With organizations enabling and supporting remote workers, using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provides a great way to allow employees to access business-critical environments. Organizations have to choose which product they leverage to deliver VDI infrastructure in their environment. There are many from which to choose. Citrix has long been a name in the industry for offering VDI technologies as it provides many great options and capabilities that empower remote work.
Citrix continually updates and enhances the offering to allow further integration with other third-party tools. Citrix Workspace is the premium option for businesses today to provide a complete digital workspace to their employees. This past year, Citrix has enhanced the solution to provide seamless integration with Microsoft Teams environment. How can remote employees best take advantage of these enhancements? Praim’s Thin Client solutions help organizations realize the full potential of Citrix Workspace along with Microsoft Teams covering the last mile. Let’s see how.
What is Citrix Workspace?
To begin, what exactly is Citrix Workspace? How does it provide the digital tools needed for your organization? Citrix Workspace is a holistic digital workspace that allows organizations to deliver secure access to business-critical resources. It includes digital information, applications, and other content. The digital workspace becomes accessible, regardless of the end user’s location and the connecting device.
Citrix Workspace provides access to apps and content from any device
One of the business-critical applications that Citrix Workspace provides access to in a secure way is Microsoft Teams. Recently, new enhancements have optimized the experience using Microsoft Teams in a Citrix Virtual Desktop, making it much more efficient. What are these enhancements?
Microsoft Teams enhancements
The optimizations introduced for the desktop-based Microsoft Teams using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and the Citrix Workspace App are automatically embedded, as all the requirements and various components into the Citrix Workspace App and Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) to optimize Microsoft Teams’ experience.
What do the optimizations contain?
- VDA HDX services for Microsoft Teams
- API to interface with Microsoft Teams hosted app
Citrix Workspace opens a control virtual channel (CTXMTOP to the Citrix Workspace app media engine using these components). What is the CMXMTOP?
- CTXMTOP is a virtual channel that carries out command and control functions
- Media is not exchanged between both the Citrix Workspace app and the Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA)
The local endpoint then renders multimedia from Microsoft Teams locally. A reverse Citrix engine is used to snap-in the local Citrix Workspace app window back into the Microsoft Teams app, which is hosted.
What about authentication? Authentication is carried out natively inside of the Microsoft Teams hosted application. It is similar to how other Microsoft Teams authentication happens for chat and other collaboration.
What advantages do the enhancements provide?
- Full native experience of Microsoft Teams within a Windows 10 desktop
- Multi-platform WebRTC media engine – audio, video, and screen sharing is offloaded to the endpoint
- Audio and video flows directly between participants, lightening the communication towards the VDI server and thus making the communication absolutely fluid and performing
- Improved service scalability
- Centralized management
How do the optimizations work?
- Launch Microsoft Teams.
- Teams will authenticate to Microsoft Office 365. Then, the Microsoft Teams client receives Tenant policies, and TURN and signaling channel information are sent back to the app.
- The WebSocketAgent.exe configures a virtual channel. It calls the Citrix HDX Teams Redirection Service (CtxSvcHost.exe).
- The Citrix Workspace application wfica32.exe (HDX engine) creates a new process. The new process is HdxTeams.exe or HdxRtcEngine.exe. This new process is the new WebRTC engine used for Microsoft Teams optimization.
- A two-way virtual channel path is created between the Citrix Media Engine and Teams. This channel starts processing multimedia requests.
- When a user clicks the call button, the Teams.exe connects with Teams services in Microsoft Office 365. This creates a peer-to-peer path between the two callers. Microsoft Teams communicates with the Citrix Workspace app for supported call parameters. This includes codecs, resolutions, and so forth and is known as a Session Description Protocol (SDP) offer. These call parameters are then relayed using the signaling path to the Teams services in Office 365 and from there to the other peer.
- Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) media communication happens directly between HdxTeams.exe and the other peer after various network parameters and considerations happen between the two.
Below is a high-level view of the architecture described:
HDX new embedded media engine architecture
Praim easily delivers Citrix environment with Microsoft Teams enhancements
Praim ThinOX from version 11.4.6 provides a powerful delivery vehicle that easily allows enhanced Microsoft Teams Citrix Workspace sessions to be consumed by remote workers, integrating the latest Citrix optimizations, and thus offering the best possible experience with Teams to users of Praim workstations. What are the requirements?
- Praim ThinOX-powered endpoints only need to be configured with the new Citrix Workspace 20.10 client to utilize the new optimizations with Microsoft Teams.
Connecting to a Citrix Workspace session
Below, a Microsoft Teams app session launched with the new HDX enhancements.
Launching and using Microsoft Teams
You can ensure you are receiving the Citrix HDX Optimized communication by clicking About > Version.
Verifying Citrix HDX Optimized communication
Microsoft Teams has seen explosive growth and adoption by organizations worldwide, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Citrix Workspace has provided many new enhancements that optimize using the Microsoft Teams app in the Citrix virtual desktop. It offloads the multimedia experience in the Citrix virtual desktop to enhance the experience. Praim ThinOX is a powerful platform for delivering Citrix Virtual Desktops to remote end-users. Praim allows to quickly use the Microsoft Teams app enhancements in Citrix simply by pointing ThinOX to an updated Citrix 20.10 client. And thanks to Praim ThinMan you can easily configure thousands of remote devices to use Microsoft Teams optimization in a few clicks.