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Citrix Synergy 2015 Day 3

From 12 to 14 May Cirix Synergy is being held. It’s already the last day of the conference. In this blog I wrote down my experiences of the sessions that I attended during this day.

I started the day with the session of Daniel Feller and Carisa Stringer labeled Never let me down again, the future of upgrades. Daniel started with the enhancements that will bring be entered into the XenApp 6.5 (like enhanced profile managent and lync support), continued with showing the difference between a traditional desktop and one running PVS 7.6 Write to Cache RAM with overflow to disk. Next Daniel switched to the features of XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6 and picked some out to go into more detail like HDX Optimized Routing, Location aware connectivity and HDX Seamless Local Apps. Daniel explained the differences between the upgrades between the IMA and FMA architecture, where the FMA architecture does not “require” to upgrade every component at once. Daniel continued how to upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6, by migrating first the settings via project Serenity. Installing a VDA on XenApp 6.5 Session Host, will automatically uninstall the XenApp 6.5 software stack. Daniel recommends to do a phased approach using StroreFront to load balance or fail over between XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6 using equivalantFarmSet option in the XML file. Next topic was upgrading to a new version of the XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x, where you only upgrade what you need (upgrade controller, upgrade catalog). Next Carisa took over with Project Serentiy: innovative cloud servers that simplifies upgrades based on ScaleExtreme (Citrix Workspace Cloud lifecycle management). This will be a XenApp 7.6 Blueprint scripted install which will be coming soon. It’s still about settings and policies. Two options will be available Web UI for PowerShell scripts (Tech Preview) and automatically migrate settings which is coming soon. There will be XenApp 7.6 Migration PowerShell script for on-premises environments (which cannot connect to the cloud). Next Carisa described the steps for migrating the settings. All info and much more information can be found on http://www.citrix.com/xenapp/upgrade. Serentiy will also integrate into the Workspace Cloud. Next topic Daniel is describing AppDNA. He demonstrated how the product is working (automated MSI creation, analyzing and fixing the application). He also touched the XenApp Upgrade feature in the product, image preparation with application interoperability and build assessment. Last topic was the upgrade of the Citrix Receiver by Carisa. She mentioned the new feature enhancements within Receiver 4.2.100. Carisa continued that the upgrade process for Receiver for Windows (uninstall previous version, install new version, batch files provided by Citrix, GPO can be used for the enhancements for shortcuts to Start Menu en Desktop). Daniel summarized the session (PVS Cache RAM is awesome, 10% greater density of XenApp 7.6, remember the apps, project Serenity helps you upgrade, AppDNA will make life easier, don’t forget Receiver).

Next session I attended was Best practices for configuring Citrix Products to meet security objectives by Jon Spallone, John Tiseth and Steve Barnes. John started off with today’s challenges: devices, apps, content, security and workforce. They did a walkthrough using the ISO model (security/organizational policy, asset classification and control. Citrix capabilities were mentioned (HDX Insight, Session Recording, Appflow export, DDOS protection, encryption, end-point analysis, smartaccess, XenMobile Device Management, AAA to identify users and access permissions, WebApp firewall, Denial of Service prevention, MCS/PVS, PVD, SSL, NetScaler GLSB). Next topic was compliance, some solutions were mentioned like double-hop configuration for PCI applications (NetScaler SDX was mentioned as a solution, which is mentioned as PCI applicable). Other US compliances type were discussed (FIPS, PCI DSS) and how NetScaler met those requirements.

Just before lunch I attended the session Architecting Citrix on MS Azure presented by Loay Shbeilat and Prasanna Padmanbhan. They stated the session that it’s possible to build XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 today and a demo of a Citrix Desktop running on Azure. Loay continued with Azure Building Blocks (Cloud service, virtual machine, availability set, virtual network, storage account), followed by the hierarchy of Azure and Citrix components. Next he showed components within the Azure Portal. Next he discussed the architecture: create a virtual network, configure the VMs, create an endpoint mapping to the NetScaler GW. To connect it to your current on-premise nework via a site-to-site VPN. Express route is a direct line from the DC to the Azure infrastructure. He shares the different Azure instance types and login VSI workloads they provides (check the slidedeck for all the details). Next he discusses the Azure limiations (50 VMs per cloud service, max IOPS for disk [standard 500, basic 300], max IOPS per storage account 2000). All those is walked through via a customer case which decisions were made. They mentioned that NetScaler is available from today in the Azure marketplace with a bring your own license. He created a script for setting up the Azure topology. He is using the capture option within Azure, to set-up a VM template. NetScaler in Azure only uses one IP address. Juan touches the prices per hour. He showed the Excel Calculator they are providing for calculating the costs within Azure. Prasanne took over talking about the future of XenApp/XenDesktop in Azure in combination with Citrix Workspace Cloud including which steps you don’t have to do it when using CWC (install xendesktop infrastructure, create xenapp servers on VM, add VM to machine catalog and delivery groups and configure StoreFront). NetScaler is not part of the CWC infrastructure. Prasanne demoed the possibilities of CWC in combination with Azure. Within Azure MSC with CWC is available, PVS is not supported. With MSC you need to specialized image, so sysprep is not taking place. Probably available in Q3 2015. Also check the final slide with all the information links.

After lunch I attended the session by Jarian Gibson and Shane Kleinert Getting more out of XenApp and XenDesktop monitoring services. Jarian kicked of with the Citrix Monitoring options over the years: Resource Manager, EdgeSight and Directory & HDX Insight. Jarian continued with describing the HDX Insight Architecture. The usage of Directory is based on the type of license. Non platinum it is zeven days, 90 by default of platinum but can be extended. Jarian is mentioning directorconfig tool. Another tip Jarian is providing is about Filters, including the location of the filters. Group Policy Extension is added during the media, if not installed Policy Information is not shown. Prepopulate the domain field was also one of these tips Jarian provided. Jarian continued about XenApp 6.5 in combination with Director. To shadow the users you need to enable Remote Assistance and the Director WMI Provider. Continued with Activity Manager, Jarian mentions that the document name is shown (can be disabled). Shane continued with the possibility to lockdown shadow. Jarian also touched Session Recording integration. Next topic was HDX Insight, starting with the communication between the components and the data collection possibilities (single-hop, transpartant mode, LAN user mode, double-hop mode). HDX Insight is licensed via NetScaler Enterprise, NetScaler Platinum and CloudBridge. OData API can be used to create custom report (via Qlick PowerShell Explorer, Excel, Linkpad). Jarian showed some custom reports. Also the Director Report Tool is discussed by Jarian. Jarian and Shane asked for feedback, some suggestions were (both from the public as Jarian) more ICA channel information, customization reporting, getting up PVS info inside, monitoring services of Citrix components, some info about hypervisors, XenMobile integration. There were also questions about performance penalty for HDX Insights.

Last session for this Synergy for me was Application Layeringn for XenApp Single Management by Douglas Brown and several other guys of Citrix and Liquidware. Douglas started that an image exists of several parts (user profiles, user data, user and system applications). Next topic were the application layering methods: application layering (profile unity flexapp, Citrix AppDisk, VMware App Volumes), whole system layering (Unidesk), virtualization trough isolation (App-V ThinApp), Image Masking/Cloaking (FSLOgix), Application Rights Management (AppSense ProfileUnity). Douglas continued with application virtualization advantages (run two applications in the same environment, support streaming and off-line modes) and disadvantages (can be difficult to assign to users, isolation not compatible with applications, difficult to package into containers). Next topic were advantages (no isolation, packaging is straightforwarded, users can package their own apps, create application stores, delivery of apps to users is seamless) and disadvantages (no isolation) of application layering. Next we continued with the Citrix AppDisk in combination with AppDNA. The possibilities were mentioned, followed by the integration within Studio and Directory. He showed a video with the capabilities of AppDisk. The integration within the Directory is really neat, also the AppDNA integration is nice. Next up were the guys of Liquidware followed by some slides about their products. It was remarkable that they mentioned that there is planned integration with AppDisk and AppDNA. They also demoed their application layering solution. Liquidware is using one application per layer as a kind of default usage. (Logically) their UEM solution has an integration component for this solution. The session ended with some Q&A.