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This article is part of our Conference Coverage: Citrix Synergy 2015 conference coverage

Back-end complexity slows XenMobile deployments

Despite improvements to XenMobile 10.1, many enterprises encounter challenges around IT expertise and the complexity when it comes to XenMobile deployment.

ORLANDO -- Complicated back-infrastructure requirements and a lack of IT expertise have organizations still in a struggle to implement Citrix XenMobile.

Attendees here at Citrix Synergy 2015 had plenty of opportunities to learn more about XenMobile deployment, with sessions on enterprise mobility management (EMM) automation, how to upgrade to XenMobile 10 and more. The company also announced new features in version 10.1.

But many organizations aren't quite ready to adopt tools like XenMobile, often because of the complexity of implementation and IT staffs without the skills to handle deployment, Synergy attendees said. It often takes some kind of trigger to get companies interested in deploying EMM.

"All it takes is a data leak, and all of a sudden the purse strings loosen," said Adam Gamble, EUC practice lead at Sigma Technology Solutions, an IT services provider in Itasca, Ill. 

Security is often the biggest driver of EMM adoption. Companies have a data leak or issue with an exiting employee, and they adopt XenMobile or other offerings to protect corporate assets, Gamble said.

Email access is another big area of concern for Gamble’s clients.

"They're getting less and less happy with the native email clients," he said. "They want to provide secure containerized ways to access data."

XenMobile deployment issues

Prior to XenMobile 9 and 10, the product was very difficult to implement -- which prevented organizations from pulling the trigger, Gamble said. 

"It was a real nightmare," he said.

XenMobile's complexity is mainly due to a lot of back-end infrastructure preparation IT departments must do to support its deployment. From numerous mobile device management servers, app controllers on internal LAN, and Netscalers for load balancing to 35 different firewall rules to put in place, it was complicated for IT departments just getting started with mobility to handle, Gamble said.

Just because you're a good Citrix guy, doesn't equate to being a good XenMobile guy.
Adam GambleEUC practice lead, Sigma Technology Solutions

Netscaler Gateway is particularly complicated, with "literally infinite configurations" said Abhijit Dange, a principal product manager at Citrix.

With XenMobile 9, Citrix introduced Cerebro, a service that does configuration analysis of Netscaler Gateway to identify any problems it may have, such as missing server certificates.

One network analyst for a financial services company said his organization plans to move from XenMobile 9 to 10 to improve high availability of the system and manage more devices over geographically separated data centers. XenMobile would be easier to deploy if Citrix offered a checklist to ensure all the firewall rules are met, he said.

"That was the biggest challenge for us – getting all the firewall rules in place," the network analyst said.

XenMobile 10 cuts down on the host machines needed and the number of firewall rules.

"It needs to be that simple where an average Joe can go and read a few blogs and say 'I think I understand it; I'll give it a shot'," Gamble said. "Citrix made huge strides with 10. XenMobile 10 is night and day better." 

Worx apps, MDX Toolkit updated

Citrix also made some updates to XenMobile 10.1 Worx apps and MDX Toolkit that take version 10 a step further. Added features include Citrix for Salesforce; simpler meeting scheduling in WorxMail; a new WorxTasks apps that supplies to-do lists integrated with Exchange and Office 365; WorxNotes availability as a Web app; and Citrix Slide Stream for mirroring presentations from a mobile device onto any monitor.

Citrix also worked to improve automation in XenMobile 10.1 by offering more varied enrollment plans for company-managed mobile devices and added more APIs for server connections, according to Jerome Mainguet, director of product management at Citrix.

The problem for some organizations is that they don't have the expertise in house to handle a XenMobile implementation. Deploying XenMobile is much different than Citrix virtual desktops, applications or cloud infrastructure, so the IT department's resident Citrix experts might not be able to easily transition, Gamble said.

"Just because you're a good Citrix guy, doesn't equate to being a good XenMobile guy," he said.

But it's not always the back-end complexity that makes XenMobile deployment difficult. Handling users is a challenge, too.

"Once we did a pilot, the deployment wasn't that bad," said Noel Prevost, a services delivery manager at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

Instead, the tricky part was dealing with all its users who didn't yet have Apple IDs before enrolling them in XenMobile. Prevost's company supplies employees with corporate owned and managed iPhones.

Companies without a way to manage mobile devices need to find a method to control data access sooner than later, Gamble said. Even if you don't think you have a problem with employees accessing consumer cloud storage services or corporate data through unsecured email apps, you probably do, he said.

"Companies like that, they're just oblivious to the problem," he said. "They might say they don't have a Dropbox problem, but they're in denial."

Alyssa Wood is managing editor for TechTarget’s End-User Computing Media Group. Email her at awood@techtarget.com.

 

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