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Employee experience gets top billing at Citrix Synergy

Citrix details upgrades to Workspace and unveils a new DaaS product called Managed Desktops, as well as a new integration with Google Cloud at its annual user conference.

ATLANTA -- Citrix wants to make employee experience better.

That's based on news out of its annual user conference, Citrix Synergy, where the focus revolved around improvements to Citrix Workspace that will provide users with a more streamlined and efficient way to interact with their business applications.

"What Citrix is trying to do with Workspace is to get rid of some of that complexity and become the interface for how users interact with applications," said Jack Gold, president and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates LLC, a Northborough, Mass., analysis firm. "Citrix is saying that instead of a workflow of interacting with three different applications, we can allow you to push a button and have those actions taken care of. That's the right approach."

Citrix also unveiled Citrix Managed Desktops at Citrix Synergy. The product is designed to extend the capabilities of Windows Virtual Desktop, Microsoft's desktop as a service offering. And it announced integration with Google Cloud. Now users of Workspace and Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops can run those applications on Google Cloud. Citrix already has integrations with AWS and Azure.

By integrating with Google Cloud, Citrix may be appealing to small and medium-sized businesses, according to Gold.

"A lot of smaller businesses are driven by G Suite and the percentage of SMB's moving to Google is growing quickly," Gold said. "For Citrix, which has traditionally been a pretty strong SMB vendor, this makes sense."

Citrix unveiled its upgraded Workspace product at its annual user conference Citrix Synergy.
Citrix unveiled its upgraded Workspace product, now with AI, automation and micro app capabilities, at its annual user conference, Citrix Synergy.

Citrix Workspace improvements

Analysts pointed to increased capabilities of Citrix Workspace and the potential to ease the app management strain of both end users and IT admins as the most significant news out of Citrix Synergy.

"Part of IT's frustration is employees needing to navigate multiple apps, interfaces and switching back and forth with these challenges," said Tim Minahan, chief marketing officer at Citrix, in an interview. "Employee experience is becoming a top C-level priority. We want to unify things for the end user, giving them a single sign-on for SaaS apps, web apps and mobile apps."

Managing applications and actions isn't a new function for Citrix Workspace, but the integration of Sapho, an acquisition Citrix made last year, introduces micro app capabilities to the product. Micro apps are designed to perform discrete functions, like approving an expense report or setting a meeting with one click. Combined with AI to provide the best action for an end user, micro apps can make the day-to-day processes for users more seamless by eliminating back and forth between apps.

What Citrix is trying to do with Workspace is to get rid of some of that complexity and become the interface for how users interact with applications.
Jack GoldPresident and principal analyst, J.Gold Associates LLC

"We want to bring things like machine learning and micro apps, extracting key tasks and insights, and present them to end users in a work stream -- similar to a Facebook stream," Minahan said. "We believe this intelligence added to Workspace can transform how you get work done."

Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research LLC in San Francisco, said that the Citrix news around Workspace is "a shift in focus" away from managing desktops to managing user experiences.

"It's about unifying where you find apps, helping surface the right app or data at the right time," Lopez wrote in an email. "The Sapho acquisition also helps [Citrix] focus more on creating workflows that integrate data from multiple apps."

The upgraded Citrix Workspace is expected to be generally available in either Q3 or Q4 of 2019, according to Minahan.

Integrating with Google Cloud

Workspace wasn't the only bit of news to come out of the opening Citrix Synergy keynote. To appease Google Cloud customers interested in Citrix products, the company has expanded its cloud integration beyond Azure and AWS and will now allow its products to run on Google Cloud.

"We're seeing an increasing level of interest in enterprises on modernizing around Google," Minahan said.

Lopez agreed with that sentiment, writing, "the Google Cloud announcement focuses Citrix on being wherever their customers need them and not just in Microsoft," Lopez wrote.

Capabilities on Google Cloud will be available in Q3 of 2019, according to a Citrix news release.

Citrix joins the DaaS market

Finally, Citrix also announced a new product called Managed Desktops at Citrix Synergy. The company did not release many details for the product other than it is expected to supplement the capabilities of Windows Virtual Desktop, managing non-Windows-based applications or other legacy applications that Microsoft isn't as suited to manage.

"The reality is, despite many companies' best efforts, the one application platform reality just isn't the case," Minahan said. "We're in a heterogeneous environment and Microsoft is great if I'm just running Windows, but I have all these other apps needed to deliver to customers. Microsoft recognizes that and [Managed Desktops] is complementary to their DaaS offering."

Gold agreed, adding bluntly that Microsoft doesn't do management around other applications that well.

"Enterprises are not just about Microsoft," Gold said, adding that Microsoft's application management tool, Intune, is not up to par to manage a variety of applications. "Citrix gives you the tools to build that environment."

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