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Citrix Synergy 2016 Day 2

Already day 2 of Citrix Synergy 2016 in Las Vegas. Day starts with a general keynote, followed by a set of breakout session. My experience of day 2 are in this article.

The keynote was opened by Tim again after a short video of day 1. Tim started with the innovation awards. After the innovation awards Bill Burrey was introduced on stage. Bill started with some trends being seen (Skype for Business, Chrome Devices, Virtual Linux and Secure Browser). Bill showed how SecureBrowser is easy to configure including the use of a watermark. Next topic was the platinum edition of XenApp and XenDesktop. Platinum now includes SCOM integration, Director, AppDNA for AppDisk, Self Service Password reset in StoreFront. XenMobile was next topic (ShareFile integration), followed by the growth of GPU requirements (both NVIDIA and Intel were mentioned) and XenServer 7. Bill also touched infrastructures (converged, hyper converged, cloud and the manufactures that are those spaces). Bill asked Brad Anderson (Microsoft VP Enterprise Mobility) on stage to talk together on the announcement of the renewed partnership with Microsoft. The started with Windows 10 and how Citrix accelerates the move to Windows 10 (AppDNA, deliver existing apps to new Win10 Devices, Windows 10 VDI service on Azure, Integrated with ConfigMgr). Next were the move to Office 365 (ShareFile integration), the move to Private & Public Cloud (Citrix Cloud Services built on Azure, Day 0 support for Windows Server 2016) and Empowerment of Mobile Users (Citrix Apps will be EMS enabled, NetScaler will be EMS enabled, XenMobile integration EMS scenarios, MS embedding NetScaler VPN in EMS MAM, Citrix building EMM services on Azure). Paul McEwen (CIO UBS) was asked on stage as a customer sharing their experiences using Skype for Business via XenApp/XenDesktop. Bill continued about costs which introduces the Free NetScaler HDX Proxy (but is not touched for more details) and the HDX Ready Pi. Also the Chromebook gots lots of love. Bill is also touching the vTax and how this can be eliminated with XenServer or Acropolis (directly attacking VMware) luckily with some jokes what you could do with the savings. Next was some love for Nutanix. Again VMware was under attack by showing a video comparing XenApp versus VMware Horizon, where logically XenApp was performing better. Next on stage was Klaus Oesterman (Senior VP and GM Networks) about NetScalers. A lot of talk about nothing in the beginning, followed by One to Any of NetScaler (API, Code Base, Feature Set, Management). Klaus also touched the NetScaler CPX (NetScaler in a Linux Container). Again another customer was asked on stage Amim Kassem of Hamama talking about using Citrix products and especially the NetScaler via a technique they called BimodalIT. A story about pets and cattles lead to the NetScaler Management and Analytics System (NetScaler MAS). Next on stage was Abhishek Chauhan about Software-Defined Network functions. They wer doing a demo with Skype for Business, which is actually working this time and was really enjoyable (lots of fun included). Abhishek continued with the seamless experiences of using NetScaler or StoreFront and shows some screenshots/console of NetScaler MAS and project running around MAS (Project LogStream, Project StyleBooks and Project Analytics). Last on stage is Jesse Lipson stage talking about ShareFile. Jesse continued announcing Connector Sharing (share files from network shares and SharePoint with external recipients) and ShareFile Drive Mapper (integration with File Explorer optimized for XenApp/XenDesktop). Jess continued with protecting data (storage zones, restricted storage zones and key management for cloud storage zones). Jess introduces another new feature called Information Rights Management (ensure only right people can view business files, restrict online access with watermarking and screen capture protection, protect download files by revoking access, blocking printer and copy/paste). Last topics were Secure Document Workflow and Office 365 Co-Editing. The announcements are shown in a demo by Jay Tomlin. After that a customer was again on stage telling their success story.

After the keynote that more than ½ hour extra than planned I went to the session Pass-through with Receiver and Single Sign-On presented by Jason Uglow. Jason started with Common deployment scenarios with the following topics architectural and historical considerations, deployment methods, install steps and post installation steps. Jason went into more detail in the architecture part (IIS, Windows Authentication Services, NTLM, Kerberos, domain pass-through). Installation and prerequisites (Receiver with ssonsvr.exe, StoreFront, domain joined workstation and site XenDesktop/XenApp). Jason started with showing the steps of Explicit Authentication, followed by the pass-through steps. Next topic were the deployment methods (cmd line /includeSSON, GUI, AD/EDS) and post install configuration (authentication policy via ADM/ADMX). Browser pass-through requires tusted sites usage and automatic logon configures as IE setting). Jason also mentioned that in StoreFront the pass-through can be defined at two places. Next topic were the troubleshooting steps: configuration challenges (machine not joined, SSON not enabled during install, non-administrator install, sson process is not running, local policies or GPO not enabled), documentation recommendations, common reported themes (install, plugin fails to start, prompted for authentication), troubleshooting steps (confirm configuration, isolate the behavior, check for errors, capture receiver diagnostic tracing, network provider order). Jason also described the Trust XML on the server part. Jason summarizes the tools which can be used for troubleshooting (Receiver diagnostics, Citrix supportability pack, Citrix diagnostics facility and receiver logging). Last topic were related topics like shortcuts (CTX200924), StoreFront issues (CTX207162) and Self Service plugin (CTX135538).

After the lunch it was time to attend the session provided by Andrew Wood and Jim Moyle Preventing possible PVS performance pain points. The started about the projectVRC survey that PVS is most used deployment mechanism. They started of the PVS architecture and the storage components. They continued with the PVS Cache Types and the charasteristics of those (device hard disk, cache in device RAM and cache in device ram with overflow to hard disk). Jim dived into the RAM overflow to HDD write cache (RAM: PVS Non Paged Memory Pool; Disk: Overflow File, Page File, Space for Crash Dump, Anti-Virus definitions, log files). Andrew continued with using WPA (Windows Performance Analyzer) and the blog of Nick Rintalan. Andrew also touched Remko’s and Andrew tool for enabling the PVS performance counters. Jim continued with his test about the performance of the write cache cache in RAM with overflow to disk. Citrix did even better improvements in PVS 7.8 when the cache stays in RAM. When the RAM cache is filed and overflowed to disk the performance will decrease significantly. Andrew continued with the issue around ASLR with Write Cache on Target Hard Device. Jim and Andrew also touched physical versus virtualize the PVS servers. Andrew is pointing that RAM is most important on a PVS server including the corresponding formula and also is mentioning the multi-threaded BNI stack. Storage performance is important by updating or creating vDisk. VHDX causes that write cache will go up a bit. Dane Young is mentioned with his VHD/VHDX performance tests. Andrew and Jim also touches the new considerations about ports and threads. They also touched the synchronization of the vDisks, followed by a POD design. The presentation was ended about automating the creation of the vDisk and the new PowerShell implementation. Jim is allowed to mentioning a probably upcoming feature that will use a caching mechanism within XenServer for PVS.

The next session I attended was What’s new in NetScaler Unfied Gateway 11.1 presented by Manohar Singareddy and Akhilesh Dhawan. The Unfied Gatway pillars are End User Experience, Indentity is Important and Ease of Management (consolidating remote access infrastructures). Besides the core themes there adding visibility. Next was what’s new in 11.1: further improve user experience (synchronize storefront/netscaler UI changes), 2 factor authentication/digital certificates, Insight Center. Manohar took over the presentation and goes into more detail on the new features/enhancements. He started with Always-On keeps you connected (location aware automatic VPN for best security and user experience). RfWebUi on gateway (same portal across direct StoreFront and NS Gateway via import/export function, granular control for Remote Access (nFactor) were also discussed by Manohar. Next topics were Gateway Insight (monitors the user’s remote access experience) and Gateway Visualizer (graphical representation of configuration entities). Also several smaller enhancements were mentioned (RDP proxy single IP, RD Proxy user-specified desination, FrameHawk dual STA, FQDN for STA, STA monitoring probe internal configu are just a couple of the whole list). A beta was announced NetScaler Gateway Service, a cloud based subscription service for NetScaler Gateway.

The state of the industry: Intel, NVIDIA and AMD by Gunnar Berger and David Cottingham. Session They stared of (after some questions) with the types of GPU setups available like Shared GPU (physixal hardware wirh GPU) and Passthrough GPU {one physical GPU to one VM). Gunnar continued with GPU use cases (Photoshop, Google Earth, Flash Silverlight, but also MS Office, FireFox, IE, Adobe Reader). Gunnar shows uses Powerpoint as an example by CPU usage with and without GPU. According to Gunnar also the user experience is better when using a GPU. David continued with three us cases (XenApp, Virtual Desktops as good as physical ones, moving workstaions into the datacenter). They share via the notes several use cases in several type of organization. They are repeating that also knowledge workers benefit from GPU. Next they dived in detail about vGPU per supplier (NVIDIA, Intel, AMD). Check the slides for the details, it went too quick to blog about it, but provides good information. Gunnar explains that it depends which technology and set-up you can use. He summarizes also in which type of hardware which cards can be used (Micro: Intel only; blade M6 or AMD, rack/tower NIVDIA, Intel, AMD). David pointed out for GPU on Linux support, which were supported and which not (again check the slidedeck for the details).