I was at Citrix Synergy last week.  It was the first Synergy I've attended.  It was a great event and I enjoyed it.  Here's a rundown of sessions I sat through and my opinion on the sessions.

 

Wednesday the 9th:

8:00 AM  "Best Practices for Provisioning XenDesktop" - This was kind of the basic differences for MCS and Provisioning Server.  They did go over the new personal vDisk product (this is the ringcube technology integrated into XenDesktop).  

9:00 AM "Deep Dive on XenDesktop personal vDisk" -  This was a more in depth session on how personal vDisk worked.  It was a good session, they covered a lot in a short amount of time.  Soon as the presentations are downloadable from the MySynergy site I want to download the presentation on this and review.

10:00 AM Opening Keynote - This was a opening presentation about some of the new acquisitions and new integrations into the Citrix product portfolio.  They unveiled a new HP all-in-one PoE Thin Client.  It was pretty cool.  Even the monitor is PoE!  It's litterally 1 wire if you are using a wireless mouse/keyboard like they used during the presentation.  Pretty cool product.  Recently Citrix acquired Podio so they showed that, which is sort of an intranet for projects with also being able to access your citrix published apps and desktops from within the podio intranet.  The "big" announcement was Project Avalon.  I'm not so sure it's that big of a deal.    Not sure if I completely understand all that it can do but it sounded like being able to manage  your XenDesktop & XenApp environments from the cloud.  Maybe a cool thing for service providers?

2:00 "Configuring the personal vDisk feature of XenDesktop 5.6 with provisioning services" - This was a 3 hour lab on setting up the new personal vDisk feature of XenDesktop.  Cool class.

 

Thursday 10th

8:30 AM - Day Two General Keynote - More general overview of Citrix product portfolio.  Nothing ground breaking... they talked about cloud computing, and how Amazon was leveraging Citrix products for building their cloud... blah blah blah.  it was kinda boring and I was falling asleep :)

11:30 AM "Begin your desktop transformation jouney with Citrix Consulting best practices" - This was a good session about the proper steps of doing a VDI project and how to leverage Citrix Tools to get there.

2:00 PM "Successful desktop transformation design with Citrix Consulting best practices" - This was a part 2 of the "Begin your desktop transofrmation journey with Citrix Consulting best practices".  They went over all the different FlexCast models (basically different choices for implementing XenDesktop).  I don't really remember too much else during this session.

3:00 PM "What's new in XenDesktop and XenApp"  - They talked about what is upcoming with the products.  In XenApp they talked about the new printing server technology.... nothing else really came to mind for XenApp.  They talked about personal vDisk for xendesktop more.

4:00 PM "Can the CTPs stump the Citrix architects? (GSL!) - Not much in this session really... just some questions from the crowd.  Kind of a waste of time.

 

Friday May 11th

9:00 AM "Spotlight on Citrix Receiver for Tablets and smartphones" - This was kind of a fluff session, they showed how windows apps are getting better on tablets by how the keyboard is better working and will automatically popup when you put the cursor into a typing field.  They really pushed that aspect.  They also showed how the new Citrix Sharefile product is built into the Receiver for Tablets/Phones.

10:00 AM "What's new for HDX" - The title says it all.  They talked about HDX 3D Pro... don't really recall anything else.  Nothing major.  I believe they showed a video and how smooth it was going over HDX 3d Pro.

11:00 AM "Tips and best practices for hosting XenDesktop on vSphere" - This session was presented by Elias Khnaser (CTP, VMware vExpert, & CEO of Sigmas Solutioins).  I read one of this books before so I wanted to sit in on this one.  It was about alot of tweaks and settings for vSphere for the most part.  He did talk about making sure to use LACP for your vSwitches but I know that you can't use LACP unless you have Cisco Nexus 1000V without 1000v you can only use standard Etherchannel.  I called him out on this and he wanted me to email or tweet to him about it.  So I found the VMware article and tweeted him.  He replied and said he meant to use Link Aggregation in general and not Cisco LACP.....  So who's right?  me or him? :D

2:00 PM "Hypervisor showdown:  what solution is best and does it really matter? (GSL!)" - They started by asking who was using VMware now and about 95% of the room raised their hands (LOL).  After and 2 minutes this became a XenServer bashing session.  People were really complaining and bitching about how crappy managing XenServer is.  I wanted to make a comment but never really got a chance too.  Here's my opinion:

ESX/ESXi is VMware's bread and butter product.  They put tons of money into R&D of this product.  Its an expensive product but it is definitely worth it, you are paying for all that polishing and maturity.  That's why it is the better product.  As for Citrix, they have been a software for Windows company since 1996.  XenApp & XenDesktop is their focal point and that's why those 2 products are better than anything VMware puts out.  As for XenServer, it was an acquired product.  They didn't build this from the ground up and I honestly don't feel like they put a lot of money into more development of it.  Much of the complaining was about not being able to do everything from XenCenter and how it has a lot of bugs.  I agree that this is true but you get what you pay for.  It's a cheaper product and there's a reason why it's cheaper.  IMO if Citrix wants XenServer to be used in the enterprise they need to put more money into it, get rid of the whole master xenserver thing and built a management server for it like VMware Virtual Center.  They need to add a SQL DB backend that stores all the cluster data.