The right Citrix Managed Services (CMS) partner can help you make your Citrix Enterprise deployment a success. That’s why it’s important to explore your prospective CMS partner’s expertise, experience, and certifications to ensure that your investments allow your in-house IT resources to clearly focus on critical and top-priority business tasks with minimal interruptions.
On this episode of The Disruptive Enterprise Podcast, host Gregory J. Turner, CRO/CIO at MTM Technologies, and his guest Lloyd Witt, Solutions Architect for Managed Services at MTM Technologies, discuss how to select a Citrix Managed Services partner for your organization and how to work with them to ensure success.
Working with Your Citrix Managed Services Partner
Gregory J. Turner & LLoyd Witt
Gregory Turner: Welcome to our continuing podcast series at The Disruptive Enterprise. When you think about employing a managed services provider, you want the MSP to assume control and management of all the technology at your organization. That has become fairly standardized and that does not serve to differentiate you, as an organization or brand. It should enable you to focus your IT resources in more value-oriented areas. Your organization’s technology requirements for expertise, training, vendor certification, and 24 by 7 by 365 availability are all assumed by your MSP. This is the value and benefit they provide.
Gregory Turner: On today’s episode of the podcast, we are going to discuss what to expect from your Citrix managed services partner. And I’m pleased to have as my guest an old friend and longtime member of the MTM Technologies team, Lloyd Witt. Lloyd is the Chief Scientist and Solutions Architect for managed services at MTM. Lloyd has over 25 years of IT consulting experience with an emphasis on virtualization, IT operations, IT service management, and process optimization. Welcome to The Disruptive Enterprise, Lloyd.
Lloyd Witt: Thank you, Greg.
Gregory Turner: Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I think we should get back to the basics of why customers procure managed services. I often see it as a response to the escalation of quantities and complexities in our clients’ environments. I think that when we consider the reasons for hiring a managed services provider, perhaps, it is more apparent and appropriate when it comes to managing and maintaining your Citrix Enterprise environment. Would you agree, Lloyd?
Lloyd Witt: Greg, I would agree. The right CMS partner can help you make your Citrix Enterprise deployment of success. So, when choosing, make sure you explore your perspective CMS partner’s expertise, experience, and certifications to ensure that your investments allow your in-house IT resources to clearly focus on critical and top-priority business tasks with minimal interruptions.
Gregory Turner: Lloyd, I think for those on our podcast today, listening they might be interested to know a little bit more about what is a Citrix Enterprise environment. Could you describe that?
Lloyd Witt: Yes, I can, Greg. The typical environment consists of a hypervisor, the VDA, VDI stack from Citrix and the security to safely deliver your virtual applications and desktops. The stack is designed to move your applications from a single location securely encrypted and easily. This allows your staff to become more efficient and be less worried about where the location of the applications is.
Gregory Turner: Excellent. And, Lloyd, you have an interesting comparison of a Citrix managed services partner and a Mercedes service center. Can you share that example?
Lloyd Witt: Yes, I can. When you’re looking at a Mercedes service center, you walk in and they have a group of talented individuals that take care of your car. You’ve got one set of individuals that takes care of your tires, another set of individuals that knows the transmission. You’ve got experts in your engine and the electronics that goes with the engine. You’ve got your interior electronics and you’ve got your major components inside the interior of the car. It’s all very complex and everybody inside a Mercedes dealership has an expertise level in their area. While they do have general knowledge of everything in the car, they always have talented people that are experts.
Gregory Turner: And is that how that would compare to MTM providing Citrix services?
Lloyd Witt: Oh, yes. Absolutely. Inside your Citrix’s span of service enterprise environment, you’ll need a team who is an expert at your NetScaler, your application-delivery controller. They need to know provisioning services, machine creation services, work space, storefront, all the Microsoft underlying infrastructure, like your Windows server, your Windows 10 Enterprise, how to create and manage group policies. They need to know the entire window stat from top to bottom as well as the entire Citrix stuff from top to bottom.
Lloyd Witt: You also need a certified team that understands networking. Your Cisco, your back end, and the parts that bring all that together. That’s all one homogeneous network. If you would to try to put that into place on your own, that’s a lot of individuals that you would need to bring in to handle just specialized environments within your business. That’s not necessarily what you need for your business to grow, it’s just what you need to manage your Citrix environment.
Gregory Turner: Right. And so, I think the car analogy is a really good one, because you could take your vehicle, your Mercedes, to any auto mechanic, but they’re only going to be able to do basic functions and services for you. Whereas, taking it to the Mercedes service center, you get the much more tailored and very configurable results that are specifically related to the Mercedes experience. And also, the comparison then to a managed services provider could manage multiple systems and so forth, but generally speaking, the Citrix providers, that layer of complexity that you really do need to have a certified Citrix partner to be able to provide that service.
Lloyd Witt: Oh, absolutely. I call it the dealer parts syndrome. If you go and you take it to somebody that’s not an expert in it, the only thing they can offer for you is the ability to push to another level you need to escalate this. So, when you’re looking at your existing Citrix deployment or you’re upgrading your Citrix environment, you need to make sure that your managed service provider understands all the components, not only where you’re coming from, but where you’re going to. And also, being able to provide you a track to get there.
Gregory Turner: Excellent. Well, thank you, Lloyd. What are some things that an organization should expect or look for when considering hiring a Citrix managed services partner?
Lloyd Witt: You should look for that managed service provider to have a full technical staff and certified in the products that they need to supply and re-mediate. They should have a full-blown monitoring solution, the ability to see what’s going on inside your environment 24 by 7 by 365, and be able to react appropriately. These are the things that you really need to be looking for in your managed service provider.
Gregory Turner: So, for example, the Citrix infrastructure monitoring response and remediation.
Lloyd Witt: Correct. Your CMS’s partner is going to be responsible for configuring your Citrix environment, monitoring the system’s thresholds, and monitoring all the Citrix infrastructure component, including your licenses and all the servers and the network in between. They should be watching your networks day-to-day, how the performance, reviewing patterns, trends and then, responding to and re-mediating any issues before they become real problems. The partner should stabilize your environment first by targeting and resolving any specific issues and be able to recognize the need to upgrade patch or replace any aspects of that entire solution to meet your needs. Essentially, they are ensuring your systems are up and running at speed and not being disrupted every time you add new capabilities or new users.
Gregory Turner: And of course, really, the key in supporting a Citrix environment is really in support of the end-user experience.
Lloyd Witt: Absolutely. If your Citrix partner is paying attention, they are responsible for identifying users and groups and workflows, adding users, appropriate groups, on-boarding users, and providing automated monitoring. After adding new users, they should continue to monitor your Citrix environment and make any required changes to optimize performance. The focus here is on improving the customer’s experience for end users who may find VDI to be an unfamiliar environment.
Lloyd Witt: So, if your systems and availability appear to be slow, it is your CMS partner’s responsibility to provide your end users with the feedback and messages per activity as soon as possible, so they know that somebody is aware of the challenge that they’re experiencing. To do this, your partner will provide proactive monitoring and help desk services to manage track and address stabilization items.
Gregory Turner: And so, I think, probably, the last layer then in support is the overall infrastructure management for Citrix.
Lloyd Witt: Absolutely. If the overall infrastructure is not being managed and monitored, everything comes to a halt if your Citrix system stops working. Your partner should ensure that patches and upgrades are applied quickly and expertly. They should have test those patches as well. They should provide capacity planning as well as change, release, and configuration management of the new Citrix versus they should reduce unexpected downtime through proactive Citrix infrastructure management. And they should be in communication with you as well.
Gregory Turner: And I think today, we often see organizations that try to achieve the world-class standards of five-nines up time and availability. And while I like to think of that as a target or goal, everyday life, everyday business dynamics always challenges that metric. And when you think about the end user experience, if multiple end users are being affected or if a Citrix platform or the server or something is not working up to speed, that can have tremendous impact on the business. And without a certified partner like MTM, you may be down for an unusual amount of time that can really affect your overall up time availability and performance.
Gregory Turner: I think we have a lot of experience in that at MTM in supporting our customers and we have some standard SLA agreements responding to those types of incidents. So, whether they be sub 1, 2, 3, and 4-type incidents. And I think that’s probably another area that’s very important in picking the right partners picking the right partner that has the right service level agreements that work for your business. Lloyd, is there any final words or thoughts that you might have for our listeners today?
Lloyd Witt: Absolutely, when you’re picking your managed service provider, one of the things you’re really picking is an organization to manage your end user experience. All the management in the world is not going to make it work well if nobody’s paying attention to what the end users are saying. So, you need to pay very close attention to the organization’s ability to take on that task and that’s pretty much the main focus that we should be in at this point.
Gregory Turner: Right. And that’s something that MTM strives to do, correct?
Lloyd Witt: MTM is very good at managing end user expectations and has made strides every year to improve that ability. That’s something that we take pride in, in this company.
Gregory Turner: Excellent. Well, thank you, Lloyd. This has been truly educational and amazing and thank you to our audience for listening. I hope you found this podcast helpful. For any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more about us, visit MTM.com. At The disruptive Enterprise, this is Greg Turner. Thank you.
Outro: The Disruptive Enterprise is brought to you by MTM Technologies, a disruption solutions provider operating in the US with technical expertise and IT experience working with clients as a trusted adviser for over 30 years.