Brought to you by:
Enterprise Strategy Group  |  Getting to the Bigger Truth™


Improve User Experience, Increase Security, And Enhance Business Value With Citrix Workspace

By Jack Poller, Senior Analyst

ESG Technical Validations

The goal of ESG Technical Validations is to educate IT professionals about information technology solutions for companies of all types and sizes. ESG Technical Validations are not meant to replace the evaluation process that should be conducted before making purchasing decisions, but rather to provide insight into these emerging technologies. Our objectives are to explore some of the more valuable features and functions of IT solutions, show how they can be used to solve real customer problems, and identify any areas needing improvement. The ESG Validation Team’s expert third-party perspective is based on our own hands-on testing as well as on interviews with customers who use these products in production environments.


This ESG Technical Validation documents our evaluation of Citrix Workspace, a unified workspace platform. We focused on how deploying Workspace can improve user experience, business value, and business security.


Organizations continually seek to modernize how they provide infrastructure resources for their employees, with a goal of improving business efficiency, effectiveness, and agility while maintaining—or improving—security. The pandemic-induced shift to remote workers strained IT’s ability to meet these goals. Indeed, according to ESG research, 46% of organizations said one of their biggest COVID-19 challenges was the increased volume of cybersecurity vulnerabilities resulting from more remote workers, while 46% of respondents also cited the security of online collaboration platforms. In addition, 39% indicated that they needed to train employees on work-from-home (WFH) technologies and policies.1
Thus, it’s no surprise that survey respondents are prioritizing security, efficiency, and effectiveness of employees and IT. When it comes to delivering applications, data, and desktops/devices, organizations are focusing on detecting and responding to security incidents, vulnerabilities, and risk and to managing a diverse ecosystem of users, applications, and devices. In terms of employee technology experience, organizations are prioritizing improving employee collaboration (55%), simplifying device security (45%), and supporting more mobile and remote work (43%) (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Biggest Priorities for Employee Technology Experience

In terms of employee technology experience, what are your organization’s biggest priorities when it comes to delivering applications, data, and desktops/devices in the current work-from-home climate? (Percent of respondents, N=389, multiple responses accepted)

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Citrix Workspace

Citrix designed Workspace to be a unified platform that provides users with secure, tailored access to all the apps, data, and content they need to accomplish their business goals. Citrix Workspace organizes and automates work, simplifying user workflow, enhancing productivity, and driving increased employee engagement. Workspace provides choice and adaptability based on workstyles; users can access Workspace from corporate and personal computers and laptops, mobile phones and tablets, and public kiosks. Workspace simplifies user workflow, integrating with and providing out-of-the box microapps for hundreds of the most widely used local, mobile, SaaS, web, and content apps.
IAs part of IBM’s prescriptive approach to AI, IBM Watson Studio is designed to help organizations build and scale trusted AI on any cloud by surfacing hidden patterns and intelligence or facilitating prediction and optimization as shown in Figure 2. Organizations can choose any combination of cloud providers to deploy Watson Studio, including IBM Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
Figure 2. Citrix Workspace Platform

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Citrix Workspace provides unified, secure access to SaaS, virtual apps and desktops, microapps, and files. Users gain quick, VPN-less access to apps and resources with single sign-on (SSO). IT gains enhanced performance and security with analytics and browser isolation. Organizations deploying Citrix Workspace benefit from:

“When the pandemic hit, most of the cities around us shut down. Because we had Citrix, we were able to immediately shift to work from home and continue operations.” –CIO respondent

• Flexible work models— increasing user productivity and effectiveness while providing a seamless and secure user experience regardless of where users choose to work. Supporting flexible work models can enhance employee satisfaction, attract new talent, maintain business continuity during disruptions, reduce OpEx, and support geographic expansion of the talent pool.
• Enhanced security— unification of all sanctioned apps enables enforcement of authentication standards, monitoring of user behavior, and simplification of the login experience. Implementation of the zero trust security model (never trust, always verify) enables organizations to secure local, SaaS, and web apps and protects organizations from malware and ransomware, reducing security risk without compromising employee experience.
• Scalability and agility— maximize agility to scale as needed, adapting workforce changes through seasonality, disruptions, and expansions. Support temporary workforce, bursting technology capacity based on demand.
• Streamlined training and onboarding— the unified workspace enables employees to provide value on day one. Centrally managed resources and contextual security reduce administrative workload and help desk calls, enhancing time to value.
• Improved application performance— monitor and minimize application performance and function to enhance employee and customer experience and productivity.
• Increased IT efficiency— preemptively address imminent issues before users experience poor performance or other problems. Proactively addressing performance, security, and user experience issues reduces help desk calls, shortens time to resolution, and frees IT to focus on critical business initiatives.
• Increased IT agility— central management of virtual apps, desktops, endpoints, web apps, and microservices ensures timely updates and application of security patches. Complete visibility and monitoring of app delivery in multi-cloud environments simplifies operations and accelerates troubleshooting, reducing downtime and business disruption.

ESG Technical Validation

ESG reviewed a demonstration of Citrix Workspace, focusing on the user experience, security, and business value provided by an integrated workspace platform.

Improved User Experience

To stay competitive, organizations are learning that they need to invest in improving their users’ experiences and uncover how employees and customers feel in the moment about every interaction with their work environment. A great user experience takes into account usefulness, desirability, accessibility, credibility, usability, findability, and value. This is why businesses are prioritizing improving collaboration, simplifying security, supporting work beyond the corporate office, and more.
Citrix designed Workspace to be the one place where a user can go to get access to all the tools and resources they need to do their job while at the same time enabling the company to keep everything secure.
Citrix Workspace supports the usual forms of user identification and authorization, including Active Directory, single sign-on with Okta, and other SSO providers. After logging in to Citrix Workspace, ESG was presented with the home page, as shown in Figure 3. Citrix provides the same interface and user experience for web-based access and native Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android, and IOS apps.
The home page includes an activity feed—a set of “cards” containing up-to-date information and tasks from “microapps” (a subset of full app capabilities that enables a user to directly interact with the app from the card). We clicked on a card to read and take action, and some cards, such as the expense report card shown in Figure 3, include action buttons directly on the card.
The activity feed contains any information or task we needed to accomplish to start our day and brought pending tasks and activities front and center. This enabled us to rapidly process information and easily take the appropriate actions.

“Our experience with Citrix has enabled our leadership to break paradigms about how government services are delivered and has opened the door so we can hire critical talent that lives outside of our city.” –CIO, City of 160,000 with 1,000 employees

Figure 3. Citrix Workspace Home Page

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

After processing the information and tasks from the activity feed, we next reviewed the actions and applications we needed to accomplish our job. The home page included two additional sections, Actions and Recent Apps, to provide quick shortcuts to the most recent actions and apps.
Using the menu on the left of the screen, we selected Apps, and Workspace displayed a sortable list of apps, as shown in Figure 4. Clicking on an app in the list launched that app. For SaaS apps, Workspace automatically invoked SSO to log us in, as appropriate. We could also click on the star on an app to save it as a favorite app.
We then selected Desktops from the menu to display the list of virtual desktops. For demo purposes, the demo environment was configured with an extensive set of virtual desktops; a typical business use case would provide the user with access to one or just a few virtual desktops. As with Apps, users can mark and save favorite virtual desktops for quick access.
Figure 4. Workspace Apps and Virtual Desktops

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Next, we selected Files from the menu. As shown in Figure 5, Citrix Workspace integrates all the user’s file resources into a single interface. Users can quickly access local files and folders, those on a network share, as well as files from SaaS solutions including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft, OneDrive, and others.
Workspace includes the ability for users to securely email files that are encrypted and marked for restricted access. Users can also request document approvals and signatures using Workspace’s built-in electronic signature capabilities.

“Citrix enables our employees to securely access their applications from anywhere at any time, and our data shows that our employees are more productive now that we're using Citrix.” –CIO respondent

Figure 5. Workspace Integrated Files and Folders

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Why This Matters

ESG research reveals that organizations are prioritizing user experience capabilities to enhance user experience, improving employee productivity and satisfaction and increasing the organization’s competitiveness.
ESG found that Citrix Workspace enhances many user experience characteristics. The home page and microapps improve usability and utility by making it easy to process critical information and take rapid action. Having a centralized, integrated platform for apps, files, and resources ensures users can quickly and securely find the apps and data they need to accomplish their jobs. ESG found Citrix Workspace to be a valuable tool enabling us to navigate a complex digital work environment.

Increased Security

According to ESG research, a vast majority (93%) of organizations are OK with work from home for the foreseeable future. However, cybersecurity continues to be a top pain point for hybrid or remote work, including the increased volume of cybersecurity vulnerabilities from more remote workers, the lack of security of online collaboration platforms, and the need to train employees on technologies and remote work best practices. Thus, nearly half (47%) of organizations see fortifying cybersecurity as a business issue driving their technology spending.2
In traditional workflows, a user launches an app from their desktop or web browser and then enters their credentials to log in. In the Citrix Workspace experience, the user clicks on the app icon and Workspace launches the app or web browser and uses SSO to log in.

“Citrix enables our employees to securely access their applications from anywhere at any time, and our data shows that our employees are more productive now that we're using Citrix.” –CIO respondent

To enhance security, Workspace includes an embedded browser that can include additional security and restrictions such as identifying phishing and other malicious links, limiting access to the clipboard or printer, and incorporating a watermark. As shown in Figure 6, when ESG clicked on Outlook in Workspace, the application was launched in the secure embedded browser that displays the user’s name and IP address. This ensures that critical and confidential information exfiltrated by users taking screenshots or photos of the display can be traced back to the offender. ESG observed that the mere presence of the watermark often provides sufficient de-motivation for malicious activities.
Citrix Workspace also incorporates a virtual browser running in the cloud. This browser is used for “grey” situations where the security of the application may be indeterminant. The cloud-based virtual browser runs in an isolated sandbox and incorporates no file retention. Any malicious actions taken by web applications running in this browser are ephemeral, which protects the company from drive-by downloads, ransomware, and other malware. This isolation helps the organization balance security with user experience.
Workspace’s embedded and cloud-based browsers incorporate additional security features, including the ability to encrypt keystrokes, destroying the utility of keyloggers.
Organizations can enable these security features for access to SaaS and web apps as well as to the organization’s internal applications such as SharePoint or custom applications. This ensures users can securely access all the apps and files without needing complex and expensive VPN solutions.
Figure 6. Watermarking Apps for Security

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Workspace collects comprehensive telemetry on user activities and application performance. The included analysis engine performs user and entity behavioral analysis (UEBA) and enables administrators to identify potential security issues based on anomalous behavior.
ESG logged in to the Citrix Workspace administration console. As shown in Figure 7, the security dashboard automatically categorizes users based on risk. Summary and trending counts were provided for high-, medium-, and low-risk users. The dashboard provided a list of risky users, and admins could filter the list based on the risk scores, risk indicators, or the change in scores or indicators. Another list displayed summary stats regarding risk categories such as the number of occurrences and impact of compromised users, insider threats, data exfiltration, and compromised endpoints.
Figure 7. Workspace Administrator’s Security Dashboard

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

We clicked on the user Georgina Kalou to drill down and review the results of the anomalous behavior analysis. The admin console displayed a timeline of identified risky behavior, and Workspace’s analysis of anomalous behavior includes exceeding the speed of travel (i.e., simultaneous credential reuse in geographically dispersed locations), using a jailbroken or rooted device, using an unmanaged device, having excessive file downloads, excessive authorization failures, excessive access to sensitive files, an unusual time of access, and more.
Hovering the mouse on the risk score displayed a summary of the risk indicators that contributed to the score. Clicking on a risky behavior element provided additional details, such as the time, file names, and file sizes (if the risky behavior was classified as excessive file downloads).
We could also configure and take direct actions, including notifying administrators, automatically monitoring the user, and disabling various types of access.
Figure 8. High-risk User Behavioral Analysis

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Why This Matters

Securing an organization’s applications and resources can be complex, requiring highly skilled professionals and detailed processes. However, organizations continue to grapple with a gap in cybersecurity talent—according to ESG research, nearly half (48%) of organizations report a problematic shortage of cybersecurity skills.
ESG found that Citrix Workspace incorporates numerous features to increase and help automate an organization’s application and data security. Watermarking and access restrictions in the embedded and cloud-based browsers can prevent data exfiltration via screen captures, photos, keyloggers, printing, and more, while browser isolation and sandboxing prevents drive-by downloads, phishing, ransomware, and other malicious activity.
ESG observed that Citrix Workspace incorporates extensive telemetry and comprehensive UEBA analysis. This helps admins quickly and easily identify risky users and risky behavior. The security dashboard helped focus security investigations, enabling admins to prioritize events and incident response activities. This reduces dwell time by accelerating incident response and remediation activities.

Enhanced Business Value

Digital transformation (DX) continues to accelerate. According to ESG research, 50% of organizations are currently in process, implementing and executing various digital transformation initiatives, up from 39% last year. What’s driving digital transformation? Fifty-six percent of respondents say one of their most important DX objectives is to become more operationally efficient, 49% are adopting digital tools and processes to allow users to interact and collaborate in new ways, and 40% want to provide a better and more differentiated customer and user experience.
Citrix Workspace supports hybrid and remote work models and using mobile devices as a primary interface to work. As shown in Figure 9, ESG logged in to Citrix Workspace on a mobile phone and observed that Workspace provided the same Activity Feed and access as with the native computer and web-based interfaces.
Workspace leverages machine learning (ML), a form of artificial intelligence (AI), to identify the information and tasks users need to understand and accomplish, which are displayed as a sequence of cards in the activity feed. These cards can be informational notices or active microapps, which an admin can subscribe users to. We simulated a user entering an office building at the beginning of their workday. The first card in the activity feed was a card from an “office” finder for remote users. Based on our calendar for the day, the AI identified and reserved a conference room for us to use and included a map to the conference room.
The activity feed included meeting notifications and high priority emails. Other microapps, which leverage restful APIs to obtain data and interact with applications, enabled us to interact with typical user applications such as Workday and ServiceNow. The microapp functionality of Citrix Workspace leverages application APIs for interaction, and we could perform a variety of common tasks such as submitting a trouble ticket or reviewing and approving expense reports.
Figure 9. Improving User Workflows with Microapps

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Citrix Workspace collects and analyzes telemetry to ensure the platform is providing an optimal user experience. We logged in to the admin portal and reviewed the user experience performance analysis, as shown in Figure 10. The analysis dashboard enabled us to view data analyzed over different time periods from two hours to one month.
The analysis uses historical data to develop a baseline of performance and experience for each user. This baseline is used to identify anomalies that constitute a poor experience. The portal graphically and numerically displays the number of good, fair, and poor user experiences, enabling administrators to identify and remediate performance issues.
Figure 10. Analysis of User Experience

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Last, we drilled down into the factors that contribute to the user experience, including session availability, resiliency, and duration, as shown in Figure 11. We further drilled down to a specific user to understand the underlying issues contributing to her poor user experience. The metrics included overall session duration and the time to accomplish specific actions such as session availability, logon duration, and session resiliency. From these metrics, we could determine if there was a network issue, application issue, or other infrastructure issue that needed to be fixed to improve the user’s experience.
Figure 11. User Experience Classification Factors

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Why This Matters

Reimagining how businesses operate can improve customer satisfaction, user productivity, and organizational efficiency, leading to more growth and bigger profits. This is the heart and soul of digital transformation.
ESG found that Citrix Workspace can help organizations achieve their DX goals by supporting flexible work from anywhere with any device arrangements. The intelligent activity feed streamlines the work experience and helps optimize user productivity by surfacing critical tasks and information and enabling action directly from the feed without having to launch other apps. To enhance user experience, admins can quickly and easily identify and triage performance issues, increasing IT efficiency and reducing friction.

The Bigger Truth

According to ESG research, three-quarters (75%) of respondents believe IT complexity has increased in the past two years. According to almost half (49%) of those surveyed, the increase in remote workers was one of the biggest reasons their organization’s IT environment has become more complex. Other big drivers include higher data volumes, the increase in the number and type of endpoint devices, and the increase in the number and type of applications used by employees. This increasing complexity can make it harder for employees to discover critical information in a timely manner. Security considerations, VPNs, and access controls can make it harder for employees to find the correct applications and data, impeding the speed of work.
Citrix Workspace is a unified digital workspace platform that can simplify and enhance the user experience, improve security, and add value. Providing a centralized, integrated platform for apps, files, and resources ensures users can quickly and securely find their apps and data, improving focus, productivity, and engagement. The intelligent activity feed and microapps surfaces critical information and tasks and enables users to easily take action from any device in any location without the complexity of invoking VPNs, launching additional apps, and re-entering credentials.
Citrix Workspace enables IT to transparently increase security without increasing complexity. Cloud-based sandboxed, isolated browsers prevent drive-by downloads, phishing, ransomware, and other malicious activity. Administrators can easily incorporate watermarking and access restrictions to prevent data exfiltration via screen captures, photos, keyloggers, printing, and more. Admins can leverage Citrix Workspace’s extensive telemetry and sophisticated analysis to detect anomalous behavior that can indicate risky user behavior, a security breach, or a performance issue. This enables admins to rapidly identify, triage, and remediate issues, improving security and user experience.
The results that are presented in this document are based on demos and evaluation of Citrix Workplace in a controlled environment. Due to the many variables in each organization, it is important to perform planning and testing in your own environment to validate the viability and efficacy of any solution. If your organization is looking to increase security, improve user experience, and add value to every interaction, then ESG believes that you should consider the advantages of Citrix Workspace.
Unified. Secure. And now intelligent.

This ESG Technical Validation was commissioned by Citrix and is distributed under license from ESG.

Source: ESG Master Survey Results, Digital Workspace Strategies in an Increasingly Remote Worker World, May 2021.

Source: ESG Research Report, 2021 Technology Spending Intentions Survey, Jan 2021. All ESG research references in this technical validation have been taken from this research report unless otherwise noted.

All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at 508.482.0188.

Enterprise Strategy Group | Getting to the Bigger Truth™

Enterprise Strategy Group is an IT analyst, research, validation, and strategy firm that provides market intelligence and actionable insight to the global IT community.