computing Habits: Understanding exactly how and where your users are accessing existing infrastructure and doing their job will be a paramount detail to consider*. This knowledge will allow you to understand scenarios such as whether increased mobility and remote access can lead to a more productive workforce. Enterprises have had success understanding their company’s computing usage by device type by using IT usage diagnostic tools such as Softwatch.

  • Current Technology & Hardware: Knowing what your current technology is, its end-of-life support, and capacity to be a part of the future solution.

  • Mission-critical Applications: What are your organization's mission-critical applications and how can implementing the right technology enhance the use of those applications for your employees?

  • On-premise or Cloud: Does it make sense to leverage your existing datacenter resources or begin to shift your workload to the cloud? Is it better to build and deliver the infrastructure from your local datacenter or as a managed service (DaaS) to your organization? What are your disaster recovery requirements? Investing time to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy will yield results deep into the future.

  • Security Requirements & Regulatory Compliance: Are there existing regulations and controls in place - for example, HIPAA in healthcare or Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) in the financial industry - to which the chosen technology solutions must adhere?

  • Understanding the ‘Pain Points’ of the Current Way of Working: Understanding historically and specifically which elements of the current end-user computing infrastructure have caused pain for both your IT team and users. Was it Windows updates? Security flaws? Audit findings and failures? Weak management capability? (We can go on forever!)


Once you understand your organization's needs and the problems that virtual desktop infrastructure will solve, you can move on to evaluating potential vendors.


2. Evaluate and Target the Right Vendor(s)

One of the great things about adopting VDI today is that the space is both mature and competitive, with choices that can fit your priorities. Spending the time to understand the advantages of each vendor will make the choice even easier for your organization. Some examples of specific areas to evaluate and align with your organization’s needs are:

  • Performance & scalability

  • Application and infrastructure requirements

  • Ease of implementation & management

  • Simplicity and existing system integration

  • Budget & timing

  • Storage requirements

  • Peripheral support

  • Security requirements

  • User change management required

  • Endpoint and device support

New vendors are popping up regularly, leaving an enormous amount of options to choose from. The industry’s top solutions, Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops and VMware Horizon, are the most commonly adopted technologies and are used by some of the biggest enterprises on the planet.

However, there are also a number of other vendors in the space that we’ve come across that are known for providing great products that offer simplicity, easy setup, or other differentiators you might value, including:


We recommend having a meeting or conversation with as many vendors as time allows, in order for your team to form a well-rounded opinion on what’s out there.


3. Pilot, Test and Tweak

This isn’t a new dance move, but rather the process of narrowing the potential VDI vendors that you will want to evaluate in a pilot of their technology. This process includes setting up your local or cloud-based infrastructure, accessing the client on test endpoints, and putting the product through real-world computing scenarios that are relevant to your organization. Tweak, evaluate, and document while keeping alignment with the original goals, expanding your test scenarios with each iteration to cover as many use cases as possible.

A couple helpful steps for this pilot stage:

  • Ask plenty of questions. Communicating with the support and sales engineering teams of each vendor organization will give you some perspective on how ‘life after purchase’ will be.

  • Take your time. Don’t be afraid to spend extra time on any level of validation that will be important to your organization and allow for a smoother transition.

  • Socialize. Involve as many IT and project stakeholders as possible and listen to feedback. Nothing can stomp on the perception of a new technology harder than bad attitude as a result of stakeholders simply not being heard.

4. The Final Pass

Once a particular solution passes all of the target criteria set by the IT department and project team, we recommend pulling together a wider audience. Find friendly users at every level of the organization and let them put the technology through its final pass of validation. You’ll be surprised at what value this can add to the implementation from a change management standpoint. We recommend at least a week of broader testing to uncover any potential issues that were not found in the pilot stage.

5. Define Strategy, Communicate & Roll Out!

Your project team should develop a clear, methodical, and phased rollout strategy. We recommend in your rollout strategy that you start with the teams and departments whose workflows will be least disrupted by, and the best match for, the virtualized desktop experience. Ideally, all of your devices are managed through a centralized console, ensuring the ability to efficiently migrate to the new way of working.

It’s also important to establish clear messaging to the entire organization, to inform and set expectations about the new technology implementation and its inherent value.

Be sure to build some buffer into your rollout timeline to communicate with your end users during the rollout process, collecting continuous feedback along the way. Don’t be afraid of pausing to identify and resolve any potential hiccups before moving to the next phase of the rollout.

Congratulations! It took a little bit of leg work, but your IT infrastructure is now set up for the foreseeable future. Additionally, you’ll have secure, manageable technology that is closely aligned with the goals of the organization, adding value and solving challenges that the previous platform could not.


Have questions about how VDI and CloudReady/Chrome OS work? Post them here, and we’ll be more than happy to talk about them with you!

Comment

CloudReady is now Citrix Ready certified

1 Comment

CloudReady is now Citrix Ready certified

Hiya CloudReady Fans!


We’re back with another blog post to tell you about an awesome partnership we’ve established.

CloudReady, meet your long-lost cousin (on your father’s side), Citrix Ready!

Neverware has joined forces with Citrix to officially certify CloudReady with Citrix’s suite of solutions, under their Citrix Ready program.

Before jumping into what this means, let’s hit pause for a second and talk about what Citrix is.

What is this Citrix business anyway?

Citrix is the company behind an industry-leading virtualization product, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (formerly known as XenApp and XenDesktop). Virtual Apps and Desktops allows organizations to securely and conveniently use Windows or Linux applications/desktops, running on a remote cloud or on-premises data center resources, and delivered to any end user device, ranging from mobile phone to CloudReady device to Chromebook to Windows PC.
More information here.

What is the Citrix Ready Program?

As defined by Citrix, “Citrix Ready is a partner program that showcases verified partner products trusted to enhance Citrix solutions for mobility, virtualization, networking and cloud platforms. The Citrix Ready designation is awarded to third-party partners that have successfully met test criteria set by Citrix, and gives customers added confidence in the compatibility of the joint solution offering.”

While CloudReady and Citrix have always worked well together, this partnership takes it one step further, providing additional elements of value to our customers and our product.


So really, why is this partnership important to CloudReady and our customers?

  • It’s not official until it’s on Facebook the Citrix Ready Marketplace.
    CloudReady is now officially defined as a supported operating system in Citrix’s Chrome Devices ecosystem, so that organizations can confidently adopt CloudReady without replacing their hardware or tools.

  • Can you hear me now?
    This partnership has deepened the channel of communication between Neverware and Citrix Product & Support teams, allowing Neverware to be both a strong resource of knowledge and a voice for our customers that are either using or considering using Citrix products.

  • Into the future, and beyond!
    Citrix Ready certification doesn’t only mean mutual product compatibility at this point in time. It also means that all future improvements Neverware & Citrix make to their products will be supported and complimentary.

Why would I want to use Citrix on CloudReady?

Many organizations see the value of CloudReady’s secure, manageable and easy-to-use platform, but dependencies on old or familiar Windows applications stop them from changing their endpoint OS. Things like Andrew from finance’s killer Microsoft Excel macros or Michelle from accounting’s full-version of Quickbooks are the reasons that organizations feel the need to remain on old/legacy platforms.


There’s a solution!

Virtualization tools like Citrix can deliver these applications seamlessly to your CloudReady devices, allowing your users to experience all the great things that come with CloudReady without sacrificing any business-critical functionality. Users and teams that are ready to move to a full cloud experience can do so, while users who still rely on legacy applications can continue to use them via CloudReady and Citrix’s highly secure and manageable environment. The combination of Windows applications running in Citrix’s seamless window mode, with CloudReady’s local, multimedia-rich browsing and web application experience, is sure to change the way you think about end user computing.

 

Microsoft Excel running seamlessly on CloudReady via Citrix.


 
 
Note

Side Note:

Our Product Team is working hard to further improve the experience of Windows apps on CloudReady. Want to help us mold the next-generation of end user computing?

 


How did we achieve Citrix Ready certification?

The CloudReady operating system was run through an exhaustive list of test criteria that validate the robust Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops features, specifically on CloudReady devices. Things like graphics performance, multi-monitor support, & peripheral support are all tested to ensure a high standard of functionality across the entire CloudReady operating system.

We can all now sleep soundly at night, assured that we’ve done the testing, research and due diligence to ensure enterprise-ready compatibility with Citrix technology and CloudReady.

Got questions?

Using Citrix on CloudReady or Chrome OS already? We’d love to hear from you! Reach out here.

 

1 Comment

Quiz: Are you CloudReady?

2 Comments

Quiz: Are you CloudReady?

Our friend (and fellow Google enthusiast) JR Raphael published a piece over at Computerworld intended to help people get to the bottom of a question that’s near and dear to our hearts:

Is Chrome OS right for you?

In his post, JR posed three questions that readers could answer to learn if they were ready to make the move to Chromebooks, noting that people are always asking him if Chromebooks might be right for their needs.

Although JR’s post was seemingly targeted more at consumers, we often hear a similar question from decision-makers and influencers at organizations that are considering making the move to CloudReady.

We thought that providing some additional context to the questions in JR’s quiz could be helpful for people considering a similar question:

Are you CloudReady? Take the quiz.
 

Is

CloudReady Horizontal Logo (1).png

right for you?

1. Do you spend most of your time using the web and web-centric services?

JR’s first question really gets to the heart of the matter. If your school or business (or even a specific team or OU within your organization) spends most of their working time in a browser, particularly if they’re using a productivity suite such as G Suite or Office 365 online, CloudReady’s a homerun for you. You’ll benefit from the speed you get thanks to the lightweight OS, and IT teams will love the inherent security and protection from malware and viruses...not to mention the ability to manage all your CloudReady devices using the Google Admin console.

You may think you need a MacBook Pro, but you don’t. Just today, our senior project manager walked over and said, ‘Hey, I want one of those Chromebooks.’ He was excited about using it because he doesn’t need anything else but a web browser. This is lighter in software and lighter physically.
— Marc Dantona, Kiva.org
 
 


2. Do you have specific local programs that you absolutely need, or could most of the things you do on a computer be accomplished with web-centric equivalents — along with Android and/or Linux apps to fill in any gaps?

The second question in JR’s Chrome OS quiz highlights an important piece of any transition: change management.

As we alluded to in the previous response, there will always be groups of people who are more ready than others to make the jump to using CloudReady or Chrome OS simply because it’s designed to work the way they do now—not the way people worked ten or fifteen or even twenty years ago. Something we like to say: If you could design an OS, you’d design CloudReady.

In some cases, though, users might have to make some minor adjustments to the way they work...whether it’s transitioning to the online versions of apps, as JR mentioned, or using a virtual desktop infrastructure like Citrix or VMware to access legacy apps in order to maintain an expected level of user experience and functionality.

(And for all you consumers, hobbyists, and tinkerers out there, CloudReady Home Edition offers additional functionality to help with the app gap, including experimental Docker support, Flatpaks for Linux apps, VirtualBox, and Crostini.)

With CloudReady, we can connect to our VDI environment, yet if we lose connection, we still have a functional device.
— Nicholas Winnie, Questar Assessment


3. Try living only in the Chrome browser on your PC for a week, without opening any local programs. How does it feel?

The final question is where CloudReady really shines, and where the difference between CloudReady and Chromebooks becomes very clear.

As JR outlined, you can simulate the Chrome OS experience using only the Chrome browser on your existing computer—although he admits it’s a less than optimal approach, since it ignores a lot of the OS’s key benefits, including faster boot times and streamlined updates.

To truly test the full experience, you can either:

1. Pay out of pocket for a Chromebook; or

2. Install CloudReady on existing Mac or PC hardware for free


Try CloudReady Now

If you’re still not sure if CloudReady is right for you, we get it—and we’re here to help. Because the beauty of CloudReady is that you’re getting all the benefits of Chrome OS, but on the hardware you choose...whether that’s a computer you already have, a school lab full of aging devices, a fleet of computers your business has had in service for couple of years, or highly specialized form factors you need to do business.


Curious to see what using CloudReady would be like for your school or business?

Sign up for a trial and install it on a few machines to gauge whether it meets your needs. Or just install it on a secondary laptop for a week to see what you think about it.


Not sure you’re ready for a full trial?

Not a problem. Create a CloudReady USB installer and use it to live boot your existing computer to see what the CloudReady experience is like.

 

2 Comments

CloudReady USB Maker Updates

2 Comments

CloudReady USB Maker Updates

 

Hey CloudReady Fans!

We’ve released a new version of the CloudReady USB Maker today. The new version has a couple of helpful features and some fixes for an improved user experience.

Release Notes

  • Format CloudReady USB installers after done installing: Unlike the default Windows format feature, this new Welcome screen option preserves the storage capacity of the USB device.

  • Removal of USB device format prompt: Windows will no longer prompt users to format the device after USB installer creation.

  • Fixed: When running the USB maker a second time, "What's next?" text incorrectly displays during the USB installer creation step.

About the CloudReady USB Maker

The CloudReady USB Maker is a Windows application (.exe) that you can download directly from Neverware to guide you through the process of creating a CloudReady USB installer.

Current customers, or those with a trial of CloudReady, can get the USB Maker by logging in to my.neverware.com and visiting their Downloads tab.

Users of the Home Edition can find the latest version here.

As always, your feedback and suggestions are welcome!

Have questions at Home? Visit the forums!

Need help at school or work? Support's here to help. 

Need help installing?

2 Comments

Bringing back CloudReady VM in VMware OVA format

21 Comments

Bringing back CloudReady VM in VMware OVA format

 

Greetings CloudReady VM Fans,

We're pleased to announce that a VMware OVA appliance of CloudReady: Home Edition is once again available for download!

The update to version 57 of CloudReady involved a major under-the-hood graphics change to a new graphics stack called Freon. Freon provides a host of performance improvements,  as well as providing some future-proofing and reduced likelihood of bugs by keeping CloudReady more aligned with Chrome OS.  Unfortunately, Freon also broke CloudReady’s ability to run as a VM in VirtualBox or VMware environments.  After considerable development work and testing, the CloudReady: Home Edition v59 appliance is now available for download below.

 

CloudReady v59.3 VMware OVA appliance

VMware Player (Windows & Linux, free for personal use)

 

As always, this VM is provided as a convenience should still be considered experimental and unsupported. CloudReady is designed to run best when fully-installed on certified models, so we don’t offer a VM of our supported Education and Enterprise Editions of CloudReady, and we encourage everyone to use CloudReady VMs only for experimental and/or temporary purposes. You're also welcome to join the conversation on this topic in our user community.

 

The situation for running CloudReady using VirtualBox has proved more complex. VM use of CloudReady has been popular in a way we did not anticipate, so we wanted to get a working version available as soon as possible, starting with the VMWare download, but we know there are folks out there who prefer VirtualBox. We hope to follow with a solution for as well soon..  

Have fun and send bug reports!

21 Comments