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Q&A: FSLogix Synergy Follow Up Discussion Talking Office 365 Container for Citrix and More

Interview FSLogix 

It's been almost a month since we wrapped up Citrix Synergy 2016, and I wanted to have a follow up discussion with FSLogix.  I recently caught up with Brad Rowland, CMO, FSLogix, to gather up some of his thoughts and further discuss their latest major announcement from Synergy.

FSLogix has been a sponsor for Synergy since they came out of stealth mode in 2013.  Having won "Best of Synergy 2015, Application and Desktop Virtualization," many in the industry had high expectations for this year, myself included, and were quite excited to see what they had in store for 2016.

Last year, FSLogix announced the major addition of Profile Containers and won "best of."  So what exactly did they have in store this time around to augment to their offering?  Let's hear from Brad to find out! 

VMblog:  First, let me say.  It was great to see the FSLogix team at Citrix Synergy 2016. These shows are always like a reunion.

Brad Rowland:  It was great seeing everyone!  Nothing quite matches the energy and excitement of Citrix Synergy and Vegas.

VMblog:  But one of our favorite usual suspects wasn't able to make it this year, right?  What happened?  (Of course, I'm talking about Kevin Goodman)

Rowland:  Yep.  Unfortunately, Kevin was not able to attend this year due to some untimely surgery on his Achilles.  It was an unfortunate last minute thing, but he's doing much better now and back on the road.

VMblog:  That's great to hear, so glad he is better!  So Brad, tell me, after winning Best of Synergy 2015, there was obviously a lot of attention surrounding FSLogix.  What was the experience like over the past year?

Rowland:  That award was absolutely amazing to win, and great validation that we're headed in the right direction with our product strategy.  We've also seen some really strong growth with our partners and that really helped enable us to get our solution out to those that were interested in the advantages of our core product, FSLogix Apps, namely those that wanted better performance, simpler management, and reduced complexity.  The award generated a lot of interest around profile containers, and once people were using the eval copy of that, they started testing all of the other features from the previous versions.  It was great from the ‘awareness' perspective.

VMblog:  So then, you were able to really strengthen your partner network.

Rowland:  Absolutely.  That was not only a key aspect for strong growth during the last year, but just as critical for gaining feedback about challenges within the industry.  We've focused on very specialized partners in the virtual desktop community since we started the company, and have really increased that network over the last year.  These are the partners we really feel like are in touch with the ‘edge.'  How are admins pushing the envelope with technology that's available today, and what are the real strategic initiatives enterprises are looking at over their 2-4 year roadmaps?

VMblog:  How did you guys feel coming into this year's Synergy event knowing there would be a lot of eyes on FSLogix, given your award last year?  Did you feel the pressure?

Rowland:  I think the pressure is always internal, that's our team culture and what each team member brings to the table.  Andrew Morgan recently called our team the "scrappy underdogs" of EUC, which is hysterical but in a lot of ways true.  We've all done some super cool projects in EUC over the last 20 years and pride ourselves in understanding the customer environment and providing excellent and relevant engineering.  The company was founded with the idea that we need to fix these issues that have prevented the virtual workspace from becoming completely ubiquitous (as it should be), whether that's cost, complexity, admin issues, or most importantly, end user performance.

VMblog:  This year you guys announced FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix.  Is that because you garnered a lot of feedback surrounding Office 365 functionality?  Can you get into that a bit more?

Rowland:  Absolutely right.  Nearly everyone we're talking to is looking at moving to Office 365, for a wide variety of strategic reasons.  The problem is that Office 365 is strategic, virtual desktops are strategic, and the two don't play very well together.  We discovered very common performance and functional limitations when it came to implementing Office 365, Skype for Business, and OneDrive.  Whether we were talking to partners, customers, prospects, or CTPs... we kept hearing similar feedback.  And when I say "bad performance," I mean seriously bad performance.  But this problem wasn't just affecting email, it was preventing CIOs from moving forward on their overall XenApp and XenDesktop expansion plans.  If end users couldn't get the basics working the way they needed, then they weren't moving off of their local computing environment.

VMblog:  For those that may not know about these issues and limitations, do you mind describing them?

Rowland:  Sure thing.  For example, in the past, best practices meant turning off the Search Index on XenDesktop (non-persistent) to reduce the cost from IOPS and the performance impact at each logon from having to re-index.  Another example, Office 365 has roaming problems on XenApp and XenDesktop (non-persistent).  Outlook Office 365 requires that you use Cached Exchange Mode and with profile solutions that rely on folder redirection, you can reach some pretty cringe worthy logon times... Skype for Business doesn't roam... this is stuff that should just work, and most people think it does, until they start their pilots, or worse yet, their rollouts.  If anyone is interested in a technical deep dive, they can check out one of our upcoming webinars that we'll be doing to cover this topic.

VMblog:  Yeah.  But didn't your Profile Containers already address the .OST issue with Cached Exchange Mode?

Rowland:  Yes it did, and does I should say!  But we wanted something even simpler that solved the problems at hand.  It needed to be agnostic to the profile solution being implemented, but easily configurable.  This is where all the credit goes to our Engineering Team, led by CTO Randy Cook.  They were able to carve out a remarkably simple little drop-in tool derived from our Profile Containers, which we conveniently named "FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix."  Perhaps the best part about this tool, it aligns with our hallmark of keeping things simple and efficient.

VMblog:  Ah, so that's how the FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix was born?

Rowland:  Yep. Pretty much.

VMblog:  So when can we expect to see a GA release of FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix?

Rowland:  As soon as we complete the current Beta Program near the end of Q2/early Q3.  This subset of Profile Containers will be sold as a separate drop-in module, FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix, allowing administrators to take full advantage of our Office 365 support.

VMblog:  Okay, so Beta is going to wrap up soon.  Is there still room for others to join the Beta Program if they want in?

Rowland:  Absolutely!  At the time of this interview, registration is still open.

VMblog:  What else can you tell us about FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix?

Rowland:  Well, this new offering is the industry's first drop-in solution that enables true Cached Exchange Mode for all virtual workspaces using Office 365, and real time search for virtual desktops.  FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix installs in minutes, and allows enterprises to virtualize and persist OST files for users with XenApp, Terminal Services, and non-persistent or ‘pooled' VDI.  In addition to addressing email and search performance, critical settings for Office 365 such as OneDrive cache, Skype for Business global address list (GAL), and Windows search database will now roam/persist between sessions.

VMblog:  I was able to catch up with Dave Young for an interview and video demo at your Synergy booth.  Very interesting stuff.  Is there anything else you would like to say to VMblog readers before we end?

Rowland:  Yeah.  You can actually find more demo videos online at our website so feel free to drop by or follow us on Twitter/Facebook to get the latest updates.  Register for our Beta Program to get first access to the latest from FSLogix.  Sign up for our Webinar: Engineering the Enterprise Class Virtual Workspace

To summarize: FSLogix Apps, Application and Profile Containers, and FSLogix Office 365 Container for Citrix provide multi-platform support for all major Windows based virtual desktops, hosted email providers, and profile management products, turning virtual desktops into the enterprise class virtual workspace.  But don't just take my word for it, we invite everyone to come experience it for themselves!

##

If you missed the Synergy video interview, you can watch it below:



About Brad Rowland

Brad Rowland is the CMO of FSLogix where he oversees all aspects of corporate marketing and communications.  Brad has over twenty-five years IT and software industry experience, from IT management and datacenter application design, to senior leadership roles in global product management and marketing.  He has a proven track record of successfully bringing new products to key markets and verticals.

Prior to to FSLogix, Brad ran product marketing for a diverse set of leading product teams at Symantec, including the Trust Services SSL and Website Security Solutions, Mobile Security and Management, and Endpoint Management and Virtualization.  At Symantec he also lead the global marketing integration for the acquisitions of AppStream, nSuite, Odyssey, Nukona, and Verisign Japan.  Before joining Symantec Brad was vice-president of marketing and product management at AppStream, Director of global product management at Wyse Technology, and Director of thin client computing at Southwestern Bell Mobile Services.

Published Friday, June 24, 2016 6:34 AM by David Marshall
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