Home > All, Citrix, NetScaler, Provisioning Services, XenDesktop > My Post-Synergy View – Update 2 #CitrixSynergy #Citrix #CitrixSummit #XenApp #XenDesktop #NetScaler #Sanbolic

My Post-Synergy View – Update 2 #CitrixSynergy #Citrix #CitrixSummit #XenApp #XenDesktop #NetScaler #Sanbolic

Hi again!

Ok, time to wrap up my Synergy update post series… In the previous post I started to give U my view of the takeaways from Citrix Synergy. So let’s continue! 🙂

As I wrote before I tried to structure the post using the following; each heading represents the enhancement request topic and/or the takeaway item, and then the subheading of Description and Status is showing you my personal view on the topic and its status.

NetScaler

Description:

These where the items that we had on the enhancement list before going to Synergy:

  1. Create SDX platform/architecture to run on all MPX appliances, for more info why see; NetScaler MPX vs. SDX dilemma; https://richardegenas.com/2012/10/03/netscaler-mpx-vs-sdx-dilemma/
  2. Add support for AG session policies so that ICA proxy can be turned on for specific published apps and desktops and not per session. This for situations where you might have one app or desktop that sits behind an AGEE and others don’t.
  3. The NetScaler/Access Gateway HTML/GUI pages used shall be able to be customized per AGEE/AAA Virtual Server. Today they are global pages so that specific modifications/customizations cannot be made and you have to buy an additional NetScaler unless major customizations are done and then life-cycle management becomes an issue.
  4. Change so that you can specify different Authentication policies and requirements mapped to Session policies instead of to a Virtual Server, AAA group etc. This could then provide a way so that you could offer ICA proxy mode with single auth and two-factor if you launch/select to open an SSL VPN tunnel. And then a user that has forgotten a hardtoken could still get access but only in ICA proxy mode and have all virtual channels disabled without having to have multiple accounts in the Receiver and admin doesn’t need multiple NS AGEE VS.
  5. It would be good to get the same Account Self-Service functionality that the  Single Sign-On/Password Manager service can provide and have integrated into the AGEE login page where end-users can themselves unlock their accounts and reset their passwords without involving Service Desk. And the solution for how to get the single sign-on account self service feature should be an integration part of the NetScaler AGEE console rather than manually updating the HTML pages etc.

Status:

Ok, so here are my takeaways about the enhancement requests:

  1. Not fulfilled – Ok, still Citrix has not released or made any commitments to that they will provide the SDX architecture on all physical appliances. I raised the question in a NetScaler session and the answer was basically that right now Citrix haven’t aligned the hardware architecture completely yet to be able to do so but they are thinking of it. I asked again why they couldn’t do it on the 8200 and  higher appliances that is on the new HW architecture, and the response was that it’s correct and that they will look at this.
  2. Not fulfilled – This is a requirement that most companies won’t have of course but I think that there may be quite a lot of companies that still would like this functionality.
  3. Not fulfilled – And this has been an item that has been requested for quite some time… and especially that you at least have a bit more “user friendly” way of updating the standard pages for the customers that don’t have the necessary HTML and Javascript skills. But i guess that the answer from Citrix regarding the look and feel of the pages can be solved by purchasing the SDX platform and have a NetScaler VPX per customer/VIP instead of solving it with more complex web code…
  4. Not fulfilled – Ok, this one I really was hoping for! I have a couple of customer that would like to see that you simply could do one-factor authentication for when the user want’s to go into proxy mode and then require “elevated authentication” for when he/she wants to connect over a SSL VPN tunnel. This could be interesting if it could be “seamless” for the user and that you don’t have to do multiple AGEE vServers.
  5. Not fulfilled – This is also an interesting question, there are ways to do it but it’s not a nice way workaround I’d say. But this also touches upon another story, is Single Sign-On going to be replaced by another product or feature in the Citrix stack? Currently End of life (EOL) for Single Sign-On 5.0 (former Password Manager) is 4-Jan-2016. For more info about Citrix product life cycle info have a check here. But all in all we need a way to allow users to do Account Self-Service from the Internet and unmanaged devices that aren’t a part of the domain and agent-less!

That was the update on the list items! But let’s then move on to the updates that where given on the NetScaler product! 😉

First of all the biggest update must have been the Cisco and Citrix cooperation:

Citrix and Cisco forge partnership to provide next-generation application delivery controllers (ADCs)

Cisco is recommending Citrix NetScaler Application Delivery Controller (ADC) solutions to its customers building next-generation datacenter networks, and will integrate NetScaler into the Cisco Cloud Network Services architecture. 

Citrix NetScaler leads the industry with unparalleled ADC innovation, driving the best price/performance in the market, along with the most advanced feature set. Underpinning the NetScaler architecture is Citrix TriScale, providing the ability to Scale Up for greater network elasticity, Scale In for delivering powerful multi-tenancy, and Scale Out using advanced clustering to seamlessly expand network capacity.

With its software-driven, best-in-class ADC capabilities and an open, highly flexible architecture, NetScaler is the natural choice for next-generation datacenters built using Cisco’s Cloud Network Services architectures. Together, Citrix and Cisco deliver best-of-breed capabilities to successfully embrace cloud computing initiatives, enterprise workforce mobility projects and broad-scale desktop virtualization.

For more information about this really exciting partnership have a look at these to links:

Citrix and Cisco forge partnership to provide next-generation application delivery controllers (ADCs)

Introducing the ACE Migration Program and AMPing Up For Better Cloud Services

Other instances on NS SDX

What also was discussed is of course when we can provision other VPX’s than NetScaler on the SDX platform, like BranchRepeater! This is the first step according to the guys in the Citrix booth and my next question was of course if XenDesktop Platinum customers then could use their BR VPX 45 license for this instances… they turned silent and then of course said; “That’s an interesting thought!” 😉

And of course there are other components/products of the Citrix stack that I’d like to run on the SDX, like the AppController would be nice!

Amazon templates

And what’s also nice is that Citrix will be releasing templates for NetScaler VPX and BranchRepeater VPX for the Amazon cloud services! That’s nice!

Provisioning Services

Description:

The following items where on the list to check:

  1. Improved/simplified support/update functionality for when you use KMS licensing
  2. Create REAL update msp or msi files for updates, you can’t require admins to go in and replace DLL-files etc in 2012
  3. Implement replication of vDisk files (diff-files) etc so that it’s automated within the PVS solution so that you don’t have to rely on DFS-R etc.
  4. Improve the TFTP/PXE feature so that admins easier can provide high availability for the “Image Management” service based on PVS for environments where the competence of doing this with a NetScaler aren’t available. Suggestion is to use the product stack but improve the automation of the setup of the load balancgin through wizards or similar on the NetScaler side to simplify implementation and config mgmt.

Status:

Ok, so this was the outcome for the list above:

  1. Not fulfilled – Still you have to do all the hazzle when using KMS and do the image management through PVS…
  2. Not fulfilled – Ok, this is still a mess and is something that they of course “are looking” at. For those that use PVS I guess U can only hope that it’s fixed soon…
  3. Not fulfilled – Ok, perhaps this is not something that Citrix has their intentions of addressing. There are different ways of course to ensure that vDisk management is as simplified, cost efficient and optimised and possible. Options like using CIFS is one option of course but that then of course requires that you still address the replication between sites etc. And you can of course also look at Melio from Sanbolic which is a great solution to the dilemmas with a larger and distributed PVS or SQL environment!
  4. Not fulfilled – This is also one of the questions that more or less is a problem of most IT services; they become very complex to design, implement and operate and this is something that the industry need to focus on I think.

And of course it’s also interesting to see where PVS and MCS will merge into the future. But after the discussions I’d say that we have to wait a pretty long while before we have something that is released, then mature and ready to be used (yes I know the PVS has had it’s issue but at least I think we know most of the issues by now). So I wouldn’t put my money on that MCS will replace XenApp provisioning within 6 months at least…

XenApp/XenDesktop

Here of course a lot fo the focus has been on the previous Project Avalon that now has been split up into two different projects/releases;

  • Excalibur
  • Merlin

The Excalibur release is focused on ensuring that XenApp now aligns with the XenDesktop Flexcast Management Architecture (FMA), this of course has its pros and cons. One for instance is that you that have a distributed environment with a large XenApp farm with multiple zones spread across the globe need to think of the datastore/SQL design… and that also adds some other interesting challenges from a service delivery point of view though there will be a lot of sites potentially for you guys. And how do you design, monitor, manage and operate that in a good way. Citrix is helping Microsoft selling SQL licences. 😉

And of course Citrix is also trying to add more capabilities when it comes to the Merlin release where more end-to-end administration, troubleshooting and reporting  functionality is added into Studio and Director (yes; they are dropping “Desktop” in front of the console names). This looks good but is still way to far from being a source that you can rely on for end-to-end monitoring of all components in a traditional Desktop and Application service and will not be something that simplifies your SLA/SLO reporting.

The are also with these new releases also adding support for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and that’s good. My personal view is of course still that I believe that for instance Windows 8 is interesting, but will it be adopted by most companies across their desktop delivery? No, I think that Windows 8 will be Microsoft new Vista release, some will use it but most companies already have or are rolling out Windows 7 that I agree with Douglas is the new XP.

Regarding the Excalibur and Merlin release I suggest that you have a look at these articles/blog posts:

Top 5 reasons you want to download the Excalibur tech preview!

Important facts about XenApp/XenDesktop.next – Excalibur

For download of the Tech Preview go to this page and rock’n roll!

https://www.citrix.com/downloads/xendesktop/betas-and-tech-previews/avalon-excalibur-tech-preview.html

GotoMeeting

Using GoToMeeting for iPhone or iPad, you can now:

  • Launch a meeting and invite attendees with just a few taps.
  • Change presenter so another person can show their screen.
  • Present your content by simply browsing to it or opening email attachments (iPad only).
  • Easily share content from ShareFile or Dropbox during a meeting (iPad only).
  • Brainstorm with the onscreen highlighter and whiteboard (iPad only).

Miscellaneous

And of course the following interesting updates is something that I encourage U to read;

Release 1.1 of the Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync

Introducing Citrix Auto Support – Help is on the way

New Project Accelerator: Fast Track to Better Virtual Desktops

//Richard

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