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CiTIE 2013

On the 12th of December Citrix Benelux organized CiTIE 2013 again in the Efteling. With a good filled agenda it was looking to become an interested event again. As usual I blogged my experiences of the day.


The first session I attended the session of Paul Murray What's New in the XenDesktop world. Paul started with the Avalon Platform and the versions of XenDesktop and dived a bit into Project Merlin (automation and cloud). Next Paul described the history of XenDesktop starting in 2008, going through all versions and enhancements. Then Paul described the major new features (Publishing Applications, Configuration Logging, Delegated Administration, RemotePC access, HDX Local Apps access). Paul actually says that there are not much new features as those were already available for while in other products or stand-alone. The big change is the multi user awareness and the simplified installation. Next he discussed the two consoles in XD7. Next Paul explained the delegated administration possibilities and configuration logging in XD7. Paul also touched the removal of Citrix App Streaming. Paul continued with high level changes in the XD architecture (new services, MCS services reduced to two services, databases for config logging and monitor services, RemotePC fully integrated into Catalogs and Groups, new approach to applications, Load Balancing is controlled via Group Policy, Support for HDX Local App Access, App-V integration and discovery). Paul also mentions that Citrix is working on integrating PVS and MCS, but it will take a while before it's arranged. Paul continued discussing the differences between XenApp and XenDesktop Published Application functionality (pre-launch, session lingering, anonymous users will come back). Local Host Cache will not become back, but Citrix is working on an option to start a session when the database is offline. Paul explained the Load Balancing functionality in XD7 (using load index represents aggregated worker load, measured on parameters CPU, Memory, Disk Usage, Session Count, samples are taken every 30 seconds. Concurrent Logons Tolerance reduces the black hole effect, configures with GPO's. Within Delivery Groups it's possible to hide/filter published applications based on AD groups. By one of the questions Paul mentions that the broker and VDA can be on one machine together.

The presentation was divided in two parts. The second half of the session started with showing the functionality in demo's including more detailed information like load balancing, published application creation, delivery group, delegated administration, configuration logging, EdgeSight (which was described into detail including which parts are being monitored, data granularity, missing functionality like alerting, compatibility with older EdgeSight versions, EdgeSight endpoints are not coming back, also Load Testing is not developed anymore.

After a good lunch and some roller coasters it was time for the next session. I attended Paul Murray again with his session XenDesktop Image Management Choices. Paul started that different teams advices different imaging techniques (PVS v MCS), but it depends on many factors. Paul started explaining how MCS works (Master Disk, ID Disk, Diff Disk), followed by PVS functionality (network streaming). Pauls created a strengths and weaknesses of both methods. (Strengths PVS: bare metal, enterprise, IO optimizations read, version image management, fast image update. Strengths MSC: simple to deploy, fully integrated with Studio, enterprise scalable, optimized for the cloud). According to Paul there are different virtual layers (base image/vDisk, write-cache/linked-clones, virtualized apps, offloaded user data, personal vDisk, User Profile) and in those layers Paul got into detail this what this means for each method. Base Image/vDisk: PVS mitigates via caching on PVS/MCS requires fast read perf/caching solution. Write-Cache/Linked-Clones: Fast random IO is the key requirement. Offloaded User Data: with shared base image will be used much more. Personal vDisk: fast random IO is a requirement. Paul reached the point that Citrix is considering to get the best of both methods into one "product", labelled Provisioning.Next existing of three components:

  • Image Management: facilities to enable creation and patching of master images (image creation/version)
  • Image Library: logical repository for all flexcast images/versions, single storage or multiple storage locations, images are generic in the library, ties into delegated admin for control of image access/visibility
  • Image Delivery: IO optimized mechanisms to deliver images/updates, image specialized depending upon infrastructure type. Paul described the phases this will be build up: phase 1: Optimize MCS Image Delivery, Phase 2: Consolidated Image Management.

Beyond Mobile Devices was the next session by Stefan Pieters en Andreas van Wingerden. The presentation stared with a video that Citrix made in 2001where they showed how they saw the future. Andreas started with a new term: mogility (mobile agility); working across devices, locations and employers. Google did research with the following results: multi-screen generation, driven by context, sequential v multanious. Customer expectation: coherence, synchronization, screen sharing, device shifting, complementarily, simultaneity. Also wearable computing (Google glasses, muse, vizux, I'm Watch) is new trend (will start disrupting mobile market in 5 years).   Andreas discusses about supporting new versions of the underlying layer. Stefan continued about the Mobile SDK, to convert applications into a format suitable for mobile devices. Stefan demoed the possibilities with starting the application on a Smartphone, followed by smooth roaming it to a tablet. Stefan also discussed advantages of the SDK versus fully rewriting it. Andreas took over again with the future considerations where Citrix is working on: GoTogether (free team chat and calling), Talkboard (collaborative whiteboarding), Crystal Palace (sharing data/clipboard between multiple devices/people), Project Alcatraz + Hosted MobileMail (secure hosted applications/mail for mobile devices running on Windows XenApp/XenDesktop in the data center), Hutt (direct from a browser a video conference call), Project Zeus (communicate instantly to get work done). The session ended with a referral to Technology Landscape 2018.

Last session of the day was by Agnus Adigun with XenClient Enterprise 5. Agnus started with Client Virtualization Editions (XenClient Enterprise, XenClient XT, DesktopPlayer).XenClient 5 is part of XD Enterprise/Platinum editions. Agnus described the XenClient components: Client Endpoint (engine, launcher, dock) and Synchronizer (central management server). Next the new features in XenClient 5 were mentioned (vDisk integration, CPM, Platform support, faster VM boot times). It will take 2 or 3 months for Citrix if the device making capable for XenClient, let Citrix now if a device does not work. Logically also RemotePC works with XenClient. The session continued with Architectural Overview of the engine, synchronizer, the authorizing server should still be run with Hyper-V. Agnus also touched the system requirements for both the engine as the management server. Communication between the engine and the synchronizer is based on SSL 443. Image management was the next topic, also based on VHD chaining, followed by the image model (shared image mode [snapback after reboot] and custom image mode [no snapback]). With the Personal vDisk the shared model can be used while user data will be retained on the PvD. Agnus also described the publishing process, the policy based management and the encryption architecture. Also the MS licensing is discussed and especially what is not permitted. The session ended with showing XenClient Enterprise 5 in action.

Again CiTIE is a well organized event on a wonderful location. The speakers are great, although I expected some more information about what's coming in the near future. Most sessions were about the current available products, unfortunate. Nevertheless the quality was good recap where Citrix is currently with their products. Also it was good seeing and speaking the guys of the Citrix community again.