Optimizing your Citrix and Enterprise Telephony

Citrix announced on the 25th May 2016 their new and improved optimization pack for Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop and Skype for Business. This was to improve on the previous versions: 1.8/2.0 plugin, that was released back in January 2016. Essentially this solution is to allow for command and control to be contained within the ICA stream but allow for Skype for Business media directly from the end point client.

There's a number of reasons why you would want to do this, just consider the video processing on a central server, especially for real-time media, which can cause high latency depending on where the data centre resides. Using Skype for Business has your telephony system means you need to have a flawless user experience but still allowing for centralized application management.

How does the optimization pack work?

This have a look at how the architecture hangs together, the ICA virtual channel is used only for signalling information such as commands to make a call. Media itself (voice/video) goes directly from the users device, therefore off loading minimize degradation of performance. The HDX engine uses features such as SRTP/AES encryption and firewall traversal ( STUN/ICE/TURN ).

citrixinfraarch

New Features coming in June*: Citrix HDX Realtime Optimization Pack 2.1 citrix21HDXROP

Security:

During a discussion with a customer last week, they had reservations about allowing SIP connections directly from the internet to their Edge server; they only wanted trusted devices to be able to connect. Using the HDX Realtime media engine we can prevent end users from just downloading the Skype for Business client on their personal mobiles, using their corporate login credentials to corporate services. By using this solution only Citrix clients will be able to connect when setup this way. preventSIP

 

Okay, so I'm interested...Who else is using it?

During the Synegy event they provided some use cases that stated 5 different industries currently using this solution:

  • Defense: 16,000 users in production; XenApp & XenDesktop; Linux, WES, Polycom Phones
  • Finance: 12,000 users; mix of XenDesktop VDI and Remote PC Access; Windows, Linux
  • Energy: 10,000 users in production, voice/video; Lync Server 2012; XenApp - desktops; Windows, MAC
  • Manufacturing: 1,000's of users; Skype as their phone system; Plantronics USB headsets; Windows. Linux
  • Insurance: 5,000 users in production; Lync Server 2013; Published desktops

Next Steps:

Citrix and Microsoft have partnered to provide the best solution for virtual applications and enterprise telephony. Within our lab environment we've built a supported deployment of Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop on Azure IaaS to showcase these to customers so you can see it in action! So get in touch :)

Extra Reading:

Hands On Training Lab:  http://bit.ly/25dTJVx

HDX Online Documentation: http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/hdx-optimization/2-0.html