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DuCUG 2015-2

On 25th of September we hold our second DuCUG event in 2015. This time the event was hosted by Cisco in Amsterdam. We had thre foreign speakers and our Bring/Choose Your Own Sessions providing the technical content. As usual I blogged my experiences of the sessions of this event in this blogpost.

The day started with the opening of our chairman Jon Jager thanking the sponsors, who make this event possible.

The first session was held by Simon Frost with the title Making StoreFront 3.0 & Receiver X1 work for you. Simon started off with enhancements in StoreFront 3, followed by the scalability guidelines (30k users per hour, groups measured up to 6 nodes, benefit of extra nodes levels off after that point, based on 2 vCPU [scaling pays off 4 or 6 CPU]. Simon also touched the browser plugin (Chrome disabled NPAPI/Windows 10 Edge has not ActiveX), where SF3 en X1 has a replacement for Browser Plugins. Simon discussed the Featured App Groups, Corporate Branding and Traditional Folder View. With X1 there is consistency across platforms. Simon showed the corporate branding options. Next Topic was the architecture, followed by the customizations content options, messages boxes, extensible Styles and where they are stored on the StoreFront server. Next Simon touched with the possible upcoming features are PowerShell rework, ‘Store Centric’ Admin Console. Next Simon talked about the Receiver 4.2 (desktop icons, named folders [selfservicemode], controllable by Config. It was a nice technical deep-dive of StoreFront showing lots of code. The session ended with some Q&A.

After the first break we continued with Iain Brighton’s session XenApp with PowerShell Desired State Configuration. Iain started of mentioning the free tools they have (Virtual Engine Kit, App-V Configuration Editor, App-V Package Management provider). Iain continued with explaining Desired State Configuration and why we would like to use (Windows Native Traditional Deployment don’t work in the cloud, it’s just a document, environmental separation). It’s based on three phases: authoring phase, staging phase (MOF), and implementation phase). Iain showed the authoring phase with some examples. Microsoft created some DCS source for RDS and also by the community like Nicholas. Only installation options are available in DCS delivered by Citrix (Labs). Issues with Citrix and DCS were discussed (DCS local system, XD cmdlets domain user account, many cmdlets that should go through DCS). However at E2EVC Berlin 25 new DCS scripts were made available. Next Iain will deploy a Citrix XenDesktop environment with the DCS. Currently it are plain VMs, no support for specific hypervisor features and so on. Iain also mentions why/when not to use DSC (disruptive operational change, DCS is not infrastructure as code – additional orchestration required, not all services are a good candidate). Also SCCM DCM versus DSC is touched briefly, including which one you should in which scenario. At the end Iain touched Citrix Lifecycle Management and if DCS is useable for that scenario.

The session for lunch was the Customer Case a bumpy road to hybrid cloud by Niek Boevink. He started with the requirements and the project starting points. Niek continued with component of the infrastructure where moved from on premises to the Microsoft Cloud. Niek described the decision for using Nutanix and the other infrastructure components. Also some issues were discussed: logon issue (connq state via qwinsta), performance issue with one-drive, including the experiences and solutions, two word edit functions (for K1 and full Office version), MFA issue (not solved yet), high CPU usage Office 365 in browser, drive letter dependencies of applications/functionalities, Nutanix sizing (dividing Front-End and Back-end), Office 365 Brower: no DOC/XLS support, no FTA support, Outlook/Exchange slow search, 365K1 (no OneDrive for business, no agenda/mailbox sharing, only office in a browser), Data in SharePoint different in the cloud.

After the lunch Bas van Kaam presented the first BYOS session Nutanix & Citrix, a match made in heaven. Bas started the session explaining the Nutanix infrastructure and features (data locality, shadow clones, de-duplication, data tiering and compression). Next Bas continued describing the Acropolis stack (App Mobility Fabric, Distributed Storage Fabric, Acropolis Hypervisor) and what at the moment works with Citrix. Prism is the overall solution that shows all components. Kees Baggerman provided us with a demo of Prism and Acropolis functioning together with XenDesktop (alpha version). From Studio a connection to the cluster IP of the whole stack (so HA automatically). Automatic Provisioning is on the roadmap.

The second BYOS Citrix XenServer in practice by Michel Helderman. Michel started with his personal experience with all hypervisors. Hyper-V: is fine, lots of effort to build, many networks to configure, minimal 8 NICs or converged networks, Teaming issues, Cluster Technology, VMM required). VMware: best choice for enterprise datacenters, feature rich (not required for Virtual Desktops), vCenter, high price). XenServer: open source, all inclusive, freeware, community support, commercial support Citrix 345$. Commercial editions: standard (open source+support), enterprise (standard+GPU), Enterprise included with XenApp/XenDesktop Enterprise. Advantages of XenServer: easy to install, multi master, no additional systems, easy to maintain, stable and good performance according Michel. Next Michel described some customer cases where they used XenServer. Michel also touched some disadvantages of XenServer: not all third party software support XenServer, driver support on new hardware. Also some tips were shared by Michel (inheritance of the pool, updates via command line, logfiles, supplemental packs, clean root disk and pool backup on shared storage. Michel also described the management options (XenCenter Console, XSConsole, command line XE, and PowerShell.

Our last BYOS provided by Rick Roetenberg with the session Citrix NetScaler more than an ICA Proxy. Rick described the other features like Content Switching, AAA Feature, Unified Gateway (NetScaler 11, Intranet Applications, Clientless Access, Saas), Global Server Load Balancing (load balancing based on DNS request active/active or active/passive), RDP Proxy (NS11).

After the afternoon break we continued with the session Microsoft Azure RemoteApp: a workspace in the Cloud. Nicholas quickly mentioned the background of RemoteApp: RDS. Next he described the flavors: Cloud Deployment (managed RDS deployment, authentication against Azure AD, low management overhead, image gallery, automatic updates of VM and Hybrid Deployment (integration of LOB apps, hybrid identity: Azure AD connections, Hybrid Network (Azure VPN/ExpressRoute), Hybrid Management, custom images, own responsibility for updates. Nicholas showed the cloud deployment options in a demo and shared his vision of the current status. He continued with Hybrid deployments requirements (on-premises infrastructure, network connection express route) and configuration (setup Virtual Network, setup Azure AD Connect, AD membership for Session Hosts). Also the hybrid deployment is demoed by Nicholas providing a good overview of the possibilities. Nicholas continued with the Licensing of RemoteApp (free per collection, Office license separately, windows and RDS license are included, basic or standard users price differences based on 40 Hours per month, after hours are capped on a limit, maximum users per collection). Nicholas also touched several limitations like one collection per user, 4H idle time out and so on. Nicholas ended the session with some tips and tricks (like USB redirection, working UDPS, central management, DSC).

Last session was traditionally the Geek Speak Live provided by Kees Baggerman and Barry Schiffer. First discussion was about GPU is a nice or a requirement. A nice discussion about this topic was held, mostly about the current specs, the future and the costs. General discussion was that currently is mostly niche, but the future can transform to a requirement as software will require vGPU with unknown which kind of card is required for this purpose. Second topic was Citrix XenClient is dead, log live Desktop Player. Also there some good valid points why the product did not made it. No Enterprise adoption, HCL issues, progress development of the product. Final point is that concept was great, but never made it as a product. Last topic was Citrix Workspace Cloud. Topics were discussed like costs, security, where does is help you, updating the platform by Citrix, Administration of the platform. Simon entered the discussion about the administration part. Kees pointed out that the developers are very keen and quickly responds on issue or requests. Iain ended the session perfectly with his vision that the work does not change as the VDA part is there. No admin is really looking forward to maintain a database or a delivery controller.