WebInterface vs Receiver Storefront (CloudGateway)

CloudGateway is here to replace the good old WebInterface (end of support 2015) as WebInterface is one product, CloudGateway is a marketing name for several products :

  • CloudGateway Express (Free) = Receiver Storefront + Access Gateway VPX
  • CloudGateway Enterprise ($$$) = Receiver Storefront + Access Gateway + AppController

If we want to compare the WebInterface to one of this component, that will be Receiver Storefront. This blog idea originally comes from Thomas Koetzing (CTP) blog post last year : Web Interface replaced by Citrix Cloud Gateway and I made several presentation about CloudGateway based on the table he build. I tried to maintain this table up to date with the new releases of Receiver Storefront.

What is CloudGateway

Citrix definition : Citrix CloudGateway is an enterprise mobility management solution that aggregates, controls and delivers Windows, web, SaaS and mobile apps, and data, to any device, anywhere. CloudGateway provides end-users with a unified single point of access and self-service to all of their business apps on any device anywhere. It also provides IT with a comprehensive single point of aggregation and control for all apps, data, devices and identities.

CloudGateway helps IT and users

  • Deliver all apps. Go beyond Windows apps to aggregate, control and deliver all apps including web, SaaS, mobile apps and data.
  • Unified—not siloed. IT no longer needs to create and manage individual/soloed processes and tools to add new devices, user types and apps.
  • Regain control and eliminate chaos. IT can manage and secure corporate IP, apps and data by unifying and automating controls for apps, devices and identities.
  • Empower users by giving them every app they need in a unified, self-service app catalog that is available from any device, anywhere.

My point of view is CloudGateway came too early on the market and WebInterface death have been announced too fast. With the lake of feature integrated in Receiver Storefront, the adoption by IT and companies will be slow. Citrix should have introduce a more feature complete product, of course Citrix needs to move fast and evolve as fast as possible to lead the market but simple fast make me think Citrix is big, way too big to move as fast as they were use to :

  • New NetScaler 10 still include WebInterface instead of Receiver Storefront
  • Citrix App Studio allow to provision WebInterface, no Receiver Storefront yet…

Why’s that ? Because Receiver Storefront is not mature for all our existing customer who used WebInterface all these years. I think there are some cases you can include this new product in some of your project, but first let’s have a look at simple architecture overview of WebInterface and CloudGateway.

Here is the presentation I made for E2E and Citrix Expert Community :

WebInterface – Architecture

As most of you know already, WebInterface architecture is pretty simple, two way to use it, Web Sites (Web) and Service Sites (PNAgent, config.xml) Everything in one place, one or several servers, where each server needed to be configured manually.

To obtain high availability with WebInterface, you can use Microsoft NLB, load balancer like F5 or NetScaler. No need for a database to store anything.

Receiver Storefront – Architecture

With Receiver Storefront, there are now three component, Authorization Platform, Storefront Services (Store) and Receiver for Web.

  • Authentication service—authenticates users to XenDesktop sites, XenApp farms, and AppController, handling all interactions to ensure that users only need to log on once.
  • Store—retrieves user credentials from the authentication service to authenticate users to the infrastructure providing the resources. Enumerates the available resources and sends the details to Citrix Receiver.
  • Receiver for Web site—enables users to access stores through a Web page.

And there is now a database (Microsoft SQL 2008 R2) to host application subscription :

  • Resource subscription database—stores details of user subscriptions, plus associated shortcut names and locations.

You can group several Receiver Storefront from the admin console and load balance with Microsoft NLB, F5 or NetScaler stuff (same as WebInterface for the high availability)

CloudGateway – Architecture

Here is the big picture, an architecture overview of CloudGateway (Receiver Storefront + AppController + Access Gateway)

Of course it look much more complicated than the classic WebInterface, but it gives access to a lot of new resources, SaaS apps, Data (ShareFile) and Mobility (pushing apps on mobile devices)

Next version should integrate the famous app request workflow and a lot of existing features from the WebInterface to enable a faster adoption.

WebInterface vs Receiver Storefront

Here we are, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, Thomas Koetzing (CTP) made a very good frame to align side by side WebInterface and Receiver Storefront features to help us understand where and when we will be able to use Receiver Storefront in production (Web Interface replaced by Citrix Cloud Gateway). I completed it and I will maintain it every time a new Receiver Storefront will be release to check out what new feature will be available and which feature have been moved from the WebInterface to Receiver Storefront.

I had some major issue with the version 1.2 which didn’t support the java fallback (client) and nothing was here to replace this feature on Receiver Storefront. Now with the next version, with HTML5 support, I will check out if it can replace in an efficient way the java client from WebInterface.

There are still some dark point on some features, like SSO (Passthrough) for Receiver for web. This is not supported and at almost every customer place I have one site (WebInterface web site) which is SSO… This is for me one of the missing feature that can slow down the adoption of Receiver Storefront in production.

Of course, each of you will focus on a specific feature, so now you can check if this feature has been integrated, is missing or will be plan in Receiver Storefront releases.

Should we go ?

To the question about migration and new architecture design CloudGateway integration, my answer is Yes and No, you need to know what your customer needs, the way applications are accessed and check if all the required and mandatory features have been moved to Receiver Storefront. Here is few example :

  • Yes if you plan to migrate your PNAgent, ICA Client to Receiver, that would make one big change for users but one time change.
  • Yes if you are using only Citrix client as “PNAgent like”
  • Yes if you need to build a POC to show off your customer
  • No if you’re using the Web Interface or if you didn’t plan to migrate your Citrix client yet
  • No if one of the feature available in the Web Interface haven’t been moved to Storefront Receiver

I can’t wait for CloudGateway 2 to come out and check all the new features.

Sources :
Thomas Koetzing : Web Interface replaced by Citrix Cloud Gateway
CloudGateway 2 announcement : Citrix Enables Enterprise Mobility with New CloudGateway Solution

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