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CiTie 2012

At the 5th of June the second CiTie event took place, a technical event organized by Citrix Benelux. Only breakout sessions were scheduled mostly around Cloud and Desktop Virtualization. It was a good event with interesting sessions and good to catch-up with several people again. Logically I I blogged my experiences of this CiTIE 2012 event again.

I started with the session Desktop Virtualization Futures by Paul Murray. He started with the evolution technology of desktop virtualization ending with the mobile work styles and how Citrix is reacting on this and which building blocks are used to reach the mobile work style. Paul continued with joining the XenDesktop and XenApp farm, creating just a few consoles and real-time assessment. Next topic was the current XenDesktop 5.6 with personal vDisk and the FP1 of XenApp 6.5/XenDesktop 5.6 (expected at the end of June). I already covered this part on my Synergy blog, so I will only mention other elements Paul mentioned. Interesting was his remark that they are working about managed updates related to the base images in combination with Personal vDisk. Also PvD is not supported on Vista, only XP and Windows 7. Overhead on Windows 7 using PvD is 25% (they want to lower it to 10/15%), while on XP the overhead is 65% (no typo). Paul also mentioned that the ultimate deployment scenario will be a combination of MCS and PVS where the best of both will be used. Currently Paul advices to use MCS in combination with PvD, but the actual reason were not fully clear to me. Again Paul also mentioned that CloudGateway will replace Web Interface, according to Paul this will take about 2 or 3 years. Last topic was the future of XenApp/XenDesktop. Next release (Jasper) will combine XenApp/XenDesktop into one product. Expectations are that a Public Technical Preview will be available at the end of this year (2012). Key developments are: 2 consoles (Director/Studio), Configuration Logging (so also for XenDesktop), Simplified IT operations, IPv6, mission critical, cloud enabled, Win8/2012 support, Win8 HDX support and RemoteFX.

Next session was XenClient Enterprise by Walter Hofstetter. The session started with a person from Intel sharing the thoughts of Intel about virtualization. Mainly this was the basic story about virtualization and the current hot topics/hypes). Interesting was the part about the Client Aware Services Intel is piloting, where based on location (using GPS) can be determined which applications/data can be accessed by the user. Walter took over starting asking functionalities which are missing currently in XenClient. ESX support, Central Management, Network Control and Hardware Support were mentioned out of the audience. Logically the acquisition of Virtual Computer and their NxTop product was next topic. Walter described the features of NxTop (hypervisor platform support, scalable till 10000 endpoints, deeper policy control, allows VM image creation/editing on the back-end, broader set of hardware support, nvidia support and remote image servers. The product will be labeled XenClient Enterprise available in June of this year. This is just some hotfixes and rebranding of the product to Citrix. A next release will be really (a start of) merging both products. Think of HDX, Extreme Security, Extensibility out of XenClient and Expanded Hardware from NxTop on the client side. On the server side PvD from Citrix, Multiplatform and centralized management for NxTop on the back-end side. Indeed Personal vDisk will be part of the XenClient product in the near future. Next Walter described the XenClient Enterprise infrastructure. Remarkable is that Hyper-V is required for image creation/updating process. Also the caching servers feature for organization with more locations is good feature. SQL is really important according Walter, so it is advisable to use SQL redundant solutions for this part of the infrastructure. Walter mentioned some figures about (virtual) hardware requirements. Also RDP ActiveX control is required on the client side. Walter continued with showing the GUI of the NxTop client. The client also includes a browser, RDP Client and a Citrix Receiver. Really useful to users can always connect to SBC/VDI environment, if the OS within the Hypervisor is not function. Downside is the size of the client, which is about 50 GB. The "tool" menu is really cool, available as a tray icon and top level menu. Next Walter showed the management console on the back-end side. Walter dived a bit into the layering principle explaining into detail which content is stored in which layer. (version<x>.vhd, nxprep.vhd, snapback.vhd, user.vhd and local.vhd). The session ended with quickly mentioning the policies (Engine, Back-end and Virtual Machine policies) and the client statistics.

After lunch including for some us some thrilling rides I attended the session AppDNA by Richard Edwards. He started with the introduction of AppDNA is and the challenges of the application migrations. Basically the same information as the Citrix Synergy I followed, so see that blog for more details. Next he mentioned the architecture AppDNA is using (SQL, .Net/C# and client systems), followed by the process (import AppDNA database, current used OS, new OS, Applications, user/group/devices, audit/performance/runtime [LakeSide Systtrack] and reports. Intelligent remediation is used to define the required actions to get the application fixed for the new environment. AppDNA also includes an Effort Calculator based on apps, issues, actions, action effort, app complexity and project variables. He showed this features in a demo. The report functionality including a management summary and explanation of the figures is a cool feature. Again not a real answer on the pricing question, only that the license is based on per application added in the product and your Citrix discount.

The last session I attended was about CloudBridge by Michael Aldridge. Session started with explaining what CloudBridge is (tunnel between two environments, for example private cloud (data center) and/or public cloud providing network transparency). CloudBridge can be combined with NetScaler and/or Branch Repeater. Michael continued with network methodologies which can be used with CloudBridge. Next topic were use cases (overflow/cloud bursting, development/QA, staging environments, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Enterprise CDN). Michael told us that the Citrix Access Gateway (standard we presume) is End of Life and will not be developed anymore. Probably CAG will be supported for 2 to 3 years. NetScaler Platinum included CloudBridge functionality, but CloudBridge is also available as a stand-alone product. Then Michael demoed CloudBridge. It was a brave demo demolishing a working CloudBridge environment and rebuilding this environment, which fails completely. Because of that I lost Michael for a bit, trying to rebuild the environment and hopping between VMs and explaining why he is searching for information. During some good questions were asked like using a FireWall in front of a NetScaler (Michael advises to do that) and about hardware requirements (hardware does not have to be the same on both sites, cloudbridge and access gateway can be combined on one NetScaler).

Again the CiTie 2012 edition was a nice and good event. Like the location a lot and was good again speaking to several guys again (after a while not seeing them). Personally I thought sessions last year were a bit better, but maybe because I visited Synergy US I already was more up to date then I thought. However looking forward to next year's event.