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  • Hosting a Citrix Synergy 2016 Networking Tech Chat Table


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    dave-brett.png by David Brett, CTP

    This year I was fortunate enough to be asked to host one of the Networking Tech Chat tables at Citrix Synergy in Las Vegas, whilst this was an honour I have to say it was a little daunting! The reason for this is that normally when presenting you have a script to follow, with this it was literally a free for all, no script and nothing off limits!

    That said, I could not wait to get going with it...

    When I landed in Vegas, Laure had released the blog post about the Citrix CTA program, my phone went nuts and this did not help to calm the nerves about the upcoming tables.  A short cab ride from the airport to the hotel, dump the bag in the room, then head downstairs for registration, then it was off to the @myCUGC pre-game drinks where I finally got to meet some of the people I have been speaking to whilst setting up this SIG.

    The following morning after the keynote I headed straight over to the tables to host the day 1 tech chat.

    Within 10 minutes my table was packed! 

    There was no shortage of points to discuss and we kicked things off with a fairly lively debate around the current v11 releases of NetScaler and the issues with SSL profiles and TLS 1.2.  This is thankfully now resolved with the latest cut of the firmware but it  would seem that this has caused a lot of issues with quite a few people, especially those at my table!

    The conversation then moved into what people found difficult with NetScaler and what features they think are missing and/or could be improved.  Now it would seem, while people love NetScaler, there certainly isn't a shortage of things they would improve about it.  Below is a (not all encompassing) list of the topics we covered. 

    • Load Balancing Wizards
    • Customisation and limitations of GUI
    • NetScaler Gateway mobile refactoring
    • NetScaler Gateway Plugin issues - no logoff
    • Session Policy naming convention 
    • NetScaler Gateway Proxy issues on disconnect
    • XenMobile Wizard confusing
    • Opportunity to roll back wizards

    The hour allocated flew by and quickly moved to an hour and a half but all in all day 1 was great.  We all had some good technical debates and discussions at the table and most people got their questions answered.  

    With day one finished (after attending some great sessions in the afternoon) I was ready to grab some rest and gear myself up for day 2!

    After the General Session had finished, it was again straight back over to the tech chat tables to get ready for my next table hosting session. 

    Day 2 started exactly where day 1 left off with one of the guys who I didn't get round to speaking to returning for a promised discussion around NetScaler.  

    We got straight into it and had a good chat around traffic domains, 1 vs 2 arm mode of deployment, the native VLAN 1 and layer 2 and 3 of the Networking OSI model.  I have to say it was a great way to start the table as it did bring a real focus onto networking and not just NetScaler.

    Another guy who was there on day 1 returned to carry on the discussion around NetScaler and we started to chat around the preference of administration people use - being CLI or GUI focussed?  Quite a few people at the table were a mix of both but there were some guys there that used the GUI exclusively. This sparked some debate around some of the functions that will work when deployed via the CLI but not via the GUI and the need to know both!  This I have to say, I agree with!!

    Conversation then moved onto cloud delivery of NetScaler and the limitations of deploying a NetScaler in the Microsoft Cloud.  While I know that this is not a Citrix problem, it seems to be causing a lot of people issues with the lack of available features when deploying to Azure. 

    Finally we started talking about containers and weirdly Turbo Apps being delivered and secured to a particular NetScaler. If you know me, then you will know that I am a big fan of Turbo and what they can do with app containers. It would appear that a few people at the table had read what I have previously blogged about and wanted to know more.  We had a good chat, and eventually a show and tell from my lab at home (when the wifi finally worked) about Turbo apps and the ability to deliver specific NetScaler admin browsers using the network ACL feature of turbo. 

    That was it for day 2! 

    Again, it lasted more like an hour and a half rather than just an hour but that was OK as the conversation was great and time flew!

    Day 3 was a little different from the other 2 days as I attended sessions in the morning prior to doing the tech chat tables so my head was swimming with new information even before sitting down for the tables.  

    The discussions started with a great guy I met who works in Lebanon.  He had a wealth of knowledge around NetScaler and the Citrix stack in general and we started to talk about the limitations of the deployments he does out there.  

    One of the major constraints he has to deal with on a day to day basis is bandwidth!  The maximum circuit you can get at home is 4 MB with the maximum business line being 8 MB.  We talked for a long time around how he deploys NetScaler to assist in this limitation also some of the legacy stuff he has to deal with on a day to day basis.  Most of us reading this will probably have a handful of Windows 2000 servers left in our estates, this guy was dealing with them on a daily basis!  Very interesting guy and great to chat with!

    I was then asked some questions around NetScaler Gateway, the plugin and mandatory certificates, we talked about using a login script at the VPN connection point to automatically upgrade and deploy the user certificate to the device.  

    Once we had looked at that, I finished day 3 chatting to some guys about selling NetScaler.  They were resellers of the NetScaler product and we ended up talking about the positives and negatives of selling Citrix NetScaler.  Whilst there were a lot of positives, there was a theme that kept coming up across the 3 days regarding NetScaler.  Ease of use and the GUI!

    Now whilst I must say I don’t find the NetScaler difficult as a product to use or learn (I have been using it for a while and am therefore very familiar with the interface and product as a whole), one of the things I will personally take away from these sessions is when I write in future about NetScaler I will ensure I provide both CLI and GUI options and be clear in how I explain the technology to the audience.

    Overall I had a great time hosting the tech chat tables and would most definitely do it again.  Over the course of Citrix Synergy 2016 I have met load of great people and spoken about some great technology.  I can honestly say that I think the Citrix Community is one of the best out there and Laure and the guys do a great job of promoting and pushing the community to do more.

    I hope to see you all again next year for some tech chat and possibly a nice lunch at the same time!

    Thanks,

    Dave

    @dbretty | http://bretty.me.uk


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