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NGN Citrix Day 2011

On the 13th of April 2011 the first Citrix Day of the NGN was held. The NGN is a Dutch association mainly for system administrators and IT Professionals. The Citrix Day was visited by about 200 people, so for a first event this was a good result. I was available as an Ask an Expert person. Unfortunate there was not a specific spot arranged, so we were just between the attendees. Probably this caused that I only got a few questions to answer (the asked questions were good by the way). This gave me enough room to visit most of the sessions given my good Dutch presenters. My experiences of this day are written down in this blog.

The day started with a session by Ruben Spruijt and Peter Sterk about the Trends and the upcoming Feature developments mainly focused on the Application and Desktop Delivery aspect. Trends mentioned and explained were:

  • Any, any, any any (time, location, devices, content)
  • New Way of Working
  • Cloud Computing
  • IT in contract
  • Apps from Windows to the Web
  • Application Virtualization (is this still a trend, I think this commodity right now)
  • User Installed Applications (UIA)
  • App Store/Self Service
  • Reverse Seamless (running local apps within the session of a Remote Desktop)
  • Move from x86 to x64
  • Screen Window to content



The session continued discussing the available desktop virtualization possibilities:

  • Client Side Type 1
  • Client Side Type 2
  • RDS
  • VDI (both state full/stateless)
  • Blade PC

Ruben and Peter also discussed the influence of the endpoint experiences, nirvana phone including mobile device management, user environment management (context aware, personalization) and the concept of layering and VDI/Storage challenges.

The second session was given by Ben Meints and Arjan Beijer and discussed the Bring You Own Computer/Device (BYOC/BYOD) concept. Ben started with the current client (based on manageability, costs and security) and the move to the new vision that user is central and needs personalization, access to new media and freedom. BYOD can help to achieve these goals by dividing business and personal applications. Ben showed/described which current Citrix technologies can be used currently for the BYOD concept. If BYOD suits at your company depends on the following factors:

  • Knowledge of the end user (to maintain the device at their own)
  • Company culture
  • Responsibility
  • Offline usage

Arjan continued with his XenClient experiences with a list of pro's (native performance, stability, good user experiences, sleep/hibernation support, encryption, isolation) and con's (special hardware, limited grow of the HCL, slow releases of hotfixes, maximum of 3 GB per VM, only one synchronizer connection possible and support or removable drives is not optimal).

The third session I attended was about VDI vs RDSH by three presenters. Peter Sterk started with mentioning the 5 possible virtualized desktops just as in the first session. But now he went more in detail about these types, in which cases the specific virtualized desktop solution could fit using example scenarios (it always depends). He also discussed the criteria for a selection (wishes/requirements, functionality, management, costs and support).

Roy Ramlagan continued the session with describing XenApp 6 with new features (self service storefront, new plugins, smartphone support, App-V integration, HDX enhancements, appcenter console), followed by discussing to use Citrix XenApp versus RDS  using criteria's like bandwidth usage, stability, manageability and addition functionality (multimedia, monitoring, image management). Roy also mentioned the prejudice that SBC is old school and considerations when using/implementing XenApp 6 (OCS/Lync functionality, application compatibility and SBC v VDI).

Niek Boevink was the last speaker in the session and focused on XenDesktop 5. Topics were

  • Why VDI (application computability, hardware resources, type of users, 32 bit support).
  • XenDesktop 5 components quickly explained (desktop studio, composers, hypervisor, vm, virtual desktop agent).
  • Focus points (hardware, sizing, IOPS, Desktop delivery, Application Delivery, Isolation).
  • Streaming cache location (no pre cache, pre cache in vDisk and cache redirection).

The session ended with Niek best practices: test environment, analyze user types, divide types in groups, size environment, profile management solutions and user HA features.

Also Citrix Netscaler and the Access Gateway were present by the presentation of Timco Hazelaar and Rajendra Soebhag. The session started with an introduction of the networking application group within Citrix, followed by focusing on the NetScaler. Rajendra described the features of the NetScaler (acceleration, request switching, load balancing, L7 switching) and the protection possibilities (attack protection, ACL, content filtering, sure connect, priority queuing). Also the GSLB option was mentioned and explained. The session continued with describing the available NetScaler editions and available types of applications (both physical as virtual).

Rajendra continued with the Citrix Access Gateway. First he described the standard CAG (secure access for XenApp/XenDesktop, SSL VPN, Endpoint Analyzis, Single FQDN, HA Failover) and the Enterprise version (adds multiple FQDN, Active-Active/Passive HA configurations and GSLB. Timco described the possible scenarios basic access (secure connection for XenApp/XenDesktop, without any license costs anymore) and smart access (full VPN, Endpoint Analysis, Websites, File Sharing and Network connections). In this session there was some time left, they filled it up with some discussions and questions about virtual versus physical appliances, availability on hypervisor platform versus HA options within the NetScaler/GAG and so on.

The last session I attended was also giving by Rajendra Soebhag about Citrix Provisioning Services and XenDesktop feature Machine Creation Service. The session started with describing current deployment techniques and how Citrix Provisioning Services fits in, followed by the architecture and components of Citrix Provisioning Services (PXE, DHCP, Shared Storage, PVS server, configuration database, boot device manager). Also the types of vDisks (standard, private, differential) were explained. Also the advantages of using Citrix Provisioning Service for XenApp servers were discussed (indentical servers, no changes written, one image for all serveres, manage workload with dynamic addition of XenApp servers, Rollback possibilities and so on).

Rajendra continued with Machine Creation Services, which is feature in XenDesktop. According to Rajendra there is much confusion between this feature and Citrix Provisioning Services. He described what this feature does and how it works. The feature makes it possible to automatically create virtual machines on the Hypervisor platform when specified conditions are reached.

The session ended with best practices for Provisioning Services:  network performance (bandwidth, latency), server performance (#nics, #cpu, #target services, vdisk, OS, #concurrent boots) and storage performance (number of drives, drive configuration, drive cache, spindle speed, 10/20 IOPS per XenDesktop VM and 10 IOPS per XenApp).

Summarized this was a good first event where of course some improvements can be made. Personally I think there should be two sessions at once, so some sessions could go a bit more into detail. You could see in the session that the presenters were trying to reach all people in the audience (with some basic information and some more in-depth information). Also a specific spot for the Ask the Expert would help a lot. But I'm looking forward to a next event like this in the Netherlands.