One of our clients requested fast user switching (FUS), single sign-on (SSO) and strong authentication (SA) using smartcards as part of its new digital workspace.
A key goal with our new workspace project is to get the fastest user experience possible. Users must be able to instantly resume their work (session) on any supported workstation without closing and reopening applications. To achieve this, our engineering team designed a “kiosk” experience for (refurbished) thin clients connecting to Citrix XenDesktop that we’ve accelerated with Atlantis Computing technology.
Support problems between Imprivata and Citrix software versions
Early on the project, we ran into a support problem since Imprivata did not yet support the latest software version of Citrix technologies, especially Citrix StoreFront and the Citrix Receiver. Using an old version was no option for our client. Besides, we needed to minimize dependencies on legacy software, so we looked for a different approach to work around the support issues.
The primary reason for lagging support of newer versions is Imprivata’s use of the old PNAgent to switch between Citrix desktops sessions. This technology relies on Citrix’ Fast User API that’s back in the Citrix product as we speak but it’s still using the legacy Citrix PNAgent to switch desktops.
This technology might disappear again in future versions of Citrix products. In addition, Citrix XenDesktop 7.8 has been released while version 7.9 is announced, yet Imprivata OneSign only supports up to version 7.6 of XenDesktop. So in a way, we’re constrained to legacy software whereas we want to use the latest versions.
ThinKiosk to the rescue for Fast User Switching
For our customer, we aimed for a solution that’s not dependent on Imprivata’s supported versions. During our project development phase, we’ve embraced ThinKiosk by ThinScale Technologies to solve our problem. We already had excellent experience with ThinKiosk from earlier projects, so with this product we’d solved our business case once again.
With ThinKiosk we have built our own Fast User Switch(ing) solution: Imprivata OneSign for SSO and SA together with ThinKiosk (version 4.6.x). In our case SA & SSO still works, and without the specific Citrix requirements by Imprivata. ThinKiosk works with the latest Citrix XenDesktop, StoreFront and Citrix Receiver. ThinKiosk does not rely on the Citrix PNagent, but uses the Citrix StoreFront APIs to authenticate the sessions and perform the Fast User Switch. With our solution, no more issues with software compatibility.
We’d love to give a live demonstration of our solution in person to you, which is just a bit of a challenge in a blogpost. Hence, we’ve recorded a live demo for you to watch in the video clip below.
Demo video of ThinKiosk with Citrix virtual desktop and Imprivata OneSign
In our demo, we show the solution that we’ve designed and built for our customers with ThinKiosk for Fast User Switching. We use two demo user accounts, both with its own RFID smartcard and working with a Citrix virtual desktop. The demo setup is equipped with two workstations, but that’s easily extended.
You’ll see the virtual desktop (un)locks and follow-me-desktop work near-instantly. Customers’ users benefit tremendously since everyone can continue working on another workstation without any problems. Flexible workplaces are freed up for the next user who can continue his or her work immediately. A huge productivity gain for the business case as well.
Interested in our solution for Fast User Switching?
Feel free to post a comment, email or call us at +31-306580158.