Citrix Newsletter – April ’15

General Announcements

Citrix Offers Customers the Key to Securing Their Confidential Information

Citrix announced it is simplifying the way sensitive documents are shared. Citrix ShareFile customers can now send encrypted emails from Microsoft Outlook to secure the content of messages in compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA. Since the capability works from within the inbox, emails can be securely exchanged with clients and vendors without disrupting current processes. The capability, tailored for small and medium-sized organizations today, joins data protection innovations like ShareFile Restricted StorageZones for enterprises in a portfolio of Citrix solutions designed to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes – from small to large.

Citrix Powers “Always-On” Branch Workspaces

Citrix announced the CloudBridge Virtual WAN Edition, which reduces the cost of delivering applications, documents and IT services to branch offices by up to 80 percent, while ensuring nearly 100 percent application availability. The new CloudBridge Virtual WAN solution provides businesses with the flexibility to employ multiple cost-effective WAN technologies, offering the ability to scale WAN bandwidth at dramatically lower cost than traditional approaches. The solution also ensures the best possible user experience by securely sending mission-critical, delay-sensitive data over the highest performing path. The new CloudBridge Virtual WAN solution extends the CloudBridge platform and its integration with the company’s HDX and application acceleration technologies, to offer the most cost effective and highest performance solutions for securely delivering mobile workspaces with the applications, documents and IT services people need to work better in remote and branch offices.

Citrix Sponsors OpenStack Foundation To Help Drive Cloud Interoperability Standards

Citrix announced that it has become a Corporate Sponsor of the OpenStack Foundation. By joining the foundation’s community of contributors, Citrix demonstrates its continued commitment towards driving interoperability among standards-based cloud platforms and meeting the increasing demand for choice and flexibility in private, public and hybrid cloud solutions. NetScaler™ and XenServer™ solutions from Citrix are used as core infrastructure for some of the largest cloud infrastructure providers in the world, and this announcement brings the power of these products to customers choosing to build their clouds on OpenStack.

Feature Pack 1 for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 is Now Available

Citrix continues to add more functionality to our feature-rich, industry-leading XenApp and XenDesktop product lines with the release of Feature Pack 1, which is now available for download on Citrix.com.

While efforts for Feature Pack 1 were publically announced at Citrix Summit, our annual channel partner conference in January, today XenApp and XenDesktop customers with active Subscription Advantage (SA) or Software Maintenance (SWM) as of March 25, 2015 will be eligible to enhance their existing app and desktop virtualization solution

Citrix Expands vGPU Hypervisor Support

A large user base of Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop continues to be successfully deployed and officially supported on VMware’s popular vSphere hypervisor for non-graphics workloads. Citrix will offer the same level of quality support to customers who deploy XenApp or XenDesktop for NVIDIA GRID vGPU, starting from day one that VMware vSphere 6 is generally available (March 12, 2015) with the capability.

Announcing the DesktopPlayer for Windows and Mac Tech Previews!

After Citrix released DesktopPlayer for Mac last year, one of the major capabilities customers asked for was support for Windows devices, which would allow users to run DesktopPlayer on MacBooks and Windows laptops and PCs.

This customer feedback reinforced our vision for client virtualization and, as a result, we accelerated development of extending the functionality of DesktopPlayer for Mac to Windows devices. At Citrix Summit 2015, we announced and demonstrated a forthcoming preview of this solution with the DesktopPlayer for Windows Tech Preview. Today, we are excited to announce the availability of the DesktopPlayer for Windows Tech Preview!

This Tech Preview adds Windows platform support to DesktopPlayer by enabling users to access a local virtual desktop on their Windows laptop or PC, regardless of wireless network conditions – or even if no network connection is available. Moreover, the Tech Preview preserves existing user data, apps, and settings with an easy, non-disruptive install. Users can also switch between local (DesktopPlayer) and hosted (XenDesktop) virtual desktops with ongoing synchronization of data and profiles for a seamless experience on any device.

VCE Announces a new VDI Integration Service for Citrix that Accelerates Mobile Workspace Deployments

VCE announced a new VDI integration service for Citrix that accelerates mobile workspace deployments by combining app and desktop delivery from Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop with the power of NetScaler SDX. With this announcement, VCE and Citrix are drawing upon our industry leadership and strong partnership to offer our mutual customers a simple rapid path to app and virtual desktop delivery via private or hybrid cloud, with users enjoying an unmatched experience with the freedom to work from anywhere.

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

An Introduction To Session Recording (XA/XD 7.6 Feature Pack 1) – Installation, Configuration and User Experience 

On March 31st, Citrix released the much anticipated XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 Feature Pack 1. Among the goodies included, one of the new additions in terms of functionality is Session Recording. For those of you who are new to what session recording is, I recommend this blog by Paul Murray. At a high level, session recording allows organizations to record on-screen activity within a published application or hosted shared desktop. While the benefits are fairly obvious, some of the most common use cases for auditing purposes, troubleshooting application issues, understanding workflow within an application and potentially improve processes and lastly compliance purposes. What I am covering in this blog is how to get your feet wet with the product by setting up a single server session recording environment and test functionality. I will not address HA, scalability and other design considerations in this article. Please review edocs for details on these.

Citrix Director Tool: Automated Daily and Weekly Custom Report Emails

This post, we details how you can send custom reports as email in addition to built-in reports available in the Director Trends page.

Citrix XenApp vs VMware Horizon – User Experience

Have you ever been running late for a meeting, but you first needed to modify a PowerPoint, print a document or transfer a file to a USB device? Every second that passes feels like an eternity. But even without the pressure of being late, a system that lets you complete your work faster is perceived as better and has a higher user acceptance.

NetScaler Troubleshooting with Citrix Insight Services

Citrix has developed tools and online analysis capabilities to help you collect environment information, analyze that information and receive tailored recommendations based on your Citrix environment and configuration.The tools are focused on a single mission–data collection–and their impact to your environment is minimal in terms of disk space, prerequisites and performance impact during the data collection process. Citrix Insight Services analyzes the data captured in the support bundle and provides you with Tailored Recommendations, specific to your environment. To leverage Citrix Insight Services, you’ll need to harvest a NetScaler tech support bundle.

Taking DaaS to the Next Level: A New Cisco-Validated Design for Citrix-Based DaaS

Deploying and scaling a business-ready Desktops-as-a-Service (DaaS) environment can become time-consuming and complex, particularly across multiple datacenters and clouds. Citrix and Cisco understand that management scale and simplicity is critical to the service provider business model, and have teamed to develop a new DaaS solution architecture as a Cisco Validated Design (CVD) titled “Desktop-as-a-Service for Service Provider 2000-Seat Virtual Desktop Infrastructure”. The complete CVD for Citrix Service Providers is available here. It gives service providers an excellent starting point for implementing a comprehensive DaaS solution. This blog summarizes the solution architecture, its components, and the testing performed to provision tenants and subscribers.

Now Available: The XenMobile 10 MDM Migration Tool!

Citrix released the migration tool to move from XenMobile version 9 to version 10. This is now available for download at MyCitrix.com. The Migration tool is embedded in the XenMobile 10 Server and the option can be selected during theFirst Time Use configuration.

Now LIVE! The Citrix XenApp Migration Web Service Beta

Designed to simplify the XenApp migration experience, Project Serenity is an easy-to-use web service you can use to help your existing XenApp 6 or 6.5 customers extract their current farm configurations (settings and policies) and select the specific configurations they would like to import into a new XenApp 7.6 site using their MyAccount credentials.

Spring Forward to Receiver for Windows 4.2.100

Citrix billed Receiver for Windows 4.2 as the best ever Receiver for Windows due all the great new features we were able to add.  Since the release of Receiver for Windows 4.2, we on the Citrix Receiver team have listened to your feedback and have worked on making further improvements, so that more of you can take advantage of its advanced features. Citrix is pleased to announce that Receiver for Windows 4.2.100 is now available with more than 45 fixes and enhancements to help you get the most out of your Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop experience.

XenMobile Timeouts: How Do They Work?

This blog focuses on WHY we would configure timeouts one way or another to get the balance between user experience and security that we are after.

Smart Card Configuration Guidance

A 237 page Smart Card configuration document, entitled “Configuring Citrix XenDesktop 7.6 and NetScaler Gateway 10.5 with PIV Smart Card Authentication” has been published and is now available as PDF on Citrix.com. The guide’s intent is to describe how to configure a smart card “test environment” from beginning to end. It covers smart card configuration with XenApp, XenDesktop and NetScaler Gateway.  The document includes an introduction to the problem set and marches its way through detailed configuration guidance including certificate management and numerous screen shots of configuration settings.

What’s in a Name? (The Art of Renaming a Site Database)

Ever wondered if it’s possible to rename your existing FMA Site Database without making a complete mess of your environment? No?? It turns out it’s a relatively simple matter, but one that requires a few more steps then you might initially think…

XenApp/XenDesktop Site Design (v2015)

In this blog, the author talks about FMA Site Design, which applies to both XenApp & XenDesktop 7.x, which use the FMA architecture. The author tries to shed some light on some interesting designs we’re doing in the field when there is more than one data center.

Guide for Microsoft Lync 2013 in VDI environment

With the release of the Feature Pack 1 for Citrix XenDesktop 7.6, we now support audio and video optimization for Microsoft Lync 2013 Client and Server deployments using the Citrix HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Lync. This level of Lync optimization is unique in the market. While the optimization pack is the best way to deliver Lync to end-users in most scenarios, XenApp and XenDesktop also provide additional options which should be considered as part of the project planning phase. This deployment guide discusses all options in detail, provides best practice recommendations and step-by-step installation instructions.

UDP Audio Through A NetScaler Gateway

Citrix Receiver can now use User Datagram Protocol (UDP) to support audio remoting of a XenDesktop session through a Netscaler Gateway. This blog details some of the configuration specifics.

Support Articles/Bug Fixes

Upcoming Events

Feb 19 – Jun 23 Seminar Series: Managing the Unmanageable: How to Secure the Enterprise

Join us at this live security-focused seminar series to learn about how to secure sensitive data on managed and under-managed devices, measures that enforce security across unmanaged apps and network, models that control access to sensitive data, specific to application usage and access, and how to develop and enforce policies to “manage the unmanageable.”

Register Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Mar – May 7 In-person Master Class Seminar Series: Protect Your Mission Critical Web Apps With Citrix NetScaler

Join us for this in-person master class. We will demo and discuss best practices to secure your network and apps against threats.

Register Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Ongoing (Tuesdays, Thursdays) Weekly Deminars: Citrix Workspace Suite

Take a close look at the capabilities of Citrix Workspace Suite in these twice weekly technically-focused, demo-led webinars.
Register Now  |  Contact for More Info

Ongoing (Wednesdays) Weekly Deminars: NetScaler

Join us to understand how Citrix NetScaler can empower your organization with the most comprehensive set of application security, acceleration, load balancing, and monitoring tools.

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Ongoing (Wednesdays) Weekly Deminars: Empowering Mobility with XenMobile and ShareFile

See how Citrix can empower your organizations to provide secure, remote access to company resources through mobile app and device management as well as data sharing.

Register Now Contact for More Info

On Demand Webinars

Solution Webinar: Move From Cisco ACE to a Software Defined World

Solution Webinar: Discover the Power of Application Centric Infrastructure

Master Class: How to Upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.6

Solution Webinar: How to Effectively Replace BlackBerry Devices and Gain User Acceptance

Master Class: NetScaler VPX. Spotlight: Admin Partitions

Solution Webinar: Mobile Workspace Delivery – Any App, Any Device, Any Network, Any Cloud

Solution Webinar: Top Use Cases for App Virtualization

Solution Webinar: How to Build a Solid BYO Policy and Mitigate Security Risks

Solution Webinar: Don’t Settle for “Good Enough” Email for Mobile Employees

Solution Webinar: Managing the Unmanageable: The Network Security Perspective

Solution Webinar: One Company’s Journey to Mobilize Their Workforce with Enterprise Mobility Management

Master Class: NetScaler Deployment Modes and Server Load Balancing

 Master Class: What’s New in Citrix XenMobile 10.0

Solution Webinar: Enable SDN and Dev Ops with Cisco ACI and Citrix NetScaler

 Desktop Master Class: Deliver Microsoft Lync with XenApp and XenDesktop

 Solution Webinar: 5 Things VMware Doesn’t Want You to Know About Horizon View

 

An Introduction To Session Recording (XA/XD 7.6 Feature Pack 1) – Installation, Configuration and User Experience

Introduction

On March 31st, Citrix released the much anticipated XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 Feature Pack 1. Among the goodies included, one of the new additions in terms of functionality is Session Recording. For those of you who are new to what session recording is, I recommend this blog by Paul Murray. At a high level, session recording allows organizations to record on-screen activity within a published application or hosted shared desktop. While the benefits are fairly obvious, some of the most common use cases for auditing purposes, troubleshooting application issues, understanding workflow within an application and potentially improve processes and lastly compliance purposes. What I am covering in this blog is how to get your feet wet with the product by setting up a single server session recording environment and test functionality. I will not address HA, scalability and other design considerations in this article. Please review edocs for details on these.

Components: The Nuts and Bolts

So what makes up the session recording infrastructure? There are essentially six components:

  • Session Recording Agent – This piece needs to be installed on every Server OS machine that is used to publish applications and hosted shared desktops. The session recording agent is the component responsible for capturing the on screen activity, recording it and transferring the content to the recording server.
  • Session Recording Server – There are two components that make up the session recording server namely the broker and the storage manager. The broker is responsible interacts with the session recording player and handles requests for files, search queries etc and also interacts with the session recording policy console to make sure the appropriate recording policies are enforced for every XA/XD session. The storage manager as the name suggests is responsible for managing the recorded session files received from the recording agents.
  • Session Recording Player – This is a windows player that allows authorized users to view recorded sessions. Users also have the ability to search for sessions via the recording server and play them back.
  • Session Recording Database – SQL database that stores the recorded data.
  • Session Recording Policy Console – The policy console allows an administrator to define policies governing the sessions that are recorded and the ones that are not and also whether the users are informed when the session is recorded. You can filter based on server, user groups etc.
  • Session Recording Authorization Console – The session recording authorization console allows administrators to enable Role Based Access Controls. For instance, you can specify who is allowed to view recordings, who can modify policies etc.

Installation: So how do we get this thing to work!

After having gone through the process of installing and configuring session recording, I have to admit that its not the typical next -> next -> next process. You have to pay attention to the instructions and make sure all the pre-requisites are in place. Else you will be going back and forth a number of times. All the installation components are available as a single zip file via MyCitrix under the XA/XD FP1 download section. Once you extract the zip file you will find three folders as shown below. I will walk you through the installation of each of these components.

sessionrecording1

 

 Session Recording Administration Components

Under the Session Recording Administration Components, you will find two files, “SessionRecordingAdministrationx64″ and “Broker_Powershellsnapin_x64″. You can choose to install all the session recording administration components on a single server or split them up. I installed all the components on a single Windows Server 2012 VM in my environment. I believe you can install these components on Server 2008 R2 as well.

The Broker powershell snap-in allows you to script various parameters of session recording and configure options via command line. Its a straightforward installer with nothing to configure as part of the install process.

“SessionRecordingAdministrationx64″ installer is what installs the core infrastructure and there are a number of gotchas that you have to take care of prior to running the installer:

  • On the windows server you plan to install the administration components, make sure the following Windows server components are installed:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 1.06.16 AM

  • Make sure you have access to a SQL server (Express, 2014, 2012, 2008 R2) and make sure the NT Authority\System account has sysadmin SQL server role permissions. I used SQL 2012 Express Edition and I installed it on the same server.
  • Having SQL Management studio installed really helps as well!.
  • If you install SQL server on a stand alone server you need to make sure SQL Server Browser service is running and that the TCP/IP protocol is enabled under the SQL server Network Protocol configuration.
  • You need to download and install certain components from the  SQL Server 2008 R2 SP3 Feature pack namely SharedManagementObjects and CLR Types. You can find the download here
  • Make sure a valid computer certificate is present on the server. The recording server uses SSL/HTTPS by default for communication (and rightly so)

Once you’ve got these pieces installed (I really wish these were documented better as I had to waste a lot of time during the configuration process) you are all set to run the installer. Some screenshots below:

Once all the components are installed, you need to run the Session Recording Server Properties executable which allows you to configure a number of parameters such as the folder where the recordings are stored, which certificate to use for encryption, file threshold parameters and session duration, allow playback of live sessions and what notifications (if any) is sent to the user when a session is being recorded. Below are the screenshots.

sessionrecording10

sessionrecording3 sessionrecording4 sessionrecording5 sessionrecording6 sessionrecording7

 

The next step is to run the Session Recording Authorization Console and make sure the appropriate users are given access to administer the environment.

sessionrecording9

 

Now, run the session recording policy console and define the appropriate policies to filter what server/user sessions are recorded, whether they are notified and which sessions are not recorded.

sessionrecording11 sessionrecording12

 

And with that, the server components are installed and configured!

Session Recording Agent

As mentioned earlier, the session recording agent needs to be installed on your server workloads that are used to publish applications and desktops. In my case I used a server 2012 machine with the XD 7.6 VDA installed that was a template for my server workload deliver group. You need to install ASP.NET and the Microsoft Message Queuing (including subcomponents) features prior to installing the agent. Once the agent is installed, launch Session Recording Agent properties and specify the recording server name/ip address and the port that is used by the recording server.

agent2

Session Recording Player

The player needs to be installed on a desktop OS, Windows 7 in my case. No special configuration is required while running the installer. Once the installation is complete, you need to launch the session recording player and go into Tools –>Options to specify the recording server info. Once this is configured, an authorized user can search for user sessions and play back recorded sessions.

player1 player2 player3 Player4 Player5 Player6 Player7 Player8 Player9 Player10

 

User Experience

If notification is turned on via policy, the user will notice a warning message (customizable) every time they launch an app or hosted shared desktop. This obviously can be disabled.

 

user1

Director Integration

Director

Session Recording can also be integrated with Citrix Desktop Director whereby recording can be turned on or off for a specific user session. To enable this integration, run the following command on the server running Director and specify the session recording server and protocol information.

C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Director\tools\DirectorConfig.exe /configsessionrecording

Conclusion

While the installation process was a little tedious, once its up and running, it is an extremely useful tool with minimal configuration moving forward. I have installed the agent in my Server workload template and control whether a session is recorded or not via policy. Works like a charm! I would highly encourage everyone to try out this functionality and provide feedback.

Citrix Workspace Cloud – Forget the sausage making process, just eat it!

If you think back how managing a Citrix environment used to be about 10 years ago, a typical Citrix administrator had one product to worry about – Metaframe/Presentation Server. Even with that single product, administrators found it difficult to maintain Citrix environments due to the effort it required. Fast forward to 2015 and now the infrastructure supporting our Mobile Workspaces has many moving parts (XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile, Sharefile, Netscaler). Planning and completing infrastructure upgrades in large organizations can take months and sometimes years.

Wouldnt it be nice if someone could magically make all of the Citrix infrastructure a black box so to speak that you didnt have to worry about so your valuable resources can start focusing on the things that mattered to the business as opposed to working on mundane operational tasks. In addition, wouldnt it be nice to always be evergreen and have the latest and greatest features at your disposal as opposed to waiting and figuring out how to upgrade your environment. These challenges are exactly what Citrix plans on solving with Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC).

CWC is a hosted control plane that is fully supported end to end by Citrix. It includes all the infrastructure components required to deliver a mobile workspace to the end user. An IT admin would be able to launch a web based management console and provision a workspace that encompasses windows apps, mobile apps, windows desktops, data and manage their mobile devices all from a single pane of glass. The customer would still maintain the supporting infrastructure such as Active Directory, DNS etc thereby maintaining the security boundary that most require. Additionally there is no requirement for a VPN tunnel between the Citrix Control Plane and the customer’s data center. Instead the Workspace Cloud Connector is installed on a Windows server in the customer data center that communicates via SSL with the Citrix Control Plane. Citrix will also handle lifecycle management which will help customers automate the entire infrastructure deployment by providing you blueprints that follow industry best practices. The solution will also include end to end monitoring capabilities for your infrastructure and provide you true visibility into how resources are being consumed.

CWC makes total sense for an SMB customer or a mid-market customer with limited resources to administer their IT environment and probably have limited infrastructure to host these solutions. Such customers typically prefer an on demand hosted model where they pay based on consumption, which is exactly what CWC is! But how about Enterprise customers who have large dedicated Citrix teams who have very defined processes and workflows. I would argue that there is a place for CWC even in that space. Most enterprise customers have multiple Citrix farms/sites, some of mine having upwards of 30 XA/XD farms/sites. Now if you want to design a totally redundant and highly available infrastructure, think of the number of servers involved and the operational challenges on a month to month basis. With CWC the IT organization would be able to reduce their data center footprint and reduce OpX significantly.

CWC can also be looked at as a great DR solution. Many of my customers today spend millions on hot standy DR data centers that are rarely actually utilized. What if you could setup the barebones DR infrastructure leveraging CWC and then spin up additional capacity only in a true DR scenario. This could lead to significant CapX and OpX savings.

I have always been a proponent of new technology solutions, but only when it makes business sense to my customers. I believe CWC is promising in that regard and for that reason I am truly excited for what the future holds!

If you plan on attending Citrix Synergy 2015, be sure to take a look at my recommended sessions this year. There are some great sessions by Joe Vaccarro, Harsh Gupta and the rest of the CWC team covering the solution in depth. Watch out for some awesome announcements too!!!

– George

Citrix Newsletter – March ’15

General Announcements

Citrix Joins Microsoft Cloud Storage Partner Program to Extend Productivity Across Organizational Boundaries

“Citrix announced it is an inaugural member of the new Microsoft Cloud Storage Partner Program. Citrix and Microsoft’s longtime partnership of more than 25 years is enhanced by this alliance agreement, enabling new ways to work for their joint customers. Work is increasingly done by virtual teams spanning employees, contractors, vendors, partners and customers. By joining the program to integrate Citrix ShareFile with Office Online, Citrix and Microsoft are facilitating easier collaboration across organizational and geographic boundaries, increasing cross-team collaboration, productivity and operational efficiency.”

Citrix and Google Enhance Enterprise Security and Management of Android Devices

“Citrix today announced an extension of its long-standing collaboration with Google by providing XenMobile support for Android for Work. This announcement builds on the multi-year collaboration between Citrix and Google that includes virtual app and desktop delivery on Chrome devices and existing enterprise mobility management (EMM) support for Android smartphones and tablets. Together, Citrix and Google empower both businesses and government institutions with a secure, scalable, app-centric, mobility solution that delivers exceptional user experience, providing people with new ways to work better.”

BYOD: Fragments and silos are the new norm

“Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, phones, tablets… and the list goes on. It’s safe to say we’ve all come to accept that the modern business is a multi-device, multi-OS world. But something we’re perhaps slower to recognise is that the same diversity we see in the above list, also applies to our data. As BYOD becomes the norm, so too does the fragmentation of data and it’s now time we accept this and consider what it actually means for business.”

Citrix Expands vGPU Support

“A large user base of Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop continues to be successfully deployed and officially supported on VMware’s popular vSphere hypervisor for non-graphics workloads. Citrix will offer the same level of quality support to customers who deploy XenApp or XenDesktop for NVIDIA GRID vGPU, starting from day one that VMware vSphere 6 is generally available (March 12, 2015) with the capability.”

Five Ways Virtualization is Changing Enterprise Business Models

“Virtualization is leaving its mark on more than just the IT department.First virtualization hit the data center, changing how servers are operated and making today’s cloud computing possible. More than 70 percent of x86 server workloads are virtualized today, according to Gartner research, and virtualization hardly counts as an enterprise trend any longer since everyone is using it. Now its impact is being felt outside of the IT department, as the technology of virtualization enables new business models and fundamentally changes how business is done.”

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

Citrix Synergy 2015: Sessions that you should not miss!

“Having attended quite a few conferences, I know how frustrating it can be when you attend a session with high hopes, only to find out that the content was not what you expected. With this in mind, I spent some time this year going through the Citrix Synergy session catalog and picking the ones that I feel are most relevant to attendees”

Making the case for a heterogeneous hypervisor strategy in the datacenter

“When it comes to server virtualization in the datacenter, most customers tend to standardize on a single hypervisor platform, and VMware today clearly has the market share. The most common reasons for standardization are ease of support and skill set of resources. However for certain workloads, it can be argued that you do not need all of the bells and whistles offered by the main hypervisor platform and you could be overpaying significantly.”

Securing XenApp and XenDesktop Environments

“When deploying Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop within large organizations and government environments, security standards are an important consideration. The Security Standards and Deployment Scenarios document addresses common issues related to such environments, and Citrix products offer a wide range of features for securing a XenApp and XenDesktop system.”

Welcome to Receiver X1

“This is the first of a series of blogs explaining what X1 is, and in particular how you can customize it.”

Monitor Citrix PVS Cache In RAM Using Powershell

” I’m a firm advocate of Provisioning Services ‘Cache in RAM with overflow on hard disk’ leveraging operating system RAM for write-cache. This results in better response times and a greater number of IOPS for the write-Cache than using traditional SAN or Local storage. However, careful planning and monitoring of the size of this cache is imperative as a breach in the available RAM will cause an overflow to the assigned slower disk which dramatically reduces performance. Much speculation has surrounded how to monitor the write-cache with some relying on the Target Device System Tray data but this only reflects the amount of physical cache used. I wanted to be able to monitor the amount of Ram Used so that a typical usage baseline at a customer of mine could be taken. Buried away in the Citrix eDocs (as most things are!) is reference to the actual metric that gives an indication of how much cache in Ram is in use. This can be done by checking the Pool Nonpaged Memory and is shown in the task manager.”

When to use Outlook Cached Exchange Mode on XenApp and XenDesktop

“The other day, I was in my workshop building a new desk for my wife when one of my kids came in asking me about the different tools I had scattered all over the room.  I said “this is a radial arm saw, this is a circular saw, this is a band saw and this is a scroll saw”.  Of course they asked “Why do you have so many saws?”.  I replied “Because each saw does something really well and if I use the wrong one for the job, we will have big problems.” Your IT toolkit will also contain many different tools, but it is important to understand when to use which tool.”

Citrix WorkspacePod, an HP Moonshot Architect’s Perspective

“The genesis of Citrix WorkspacePod originated with Citrix’s acquisition of a company called Solid Instance along with the founder and CEO Tyrone Pike. I’ve already gave away the big secret, Citrix WorkspacePod is all about bundling, but what exactly is included? Putting marketing buzz words like “ultra-converged infrastructure” aside, there are some really unique elements to look at here.”

How to force users to use the Citrix Receiver app on mobile devices using NetScaler

“You can tell your users to install Citrix Receiver on their mobile devices, yet they still continue to open Receiver for Web in a mobile browser to launch their apps and desktops because that’s what they do on their PCs at work. It’s tough to get them to understand there are 2 ways to access their apps while on a PC, using the Citrix Receiver OR Receiver for Web in their browser. But on a mobile device, they should use Citrix Receiver only for the best possible touch friendly experience.”

How To Setup Citrix XenMobile 10 (including configuring Netscaler)

“On February 17th, Citrix released the long awaited XenMobile 10. The big difference with its previous versions is that XenMobile 10 now consists of just one component, the XenMobile Server, so no longer a XenMobile MDM installation on a Windows server and configuring a separate App Controller.”

Netscaler Insight Center Deployment and Sizing Guide

“In today’s Application centric market the visibility challenges are being realized and its significance is growing as the data is increasing day by day. Most of the enterprise Apps has a common & basic requirement of being load balanced and providing optimized data delivery, thus ADCs like NetScaler become the central node through which all application data traverses. This is where technology like AppFlow comes in picture. AppFlow is the standard for fetching the visibility information through NetScaler and forwarding to NetScaler Insight Center. NetScaler Insight Center collects the AppFlow records, analyzes them and brings precise analytical reports for administrator’s consumption.”

Citrix Profile Management – User Store Revealed

“One of the biggest problem in Application or Desktop Virtualization is end user experience and consistency of user profile and customizations. Luckily there is a bunch of tools available on the market that help solve that problem. One of them is Citrix Profile Management intended as a profile solution for XenApp servers, virtual desktops created with XenDesktop, and physical desktops.”

Making the Citrix License Server (Truly) Highly Available

“I’ll begin by saying that this solution is certainly not for everyone.  It adds complexity.  It creates additional management overhead.  It requires NetScaler integration and mildly advanced networking skills.  We have never publicly documented the solution before this week.  But it is absolutely the only bulletproof solution for making our License Server (LS) truly highly available in an active/active fashion without any downtime.”

XenServer 6.5 Performance Comparison

“I love to go fast.  I love fast cars and I love fast software.  In fact, earlier in my career I used to specialize in software performance. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been so excited by the performance improvements in the recently released XenServer 6.5.  You can read my last blogon the features of XenServer 6.5 for more details on the speed improvements.  While it’s great to do your own measurements to track improvement over time, it’s even more fun and rewarding to see others validate your results for you.”

Support Articles/Bug Fixes

Upcoming Events

Mar 31 Solution Webinar: Mobility Dream Team Citrix, Google and Samsung Offer New Ways to Work Better

Find out how you can easily secure, manage and deliver enterprise, web and mobile apps and data to the latest Samsung Chromebooks and Android-based smartphones and tablets using mobile workspace solutions from Citrix.

Register Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Mar 31 On-demand Solution Webinar: End-to-end Visibility for XenApp and XenDesktop

Join us for a deep-dive discussion on HDX Insight for NetScaler and CloudBridge.

It is the only solution that provides unmatched visibility for XenApp and XenDesktop.

Watch Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Apr 1 Master Class: High availability and content switching

Live technical webinars to learn about the most critical elements of cloud infrastructures and enterprise datacenter architectures.

Register Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Feb 19 – Jun 23 Seminar Series: Managing the Unmanageable: How to Secure the Enterprise

Join us at this live security-focused seminar series to learn about how to secure sensitive data on managed and under-managed devices, measures that enforce security across unmanaged apps and network, models that control access to sensitive data, specific to application usage and access, and how to develop and enforce policies to “manage the unmanageable.”

Register Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Mar – May 7 In-person Master Class Seminar Series: Protect Your Mission Critical Web Apps With Citrix NetScaler

Join us for this in-person master class. We will demo and discuss best practices to secure your network and apps against threats.

Register Now  |  Download Invitation  |  Contact for More Info

Ongoing (Tuesdays, Thursdays) Weekly Deminars: Citrix Workspace Suite

Take a close look at the capabilities of Citrix Workspace Suite in these twice weekly technically-focused, demo-led webinars.
Register Now  |  Contact for More Info

Ongoing (Wednesdays) Weekly Deminars: NetScaler

Join us to understand how Citrix NetScaler can empower your organization with the most comprehensive set of application security, acceleration, load balancing, and monitoring tools.

Register Now Contact for More Info

Ongoing (Wednesdays) Weekly Deminars: Empowering Mobility with XenMobile and ShareFile

See how Citrix can empower your organizations to provide secure, remote access to company resources through mobile app and device management as well as data sharing.

Register Now Contact for More Info

On Demand Webinars

Solution Webinar: Move From Cisco ACE to a Software Defined World

Solution Webinar: Discover the Power of Application Centric Infrastructure

Master Class: How to Upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.6

Solution Webinar: How to Effectively Replace BlackBerry Devices and Gain User Acceptance

Master Class: NetScaler VPX. Spotlight: Admin Partitions

Solution Webinar: Mobile Workspace Delivery – Any App, Any Device, Any Network, Any Cloud

Solution Webinar: Top Use Cases for App Virtualization

Solution Webinar: How to Build a Solid BYO Policy and Mitigate Security Risks

Solution Webinar: Don’t Settle for “Good Enough” Email for Mobile Employees

Solution Webinar: Managing the Unmanageable: The Network Security Perspective

Solution Webinar: One Company’s Journey to Mobilize Their Workforce with Enterprise Mobility Management

Master Class: NetScaler Deployment Modes and Server Load Balancing

 Master Class: What’s New in Citrix XenMobile 10.0

Solution Webinar: Enable SDN and Dev Ops with Cisco ACI and Citrix NetScaler

 Desktop Master Class: Deliver Microsoft Lync with XenApp and XenDesktop

 Solution Webinar: 5 Things VMware Doesn’t Want You to Know About Horizon View

 

Citrix Synergy 2015 – Sessions that you should not miss!

Synergy

 

 

 

 

 

Having attended quite a few conferences, I know how frustrating it can be when you attend a session with high hopes, only to find out that the content was not what you expected. With this in mind, I spent some time this year going through the Citrix Synergy session catalog and picking the ones that I feel are most relevant to attendees and then separating them into three tracks:

  • Management/Leadership
  • Virtualization
  • Mobility/Networking/Cloud

My hope is that this helps attendees make better decisions as they build their Synergy schedules. I will try and update this if more sessions are added to the catalog. For now, here are my picks arranged by day. All the sessions are hyperlinked for further info.

May 12th Management/Leadership

SYN105: Leverage Citrix Workspace Cloud for your enterprise IT needs

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm

Joe Vaccaro

SYN112: How Nationstar Mortgage saved $1.3 million on desktop virtualization by changing their approach to storage and disaster recovery

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm

Josiah Foster

SYN311: Citrix on Citrix: the internal Smart Workplace

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm

Paul Martine

SYN102: Best practices for a successful BYOD, CYOD, or COPE program

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Matt Brooks

SYN103: Using mobile workspaces to deliver business mobility

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Natalie Lambert

SYN106: 2020 technology landscape from the CTO Council

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Martin Duursma

SYN117: The state of Citrix-based DaaS – going hosted or hybrid? You get to choose

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Ken Oestreich, Penny Gralewski

SYN231: Cost and complexity: myth or fact?

May 12th, 4:00-4:45pm

Stuart Moore

SYN201: Data loss prevention and enterprise file sync and sharing: is your data safe?

May 12th, 5:00-5:45pm

Jay Tomlin

May 12th Technical (Virtualization)

SYN105: Leverage Citrix Workspace Cloud for your enterprise IT needs

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm

Joe Vaccaro

SYN502: I’ve got 99 problems, and folder redirection is every one of them

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm

Shawn Bass, Aaron Parker, Helge Klein

SYN503: Getting the most out of NetScaler Gateway

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Anton Van Pelt, Thorsten Rood

SYN218: Agile delivery and lifecycle management of Citrix workloads across multiple clouds with Workspace Cloud

May 12th, 4:00-4:45pm

Jie Feng, Kalias Jawadekar

SYN417: StoreFront PowerShell documentation deep dive

May 12th, 4:00-4:45pm

Sam Jacobs

SYN230: HDX update: what’s new

May 12th, 5:00-5:45pm

Derek Thorslund

SYN319: Tech update for XenApp and XenDesktop—May 2015 edition

May 12th, 5:00-5:45pm

Dan Feller

SYN505: The anatomy of a high-performance, GPU-enabled virtual desktop

May 12th, 5:00-5:45pm

Dane Young, Thomas Poppelgaard

May 12th Technical (Networking/Mobility/Cloud)

SYN105: Leverage Citrix Workspace Cloud for your enterprise IT needs

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm

Joe Vaccaro

SYN117: The state of Citrix-based DaaS – going hosted or hybrid? You get to choose

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Ken Oestreich, Penny Gralewski

SYN214: What’s new with NetScaler

May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Graham Melville

SYN208: CloudBridge: what’s new and what’s hot

May 12th, 4:00-4:45pm

Gopinaith Durairaj

SYN218: Agile delivery and lifecycle management of Citrix workloads across multiple clouds with Workspace Cloud

May 12th, 4:00-4:45pm

Jie Feng, Kalias Jawadekar

SYN201: Data loss prevention and enterprise file sync and sharing: is your data safe?

May 12th, 5:00-5:45pm

Jay Tomlin

May 13th Management/Leadership

SYN244: The a-ha! moment: what to do when your business finally “gets it”

May 13th 1:30-2:15 pm

Jeff Lung (American Family Insurance)

SYN310: Choose the right cloud model and accelerate time-to-value with Workspace Cloud

May 13, 1:30-2:15pm

Alex Balcanquall

SYN201: Data loss prevention and enterprise file sync and sharing: is your data safe?

May 13th 2:30-3:15pm

Jay Tomlin

SYN241: Enabling apps, desktops and data as a service with Workspace Cloud

May 13th 2:30pm-3:15pm

Harsh Gupta

SYN238: Next-generation security: the inside story

May 13th 3:30-4:15pm

Joe Nord

SYN222: Meet Octoblu – A new IoT platform from Citrix

May 13th, 4:30-5:15pm

Chris Matthieu

SYN304: Managing employee and corporate devices

May 13th 4:30pm – 5:15pm

Nick Nintalan

SYN325: Introduction to Citrix Melio (formerly Sanbolic)

May 13th, 4:30-5:15pm (W314B)

Andy Melmed

May 13th Technical (Virtualization)

SYN239: Professional graphics delivery with HDX 3D Pro—performance and best practices

11:00-11:45am – May 13th

Rachel Berry

SYN318: Terminal Server versus VDI: 2015 edition

11:00-11:45am – May 13th

Brian Madden

SYN234: Delivering Lync and other audio-video applications

1:30-2:15pm – May 13th

Derek Thorslund

SYN319: Tech update for XenApp and XenDesktop—May 2015 edition

May 13, 1:30-2:15pm

Dan Feller

SYN410: Maximizing XenDesktop high availability with a pod architecture

May 13, 1:30pm – 2:15pm

Dan Allen

SYN507: The Citrix 7X experience

May 13, 1:30-2:15pm

Thomas Koetzig

SYN241: Enabling apps, desktops and data as a service with Workspace Cloud

May 13th 2:30pm-3:15pm

Harsh Gupta

SYN324: HDX: refresh your basic and advanced knowledge

May 13, 2:30-3:15pm

Marcel Calef

SYN238: Next-generation security: the inside story

May 13th 3:30-4:15pm

Joe Nord

SYN509: How Group Policy impacts logon performance

May 13th 3:30 – 4:15pm

Helge Klein

SYN217: Workspace Cloud for enterprises: a technical overview

May 13th 4:30-5:15pm

Alex Balcanquall, John Cattaneo

SYN325: Introduction to Citrix Melio (formerly Sanbolic)

May 13th, 4:30-5:15pm

Andy Melmed

SNY501: Geek Speak Tonight!:

May 13th, 5:30-7:30pm

Steve Greenberg, Joe Shonk

May 13th Technical (Networking/Mobility/Cloud)

SYN101: Learn why companies are choosing ShareFile with StorageZones to balance mobility and collaboration needs with data security requirements

11:00-11:45 – May 13th

Bill Carovano

SYN310: Choose the right cloud model and accelerate time-to-value with Workspace Cloud

May 13, 1:30-2:15pm (

Alex Balcanquall

SYN201: Data loss prevention and enterprise file sync and sharing: is your data safe?

May 13th 2:30-3:15pm

Jay Tomlin

SYN403: Troubleshooting common issues with XenMobile WorxMail

May 13th, 2:30-3:15pm

Juan Zevallos

SYN210: Scale WAN bandwidth while increasing reliability with CloudBridge virtual WAN solution

May 13th 3:30-4:15pm

Karl Brown

SYN238: Next-generation security: the inside story

May 13th 3:30-4:15pm

Joe Nord

SYN222: Meet Octoblu – A new IoT platform from Citrix

May 13th, 4:30-5:15pm

Chris Matthieu

SYN304: Managing employee and corporate devices

May 13th 4:30pm – 5:15pm

Nick Nintalan

SNY501: Geek Speak Tonight!:

May 13th, 5:30-7:30pm

Steve Greenberg, Joe Shonk

May 14th Management/Leadership

SYN110: How well do you know your end users?

May 14th, 8:30-10:15, 10:30-12:15pm

Renee Flores, Adam Miller

SYN225: Best practices for configuring Citrix products to meet security objectives

May 14th, 10:30-11:15am

Jon Spallone

SYN236: Revolutionize remote access to existing physical desktops using XenDesktop

May 14th, 10:30 – 11:15am

SYN401: Top ten ShareFile enterprise features IT teams can’t live without

May 14th, 10:30-11:15am

Peter Schultz

SYN219: What’s new in XenServer 6.5: performance, scalability and TCO reduction

May 14th, 11:30am – 12:15am

Marc Trouard-Riolle

SYN240: Centrally manage and secure local virtual desktops on Macs and PCs with DesktopPlayer

May 14th, 11:30am – 12:15am

SYN102: Best practices for a successful BYOD, CYOD, or COPE program

May 14th, 2:30pm – 3:15am/May 12th, 3:00-3:45pm

Matt Brooks

SYN108: Your desktop in their cloud—choosing a DaaS partner

May 14th, 2:30pm – 3:15am

Simon Bramfitt

SYN220: Exploring GPU virtualization technologies and where to use them

May 14th, 3:30-4:15pm

David Cottingham

SYN105: Leverage Citrix Workspace Cloud for your enterprise IT needs

May 14th, 4:30-5:15pm

Joe Vaccaro

May 14th Technical (Virtualization)

SYN232: Get the most out of AppDNA for app migrations and updates

May 14th, 8:30-9:15am

Sheldon Lachambre

SYN409: Dissecting the XenApp/XenDesktop logon process

May 14th, 8:30-9:15am

Helge Klein

SYN320: Never let me down again: the future of XenApp and XenDesktop upgrades

May 14th, 9:30am – 10:15am

Dan Feller

SYN406: Architecting Citrix for Google Compute Cloud

May 14th, 9:30-10:15am

SYN225: Best practices for configuring Citrix products to meet security objectives

May 14th, 10:30-11:15am

Jon Spallone

SYN236: Revolutionize remote access to existing physical desktops using XenDesktop

May 14th, 10:30 – 11:15am

Gabe Carrejo

SYN405: Architecting innovation with Cisco and Citrix (best practices)

May 14th, 10:30am – 11:15am

Robert Briggs

SYN513: Working with XenDesktop and HP Moonshot: field experience

May 14th, 10:30am – 11:15am

Carl Webster

SYN240: Centrally manage and secure local virtual desktops on Macs and PCs with DesktopPlayer

May 14th, 11:30am – 12:15am

SYN323: The golden image: provisioning and image management update

May 14th, 11:30am – 12:15am

Stuart Moore

SYN228: Getting more out of XenApp and XenDesktop monitoring services

May 14th, 2:30-3:15pm

Jarian Gibson

SYN220: Exploring GPU virtualization technologies and where to use them

May 14th, 3:30-4:15pm

David Cottingham

SYN314: Lessons learned on the way to 50,000 users

May 14th, 3:30-4:15pm

Paul Stansel

SYN315: Application layering for XenApp single Image management

May 14th, 3:30-4:15pm

Douglas Brown

SYN321: Technical deep dive on Receiver

May 14th, 3:30-4:15pm

Manu Chauhan

SYN404: NetScaler Gateway with Citrix desktops and apps: the ultimate how-to guide for successful deployments

May 14th, 3:30-4:15pm

Lucas Araujo

SYN412: Faster deployments: XenDesktop Setup Wizard (XDSW) and the Streamed VM Setup Wizard

May 14th, 4:30-5:15pm

Rahul Davila

SYN414: Architecting Citrix on Microsoft Azure

May 14th, 4:30-5:15pm

Loay Schlbat

SYN514: Turn XenApp and XenDesktop into capacity on demand with Provisioning Services automation

May 14th, 11:30am – 12:15am

Paul Stansel

May 14th Technical (Networking/Mobility/Cloud)

SYN307: Performance of a NetScaler in a combined XenDesktop and XenMobile environment

May 14th, 8:30-9:15am

Kirk Manzer, James Richards

SYN511: Notes from the field: XenMobile deep dive and demo

May 14th, 8:30 – 9:15am

Thorsten Rood

SYN209: Optimize XenDesktop and enterprise apps across a virtualized WAN with CloudBridge

May 14th, 9:30-10:15am

Steve Schall

SYN303: Best practices for deploying end-to-end management with XenMobile

May 14th, 9:30-10:15am

Raghu Govindaswamy

SYN406: Architecting Citrix for Google Compute Cloud

May 14th, 9:30-10:15am

SYN512: How to implement XenMobile 10: tips from the field

May 14th, 9:30-10:15am

Anton Van Pelt

SYN305: Reference architecture for Workspace Suite

May 14th, 10:30-11:15am

Kirk Manzer

SYN402: Choosing the right email client and understanding mail flow

May 14th, 11:30am – 12:15am

Roberto Moreno

SYN108: Your desktop in their cloud—choosing a DaaS partner

May 14th, 2:30pm – 3:15am

Simon Bramfitt

SYN105: Leverage Citrix Workspace Cloud for your enterprise IT needs

May 12th, 2:00-2:45pm/May 14th, 4:30-5:15pm

Joe Vaccaro

SYN218: Agile delivery and lifecycle management of Citrix workloads across multiple clouds with Workspace Cloud

May 14th, 4:30-5:15pm

Jie Feng, Kalias Jawadekar

 

 

Making The Case For A Heterogeneous Hypervisor Strategy In The Datacenter

When it comes to server virtualization in the datacenter, most customers tend to standardize on a single hypervisor platform, and VMware today clearly has the market share. The most common reasons for standardization are ease of support and skill set of resources. However for certain workloads, it can be argued that you do not need all of the bells and whistles offered by the main hypervisor platform and you could be overpaying significantly. An example of this would be a dev/test environment, where you might not necessarily have the same requirements for DR/HA as compared to your Tier 1 Mission Critical applications. In addition you could be limiting yourself from taking advantage of certain features and functions that could potentially help increase user productivity, protect intellectual property and drive innovation. An example of this would be VDI workloads. vSphere does not natively support in memory caching (Content Based Read Cache) for XenDesktop whereas XenServer 6.5 does. Another example of this would be high end graphics workloads, where there are definitely feature gaps between hypervisor platforms. And with regards to ease of support and skill set of resources, the top 3 hypervisors in the market – vSphere, Hyper-V and XenServer have matured to the point where supportability is not as complex as it used to be.

If you are a vSphere customer today or a EUC partner & if you haven’t already looked into XenServer 6.5, I recommend you do. The 6.5 release is the first version of XenServer that is 64bit through and through. At a high level, this means much higher user density/scalability and tremendous improvement in performance compared to XS 6.2. Below are some key features/improvements  that I want to highlight:

  • 300% improvement in Storage Read Throughput with In Memory Read Caching that can help you eliminate boot storms and improve VM boot times by nearly 300%.
  • 96 vGPU’s per host for high end graphics workloads – If you are not familiar with HDX 3D Pro and virtual GPUs with the NVIDIA GRID Technology. I recommend you review this blog. With the 6.5 release, each XenServer host can support upto 96 vGPUs and as a result, enterprises can deliver high end workloads to users at a much lower cost/user while guaranteeing the highest performance.
  • 700% improvement in Network Throughput (when compared to XenServer 6.2)
  • Simple, Intuitive and Comprehensive monitoring and alerting of your XenServer hosts and workloads
  • Workload Balancing (WLB) is better than ever and helps maintain performance thresholds and automate your workloads intelligently based on parameters you define. In addition, a ton of additional reports have been added that provide detailed insight into how your environment is performing. For more on WLB, review this blog by Rachel Berry.
  • Simplification of product packaging and reduction in cost – XenServer now comes in two flavors: Standard and Enterprise and is licensed on a per socket basis and the cost for XenServer Enterprise which includes in memory caching, distributed virtual switch, workload balancing among others is only $1250/socket.
  • Xendesktop Enterprise and Platinum customers own XenServer – Most XenDesktop customers run XD on vSphere even though they are entitled to run XenServer. With the improved performance and scalability and the new features added in XenServer 6.5, now is the time to move your XA and XD workloads to XenServer! It is important to keep in mind that as new features are added to XA and XD they are typically made available initially on XenServer. Moreover customers would have a single, integrated stack for desktop and app virtualization supported end to end by Citrix. You can find out more about licensing here.

To summarize, I believe a heterogeneous hypervisor strategy is something every enterprise should look into in order to reduce costs and to help create solutions optimized for use-case specific workloads, such as high end graphics, desktop and cloud workloads. With Xenserver 6.5, Citrix has proven its commitment towards server virtualization and will continue to innovate! For those interested in learning more about XenServer 6.5, be sure to attend the Master Class on Feb 10th!

Reference Links:

 

 

Why the X1 Prototype Mouse from Citrix makes perfect sense!

Citrix-X1-Mouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Summit 2015, Mark Templeton announced the prototype of a mouse named code named “X1″. The mouse is specifically designed for the iOS platform. As many of you probably know, Apple does not support pairing a bluetooth mouse with iOS devices. The X1 mouse bypasses this limitation by allowing users to pair the mouse with the Citrix Receiver app thereby enabling them to use the device with published applications, VDI and Hosted Shared Desktops.

If you look at the enterprise landscape, iOS still dominates the mobile market. While it has always been possible to access Windows applications and desktops via Citrix Receiver, its debatable whether the users are actually productive. With the mobility pack, desktops can be re-skinned to suit the form factor, but it was still not quite where it needed to be in terms of productivity. Not to mention, most native windows applications that have not been customized for the mobile form factor were generally not very usable other than viewing data. Thanks to these limitations, most of us generally had to carry a laptop in addition to our mobile device to get real work done.

The X1 mouse has fundamentally solved these problems. Users can now be fully productive on iOS devices  as they can not only view data, but can also quite easily edit and manipulate data. windows applications and desktops (both VDI and hosted shared) are a lot more usable and functional.  Walking around with just a tablet is now a reality. I really believe that the X1 mouse will encourage mobility and help move forward Citrix’s vision of a Software Defined Workspace!

The significance of the Sanbolic acquisition for existing Citrix customers

If you are reading this, you’ve probably already heard the announcement from Citrix today with regards to the Sanbolic acquistion. I wanted to share my thoughts on how this benefits existing XA/XD customers.

When you look at enterprise customers who have invested in XA/XD, 80-90% of these customers leverage PVS for workload provisioning. One of the most common architectural and operational challenge when it comes to PVS is image management, specifically the replication of images both among local PVS servers and also across datacenters. Customers typically leverage DFS-R/robocopy or some other replication tool provided by their SAN vendor but these solutions present unique challenges and increase cost. Sanbolic’s Melio will immediately help existing customers solve this challenge while also addressing high availability.  Sanbolic also helps with image management and high availability for customers leveraging MCS. Today, a number of customers have XA/XD farms built out as DR solutions that are completely under utilized. Sanbolic helps scale out existing XA and XD sites across regions in an active active configuration thereby better utilizing resources and reducing costs.

Another key feature is Sanbolic’s “Software Defined Storage” product, which aggregates and optimizes disparate storage whether in your datacenter, a private cloud, a public cloud (AWS/Amazon/Azure) or a combination of these, through the use of Melio. This will help customers reduce the overall infrastructure costs while delivering optimal performance and addressing DR and HA. Sanbolic has also partnered with Fujitsu, HP and Lenovo to offer hyper converged solutions providing cost effective scale-out solutions.

All in all, this acquisition is extremely exciting and something that will help existing and prospective XA/XD customers build highly redundant, scalable solutions at lower costs while at the same time improving operational efficiencies. Not to mention the infinite possibilities that lie ahead as far as the evolution of Sanbolic under Citrix and how it will be integrated into the Citrix virtualization stack.

No information available yet on product pricing and packaging, but we should be hearing something soon! Stay tuned!

 

 

Thank You Muziboo!

Muziboo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in 2007-08, I was totally overworked and burnt out. I remember my wife telling me that I needed to get back into music just as a stress buster. It was around this time I got introduced to Muziboo through Sudeip. I remember how I felt after my first upload and the reading the first few comments shortly after the upload. I felt so happy to know that people actually took the time to listen to my amateur covers and moreover encourage me with positive feedback. Little did I know this was the beginning of something much greater. Over the next couple of years, my life revolved around Muziboo. I uploaded over 200 songs, collaborated on a number of projects with others, learned a great deal about the nuances of singing in different languages and genres, mixing and whole lot more. I even had the opportunity to pass on what I learned to others and mentor some youngsters. But the greatest gift that I received through Muziboo were the friends (too many to list.. you know who you are). Some of my closest friends today are friends I made on Muziboo and we have shared our joys and sorrows together. Muziboo has definitely made me a more versatile singer, not afraid to go out of his comfort zone.

It is sad to note that the site is shutting down, but it is what it is. I want to thank Prateek and Nithya for the community they created and for their hard work and determination to keep the site running through some very difficult periods. You both have a lot to be proud of! Rest assured, Muziboo has a very special place in all our hearts and will never be forgotten!

Why Every Citrix Administrator running XenApp 6.5 Should Consider Upgrading to XenApp 7.6

In my current role as a Sales Engineer covering some of the largest enterprise accounts, I have been preaching about the XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x architecture and benefits for about 1.5 yrs now. While the 7.x architecture was most definitely a step in the right direction, some of the earlier releases definitely had some gaps that needed to be addressed. And I would constantly hear about these gaps from my customers, who would then typically shoot down migration till these gaps were addressed by Citrix. I want to highlight some of the common themes as to why customers were not ready to move to the 7.x architecture and zxhow they’ve been addressed in XenApp 7.6:

No Local Host Cache under the new FMA architecture

In older versions of XenApp, with the Local Host Cache feature, users were able to enumerate and connect to applications and published desktops even if there was a database connectivity issue or a database outage. With the XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x FMA architecture prior to the 7.6 release, a database connectivity issue or outage meant that users lost the ability to access applications and desktops during the period of the outage. While larger customers addressed this issue by investing in highly available SQL infrastructures, smaller customers found this to be cost prohibitive in some cases.

Connection leasing creates a lease file that holds information about a users active session, which is then replicated to all the other controllers within the site. In the event of a DB failure, XenApp and Xendesktop can reference the user’s connection history and provide the user access to a previous connection.

One can argue that the connection leasing methodology is in some ways better than the old local host cache as you no longer have to deal with corrupt/stale cache issues and recreating the cache on all your servers.

For a quick overview of Connection Leasing check out this video on Citrix TV

Here’s another great blog by Paul Stansel, that goes over various powershell commands to tweak Connection Leasing parameters

No Anonymous User Access

This was another feature than was available in XenApp 6.5 and earlier, most commonly used by healthcare customers which enabled users to launch applications without first having to authenticate to Receiver or Storefront, thus enabling users to access applications from any available device. XenApp 7.6 reintroduces this feature. A Server OS based delivery group within XA/XD 7.6 can now be configured to allow anonymous access. However, a separate Unauthenticated storefront store would be required.

AnonymousAccess

 

 

 

 

 

 

AnonymousAccess_Store

 

 

 

 

You can find a brief video that shows the configuration and demo of this feature here

Lack of support for Session pre launch and linger

For any user that is used to running local applications on their desktops and laptops, the first thing they would complain about in a Citrix environment was the launch time for the initial application. Depending on the environment, this could range from 5 seconds to in some cases, minutes. To address this issue, XenApp 6.x introduced session pre-launch and session linger. With this feature enabled and configured, when the user logs in to his desktop and authenticates to receiver, a session is already established. As a result when the user launches a published application, it launched instantly. In earlier versions of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x, this feature was not available. 7.6 brings back both session pre launch and linger and its stronger than ever with even more configurable parameters (see below)

SessionPrelaunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SessionLinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inability for administrators to create application folder hierarchy within Studio and Storefront

The average enterprise customer typically has hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of applications published via XenApp. Back in the XA 6.x (and earlier) releases, administrators had the ability to create folder hierarchies to organize applications to simplify management of these applications. Also when it came to user access, administrators were also able to group applications in folders based on departments, application suites etc that made things more intuitive for the end users. This feature has been brought back in XenApp 7.6 and should make a lot of administrators (and users) very very happy!

Application folders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, another video that goes over this feature in XenApp 7.6

Feature  gaps within Edgesight, particularly application usage reporting and license utilization reporting.

Back in mid 2013, Citrix introduced the new Edgesight and Director, which was completely rebuilt from the ground up. The new version no longer required a separate infrastructure and is agent less. There was also a lot of focus on incorporating dashboards in order to make it easier for administrators to find the information they need without having to dig through numerous reports. Overall, the redesign of Edgesight resulted in a more intuitive UI, and a reliable monitoring environment with less infrastructure requirements. However, there were some major gaps when compared to Edgesight 5.4. The two that I constantly heard about from customers were hosted application usage reporting and license utilization monitoring. These have now been added to XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6.

You can check out the full list of enhancements in Edgesight and Director here.

For more on Hosted Application Usage Reports, check this blog.

Virtual IP Loopback

While most applications work easily within a XenApp environment, some enterprise customers still have to support applications that require the end user application instance to have a unique IP address. This was possible in XA 6.x.

With Virtual IP loopback in XA 7.6, the XA server allocates a unique IP address to each session or a specific application, and as a result administrators are now able to support applications that require this functionality.

VirtualIPLoopback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S SO MUCH MORE!

I truly believe that there will be much wider adoption of the 7.6 release because it is so much more than addressing feature gaps and includes a number of key enhancements that further enhance the end user experience, improve scalability and reduce overall costs! Lets take a look at these features:

User Experience Enhancements

In addition to session pre launch and linger, some of the other key enhancements that improve the overall user experience include:

  • A new HTML5 Receiver for Chrome OS that supports printing, USB, clipboard, touch, webcam and 2-way audio!
  • DirectX Video Acceleration which allows the backend servers to utilize GPUs to decode H264 videos.
  • USB 3.0 Plug and Play
  • HDX Realtime Optimization Pack for Lync 1.5: The new HDX Realtime Optimization Pack (1.5) now supports HD audio and video within a XenApp and XenDesktop session and supports Windows, Mac and Linux endpoints. The current release supports Lync 2013 backend with a Lync 2010 client on the published desktop/VDI instance.
  • New enhancements to Receiver on iOS and Android: The new receiver for iOS and Android include significant improvements whereby the hosted applications behave like native applications. There are improved gestures for application switching and closing and improved keyboard popup sensing. In session application switching has also improved significantly and now shows live previews of open applications, much like the behavior of a native application.

Security Enhancements

  • XenApp and XenDesktop are now FIPS 140-2 complaint and has achieved Common Criteria evaluation. Both XA and XD support end to end TLS encryption.
  • Clipboard Control: Unlike previous versions, administrators now have the ability to granularly control what content end users are able to cut/copy/paste when using XA/XD. The settings are extremely easy to configure via Citrix Policies. If the end user is connecting securely through a Netscaler, these settings can be further controlled based on the endpoint the user is connecting from and IP address information.

Migration Scripts From XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.6

  • With the XA/XD 7.6 release, customers also have access to powershell migration scripts that automate the migration of XA 6.5 IMA farm settings  to an XA/XD 7.6 FMA site. It also automates the migration of existing apps and policies from XA 6.5 to XA 7.5. Citrix Technology Professionals Jarian Gibson and Andrew Morgan worked on a blog together detailing the capabilities of this script that is definitely worth a read!

AppDNA Enhancements

  • XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum edition includes AppDNA, the market-leading product for assessing compatibility of Windows applications with any version of Windows desktop, Windows Server, XenApp,XenDesktop, and App-V among other things. AppDNA in XA/XD 7.6 adds even more compelling features including the ability to either manually or automatically analyze application dependencies! Even more bang for the buck!

Universal Print Server 7.6

  • Universal Print Server (UPS) introduced in XenApp 6.5 simplifies printer management by not having to install drivers on the XenApp servers/XD VM’s and instead print on the print server itself. The print traffic between the XA/XD VMs and the print servers is heavily compressed and optimized for the WAN. The code enhancements in the latest version of UPS makes the solution much more scalable and robust!

Final Thoughts

The XA/XD 7.6 release clearly proves that Citrix takes customer feedback seriously and makes every effort to make the necessary changes to address the feedback provided! XA/XD 7.6 is packed with amazing new features that make business sense for most enterprise customers. Moreover, most of the significant gaps have now been addressed. I believe XA/XD 7.6 will gain significant adoption. I would strongly encourage every XA customer to take a look at this release, kick the tires in a lab environment and start planning the production migration!

Some resources worth checking out!!

 

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