Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Connect your Mac desktops with HDX & DaaS! Citrix VDA for macOS is Public TP, join and enjoy!

This article is co-authored with: Allen Furmanski, Senior Principal Technical Marketing Manager, who supports marketing activities for this product.   

At Citrix, innovation and exploration of new technologies are happening everyday. This mindset has helped to position us as leaders in DaaS and VDI solutions. First we delivered Windows multi-session apps and desktops building upon Terminal Services and Remote Desktop Services. Then VDI came along with Windows single-session desktops offering end users both non-persistent and persistent varieties for expanded use cases. Later we expanded to offer multi-session and single-session Linux desktops which are popular with engineers, developers, and other power users. Today, we are thrilled to announce our next major stride in the evolution of workload delivery options for customers:

Citrix VDA for macOS – Public Tech Preview is available! To test drive, simply click the download link & follow the product documentation page to start enjoying this new VDA option!

It’s another key milestone in our portfolio evolution, as this is the last major desktop OS platform we’re providing remote access with our industry leading HDX user experience technologies, alongside our industry-leading Citrix DaaS and CVAD (Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops) offerings.

A little bit of history and why another VDA now

You may wonder why another VDA now? Let’s relate the story back to our portfolio development and how the Apple ecosystem evolves: 

As mentioned above, Citrix’s story is one of continuous innovation and customer-focus. From our early days of enabling remote access to Windows applications with WinFrame, to our current focus on delivering secure and flexible workspaces for global enterprise covering all verticals; Citrix has played a pivotal role in shaping how global societies work today. HDX technology and the ICA protocol stand as a testament to this commitment, ensuring a seamless and productive experience for users across devices, locations, and applications with great visuals, audio and more. Around 10 years ago, we added the Linux VDA to the portfolio to meet the increasing demands from customers that need to run domain specific software in a highly secure environment, improve development efficiency, and significantly lower their TCO. Now it has become very popular in key verticals like finance, manufacturing, and government. The Linux Virtual Desktop has seen solid growth over the years with some of our largest customers (please check this blog for more information).

Meanwhile, Apple – a personal computing icon and legend for 40 years, trendsetting innovation that influence many industries with “Apple aesthetics”, with steady user base growth not only on the consumer side, but also enterprise & SME worldwide. macOS also gained popularity by uptaking the desktop operating system landscape with significant market share secondary only to Windows. Our Fortune 500 customers have a long time need for an enterprise-grade remote access solution for Mac devices, this has been greatly amplified in the pandemic period & carried on for global flex work & BYOD trend…

As we’re always listening to customer needs and supporting ecosystem growth, years ago, we had incubated the solution for Mac remote access based on our leading HDX technologies and the DaaS/CVAD platform. Priorities had shifted and we did not pursue the capability at that time. Today, with strong customer interest identified and full support throughout Citrix leadership, we are moving forward with Mac remoting. Our goal is clear – to be the industry’s best platform for delivering workloads across macOS, Linux, and Windows. 

Citrix VDA for MacOS is one of the quickest developed solutions with high quality. We’re able to achieve this thanks to 1) well designed VDA internal architecture, which allows us to reuse existing code logics and the best algorithms in Linux/Windows VDA   2) Citrix DaaS/CVAD is a mature platform that we can leverage directly. We have already conducted a very successful private tech preview and now we are ready moving this program into public preview to allow every Citrix customer experiencing this new technology for their different use cases.

“Remoting Mac for Enterprise with HDX” – personas & use cases

We’re coining “Citrix VDA for macOS” as “Remoting Mac for Enterprise with HDX”. There are some key reasons behind this. First, many enterprises have a long time need for remote access to their Mac devices with a secure and comprehensive platform such as Citrix DaaS/CVAD, that can offer more flexibility in Mac compute workload planning and management; Mac and macOS users also will not accept any compromise regarding performance and graphics/audio fidelity degrading – this is exactly where Citrix HDX user experience technology comes into play given our over three decades experience in this domain We have architected the Citrix VDA for macOS with the following personas/use cases in mind based on customer need:

  • Developers, where usually all iOS, ipadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and visionOS development is performed on macOS with XCode and related tools. Now developers can realize remote access to their IDE and tools from anywhere, anytime with Citrix Workspace app – all with high performance and comprehensive security features enabled. Enterprises can leverage this capability for a geo-distributed global workforce which are common in today’s Fortune 500 companies’ setup, actually we’re been asked by many customers for example, they have their development team in Asia while shipping physical devices to those regions are not easy not to say the cost is also high, actually they prefer their workforce in those countries to access the Mac devices in their data centers in e.g. U.S. to perform the development work.
  • Designers, in multimedia verticals (Film, Audio, Game, 3D Simulation…) where macOS-based applications are heavily used and well-loved – with our HDX user experience technology to offer a stunning visual and audio experience. Now designers/artists can realize their creativity without the constraint of time, place, or endpoints they have. The company can best utilize their investment in high-end Apple hardware. This has also been mentioned many times by our customers as their employees (artists, designers) like to work remotely with flexibility whenever creativity/new ideas happens, so they can leverage those high-end Mac devices in the office to carry on the heavy-lifting while they’re using an iPad or even iPhone to access them.

Understanding customers may have various endpoint devices accessing the desktop, we support almost all platforms Citrix supports today. This provides great flexibility, same as all other VDA types, for admins to implement the solution: it could be an all Apple solution like access from iPad, iPhone or another Mac device or from thin clients such as Windows, Linux running on different hardware platforms or even Android phones etc.

Product architecture and main feature highlights

The Citrix VDA for macOS delivery model is “Remote PC Access” for physical Mac devices; it can be deployed in customers’ own data center, office premises or Mac hosting provider as the below diagram shows. There is no change/impact to existing DaaS and CVAD architecture and this new VDA supports non-domain-joined registration and enrollment so customers do not need to worry about setup of extra infrastructure if they want to manage the Mac fleet independently.

* Cloud-hosting for Mac VDA  means physical Mac etc. hosted in service provider’s data center, could be public or private Cloud

As we approached this Public tech-preview we had developed many of the key features in the HDX stack and provided seamless integration with the DaaS management plane, meanwhile we did specific optimization for Apple Silicon platform for high performance and stability. Here are some quick breakdown of main features in this preview:

  • “Classic” HDX/ICA features: this include support to base capabilities such as Graphics, Audio, Mouse, Keyboard (and IME); Clipboard and corresponding policies; Advanced network & connectivity features: SR (Session Reliability), ACR (Auto Client Reconnect), DTLS/TLS support, Adaptive throughput, TCP and EDT (Citrix Enlightened Data Transport), V4 reducer and MTU discovery; Proxy PAC file support; Advanced graphics and audio features: client multi-monitors support, high DPI display, Adaptive Graphics, Thin-Wire, Full-screen H.264 and Selective H.264 
  • Management plane and supportability features: Rendezvous V2, Non-domain joined (NDJ) VDA; DDC policy configuration; DaaS management console integration; VDA easy installer; AOT log and supportability tools: xdlcollect, ctxsession, App Center crash report…
  • Apple silicon and macOS specific capability support: graphics codec optimization; Apple trackpad experience support and “Fast User Switching” support

Feedback from private TP

We have more than 20 NDA customers and partners joined our Private Tech Preview program and got unanimous good feedback for two areas: 1) superb HDX performance that can provide good user experience in challenge network environments 2) good DaaS management console support and consistent user experience as managing other VDA types; we also received many improvement suggestions and had worked on those with solutions now you saw in this Public Tech Preview content.

Collaboration within the Apple Ecosystem

At Citrix, we have a large customer base including most Fortune 500 organizations and many verticals. We understand they have diverse needs & approaches when planning to use this new VDA and Mac remoting. With this in mind, we’re working closely with Apple Ecosystem key players to ensure our customers and partners will have solid choices of existing solutions to assist them in managing the underlying infrastructure, providing flexibility and automation of workflows to meet their needs.

With the strong support from Marketing and Leadership teams, we had started the journey of collaboration & integration with key players in the Apple Ecosystem, such as Jamf (an industry leader and standard of UEM/MDM). In this Public Tech Preview, we provided detailed guidelines how to use Jamf PRO to scale & automate Citrix VDA for macOS deployments in the product document under section “Installation – Example using UEM or MDM”

Another key player in the Apple Ecosystem when it comes to IaaS providers is MacStadium. MacStadium has dedicated its effort & expertise in this domain for more than 12 years, and is a leader in this domain with a rich portfolio of products and solutions. Our marketing team has jointly launched a campaign with the MacStadium team for this Public Tech Preview (please also refer to this blog from MacStadium). This partnership allows us to offer a strong IaaS solution for customers and partners who want to deploy this new VDA in a hybrid environment. We’re extremely excited to partner with MacStadium & looking forward to provide best-in-class solutions and services to our joint customers in the future, as both companies’ executives commented of this collaboration:

Abhilash Verma, CPO, Citrix: 

“The Citrix VDA for macOS unlocks exciting new use cases for existing Citrix customers – whether it’s remote mobile app developers for finance institutions, product designers accessing their Mac-based UX tools, or any other user persona requiring secure access to macOS apps from any device with an engaging user experience. To help our customers begin their remote macOS delivery journey, Citrix has chosen to partner with MacStadium. MacStadium is well-positioned to help Citrix customers quickly and easily incorporate the Apple hardware from their global data centers within the existing delivery infrastructure while offering the scale, security, and management capabilities enterprises need.”

Ken Tacelli, CEO, MacStadium:

About the partnership – “We have been focused on all things Mac cloud compute for over a decade and have seen the need in the market for a macOS virtual desktop solution,” said MacStadium CEO Ken Tacelli. “So we are thrilled to partner with Citrix, the remote access pioneer, to deliver an enterprise-grade macOS VDI solution.”

About the solution – “Our Mac cloud expertise combined with Citrix’s leading remote access technology is what creates this uniquely enterprise-grade Mac VDI solution,” said MacStadium CEO Ken Tacelli. “MacStadium and Citrix are united in our focus on delivering security and performance for Mac users around the world. And now those users can leverage a virtual Mac desktop to work efficiently and effectively from any location.”

Quick look at Citrix VDA for macOS

Installation of the Citrix VDA for macOS is straightforward. Just a few clicks and steps that admins and/or end users to perform VDA installation, as well as enrollment. In this Public Tech Preview, in conjunction with the new “Manage Enrollment Token (preview)” feature, this is a one-stop-shop for all steps needed before the VDA machine is visible and managed by DaaS(CVAD support will be available in GA): 

All other steps are same as when you manage Windows and Linux VDA, then you can use it from your favorite Citrix Workspace app (refer to link regarding supported CWA types) 

Here is a two minutes CFE (Citrix Feature Explained) video where you can also take a quick look & feel at this new VDA before your own installation:

Wrap up and CFA

This Public TP is open to all DaaS customers and partners. We will provide strong support to you and listen carefully for feedback from this Public TP and continue to work towards GA this year in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, we’re actively working with Apple ecosystems’ major players to ensure our customers have smooth adoption of this new VDA by leveraging suitable options available.

Click the download link & follow the product documentation page which includes all details like system requirements/install/configure/tuning etc. and start the exciting journey with our full support!

At the same time, as you may know, we’ve rebranded our Citrix site with a new community discussion forum and have a dedicated channel for Citrix VDA for macOS, please click here to join us for discussions & suggestions!

We look forward to seeing what use cases our customers will begin exploring with the Citrix VDA for macOS. For any queries and suggestions, please reach out to:

  • Product Management team in Citrix 
  • Mail us at: vda-mac-feedback@citrix.com
  • Submit your feedback directly under “Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent for macOS Public Tech Preview” download section by clicking “View Checksums and Documentation” 

Enjoy & talk soon!

Disclaimer: This publication may include references to the planned testing, release and/or availability of Cloud Software Group, Inc. products and services. The information provided in this publication is for informational purposes only, its contents are subject to change without notice, and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for products remains at the sole discretion of Cloud Software Group, Inc.

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