Cloud Gateway Part 2 – Cloud Gateway Express review
Citrix Cloud Gateway Express (CG Express) is a new product and will be completely replacing the Citrix Web Interface and its functionality somewhere near 2015.
If you are, just like I was, thinking that this is just another update with a new marketing name you are seriously underestimating what Citrix has done here. Of course on a functional level it will do the same as the Web Interface, offer a portal for access to XenApp and XenDesktop resources, however the way in which Citrix is doing this is completely different and way more Enterprise ready then what we have seen before with the Web Interface.
What I like most of all is that there seems to be a vision behind the way the management consoles are designed. There is a familiar feeling in regard to the XD 5 Desktop Studio when I use the CG Express console. The modular design in XD 5 where we first configure a host connection which we can then use for a Machine Catalog which itself can be used in a Desktop Group looks a lot like the store –> Web Store > Gateway idea of the CG Express.
I really hope we will see more of this in future product releases like the next XenApp version.
In Barcelona during Synergy Citrix was talking a lot about making it simpler not only to use it but also easier to manage. I believe that with the CG Express Citrix has done exactly this, it’s much simpler to use and manage but also it scales much better in an Enterprise environment than before with the Citrix Web Interface!
Continue reading to see how I came to my conclusion.
Management of the CG Express has changed a lot over what we are used to with the Web Interface, in this case change is good! When you start the console the first time it looks like what we we are used to with XenDesktop 5.
When we start the configuration we are presented with a choice in deployment scenario between a one server or multiple server setup where you can use a SQL Server to hold the database!
Wait what? All of the user configuration will be saved in a database to which all of the Cloud Gateway Express servers will connect, so user settings will follow the user on every server in the cluster.
After the initial setup the console looks like the screenshot below
As I told before the configuration is modular and very simple. The most important change is that you don’t have to configure all kinds of different websites each of them holding their own configuration. The configuration is modular so all the steps are performed only once for each cluster!
This is where we select and configure the different authentication types. More or less the same options as we have seen in the Web interface.
A store holds the configuration data of one or multiple XenApp farms, XenDesktop Sites or Cloud Gateway Enterprise appliances.
Notice that this is also configured once for each cluster!
Receiver for web
A receiver for web is the web portal a user can access. The receiver for web uses the Store configuration we configured earlier.
This is where we configure our Access Gateway settings. What you might have notices already is that in the CG Express we only have to do configuration once. So after you configured your Gateway, go back to the store and just add the Gateway possibility to the store and you will be able to use it!
With the release of the CG Express Citrix finally made it possible to easily create your own page customizations and keep using them in future updates. This means that we have to do the customizations only once for the CG Express and never again!
The way the user get’s access to the platform is not going to change a lot. They will still access the portal like they did before where after they will enter their credentials. The look and feel up to this point will change depending on the change in the webpage customization but it is possible to keep this the same as before.
Configure the receiver
To make it simpler to configure the receiver on the user device the CG Express web page now holds a receiver configuration button. The user simply clicks on it and it will then load the specific configuration on the Citrix receiver on the device just like you can see in the screenshot below!
Where are my apps?
After the user has logged on things will start to change a bit, normally the user would see all of the applications to which the user has been permitted access. Now they don’t, this sounds a bit strange at first but why bother the user with never to be used applications?
The user can now select applications from the stores and create shortcuts on the landing page. The administrator can still force applications to be on there by default for mandatory applications.
The cool thing about this is that the selection the user makes is not saved locally on the device, it is now saved in the configuration database. This means that when the user logs on to another device or even another device type like the iPad the resource selections will follow the user.
Wrapping it up
I really think the Cloud Gateway Express is a cool product and I would like to know what you think. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
If you would like to know more about how to install and do a basic setup of this product I’d like to refer you to http://www.archy.net/2011/11/01/citrix-receiver-storefront-alias-cloudgateway-express/.