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Is Citrix Web Interface dead? Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Koetzing at Thursday, 02 July 2009 | Article editor: Shelle Koch

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Citrix released a couple of new components that make me believe they will terminate the further development of Web Interface as we know it. Citrix knows Web Interface is widely used by customers, and therefore, will continue to support it and might even release some minor updates but, will we see a new major Web Interface version like 6.0?

I doubt it, and I even think that CEO Mark Templeton himself wants Web Interface to die! Why, you ask? Well, you should know Mark, of course, uses Citrix technology and all of a sudden he noticed most things are launched with the help of Web Interface. Even Web Interface 5.0 got a new slick design update but, it's not something the "New Generation" would use. The New Generation is young, current, and uses things like iPhone, Twitter, iTunes, YouTube, and so on. Is Web Interface, from that point of view, "all wrong" and a development in the wrong direction?
 

Web Interface death by CEO?

If the CEO tells the developers a component/product is not usable, what do they do? They will build something new from the ground up. So, for the past months they were working hard to come up with something, and they did:  the first self-service front store for applications that looks like iTunes. "This is the future," announced CEO Mark Templeton at Citrix Synergy. "Things are easy if people already know how to use them." So when do I get my iTunes Offce from Microsoft? An iPod television set for the living room? Or why not simply have everything in a browser, since many know how to use an internet browser... right?


Citrix Dazzle and the Dazzle puzzle

Dazzle is the name of the new Citrix self-service front store and the future!!!??? Enterprises should give users the choice to pick their applications as a favorite selection. Nice idea, but wasn't that something Web Interface could also do? Some years ago a former Citrix employee wrote a "favorite" extension for Web Interface to do just that, and even with drag-and-drop experience! In 2007 the Web Interface Product Manager showed me some mock-ups that had favorites, launch histroy and autolaunch as default functions, as well as some other stuff!

Dazzle

                         
                       XenApp structure on the left and the static html on the right, that's all.



Now we are blessed with Dazzle 1.0 that has static html- and image files on the end-user device. How to update them? Well, now here comes another new component into the game, the Citrix Merchandising Server 1.0. The Merchandising Server is a XenServer appliance (XVA) where you need at least one server running XenServer (also free edition). What is it for? Basically, it's to update the next new Citrix component around the Citrix Receiver 1.0. The Receiver combines all Citrix Clients (Access Gateway, EasyCall, Plug-in, Streaming, etc.) and keeps them up to date through the Merchandising Server. Initial installation of the Citrix Receiver is through the appliance web site.

Mech Server

         Non-customizable Install page of the Merchandising Server running as XenServer appliance.


Of course, administrative rights are required for the first installation of the Citrix Receiver. Changing the look and feel of the Merchandising Server is not an option right now and some other things are also very limited. What did you expect from a 1.0 version of Citrix Merchandising Server, Receiver and Dazzle?

Receiver

The heart, the Citrix Receiver to combine all Citrix clients in one place and hopefully with no bugs.


Back to the self-service front store and the iTunes look and feel. Basically, think of Dazzle as the Citrix Plug-in (PN Agent) with a new GUI and no system tray. Through a URL, Dazzle gets applications from one or more farms/stores. Dazzle also parses the applications description to see if the application itself is recommended for the user and displays them in the "recommended" tab. Now the big "WOW"! User can add their personal favorite XenApps to the Dazzle folder! Fantastic! Call it 'Favorites' or self-service, but now every application has to be launched from the start menu and cannot be launched through Dazzle itself!


Dazzle

         XenApp from different farms with multiple authentication, launch out of the start menu.


Integrated information and services are based on the static content stored on the client. Citrix probably wants to update Dazzle every time someone decides to update the content and 'cross fingers' that it works, even on untrusted devices. Of couse, more will be built into the components and some things are already in the background as the Workflow Studio to create application approval flows and so on. Other products must be extended, like the Citrix Access Gateway, to give Dazzle secure access to an internal web service URL. Question is, how long before Dazzle becomes really usable and as complete as Web Interface?

My personal comment

The entire Dazzle puzzle took developers probably around eight months to release all the components. Favorites and autolaunch have been requested from the Web Interface team for a long time and they're not really that hard to do; definitely doesn't take eight months. I think a good re-design of Web Interface with additional features like favorites, autolaunch, and some news content and Citrix would have been ready with "Web Dazzle". Customers know their way around with Web Interface and the users know how to use an internet browser. A simple click in the Access Management Console and you could have created the new Web Dazzle with self-service!

I've already looked into the Tech Preview forum of Dazzle and read requests of Dazzle features that have existed for a very long time in Web Interface. Is Citrix reinventing the wheel?

Let me know what you think!

What do you think about Dazzle? Should Web Interface die in the long run? Is Web Interface so difficult? Wouldn't it be easier for existing customers to use a web browser than the Dazzle puzzle of components?




Comments


Anonymous Coward
Written by Guest on 2009-07-02 21:14:28
This to me is a terrible idea. A web page with clickable buttons and possibly a way to select favorite apps is all it needs. A multicomponent tiered store like interface is just ridiculous. I hope Citrix realizes that the web interface is one of the most attractive pieces of their product, not the one that web 2.0 kiddies won't use. And last time I checked hip 18 year olds with iphones don't design, support, maintain, or buy complex networks. A unified app delivery platform seems great. Specifically one client with various methods of delivery to the user. I need this in my life. Make it open source please so thin clients can get on board and we have a winner.

Written by Nick Holmquist on 2009-07-03 14:03:00
I agree with the previous comment that to end WI is a terrible idea. When I first saw dazzle I thought it was completely pointless and something simply for 'show'. Once I realized that it was to be a self service portal and that you will be able to build workflows in the background to grant/approve access to a user I thought that was a fantastic idea. This is not saying that the GUI itself is a fantastic idea because it isn't. 
Web Interface is essentially a universal portal for whatever system you are connecting from. To move away from this concept is taking a huge step backward for compatibility and simplicity.  
What Citrix needs to do is build a 'next-gen' version of WI that includes the self service portions along with more user-centric features.

Written by Gast on 2009-07-03 09:22:54
Ich muss meinem Vorredner auch recht geben. Citrix hat bisher gewerbliche Kunden adressiert. Und jetzt wollen die plötzlich "hip" werden.  
 
Ich finde es auch immer wieder zum schreien, wenn versucht wird, auf einem Briefmarkendisplay eine weltweite Farm zu administrieren. 
 
Guter Rat an Citrix - auch die 18 jährigen web 2.0 Kiddies werden mal erwachsen und müssen mit Office - SAP & Co. Ihr Geld verdienen


Interesting article
Written by Citrix employee from UK on 2009-07-03 12:10:27
Interesting article. One thing not covered here was the need to move from the increasingly complex monolithic WI + PNA architectures to a more flexible and extensible architecture by dis-aggregating both PNA and WI into more granular web delivery services. So the, IMO, much better Dazzle UI is only a part of what is happening in this revamp.  
As the world moves to more subscription based and not perpetual licensed based software purchasing 'real enterprise' software can and has to be attractive and intuitive to use.

Written by Nick Holmquist on 2009-07-03 14:02:11
Note: The second comment above was by me as well 
 
The Dazzle UI may look prettier but in my opinion it is a gimmick at best, all for show.  
 
What happens if I have a user who needs to work from home but needs to 'self-provision' an application. They would need to launch dazzle. To do this means 1) Getting it to work securely through Firewalls/CAG, etc and then actually downloading/installing the dazzle app (in addition to the plugins) all to get access to an application. As opposed to just going to a web site... 
 
The concept behind dazzle, self-service ability coupled with workflows, is superb. The dazzle ui is pointless. Why not incorprate this self-provisioning model into WI which is a proven,stable,known platform? I'm not knocking Citrix for being innovative here but just like their frequent product name changes dazzle seems to be one of those 'WTF" moments.  
 
I know a ton of work went into dazzle and again as pretty as it is I just don't see how it beats WI in usability. 
 
-Nick Holmquist


a Citrix employee
Written by Guest on 2009-07-03 19:14:24
First of, well written article, too bad people already jump to conslussions as to how it will work without having seen and worked with the final released product. 
So all I will say is "wait and see what the future brings" before jumping to conclussions.  
My first impressions with Dazzle were very possitive and user friendly even for an "ol school" person like me who initially thought writing your own ICA files and publish these to a static web page was cool and would never really need any changes :)


MS
Written by Gast on 2009-07-06 12:58:23
Ich zitiere mal den Citrix-Mitarbeiter der so nett war ihren Vortrag auf dem diesjährigen IForum zu begleiten: 
 
"Citrix is essentially a marketing company that does software engineering".


STOP THE MADNESS
Written by Greg Kern on 2009-07-06 13:55:41
What do you do when you've successfully pared just about any Interface down to a very simple, clean, intuitive product, and yet your Marketing department keeps hounding you to create something "new" and "current" and "relevant"?? Well, you ADD COMPLEXITY again! 
 
Look, there is only ONE reason for any kind of hardware or software interface: To get Users to their Apps, Data, and other Resources (e.g., Printers)... The SIMPLEST way to do that, for years, has been WI... 
 
VDI? Trash it. Dazzle? FIZZLE. PNA? Waste of time. To me, the only thing CTX could do to IMPROVE WI is to come up with a TRULY Client-less client, which means focusing more on the SERVER and INFRASTRUCTURE side than on the Client side, which has been doing fine for years, thank you very much. 
 
And what about a Citrix server OS, so that we can de-couple from Terminal Services completely??? Now THAT would be innovation!


STOP THE MADNESS
Written by Thomas Koetzing on 2009-07-07 19:07:35
>And what about a Citrix server OS, so that we 
>can de-couple from Terminal Services 
>completely??? Now THAT would be innovation! 
Citrix has been there for a long time and was called WinFrame! The Citrix multiuser technology was than sold to Microsoft and they calls it Terminal Services!! 
 
>come up with a TRULY Client-less client 
Whitch would mean pure HTML and even with the upcoming HTML 5 not possible. If you don't see java as "client" than Citrix has for a long time a client-less option! 
 
Thomas


Citrix need to be seen to be doing somet
Written by Guest on 2009-07-07 22:24:49
Citrix's core technology for years has been delivering otherwise fat applications to users on the end of WAN links seemlessly with little fuss, latency or client pre-req's. I can understand that they want to keep releasing products so that customers feel like they are getting some value for their subscription advantage costs. 
 
Dazzle is just cheesy window dressing (Dazzle??) and an exercise to make citrix look like they are producing something new. 
 
I think XenApp will keep plugging away for the next 5 or 10 years in businesses that are happy with the product and it's WI or XenApp plugin (PNAgent). I doubt any serious business would bother with Dazzle - in the world of ITIL, access requests and approval chains, I can't see a cheesy App store replacing real world processes for getting a new App icon to appear in front of a user any time soon. I won't be recommending it to my customers. Sorry! 
 
Steve L


Want we really want is to be able to ski
Written by Guest on 2009-07-14 20:05:53
I'd love to see Citrix implement Web Interface for Wordpress and other CMS platforms. 
 
It would be absolutely brilliant to be able to use Wordpress themes to skin the Web Interface, making it simple for corporations and hosted Citrix providers to integrate Web Interface functionality right into their corporate website.


Unklar
Written by Gast on 2009-07-15 12:17:22
Nach ein paar Stunden Arbeit auf einem Apple weiß ich, weshalb ich mein XP mag: man braucht nichts zu suchen, alles ist einfach und übersichtlich angelegt, am MacBook wird selbst ein Click mit der rechten Maustaste zur Wissenschaft.  
 
Ähnlich das Web Interface: man kann zwar kein Facebook einbinden, selbst Twitter wird nicht unterstützt, aber ich verwende nichts davon, also geht es mir auch nicht ab. Dazzle wird ein barockes Wahnsinnsgebilde ohne Sinn und Zweck, komplex in der Bedienung, unübersichtlich, aber noch hässlicher im Aussehen als das Bläcke Web Interface. 
 
Wir werden für die Kiddies das Dazzle installieren. Und unser Web Interface weiterhin pflegen. Und die Kiddies werden nach spätestens 3 Wochen sehen, dass das Web Interface einfach voll fett cool ist: intuitiv und einfach zu bedienen. Und werden ebenfalls umsteigen. Bis man bei Citrix wieder vernünftig wird. 
 
Citrix hat vor vielen vielen Jahren versucht, den PN Client abzuschaffen. Bis heute ist er - zu Unrecht - weit verbreitet. Ich denke, das WI wird - zu Recht - ein ähnliches Schicksal erleben!


Great Idea to for new Products
Written by Guest on 2009-09-09 14:18:58
Hi, 
 
since some years I noticed that there must be a new Guy behind Mark who tells him everytime "You have to sell more products" and the Guy also say "Change the name to make everyone confused". 
 
So some years before there was only Metaframe and this was working well. New Versions was at the first launch stable and if there was a big update you know this can be installed without an problem. 
Today citrix has much more products and they all have changed there names - some of them more than one time - and the most of them are not really needed or used. 
Im really interessed in this new product - not why we need something like this. No im interessted because it will be very interessting how long and how citrix will try to sell this product ... but by the way nobody will pay for this. This will should be for free. 
 
Best Regards, 
Dellsam


Idea to for new Products
Written by Thomas Koetzing on 2009-09-09 14:21:14
>but by the way nobody will pay for this.  
>This will should be for free. 
As far as I know Dazzle is free of use.


was für nen Schwachsinn
Written by Thomas Koetzing on 2009-09-15 17:03:17
Wie ich geschrieben habe, können Anwendungen im Dazzle einer "Genehmigung" unterliegen die mit dem Citrix Workflow Studio erstellt wurde. Die könnte dann durchaus auch mit einer Lizenzberechtigung verknüpft sein.


Citrix. bleib bei Deinen Stärken!
Written by Gast on 2009-11-15 15:27:03
Das WI und alles drum herum ist essentiel für Geschäftskundenanwendungen. Es ist wieder mal typisch, gut funktionierendes wird für schlecht befunden und muss weg. Dabei heisst es doch so schön: Never change a running system! 
 
Ausserdem: Denkt ein CEO auch an die User, die das alles bedienen müssen/sollen? Muss das Rad immer wieder von vorne erfunden werden? Die Benutzer müssen sich immer wieder an einen neuen Look gewöhnen, warum? Auch das sind Kosten. Wenn ein Nutzer sich nicht mehr zurechtfindet, suchen muss oder ständig neues lernen muss hat er doch keine Zeit mehr für die Kernaufgaben. 
 
Naja, wir werden daran nichts ändern können. Wenn die Strategie von Citrix in diese Richtung geht muss man halt irgendwann mitschwimmen oder Alternativen suchen


Was soll das im Enterprise Umfeld?
Written by bosscon on 2010-03-21 12:30:43
Ich habe einige Zeit damit verbracht, Single-SignOn in Dazzle zum laufen zu bringen - leider vergeblich. Damit Client-Server Redirection funktioniert, muss sich ein Benutzer die entsprechende Applikation in Dazzle zuweisen. Wie soll ich von mehreren tausend Benutzern verlangen, dass Sie etwas manuell tun, was ich bisher mit PNAgent automatisiert und zuverlässig tun konnte. 
Ich sehe im Moment keinen wirklichen Mehrwert mit Dazzle ausser dass ich vielleicht die Client Updates vielleicht etwas flexibler ausrollen kann - aber auch das wird sich erst in Zukunft zeigen.


Was soll das im Enterprise Umfeld?
Written by Thomas Koetzing on 2010-03-21 13:57:34
>Single-SignOn in Dazzle zum  
>laufen zu bringen - leider vergeblich 
Dazu MUSS der Receiver mit Adminrechten installiert werden und ist gleich mit PNA


self service Madness is Corp enviroments
Written by Guest on 2010-06-09 11:58:44
Great article!!!!! 
I have been using Citrix now for over 12 years and have found over the last few years Citrix has gone into over drive with acquisitions and new products and really rush them to bring them to market, and in the mean time leave people and admins always thinking right, ok, well, hmmm.  
 
In regards to the new self service approach many companies are now taking and the new iPod culture to let staff choose what they want to have I find laughable. This may work in small or what I call “marketing” companies but in big business and institutions where standard builds are a must and people only have the Apps they require to do their job, and the idea that a person could plug in there iPod or external device into a corp network crazy!!! 
 
The self service approach would be great business model if you were dishing out applications to Joe blogs public and charging them per apps use / time i.e. students won’t work so well I fell in the business environment, I have found users just want there apps to be there and when they double click it on their desktop or from start menu that app is there in seconds 
 
But hey just my 25pence worth anyway


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