Category: Uncategorized

Citrix acquires Unidesk: Here’s why customers should care!

Application layering has been a hot topic in the End User Computing space, specially the last 24 months or so. Layering allows you to decouple applications or groups of applications form the underlying operating system thereby enabling you to manage them indepedently. There are quite a few players in this space including AppVolumes by VMware and FlexApp by Liquidware Labs and Citrix’s AppDisk to name a few. But there is no arguing that Unidesk has been around the longest and has the most mature and comprehensive solution.

With today’s announcement from Citrix around the acquisition of Unidesk, customers have even more flexibility in terms of how applications and workspaces are delivered to their end users whether the workloads are running on premises or in the cloud.

Before we get into the key benefits of Unidesk and why this acquisition adds tremendous value, its important to understand some of the challenges that Citrix customers face. A good place to start is this survey that Unidesk conducted.

The Problem At Hand

1. Image Management – Today both PVS and MCS customers have to maintain multiple images. Larger environments sometimes manage and maintain over 10 images on a day to day basis. One of the reasons for this is business units needing one off applications leading to various silos. The administrative overheard involved in maintaining the images sometimes leads to needing dedicated resources who solely focus on image updates, testing and deployment.

2. Pooled desktops and assigning layers at runtime – Most Citrix customers are forced to use persistent desktops for certain use cases today due to users needing different sets of applications. If there was a way to decouple applications from the OS and deliver applications at login dynamically based on user privileges, then the same pool of desktops can be used for multiple use cases thereby reducing infrastructure costs and operating costs.

3. As customers move workloads to the cloud, there are new challenges that surface when it comes to image management. These need to be addressed in order to reduce cost, improve performance and thereby increase cloud adoption.

4. Not every application can be delivered via XenApp. Some applications need to be installed locally. App-V has been an alternate technology that a number of customers use but many still like to have the ability to install these locally.

5. While AppDisk provided layering, there were various limitations including the inability to attach layers at run time and the inability to use layers with persistent desktops. Appdisk also lacks true version management and rollback.

How the Unidesk acquisition helps address these issues

1. Unidesk already has a large number of Citrix customers and tight integration with both XenApp andXenDesktop. They are a proven technology at scale, a preferred MS partner for application and image management, and well regarded in the partner community.

2. Unidesk has connectors for PVS and MCS thereby simplifying application delivery and eliminating the need to manage and maintain multiple images.

3. Unidesk provides flexibility in terms of how the layers are delivered either at pre-boot or  and dynamically delivering apps into running session hosts without reboot. Unidesk has a feature called Elastic Layering that allows for layers to be attached at run time. So in a XenApp environment for instance, since applications are attached at run time, different users groups can be assigned different applications while connecting to the same server. This eliminates the need for silos.

4. Application compatibility is no longer a concern as Unidesk supports layering applications that have drivers and system service dependency and even apps that run while users are logged out.

5. Unidesk supports layering for persistent desktops in addition to XenApp and pooled desktops thereby addressing every use case. Also persistent layers can be assigned to users even while using XenApp. This allows administrators to provide users a more cost effective VDI option to their end users with persistence based off of XenApp.

6. Full Lifecycle Management of layers across your environment with version control, rollback etc.

7. Unidesk’s approach to layering is fundamentally different. A layer is assigned per application. Administrators the have the ability to create a profile so to speak consisting of the various layers for a user group. These layers are then combined into a single vhd that is then attached at boot or at run time depending on the assignment. When compared to other layering solutions since the number of vhd’s mounted is minimized, performance is greatly improved and login times reduced.

7. Cloud adoption has increased steadily over the past couple of years and customers are more inclined than ever to start moving workloads to public clouds, especially MS Azure. The Azure connector from Unidesk simplifies image management in the cloud. Layered Images can be assigned to different Azure collections. In addition all image collections can be updated by patching the OS and app layers only once. The Unidesk applicance can also run in Azure and is available via the Azure Marketplace. When you combine Citrix Cloud with Unidesk, there is definitely a better story now to be told around deploying and managing VDI workloads in Azure.

Final Thoughts

The Unidesk acquisition along with our recent acquisition of Norkskale helps customers further reduce infrastructure costs while increasing operational efficiencies and guaranteeing the most optimal end user experience. For customers running VDI in cloud or considering the move, Unidesk is a great new addition and will simplify image management. Citrix’s position as the industry leader in End User Computing is further solidified.

 

 

How to enable Local Host Cache in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.12

Local Host Cache (LHC), which was a key feature of the IMA architecture in XenApp 6.5 and earlier was reintroduced for the first time in the FMA based XenApp/XenDesktop 7.12 release.   You can learn more about LHC in detail in my previous blog on the topic.

Prior to 7.12, users were able to access resources (with some caveats) while experiencing site database loss using a feature known as Connection Leasing. When upgrading to 7.12 from an earlier release with Connection Leasing enabled, LHC is disabled by default.

To enable LHC run the following powershell command on the upgraded broker.

Set-BrokerSite -LocalHostCacheEnabled $true -ConnectionLeasingEnabled $false

The above command, enables Local Host Cache and disables Connection Leasing.

The Get-Brokersite cmdlet provides the current state of Local Host Cache (whether its enabled or disabled)

To disable Local Host Cache and enable Connection Leasing, run the following command:

Set-BrokerSite -LocalHostCacheEnabled $false -ConnectionLeasingEnabled $true

XenApp/XenDesktop 7.12 Local Host Cache Explained

With the release of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.12 Citrix brought back one of the most requested features from the XenApp 6.x days – The Local Host Cache (LHC). For those of you new to this term, it essentially provided a way for users to connect to their XA/XD published resources while the SQL based database is down but keeping a local cache on the XenApp servers themselves. LHC now replaces Connection Leasing in 7.x as the primary mechanism to allow connection brokering operations when database connectivity to the site database is disrupted. In this post, my goal is to dig into the architecture of Local Host Cache in 7.12 and how it works.

Architecture:

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The above diagram from Citrix Documentation shows the architectural components that make up the Local Host Cache. The feature is disabled out of the box when XA/XD 7.12 is installed. If you are upgrading from a previous version LHC will be disabled under certain conditions. See the table below for further details.

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With LHC, users can connect to Apps and Desktops that they have previously not connected to. This was not possible with Connection Leasing where users could only connect to resources that they had previously connected to.

Every broker now has three new services. The primary broker service, the secondary broker service and the configuration sync service.

LHC sychronization during normal operation and central database connectivity is not affected

  • During normal operations, the primary broker service communicates with the site database while the secondary broker service remains idle. The CSS makes sure the local db on each of the controllers is synchronized periodially.
  • Primary broker service accepts connection requests from Storefront, then communicates with Site DB and provides users access to VDAs registered with the controller and that they request access to.
  • Every 2 minutes, a check is made to see if there have been any changes to the primary broker config.
  • If a change is detected, then the primary broker uses the Citrix Config Synchronizer Service (CSS) to copy configuration to a secondary broker. This is not an incremental copy but a full copy from the primary broker to the secondary broker.
  • Secondary broker then imports the configuration to a local SQL Server Express database on the controller.
  • Once the config is copied the CSS service confirms that the config on the secondary broker matches the config on the primary broker.
  • Local DB on the secondary broker is recreated each time a config change is detected on the primary broker (checked in 2 minute intervals)
  • Secondary broker runs as a Windows service called Citrix High Availability Service

What happens when there is an outage and database connectivity is lost

  • During an outage, the primary broker can no longer connect to the site database and stops accepting connections.
  • Primary broker instructs secondary broker to start listening for and processing connection requests. An election process ensues to determine which controller takes over the secondary broker role. There can only be one secondary broker accepting connections during a site db outage.
  • When the VDAs start communicating with the secondary broker, a re-registration process is triggered and the secondary broker gets current session information about the VDA.
  • During the outage period, the primary broker continues to monitor the connection to the site database and when connectivity is restored, it instructs the secondary broker to stop listening for connections and the primary broker resumes brokering connections thereby restoring normal operations.
  • When a VDA communicates with the primary broker after it has taken over brokering, a re-registration is triggered.
  • The secondary broker removes all VDA registration info during the outage and continues checking for config updates on the principal broker every 2 minutes and updating its LHC when changes are detected.
  • If an outage occurs during an LHC sychronization, the current import is discarded and the last successful imported config is used.
  • It is important to note that during an outage, only one active secondary broker is available. So from a scalability perspective this could be a limitation. The secondary broker as mentioned earlier is chosen based on an election mechanism.

Local Host Cache and Citrix Cloud

  • If you are currently leveraging Citrix Cloud for your XA/XD control plane, the LHC functionality ensures that connectivity loss to the control plane does not impact users from accessing their resources.
  • LHC synchronization occurs the same way as it would in an on premises XA/XD deployment and the config changes are synchronized from the Citrix cloud via the Cloud connector.
  • To provide fault tolerance when connectivity to the Citrix cloud is lost altogether due to a WAN link failure, Citrix Storefront and potentially Netscaler would need to be on premises.

Local Host Cache Restrictions

  • You cannot run Studio and Powershell Cmdlets when LHC is active and site database connectivity is down.
  • Site configuration changes cannot be made when the connectivity to the central database is unavailable. This is very similar to the IMA based LHC implementation in XenApp 6.x
  • New machines cannot be provisioned as hypervisor interaction is not possible when LHC is operational.
  • Users cannot be assigned new resources during the site database connectivity outage.
  • Machines with a “Shut down after use” configuration will be placed in maintenance mode when LHC is operational

Troubleshooting

The two main tools to troubleshoot LHC are the Windows Event Logs and CDF traces.

  • The Config Sync Service logs events in the Windows Event logs in relation to LHC synchronization. If no config changes occur during the 2 minute intervals, no events are logged. If CSS receives a config change, the event is logged with event id 503. If the update to the secondary broker is successful, the event is logged with event id 504. If the update fails, the event is logged with event id 505
  • When the secondary broker takes over during an outage, event log entries are made indicating that the Citrix High Availability Service has started handling brokering. Once services are restored, you would see logs indicating that the Citrix High Availability service has stopped brokering. There will also be events related to secondary broker election. Event IDs include 3502, 3503,3504 and 3505. When Citrix Cloud is in play, XA/XD proxy log events are present. CDF traces can also be used for advanced troubleshooting.

Enabling Local Host Cache After Upgrading

Local Host Cache is not enabled by default when upgrading from an earlier version of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x. I have written a blog on how to enable LHC after an upgrade.

LUMA SURROUND WIFI SYSTEM – MY INITIAL THOUGHTS

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Back in February, I noticed Luma on Kickstarter. What made it compelling to me was the concept of a mesh network, which could in theory remove all deadspots around the house and guarantee excellent network throughput everywhere.

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As most engineers out there, I have a large number of wireless devices throughout the house and consistent throughput has always been a concern. In addition Luma promised some interesting security features including the ability to link users to devices on the network and then apply parental controls on a per user basis. The product also promised to proactively monitor the security posture of connected devices (done through a cloud based service). So for these reasons I pre ordered a 3 pack and received my devices earlier this week. I finally hooked up the devices and wanted to share my initial thoughts.

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SETUP

Setting up the Luma is a breeze! You literally hook up one of the devices to your modem or router, download an app via Google Play or the Apple Store and it walks you through the entire setup step by step.  I have my Linkys 1900ac and Luma running in parallel, both hooked up to my modem. I use the Luma primarily for media streaming devices. One of the access points did not successfully configure the first time during setup and i had to go through the process again. The process was extremely simple and intuitive nonetheless. Luma is geared to those who have zero knowledge about networking. Even my mom would be able to get through the configuration process successfully.

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The tool recommends ideal locations to place the access points but following the recommendations, I noticed that the throughput was not optimal. I eventually ended up placing the access points as close to each other as possible on the three floors and that seemed to give the best throughput.

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THE GOOD

  • As discussed above, the setup is extremely intuitive and simple
  • The product will appeal to most consumers who are not tech savvy due to the simplicity of the setup and exceptional network coverage.
  • Linking devices to users and applying parental controls on a per user basis is an awesome feature that appeals to parents like myself.
  • You can completely eliminate deadspots throughout your house while maintaining consistent throughout everywhere
  • Network security scans that monitor the security posture of all your connected devices is a nice feature. However it is cloud based.
  • The iOS and Android apps are very well designed, although they are pretty limited in features as of now.

THE NOT SO GOOD

  • Zero configuration options from a network perspective besides setting up a WiFi network. Not even the most basic settings.
    • No DHCP configuration options (scope, reservations, lease time etc)
    • No port forwarding
    • No advanced firewall options
    • No QoS settings
  • Cannot configure multiple Wireless Networks (beyond the guest network). Cannot separate 2.5 and 5 Ghz networks
  • Requires you to setup a cloud based account and uses cloud based network scanning solution that cannot be turned off. This is a major concern for some.
  • From what I can tell, the Luma acts as a forward proxy and also handles DNS resolution which is NOT CONFIGURABLE. I can see why this is necesary to filter traffic and apply parental controls. However I noticed a significant delay in DNS resolution (up to a 5 second delays) when trying to resolve URLs. This is extremely unappealing and a major show stopper for me. I also assume that this data is also flowing through their cloud service which is concerning.
  • While handling streaming video, so far I am noticing periodic network drops and freezing which I never noticed with my Linksys 1900ac. I will need to investigate further.
  • The throughput offered by the first wired Luma that you setup is almost three times higher than the rest. I am getting 300 Mbps on the main Luma and only about a 100 on the other two Lumas. I had read some reviews that claim the same flaw. With that said, 100 Mbps is not bad 🙂
  • A bunch of features that were promised on Kickstarter have not made it into the initial release. However, the support team tells me that they are extremely aggressive about updates and are updating the mobile app twice a month and releasing firmware updates pretty aggressively. So I’m pretty certain that they’ll catch up.

THOUGHTS OVERALL

In addition to Luma, there are a few other products out there that offer a similar solution, Eero being the most popular. The real differentiator with Luma (at least in theory) were the advanced parental controls and the fact that the devices itself are much more beefy with quad core processors and such. While I am honestly a little disappointed with my initial experience, especially with regards to all the missing advanced network features, I am cautiously optimistic that these will be rolled into the product soon. So here are my initial thoughts:

  • If you are not tech savvy and want a really simple solution that just works, provides you consistent coverage everywhere and you dont care about advanced network features, then LUMA IS FOR YOU!
  • If cloud hosted services are a concern, then Luma is not for you.
  • If you already own a Linksys 1900ac or a similar advanced router, I would honestly hold back for now and wait to see how the product evolves. Too many gaps as of now.
  • If your main reason for looking at the solution was parental controls, it might be a fit however not all the features have been rolled out. You could look at Circle from Disney to complement your existing wireless solution. You could also take a closer look at Eero.

I will update this post as I have more information to share!

Breakout Sessions That You Dont Want To Miss This Year At Citrix Synergy!

For the past couple of years, I have tried to filter through all the breakout sessions and compile my top picks. The purpose is to help my customers build their agendas, especially if this is the first time they are attending and are not familiar with the speakers. This year I have broken it down by the top 10 overall, my top 15 technical sessions, top 10 sessions for management level attendees and other picks that just missed the top 10.

General Tips For First Time Attendees

  • Do not miss the keynotes!
  • Networking with peers from the industry is one of the best aspects of attending Synergy. Make sure you take the time to reach out to others while attending sessions. Also spend as much time as possible at the expo and meet the various vendors.
  • Do not decide on attending a session just based on the title. Always check the speakers and agenda as well.
  • Provide your feedback on the sessions you attend. This will help Citrix improve future breakout sessions.
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions to the speakers either during the session or after the session. The breakout sessions are a golden opportunity to get some face time with some of the brightest minds and you should take full advantage!
  • If you are new to the products or have not played with the latest and greatest versions, make sure you stop by the Solutions Sandbox and get your hands dirty.
  • Follow Synergy on twitter. You will receive great insights on the sessions, keynotes etc. An unfiltered perspective I might add.

 

My Top 10 Overall

SYN115: The inside scoop on workplace transformation: five digital imperatives

SYN106: AppDisk and AppDNA: the unbeatable combination

SYN101: Citrix CTO Perspective: The Application Delivery Continuum

SYN105: GPU State of the Industry: Intel, NVIDIA and AMD

SYN145: Security: the never-ending balancing act between users and hackers

SYN206: What’s new in Workspace Cloud Services

SYN112: What’s new and next for ShareFile

SYN212: Seeing is believing: a side–by–side comparison of Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon

SYN305: Architect Citrix on Microsoft Azure

SYN322: Security–hardening XenApp and XenDesktop

Top 15 For Technical minded attendees

SYN108: What’s new – XenApp & XenDesktop

SYN302: Best Practices: Optimizing XenApp infrastructure with Lifecycle Management

SYN210: Containers or Virtual Machines? It’s not necessarily one or the other; get the best of both worlds!

SYN304: Deployment best practices for the newest XenApp and XenDesktop HDX technologies

SYN220: XenApp and XenDesktop security best practices

SYN204: Deep dive into the Workspace Cloud Apps and Desktops Service: use cases, features and best practices

SYN307: Single-sign-on pass through with Receiver

SYN212: Seeing is believing: a side–by–side comparison of Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon

SYN322: Security–hardening XenApp and XenDesktop

SYN323: XenApp and XenDesktop tech update – May 2016

SYN213: Managing an application from procurement to deployment in XenApp and XenDesktop using Citrix AppDNA

SYN243: Simplify application access with NetScaler Unified Gateway: tips from the field

SYN305: Architect Citrix on Microsoft Azure

SYN321: Securing the published browser

SYN315: SD-WAN deep dive: what, why and how

Top 10 for Management level attendees

SYN107: Deliver Skype for Business with XenApp and XenDesktop

SYN106: AppDisk and AppDNA: the unbeatable combination

SYN101: Citrix CTO Perspective: The Application Delivery Continuum

SYN202: State of the DaaS industry in 2016

SYN145: Security: the never-ending balancing act between users and hackers

SYN203: Tips for XenApp and XenDesktop organizations expanding to Citrix Workspace Suite

SYN115: The inside scoop on workplace transformation: five digital imperatives

SYN206: What’s new in Workspace Cloud Services

SYN129: What’s new: NetScaler Unified Gateway

SYN112: What’s new and next for ShareFile

Other Recommendations

SYN226: Make the most of your Microsoft Office 365 subscription with ShareFile

SYN512: Bloomberg: secure and isolated app hosting

SYN223: I bet on ShareFile and won: a customer’s ShareFile journey

SYN327: (Re)design your Active Directory

SYN509: Transforming student experience through secure virtualization and mobility

SYN105: GPU State of the Industry: Intel, NVIDIA and AMD

SYN225: How XenMobile stacks up to other enterprise mobility management solutions

SYN237: Five features that set NetScaler apart from the competition

SYN205: Best practices for leveraging Microsoft Azure as a hybrid resource location in Workspace Cloud

SYN219: Getting up close and personal with MCS and PVS

SYN311: Deep dive on ShareFile security options: keep your data safe

SYN215: Monitoring best practices for your Citrix infrastructure with new SCOM management packs

SYN325: XenDesktop 7.x high availability and load balancing cheat sheet

SYN327: (Re)design your Active Directory

Citrix Monthly Newsletter – March ’16

General Announcement and News

Synergy Session Catalog Is Live

“Citrix Synergy is the premier industry conference on digital business transformation. Synergy provides attendees with the tools and confidence they need to say yes to workforce mobility, security and compliance, BYO, workplace redesign, hybrid cloud infrastructure—and whatever comes next. This year Synergy is in Las Vegas from May 24th-26th. Find out more about the various sessions, keynotes and hands on lab by reviewing our session catalog which is now live at citrixsynergy.com”

Driving Digital Transformation – Kirill Tatarinov, Citrix CEO

“Citrix is an enabler of digital transformation, helping customers in all industries to unlock their business potential. It has been terrific to hear resounding support for this mission in my many conversations with our customers and people around the world.”

Shelton Public Schools Saves Two Million Dollars Using Citrix Technology

“One of the most influential trends in education today is differentiated learning, whereby educators provide students with different pathways to learning in the same classroom. Shelton Public Schools, a K-12 school district in Western Connecticut, has addressed this trend by using Citrix technology to support the Google Chromebox computers that mount on the back of a monitor and retail for less than $200 – a fraction of the nearly $500 per device Shelton Public Schools would have had to spend on desktop computers for its classroom learning centers. ”

Citrix Radically Simplifies the Secure Delivery of Browser-based Apps

Citrix Secure Browser product family provides a quick, simple way for any IT organization – even those that have never used a Citrix product – to securely deliver web and SaaS applications to any modern browser. In minutes, an administrator can set up any web application to be securely delivered to any device, even internally hosted web apps, without intrusively installing anything on an employee’s device.”

Hospital CTO finds virtualization and security in Citrix

“As associate vice president and chief technology officer of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Sean Updegrove works to make sure his physicians get their patients’ health data safely, quickly and conveniently whether they’re on hospital rounds, at home or in the clinic. For this task, he chose Citrix technology for virtualization and security of the physician portals and workflows that transport data from Children’s Cerner Corp. EHR to clinicians as they move around the hospital.”

Biggest EMM Trends of 2015

” Serving as the “invisible middleman,” enterprise mobility management (EMM) gives IT and employees the tools and confidence they need to just say yes to workforce mobility. With empowering employees to work and collaborate the way they prefer as a baseline (hearkening back to today’s trend for organizations to adopt BYOD policies to let people use their own PCs and mobile devices for work), Citrix recently polled customers that deployed EMM in the cloud using XenMobile last year.”

iOS 9.3 – What’s In It For the Enterprise?

XenMobile provided same-day platform support for the release of iOS 9.3. With every new iOS release I’m always curious to see what’s in it for the enterprise and 9.3 doesn’t disappoint.

Citrix Unleashes Industry-First Integrated Platform for SD-WAN

Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) offers the reliability, visibility, control and flexibility businesses need today to address the demands placed by new bandwidth intensive applications on their wide area networks—and in 2016 there is strong momentum toward mainstream adoption. Citrix unveiled a complete solution for enterprises on this path: CloudBridge Enterprise Edition, a single platform with fully integrated WAN virtualization, WAN Optimization, enterprise-grade security, and end-to-end visibility.”

The Fastest PoC in the Cloud – XenApp in the Azure Marketplace

“I am pleased to announce that you can now try XenApp 7.8 in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. This offering is the latest addition to our already existing portfolio in the Azure Marketplace, which includes NetScaler VPX (BYOL) and ShareFile StorageZones Controller.”

Best Practices/Reference Architecture Documents/Blogs

Citrix Appdisks How To Guide – Administration Basics and Gotchas 

AppDisk, an application layering solution was part of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 released in late February this year. This post is not meant to cover the basics of application layering or image management as a whole. My goal in this post is to cover the administrative aspects of application layering using Citrix AppDisks.

Remote PC Access for XenDesktop: Not Flashy, Just Fantastic

“With over 1,500+ customers and 500,000 systems actively enrolled and using Remote PC Access, it is gaining visibility everywhere as a valuable standard in deploying XenDesktop. And who wouldn’t adopt it? Combining the power of HDX, energy cost savings with Wake on LAN (WOL) and security provided by NetScaler, its simple deployment model appeals to every vertical and every customer size.”

Session Recording in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.8 Ensures Compliance & Productivity

“Session Recording, available in XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum Editions, allows administrators to record on-screen user session activity and play it back at a later time as required. It has been available for server-based desktops and published applications for some time, and now, VDI desktops are supported as well. Policy control and notification options provide flexibility to meet environment requirements and regulations.”

Configuring XenMobile Unified Gateway

“Where remote users needed to access their SaaS and Enterprise apps along with XenApp/XenDesktop published apps via their web browser, they used to launch the NetScaler Gateway’s URL. Post authentication if the AppController was integrated with StoreFront, they get access to apps published by AppController and StoreFront. Unified Gateway is integrated into NetScaler 11.0 release. When configured, Unified Gateway provides consolidation via one URL to access multiple secured services.”

Updated Guidance on PVS Ports and Threads

“Recently, I had a chance to talk with our PVS Sr. Architect Jeff Pinter-Parsons who led me to believe that we need to reevaluate the details surrounding this leading practice. Per our discussion, PVS is actually not using a standard threading model where each client gets it own port/thread much like a TFTP server does. Instead PVS has a listener for each port that receives a request and dumps it on a port specific thread pool. The threads in the pool process each request, one per thread. If there are more threads than cores, the leftover threads simply block. Adding more threads than CPU logical core is not going to help on performance.”

StoreFront Message Customization

“This is a newer version of a customization I wrote about last year. This version will work with StoreFront 3.0 and up. (Previous version StoreFront 3.0 Message Customization)”

Delete Local User Profile Folders on StoreFront Servers

“As many of you might be aware, the Citrix StoreFront authentication service provides an option for users to change their passwords when they expire. By default, this option is disabled when the authentication service is created, which prevents users from changing their passwords even if the passwords have expired. If you decide to enable this option in Citrix Receiver for Web, keep in mind that StoreFront creates a local user profile to check whether a user’s password is about to expire. Hence, sufficient disk space is required on the local disk of the StoreFront servers.”

Machine Learning with Octoblu and Microsoft Azure

Octoblu enables companies to create IoT services with secure realtime exchange of data. The services are built on open communications and management platform that supports a variety of protocols for physical devices to communicate seamlessly with each other, people, legacy applications, and cloud services. Through public, private, or hybrid clouds users can connect, design, process, and analyze the flow of information. All services have been designed to operate over a robust security and right management architecture.”

Support Articles/Security Bulletins

Events/Webinars

Webinars

Mar 30 Solution Webinar: Who’s driving your Windows 10 migration – employees or IT?

Join Citrix and Windows IT Pro contributor Theresa Miller to learn how to support employees on Windows 10 devices, cut the time and effort of application migration to a fraction of past projects, rollout standardized Windows 10 that’s easier to manage and update and measure your OS migration in hours (not months and even years).

Register Now 

Mar 30 Solution Webinar: What’s Your Biggest Worry with Windows 10 Migration?

Join us as we take a technical deep-dive into the tools built into XenApp and XenDesktop that you can use today to make this your best Windows migration ever and avoid the headaches of the past.

Register Now 

Seminars

Oct 2015 – Mar 2016 Seminars: From vulnerable to secure: Strategies to mitigate mobile security threats

Join us at a city near you for a mobile and virtualization security focused complimentary luncheon, filled with use case scenarios and live demos, to learn how you can protect apps and data and mitigate security threats with Citrix.

Register in a city near you

Mar – Apr 2016 Seminars: Q1 NetScaler Master Class Seminar Series

Join us at a city near you for an in-person master class covering best practices for installing and securing your website with Citrix NetScaler and a deep dive on the role that NetScaler plays in SDN.

Register in a city near you

Mar – May 2016 Seminars: Cisco on the Road (Formerly Cisco Live Local Edition; Cisco Tech Days)

One day educational and training event, organized by Cisco Enterprise, Commercial and Public Sector Teams. Customer attendance rate ranges from 100-500 attendees per event, in which 80% are Technical Contributors and the rest 20% are in IT Management, Sr. Management and Executives.

Register in a city near you

Apr — June 2016 Seminars: Technical Demo Days

Join us in a city near you for a demo-driven, interactive technical seminar showcasing the entire Citrix story through dynamic “day in the life” end-to-end demonstrations across a range of devices.

Register in a city near you

Deminars

Every Tuesday and Thursday Deminars: Intro to Citrix Mobile Workspaces

Join us for an interactive, technical session on the benefits and capabilities of Citrix Workspace Suite in these demo-focused webinars.  Each session will begin with a valuable use case review that you do not want to miss! Register now to select the date that works best for you.
Register Now: Tuesday SessionThursday Session  

Every Wednesday Deminars: Intro to Citrix NetScaler

Join us for an interactive, technical session on the benefits and capabilities of Citrix NetScaler in these demo-focused webinars.  Register now to select the date that works best for you.
Register Now: Wednesday Session

On Demand

Mar 2 Master Class: Back to basics: Server Load Balancing on NetScaler and Admin partitions

Register Now 

Mar 8 Solution Webinar: What’s New in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.7 and 7.8

Register Now 

Mar 9 Master Class: EMM for Windows 10 and the latest Citrix XenMobile MDX features

Register Now 

Mar 15 Solution Webinar: Deploying Skype for Business with Citrix NetScaler

Register Now 

Mar 23 Desktop Master Class: Browser Apps, Better Management and Brilliant Graphics

Register Now 

 

XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 – A Big Step Forward In Image Management

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Citrix released XenApp and XenDesktop 7.8 on 02/25 and with it came numerous feature enhancements. In this post, I want to focus on two of these features as it addresses a major challenge most Citrix administrators have to deal with today.

The Problem

It is safe to say that every enterprise customer that I work with uses Provisioning Services for XenApp and Pooled VDI for all the management, storage and performance benefits. However, a majority of these customers end up having to manage multiple images (sometimes >10). In most cases, applications are locally installed, in a few cases, App-V is used in conjunction with locally installed apps and in rare occassions, SCCM/LANDESK and similar ESD tools are used. For Pooled desktops, its a combination of locally installed apps and apps delivered via XenApp for the most part. On some occassions third party tools are also used. The net result is that multiple dedicated resources spend most of their time updating these images and managing application updates.

So what does XA/XD 7.8 offer to solve this problem?

AppDisk

I constantly have discussions with my customers around how to solve the problem of image management, and it usually boils down to separating the applications from the operating system as far as possible. XA/XD 7.8 introduces AppDisk, which provides the ability to manage your applications independently of the base image. AppDisk falls under application layering, which has been around for a while now. You can add any number of applications to an AppDisk and the AppDisk can then be tied to multiple machines at the same time running different operating systems. So if you are an Enterprise customer that has multiple XenApp silos today due to different business units requiring different applications for instance and have multiple PVS images that you manage for this purpose, you could potentially cut down to one image for each OS and then use AppDisk to layer the applications thereby making management of the images a lot easier. Not only that, application updates become a lot easier and the maintenance windows will reduce significantly. Also if you wanted to replicate your applications across multiple datacenters, it is as easy as copying these appdisks over.

Integration of AppDisk with AppDNA

There are a number of vendors today that offer layering solutions, including some that partner with Citrix. What truly differentiates AppDisk is our integration with AppDNA. When there are multiple layers tied to a delivery group for instance, AppDNA lets the administrator know how a change in one layer could potentially impact compatibility between layers and can reorder the layers if needed. Similarly, AppDNA can also inform the administrator if an AppLayer is incompatible with a specific OS. So if I were to tie the same AppDisk to multiple delivery groups delivering different operating systems, thanks to AppDNA, you can quickly determine if that AppDisk is compatbile with the target OS. This is truly a differentiator and removes a lot of the guess work and manual labor involved in compatibility analysis.

With all that said, layering is not a one size fits all solution for application deployment. There are various challenges. When you use mutiple Appdisks for instance, it is important to understand the dependencies between layers to make sure the layers can working with each other and there are no conflicts. In large environments, there could be hundreds of layers, each layer having a large number of applications. So management could get complex in those cases. Also, AppDisk is not supported on dedicated desktops today. Also important to note that PvD and Appdisk cannot be used together today

App-V Packages

Another key feature in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 is the ability to publish App-V packages that are stored in a network share without needing the App-V infrastructure. The process is no different from publishing a natively installed application. You may ask why even go down this path when you could address most use cases directly with AppDisk. There are a couple of reasons. First, AppDisk does not provide application isolation. So, if you require application isolation, perhaps to run multiple versions of the same application for instance, you would need to use a technology like App-V. Secondly, if you already have your desktop teams leveraging App-V to sequence packages, it makes sense to deploy the same packages within your Citrix environment instead of reinventing the wheel.

Final thoughts

Its human nature to be enamored by the latest shiny toy. But in the case of application management, there is no one size fits all solution. But with the XA/XD 7.8 release, there are various options available for packaging and delivering applications thanks to the tools Citrix added. Does that mean the tools we provide will address 100% of the use cases out there? Probably not. We have a number of partners who add further value through their solutions. Fine examples are Liquidware Labs, FSLogix and Unidesk.

I believe that a lot of enterprise deployments, will continue to deploy core applications natively in the base image, either locally installed or using App-V and the likes. However, AppDisk with AppDNA is a great solution to manage business unit specific applications that were silo’d in the past and increased the infrastructure and operational overhead substantially. To conclude, I would highly recommend that you try XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 in a lab environment and get familiar with AppDisk and App-V package deployment.

 

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

 

Synergy Recap Part 2 – XenMobile Announcements

Continuing on the topic on Synergy, changes to the XenMobile product suite was the other big announcement..

Lets take a step back..

Up until the beginning of this 2013, Citrix’s approach to mobililty was Mobile Application Management through their CloudGateway product. The strategy was that enterprises would have the ability to deliver SaaS, Web, Windows and mobile applications all from a unified portal with integrated identity management. Enterprises could wrap corporate applications (MDX wrapped apps) and then deploy these applications to mobile devices.. These applications would then be containerized and live within its own bubble on the mobile device. Policies could be applied to each wrapped application and they could talk to each other but not with the users personal applications and data. Everything within the container could be wiped without affecting the users personal data. In addition, CloudGateway provided Federated IdentityReceiver would be the single client that would be used across all devices.

While this was a great strategy for BYOD, there was a lot of push back from companies who still wanted to manage corporate owned devices, where they wanted the ability to do full wipes, enforce various policies at the device level and also other features like Geo Fencing.

Fast Forward to Jan 2013..

Based on the market demands, Citrix felt that it needed add MDM capabilities to its mobile management solution and hence acquired Zenprise (Gartner Magic Quadrant for MDM) and re branded the product XenMobile. With the addition of Zenprise, Citrix had a complete solution in XenMobile with both MAM and MDM capabilities. As part of the initial offering, there were two editions, the MDM edition which was basically Zenprise rebranded and the Mobility Solutions bundle which offered both MDM and MAM functionality. The other unique feature about the licensing model was that Citrix offered a per user licensing model, which makes a lot of sense in this day n age where most users have at least 3 devices.

While this was all great, there were some customers who only needed the MAM functionality and others who felt the features did not justify the cost. Also from an end user perspective, the solution was a bit kludgy.  There were three clients namely the enroll agent (for enrolling the users device), connect (used to download profiles and enforce policies) and receiver (for delivering the containerized applications). All the clients were available through App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android)

So what did we announce at Synergy?

XENMOBILE EDITIONS UPDATED

Going forward, XenMobile will be available in three editions – MDM edition, APP edition and Enterprise Edition. I really liked this announcement as I know of a number of customers in my space that are only interested in the MAM piece and now they have an options as opposed to just having to purchase the Enterprise edition. I am not going into MAM and MDM much as it has already been discussed earlier in the post, but in short, MDM = Zenprise and APP Edition = CloudGateway functionality.

The Enterprise edition will include App Edition, MDM, Sharefile (Citrix’s own follow me data product) and GoToAssist. This definitely adds a great amount of value to the product suite and provides customers with an all encompassing solution that allows them to:

    • Manage mobile devices (both BYO and corporate owned) and enforce policies.
    • Deliver SaaS, Windows, Internal Web and mobile applications to mobile devices.
    • Identity management
    • A secure follow me data solution through Sharefile with cloud and on-premise storage.
    • Ability to remotely troubleshoot mobile devices with GoToAssist

 The solution keeps both IT management and end users happy as IT management gets the security profile they desire while the end users feel empowered and become more productive with all their corporate apps made available on their personal devices.

XENMOBILE COMPONENTS REBRANDED

As I mentioned earlier in the post, prior to Synergy the key end user facing Xenmobile components were Enroll and Connect. Receiver was used to deliver MDX wrapped applications. Going forward, the components will rebranded as Worx Enroll and Worx Home. Worx Enroll will be the device enrollment piece and Worx Home will be store for Mobile, Web and SaaS applications including Worx Mobile Apps (previously MDX wrapped apps) like Worx Web Worx Mail, Sharefile etc . Receiver will still be used to deliver XA/XD resources, but I think it is safe to assume that eventually XA/XD resources will be made available through Worx Home in the future. All the applications delivered via Worx Home will be available on the home screen along with all the other applications on your device. However each of these applications live within its own container and will be fully encrypted. Worx Home and Worx Enroll will be available through App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).

Citrix also announced the Worx App Gallery, a place wheresoftware vendors/partners/independent developers can showcase their work enabled applications. Mark Templeton in his keynote mentioned that there are over 80 Worx enabled applications at present.

AVAILABILITY?

The new XenMobile offerings should be made available by end of June/early July

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

I thought the XenMobile announcements were significant, offering solutions that fit most customer needs. There is significant value in the Enterprise edition with the addition of Sharefile and GoToAssist.  I feel the pieces are finally coming together and my hope is that the end user experience is painless (only time will tell) and that the backend infrastructure gets more streamlined in the future. Gartner has positioned Citrix in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management and rightly so in my opinion. I believe Citrix has the most complete solution in the market at present and more importantly the right people at the helm to lead this forward.

 

Gaby Turns 1

As cliche’d as this sounds, its hard to imagine that its been a year since Gaby was born. Roshan and I feel so blessed and grateful to God for all the happiness that Gaby has brought to our lives. Every day is an adventure as she learns something new. Now she walks, says words like book, light, calls me Dada, calls Roshan, Mimi, screams in perfect pitch and louder than anyone else in church, her innocent smile is the highlight of our day. While I am on the train on my way back home, all I think about is how she’s going to greet me that night. She has totally changed our life and its been the most amazing year! A lot of you have been following Gaby’s growth and have been very supportive. Roshan and Iwant to thank you for the same. Below are pics from her Birthday Parties.

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