Category Archives: Citrix News

Synergy 2015 Recap, Better Than Late than Never

I have been going to Synergy since 2008. 2015 is the last year for Synergy to be held in Orlando as next year will be in Vegas. When I first went in 2008, XenDesktop had just come out, but today, one of the most talked about solutions is Workspace Cloud.

Let’s get down to business of what they announced and some of the trends I saw while I was there:

Session Stats:

  • 143 Presentations, 4801 Slides, Average Slide Count 47
  • Biggest PowerPoint, SYN416 HP Converged Reference Architecture 216 MB
  • Most Slides, 255, AOL case study NetScaler for security and scalability – SYN251
  • Least Slides, 10, Meet the Winners of Citrix App Challenge – SYN224
  • Lots of XenMobile Upgrade Presentations, aka you should upgrade
  • Lots of Workspace Cloud Presentations to try and set some expectations.
  • Lots of great content from non-Citrix employees.

Synergy 2015 Summary:

  • To put it simply, lots of cool stuff came out this year. However, time will tell (as always in IT) if all the new programs can install without catching on fire and how the actual upgrade process will work.
  • Citrix still loves XenApp. Citrix has realized XenApp is what Citrix started with and they have come to realize the popularity, as it is the most deployed software.
  • VDI has been a buzz word since 2008, but XenApp, in most cases, has been deployed more often based on the IO, CPU and RAM requirements. XenDesktop was only mentioned very few times in the keynotes and also had a lower presentation count than previous years.
  • Workspace Cloud was the most talked about topic in sessions and there is a huge push. Workspace Cloud is an interesting hybrid solution where the control plane (SQL, License, DDC and StoreFront) is out in the cloud and your resources (VDI, XenApp, PVS and Hypervisors) are still happy in your datacenter (Make sure your internet pipe is up).

Citrix Workspace 2015

  • Octoblu will bring Star Trek integration to your business for your Citrix solutions at first, but the sky is the limit. Only time will tell on how developers get things going by creating workflows.

Octoblu 2015

 

  • Workspace Hub – some cool, fanciness will be possible with mobility. Swiping a session from an iPad to a TV was the example shown, but there are also lots of other possible applications. Resembles a ChromeCast, but has a fancier retractable HDMI connection for a competitive edge.
  • Lots of great updates coming with XenDesktop\XenApp, ShareFile, XenMobile, NetScaler; which is great.
  • StoreFront 3.0 and Receiver X1 are hopefully coming in June.

Citrix Storefront 3.0 2015

 

  • User Experience is a huge focus and it shows in the demos, sessions and enhancements that are coming.
  • Concierge Customer Service system – this is a Tech Preview right now. This product is a great way to help support mobile apps with screen and control sharing to promote customer service.

Citrix Concierge

 

  • CloudBridge has been around a while, but now Citrix is getting into the network at a little higher level than just accelerate connections through them. Citrix talked about their new CloudBridge Virtual WAN, which helps glue different types of network connections together to use continuously (based on which protocol you want) instead of one just being passive. Then it is used to failover between failed connections faster than traditional IP systems. You are still using the same box that accelerates things, but now this box gets another very helpful job.

I personally cannot wait to get my hands on some of these. Cisco IWAN would be something that is in the same ballpark as this, but since Cloudbridge can also shape and accelerate traffic, Cloudbridge becomes a little cooler.

  • Citrix Melio is getting closer, and now has pricing released. We will see if there is still a need. If Citrix bundled Melio with Platinum to add value, I think it would be awesome. On its own, though, Melio can only be cost justified at larger deployments.
  • June was a very busy month for Citrix. I hope they can keep up with the pace of what they have set. Just a couple weeks left.
    • Receiver X1 (Tech Preview)
    • StoreFront 3.0 (Tech Preview)
    • XenDesktop\XenApp 7.6 FP2
    • FrameHawk (VDA Add-on and Citrix Receiver Updates)
    • AppDisk (Limited Tech Preview)
    • Signature Tablets (Tech Preview)
    • ShareFile Platinum Edition (Release, Electronic Storage and Unlimited Storage)
  • Q3 2015
    • Workspace Cloud (Release)
  • NetScaler SDX is the bomb diggity.

Best Synergy 2015 Sessions:

  • Faster deployments XenDesktop Setup Wizard (XDSW) and the Streamed VM Setup Wizard – SYN412
  • Troubleshooting Common Issues with XenMobile WorxMail – SYN403
  • Technical deep dive on Receiver – SYN321
  • StoreFront PowerShell documentation deep dive – SYN417
  • ShareFile Enterprise integration and field tips – SYN504
  • Technical deep dive on Receiver – SYN321
  • Notes from the field XenMobile deep dive and demo – SYN511
  • I’ve got 99 problems, and folder redirection is every one of them – SYN502
  • Dissecting the XenApp & XenDesktop logon process – SYN409
  • Tech update for XenApp and XenDesktop—May 2015 edition – SYN319
  • Getting the most out of NetScaler Gateway – SYN503
  • Successfully migrating your farm to XenApp 7.6 – SYN411
  • NetScaler Gateway with Citrix Desktops and Apps, The Ultimate How-To Guide for successful deployments -SYN407

Lots of great stuff coming and the rest of this year is going to be a really busy for Citrix. They have raised the bar against VMware right now in a couple areas and I’m excited to see what happens. In July, I will have a very detailed write up on Workspace Cloud as we get to finally kick the tires. I’m also working on testing with our NVIDIA GRID servers to find out which hypervisor is best for heavy GPU workloads because there has hardly been any testing yet.

#SYN505, How to make a killer end user experience For XenApp #CitrixSynergy

Users normally complain about their login times and how snappy the OS is, which are the two normal user metrics we have to deal with it. Used LoginVSI since it is the industry standard and so people could reproduce their results. Used LoginVSI 4.0 since it still had the office document test because some vendors would use office 2003 instead of 2010 or 2013 because the medium workload would look better. They used UberAgent with Splunk to measure more things outside of what LoginVSI would miss.

Tests Ran:

XenApp 6.5 vs XenApp 7.5:

Took a hit going from XA65 to XA75 on the same 2008 R2 image.
7.5 on 2012 was faster than the base. (2012 R2 was barely better)

2008 R2 2012, 2012 R2:

New base was faster with 2012 R2 over 2008 R2, and 2012 was just a little slower.

10GBe vs 1GBe:

Didn’t make a huge difference with profile load.

SMB vs 2.1 vs SMB 3.0:

SMB 3.0 was slower for some reason and will require further testing.

Normal vs Accelerated Storage:

Normal storage made it twice as slow with normal storage.

Old hardware vs New hardware:

Adjusted Power Settings on the physical servers to balanced you always need to change this to Max Performance. Power balanced took at least 33% hit over maximum performance.

First base test 2008 R2 xa65 accelerated storage SMB 2.1 with 1GB

Second test 2012 R2 xa75 accelerated storage SMB 3 with 10GB,,, the first base and new base was a drastic change about 2-3 times faster which was 4 years newer.

I know I cannot wait to see the more detailed results, this is a great set of tests and they are planning even more tests with Moonshot, GPU, XenDesktop, Further SMB3 test and look at App-V shared content store.

 

 

#SYN224, Migrate from Web Interface to StoreFront Like a Boss #CitrixSynergy

Dave Coleman, Feng Huang and Simon Frost take on the tough topic of how to migrate from the 10 year old workhorse for Citrix Access to the less than 2 year old pretty pony called StoreFront. StoreFront 2.5 is getting close to feature parity with Web Interface along with some bug fixes. Store customization SDK came out at this time. Newest HTML 5 client is baked in with 2.5. Mandatory application feature is a easy way to change the workflow of StoreFront to be more like Web Interface. When using HA the subscription data store and the credential wallet data are replicated between all the servers in the server group, which are the big two pieces of data that make it work. iOS receiver update that can support the same DNS name internally and externally. SoreFront Use a service called HDX Optimal Routing so that it can route through HDX Insight.

Receiver will search a shadow directory if there is no start menu to search for local Apps before starting to talk to StoreFront, when using a double hop and especially if you have a blank start menu. Multi Site Aggregation can be done now between the two sites when the same name is published with the same name and you can even have a preferred order and a make a failover site now. Can do parallel enumeration now which means it asks all the sites at once instead of one at a time to speed up logins/enumeration.

Poking around in each directory for StoreFront IIS directory with a web.config in each directory that controls that portion and the default.ICA file is under the Store directory if you are hunting for it. The SDK and the amount of customizations possible are easier and there are more options than WI.

StoreFront Roadmap.

Receiver for Android and IOS support with SHA2, adding smart card, new receiver for ChromeBooks, can do risk based authentication based on a new location to prompt for further information, adding more things to the console to take things out of config file and make them a checkbox again and normalize the receiver for windows experience.

Questions, confirmed password manager is dying and no password resets, receiver enterprise does have some bugs to create the desktop shortcuts, upgrades to StpreFront are less painful now and it should work if you put the customizations on the config folder, do customizations replicate to the other servers it the group=yes.

#SYN502, XenDesktop 7.1 Sizing for dummies

#SYN502, XenDesktop 7.1 Sizing for dummies. This was a good session that breaks down the major milestones of how to size a XenDesktop and XenApp for someone that has never done it before. It was very practical and makes sense.

XenApp sizing
How many users to fit on each VM
How many VMs per physical server
How many physical servers will it take.

Measure Capacity, Utilization and Latency. Use peak and not averages.

UberAgent is a add on used with Splunk to monitor boot times, login times and application usage, that is way easier to use than just PerfMon.

Overcommit CPU for XenApp is a no, no but for XenDesktop you just have to tread lightly and not get to far. CPU ready needs to be lest than 5%. CPU wait example 2,000 ms with 2 vCPUs 2,000/20,000/2=5%.

Citrix Synergy 2014 Feed

Citrix Synergy 2014

My Nerdy Summary which is just some blurbs on each thing I think was a big point and important to know. I will put any good session notes in this post also.

Day 1

GeekSpeak live was great, my favorite battle was PVS vs MCS but they had some great topics and speakers to make 2 hours roll by. It was a great time.

Day 2

Opening Keynote:
7th Year of Synergy

Attendance Details:
10,000 registered, 66 countries, 300 hours of sessions and 81 sponsors

Mark Templeton is back!!

Innovation Award:
Westpac Bank, virtual desktops even using XenServer, 15,000 users
BT Global Services, cloud service offerings. CloudPlatform
Taco INC, XenDesktop for manufacturing
Autodesk, NVIDIA GRID,,,,,winner

CSPs are growing and being promoted during the keynote.

Neil Lock from BT Global talks about how they are different and how many locations they have using CloudPlatform. This is further pushing CloudPlatform and deploying VMs the new way.

ShareFile Update
45k business customers
Zero to 1 million licenses in 18 months
there’re two customers with 75k employees, which is pretty wild
New 3.0 API has been rolled put.

ChromeBooks are coming back since 2011 when they gave away some some during Synergy.
10k plus chrome books deployed in One Australian Business.
Dillard’s is doing ChromeBooks also to provide access to their employees.

Chrome OS receiver, updates:
printing, usb, clip board, touch integration,webcam and 2 way audio
Release in Q3 2014.

Receiver Client Updates (Finally):

MAC Client Updates
Desktop Composition redirection offload the video work to the end points GPUshowed Aero Redirection on Windows 7.
DirectX to OpenGL conversion is used to make that happen.
No dates yet.

Receiver Release X1:
One touch access to your apps. ( marketing description)
UX User Experience is a new acronym shown today in relationship to HDX and MDX
This client will have branding abilities
This client refresh is all using a HTML 5 backend.
Updated Ui for all devices where the branding follows Windows or MAC.
No dates yet.

MS DOS=Don’t Own Stuff.
Don’t own equipment on the front end or backend by using cloud technologies,relating Citrix to Netflix, DirectTV and iTunes because they deliver services. This will be a theme for this event for sure.

Mobile Workspace Demo by Brad Peterson the Chef Demo Officer and Catherine Courage: (keep a eye on her as she heads up the Citrix leadership ladder)

Using WorxHome and the Store link and the updates the WorxHome App
Showed the integration of GoToMeeting into the calendar to one click to join the meeting or say I’m running late with one button also.
When internal links are clicked in a email it will use WorxWeb to get there.
WorxNotes, replace Evernote and keep it inside your datacenter
No Date on these Worx updates yet. Take Photos within a note and astound recording and easily senadable.
ShareFile looks really ugly and out of place compared to the white background of the Whole Worx Suite. Please fix this.
New ShareFile connectors to third parties like SaleForce. The demo didn’t work out to well. Showed ShareFile moving stuff from DropBox into ShareFile with their personal connectors.
WorxDesktop is used to see your personal files on a personal so outer. Think of ShareFile for your home PC where you can even edit these documents. Remotes the personal applications if you open the edition then you came seethe whole desktop. Has the same Store layout for Apps and Desktops but it shows that the ShareFile UI is behind.
ChomeBook demo showing Video and and radiology images and normal windows apps and really highlight smooth roaming.

XenDesktop Updates
Still number one.
XenApp
Supports 2008 to 2012 (say is supports 5 OSs, but the math seems off to me 2008R2, 2012, 2012R2)
Brad showing a XenApp published desktop using 2012 R2 and thethe smoothed roamed to a iPad and how the graphics are still awesome.
Talking about XenApp a lot more than XenDesktop to fix their misteps on otsrelease earlier this year.
Made some migration tools to get the published resources over and Tech Preview is coming soon, so we will have to see what it does and if it actually works.

XenMobile 9 is coming up.
Updated WorxSuite is coming with this release that were demoed, windows 8.1 support and adding more windows phone support. They are saying there is a Tech Preview coming. XenMobile cloud for SMB clients that don’t want to host those components and want to get up and going very fast.

NetScaler 10.5
5x performance improvement for streaming and content optimizations
TriScale 2.0 doubled the cluster capabilities

WorkSpace Suite
This suit will include ShareFile, XenApp, Worx Applications and XenMobile for $450 MSRP. I have been telling the product teams this two years and ow they have finally listened to give a true BYOD SKU.

New Trade Up Promotions that have some huge discounts
VMware View Rescue Program will offer a 50% discount

Cisco Validate Design for the WorkSpace Suite which is awesome because UCS rules.

Mark T, talking about the Employee Culture and Customer Empathy. It wad so nice to have him back. He was near tears a couple times, which to me shows me how much he had missed it and how much he loves this event, this technology and the people here.

A lot of the videos this year were reruns of Summit this year and Innovation award nominees from last year, come on now. First time in 7 years of not having a backpack and we get reruns.

The last announcement by Mark T, has to do with being a shopkeeper and a gatekeeper. Announce Citrix Wokspace Services, cloud center, desktop and apps and have access to service automation with even mobile devices. This control plane will run on Microsoft Azure, I guess they had to show some love because they they have been having a rough OS run (Vista’ish). I hope this isn’t a HD-DVD repeat. Mitch Parker is the new leader of this Workspace Services department.

Workspace Services Demo:
Looks like the App Orchestrator but Blue instead of Green with a updated CloudPlatform/CloudPortal UI. This is looks like it is just CloudPortal that can also tap into other clouds. So a cloud portal that shows Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop related things like Hosted Shared Desktop and Real VDIs. Shows some automation for the desktop image and the App Store being dynamic. Trying to show more about GoToAssit and how it integrates. Good looking GUIs but I want to see it for real and how much it will cost.
Tech Preview is coming around half of the year.

 

XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 vs. VMware View 5.1

XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 vs. VMware View 5.1

Security

 

Citrix

Citrix has by far the most powerful policy system.  It can do endpoint analysis to ensure that the device meets a specific list of criteria for access or to have reduced access.  What this means in the real world is that is that everyone can Copy\Paste, Print save to local drives when their PC\iPad\MAC\Thin Client is on the internal network but as soon as they go home they cannot do any of those same things, but the real kicker is you can make trusted groups that are allowed to do everything internally and externally.  This is just the simplest security scenario for Citrix that most people use the sky really is the limit.

 

VMware

VMware works on Entitlements (kind of like Citrix) but the problem is that the entitlement gives them access to that virtual desktop anywhere in the world because they either have access or don’t have access there is not a dimmer switch like Citrix.  The only way you can secure stuff is to do it with Group Policy using AD only but it will not be able to detect the client IP so the internally to externally it will all look the same.  So in some deployments where View was a possibility the security limitations killed it.

Security Winner, Citrix (Everyone needs a dimmer switch instead of a simple light switch, especially if you are under any type of compliance)

 

Maturity

 

Citrix

Citrix has been doing application virtualization for over 23 years and Virtual Desktops was just new natural expansion of the same code so they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel they just had to put a new tire on it for VDI.  With that new tire they were able to keep all the same security and scalability and the conformity of their holistic solution.  XenDesktop 2.0 was released in 5-20-2008 and has sold millions of licenses, granted some of those licenses we just used for XenApp Published Desktops or to get Provisioning Server for XenApp but there are still some huge deployments of over 50k real virtual desktops in a single deployment.

 

VMware

VMware VDM\View was released on 4-30-2009 and it was pretty much a flop out of the gate for anything outside of the LAN or smaller deployments.    It wasn’t until version 4.0 in 2010 PCoIP was added and that helped out dramatically but across the WAN it would still start to fall apart with its bandwidth requirements or its slowness would just make in inoperable.  Things have got a lot better but the main thing to remember when it comes to history is that VMware was the king of virtualization and had never delivered a desktop across the LAN or WAN until 2009 when they got into the desktop virtualization game.  Their integration to ESX and vCenter their two oldest products has been great the whole time, there have been a couple hiccups along the way but Microsoft, VMware and Citrix had just as many along the way.

 

Maturity Winner, Citrix (Older isn’t always better but they have been on the pulse of the industry to keep up with the needs)

 

Holistic Solution

 

Citrix

Citrix since they bought NetScaler in 2005 they have a load balanced and HA solution from the firewall back since then.  The integration with their networking product NetScaler has only got better in the past 7 years where if you are deploying any environment with more than 200 users or you have to meet SLAs Citrix has made it easy to buy one solution.  Since they own a Load Balancer(NetScaler), WAN Optimization (Branch Repeater), Hypervisor and XenApp + XenDesktop along with ShareFile, Podio, GoToMeeting, XenClient and all their Cloud connectivity options you are getting a full suite to do whatever you want.

 

VMware

VMware has only one strong ally in the View battle is their hypervisor ESX which has been dominant since its release in 2001.  Their hypervisor is definitely awesome and the things that it can do especially when there are more than one site.  What we have found over the years especially with XenDesktop and XenApp deployments the need for those higher end features are not needed because XenServer is bundled with XenDesktop licenses which keeps a nice support model when there are issues.  VMware has an agreement with Terradici to use the PCoIP protocol, they don’t own any load balancer so with their solution you have to purchase a load balancer to ensure the Connection servers availability.  Compared to Citrix the amount of products that support their technology goal are lacking you do get the best hypervisor but that’s it everything else has to come from somewhere else.

Holistic Solution Winner, Citrix (Having a big product line helps out here for anyone starting fresh)

 

Device Support

 

Citrix

Citrix really has done the best with this since its inception of those devices and XenDesktop and XenApp.  Citrix was the one who started to coin the term BYOD because with their technology it was finally possible and could become a corporate reality due to its security and product maturity.  LPS had great success with XenDesktop and XenApp when the iPad was released because Citrix had a client the day it came out and then as new devices are created Citrix has focused development on all the big sellers which gives your user base a choice of around a billion devices.  When it comes to Thin Clients almost all Thin Clients exist because of Citrix and regular RDP so there are thousands of models that are compatible from all the major vendors.  The WYSE Xenith family is my favorite thin client for XenDesktops or Published Desktops from XenApp out there due to its simplicity and its performance.  WYSE ThinOS would be the best model for XenApp and published applications.

 

VMware

They have been a little slow on the rollout of clients.  When it was first released in 2010 VMware relied on a WYSE iPad application until they released their own.  The same scenario play out with MACs where View 4.6 was when the first MAC client came out in 2010.  A dedicated thin client took a while to have ones that were Zero clients instead of just Windows 7 or XP thin clients being your only option.  The WYSE P Family is my favorite VMware zero thin client due to its simplicity and its performance.  Since 2009 VMware has introduced a client for Mac, iOS, Android and Linux to be competitive with Citri

Device Support Winner, Citrix (More Devices=More Better)


Image update Method

 

Citrix

Citrix since 2008 has been using Citrix Provisioning Server (formerly Ardence) to maintain the XenDesktop images.  Provisioning Server streams the operating system across the network which is very cheap to scale.  It operates under the simple deployment model is that a target device boots up it talks to the PVS server and with is MAC address it determine which operating system they will get (Windows 7 or Windows 8) which will point to one hard drive or another call the vDisk which is just a .VHD file.  This means updating from Windows 7 to Window 8 is as simple as changing a setting on the PVS server and rebooting the desktops.  We have updated thousands of desktops or hundreds of servers in just a couple minutes.  This is the biggest strength in my eyes because that is what matters, how longer does it take to patch and update a desktop and get it out to the users in a non-disruptive way that is fast and will not kill the storage or servers.  A 500 user deployment would cost you just cost around 5GB per desktop which would be 2.5 TBs.

 

VMware
When View first came out its huge weakness was the amount of storage space that was needed.  For 500 desktops with 50GB hard drive would mean you would need 25 TBs just to store the VM, which is why it didn’t get anywhere for a while.  Then in 2010 VMware introduced Linked Clones which allowed them to use one parent VMs with their snapshotting technology to make all the desktops from that parent VMs.  With a 500 desktop deployment with 50GB image would just cost you around  8GB per desktop (in some cases less) would come up to just 4TBs which is more a whole lot better.  Then the biggest thing is its Achilles heel is the how the Re-Composition works when you have to do a desktop update it is a disruptive update and it can take as little as 15 minutes to as long as a couple hours depending on the number of desktops.  During the Re-Composition or update the storage is getting pounded and the VMs are being deleted and those couple of Gigs per desktop are copied to hundreds of desktops.  There are ways to make a VMware View update non-disruptive but in most cases it means that you have to have a N*2 deployment so you can get all the desktops ready and then just let the users cut themselves to the new image the following day.  We have had some clients that have found out the hard way that they cannot do a update to the desktops during the middle of the day due to the stress that is put on the storage and then the servers as each desktop powers on and gets back on the domain.  Since most of the update horsepower is happening on the storage instead of Citrix which is happening over the Gigabit or 10 Gigabit network which will become a lot cheaper.

 

Image Update Winner, Citrix (Non-Disruptive and fast updates)

User Experience

User Experience (LAN)

Citrix

Citrix has been the king in this space for around 10+ years when multimedia over Citrix was really starting to be needed.  They came up with Flash Redirection which was the biggest step because it allowed the YouTube age to get their fix without killing the server or having a horrible user experience.   Citrix has continued development on this and it works in a very adaptive way based on the horsepower the endpoint has and the connectivity to switch back and forth.  On the LAN there really isn’t a fight between VMware in most cases depending on what is going on.

 

VMware

When VMware View was using RDP things could get a little clunky on the LAN but now with PCoIP it will work pretty much flawlessly where it will look really really close to Citrix sitting right beside it with the same endpoint horsepower.   PCoIP has done a great job with Flash Video and Windows Media redirection\compression to rival Citrix on the LAN.  It will almost always in any side-by-side test use more bandwidth but on the LAN it may not matter.

 

User Experience (WAN)

Citrix

Citrix was created for the WAN when there was just dial up and RAS servers so it has had to be a very thin protocol that isn’t very chatty to ensure good user experience in a hub and spoke deployment.  Citrix without its WAN acceleration product  “Branch Repeater” it will do good in high latency deployments up to around 100-300ms depending on the workload, and it you have poor connections to your client offices you can just implement their product “Branch Repeater” and get even more out of the same Pipe while reducing the amount of bandwidth needed.  Depending on what version of XenDesktop or XenApp you purchase this WAN optimization is included you just have to purchase the physical or virtual appliance.

VMware

With the release of View 4.6 to 5.0 things have got a whole lot better on this front where it can operate okay on poor connections but in almost every head to head test we have done it always uses more bandwidth and there are not a lot of options to fix that since they do not have any WAN optimizations products.  At around 100MS latency doing the same thing on View and XenDesktop it will respond pretty similarly but if the connection gets worse than that the protocol will start choking itself.

 

User Experience Winner (LAN),  Tied (It is really close on the LAN)

User Experience Winner (WAN), Citrix (Above 100ms VMware can start falling apart)

 

Printing and Peripheral Drive Support

Citrix

Citrix used to have a bad name with their older XenApp versions MetaFrame and Presentation server for printing problems but since 2001 they have been working hard to fix it.  Now their universal print driver will work with around 70-90% of printers out there without having to install those print drivers on each desktop or application server.  They have even made a Universal Print Server which can take it to the next step in simplicity.  When it comes to things other than printers Citrix’s USB, TWAIN and COM redirection has been rivaled by none. There are some limitations just like with anything but it has been a long time at LPS that we haven’t been able to get something to work using those redirection methods.  The main thing they bring with their security is USB security to only allow or disallow certain types of devices globally or make exceptions for certain employees.

VMware

VMware has had a rough road with this but with their addition ThinPrint they helped to close the gap on printing where they are neck and neck with Citrix when it comes to printing.  USB support and other peripherals does work there are some limitations but the big thing for most clients is that USB pass-through is either on or off there isn’t a dimmer switch for certain users or exclusions to certain devices.

 

Printing and Peripheral Drive Support Winner, Citrix (Slight lead because of security)

 

Doing it Differently

Citrix

Citrix has the options with it suite of technologies to use it XenApp technology to publish a desktop that looks just like Windows 7 and feel like it to hundreds of users per physical server unlike a traditional VDI deployment from Citrix or VMware.  In a typical VDI deployment you will only be able to fit 100-175 desktops on a single physical server.  The density differences have lead us down the road in the Citrix practice to use XenApp Published Desktops and Applications first before using VDI and only doing true virtual desktops for a minority of users unless there is a compelling reason to do VDI only.  Then with Citrixs new RemotePC technology takes VDI to a whole new level by using the PC at your desk and layering Citrix security and session brokering to allow you to access that PC from anywhere in the world with just a couple virtual servers and database.  This will take off for people who want the VDI experience to their existing PCs without buying all the physical servers or storage.  In almost all cases real VDI vs. XenApp will cost and take around 3 times the resource for the same number of users.

VMware

Citrix just does desktops right now even with version 5.1.  They have introduced Horizon late 2011 and it hasn’t really taken off because of its scalability and security limitations just like VMware View.  Their ThinApp technology is powerful but it doesn’t have the security and same delivery infrastructure like Citrix does.  Horizon is a direct competitor to XenApp but in our eyes it will have around 10 years to catch up.  From the first release there are some nice features that gave it a good head start against Citrix but it has a long way to go.

Doing it Differently Winner, Citrix (Flexibility gone right)

Management Consoles

 

Citrix

Citrix was the worst at this point since XenDesktop 2.0 but in 4 years it has got a lot better.  They have cut them in half but they still have more management consoles when you add in all their other supporting technologies but when you compare VDI Only management consoles it is a little more fair to Citrix because they have a whole lot more products, this isn’t a excuse but it is just a simple fact.

XenDesktop Management Console List:

  1. Desktop Studio (MMC, Manage the Deployment)
  2. Desktop Director (Flash Based Web Page, Help Desktop Management)
  3. Provisioning Server Console (MMC, Manage the Images and vDisks)
  4. Web Interface\StoreFront Services (MMC, Mange the Web Servers)
  5. vCenter, XenCenter or SCVMM (EXE, Manage your VMs)

XenApp Management Console List:

  1. AppCenter (MMC, Manage the Deployment)
  2. Desktop Director (Flash Based Web Page, Help Desktop Management)
  3. Provisioning Server Console (MMC, Manage the Images and vDisks)
  4. Web Interface\StoreFront Services (MMC, Mange the Web Servers)
  5. vCenter, XenCenter or SCVMM (EXE, Manage your VMs)

VMware

VMware has been the winner here for the least number of consoles since its creation.

VMware View Management Console List:

  1. View Connection Manager (Flash Based Web Page, Manage the Deployment)
  2. vCenter (EXE, Manage your VMs)

 

Management Consoles Winner, VMware (Less is better)

 

Hypervisor Choice

 

Citrix

Pick from the three main leaders VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.  This has helped make the decision for some of our clients due to the cost of ESX alone and not the really the features that XenServer has over VMware.

 

VMware

You can only use VMware ESX to host your desktops.  The good thing is that they changed their pricing model to reflect when you run desktops vs running servers so it is cheaper that it was just a couple years ago but there is a cost you have to be aware of.

Hypervisor Choice Winner, Citrix (More Choices=More Better)

 

Conclusion

From what we have seen over the past 4 years with the Virtual Desktop craze Citrix is the leader in almost category and with its maturity and product depth it makes it a simple choice.  There are some specific deployment types that VMware View makes sense but due to its two main weaknesses security and image rollout keep it away from most clients deploying it.  Using XenApp instead of real VDI from either partner is in almost in all cases better and cheaper in every way and with the XenDesktop Enterprise or higher license including it just takes it to the top of the options list and then we will VDI what XenApp cannot do.

Citrix Provisioning Server 6.1 Upgrade

Last Friday Citrix Provisioning Services 6.1 and XenDesktop 5.6 came out and now it is time to update the LAB and make sure it doesn’t erupt in flames.

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX131938 (PVS 6.1 Release Notes)

One thing that I found out from 6.0 to 6.1 that was super awesome was that it finally did a inline upgrade.  I didn’t have to do something that has been kind of weird since Ardence and Citrix has bought the technology where you have to uninstall the software then just install it and it would just install and see the old database and it would be fine.  I had complained in the past about this weird process and it looks like it has finally happened.

Upgrading a exiting PVS 6.0 Deployment (I will also test 5.6 a couple other versions later)

  1. Backup the Database!
  2. Throw the CD In
  3. Citrix (Can we glue all three of these together so I just have to click install once instead of three installs and three finishes.)
  4. Yeah it is ? (Weird Alert, guess it wont upgrade that so make sure and go back and do that.)
  5. That is a good sign
  6. Wohoo.  The number one thing that fails here normally is “Configuring Services” which is usually a bad Username or Password or it couldn’t configure or reconfigure the service account for Database access.
  7. Don’t forget to update your PVS Console.
  8. I rebooted the server just to be sure it was happy.