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Posts Tagged ‘Provisioning Services’

Deploying #SCCM 2012 Packages and Programs with the #Citrix Connector – #DaaS, #XenDesktop

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

This is a really good blog post by Christopher Fife, it touches on a couple of scenarios and explains the solution to how best you would accommodate the solution to them. Good work Christopher! 🙂

The Citrix Connector 7.5 for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, also known simply as the Citrix Connector, integrates XenApp and XenDesktop 7 with Configuration Manager 2012 (CM). The Connector streamlines use of Configuration Manager deployment technology to automate Citrix server and desktop image management. The Connector leverages the new Application/Deployment Type (App/DT) feature of Configuration Manager 2012 to orchestrate deployment to the right images at the right time. Administrators can optionally use the App/DT model to deliver the actual application publications.

Many of our customers are still early in migrating to the App/DT model. They are still leveraging their extensive library of Packages and Programs developed with great care over many years. These Citrix customers want to know how to use all the goodness of the Connector with these Packages and Programs. So, if you are interested in using the Citrix Connector to deploy Packages and Programs to your Citrix servers and desktop, this post is for you.

In many cases deploying Packages and Programs with the Citrix Connector is a straight forward process familiar to any CM administrator. However there are two scenarios in which specific actions are required to avoid unintended consequences when deploying Packages and Programs with the Citrix Connector.

Scenario 1 – Deploying to Image Managed (MCS or PVS) Citrix hosts

The first scenario that requires special consideration is deploying Packages and Programs to VMs created with Citrix XenDesktop Machine Creation Services (MCS) or Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS). As an administrator, you want to deploy software on the master image of a Machine Catalog and rely on XenDesktop/XenApp to clone worker VMs. Deploying directly to VM clones wastes compute, storage, and network resources because each clone will discard the changes on reboot.

Thus, the Citrix Connector is optimized to only install applications on the master image of a Machine Catalog while entirely skipping application installation on the clones of the master image. The key enabler that allows us to selectively install applications is a CM client policy that puts a 3rd party agent like the Citrix Connector in charge of when to install application or updates.

Here’s the problem. CM client policy does not stop the installation of Packages and Programs or Task Sequences; it only applies to the App/DT model and Windows Updates. This means that the Citrix Connector cannot prevent the installation of Packages and Programs on MCS or PVS clones, leading to unnecessary resource utilization.

Solution

Create a device collection that contains just the update device and deploy Packages and Programs to this device collection instead of the device collection created by the Citrix Connector.

Scenario 2 – App Publishing from the CM Console

The second scenario comes into play when using the CM Console to publish the Package/Program as a XenApp-hosted application. The Citrix Connector uses CM application detection logic to ensure that the application is installed before publishing it to Citrix Receiver. This is to prevent an icon from appearing in Receiver before all the servers in a Delivery Group have the application installed.

Unfortunately Package/Program deployments do not have reliable, ongoing application detection logic. Consequently, this orchestration feature of the Citrix Connector cannot be supported when using the Citrix Application Publishing Wizard to publish apps from the Configuration Manager Console.

Solution 1

Use Citrix Studio to publish the application instead of the Citrix Application Publishing Wizard in the CM Console.

Solution 2

If you are using CM Application Catalog and want the Citrix hosted version of the installed program to appear there, you will need to create a new application with a Script deployment type and a Citrix deployment type. The Script DT supplies the application detection logic by looking for the application’s executable, while the Citrix DT creates the application publication in XenDesktop.

 

Solution Details

 

The remainder of this post is divided into two sections and will give specific examples of how to implement the solutions discussed above. The first focuses on image management and precisely targeting the program deployment at the update device for a Citrix device collection. The second section focuses on publishing the program installed by CM as a Citrix hosted app.

Solution for Image Management and Resource Utilization

As previously mentioned, the Citrix Connector cannot prevent the installation of Packages and Programs on pooled Citrix session hosts created with Machine Creation Service (MCS) or Provisioning Service (PVS). To prevent this potential inefficiency, a new device collection must be created that only contains the update device. There are 4 steps to accomplish this:

  1. create the new device collection,
  2. deploy the program to the new device collection,
  3. monitor for deployment success on the update device, and
  4. update the pooled Citrix session hosts with the updated image.

These steps are detailed below.

For background information about master image management with the Citrix Connector and the role of the update device, watch the Master Image Management video http://www.citrix.com/tv/#videos/11534 on CitrixTV.

Before you start, use the machine catalog properties to make sure there is a designated update device, the Update Method property value is “update device”, and the Update Device property value contain a machine name. This is a very important step. If an update device is not defined for a Citrix image managed device collection, the steps outlined below will result in a new device collection with zero members.

Machine Catalog Properties

Step 1: Use the Configuration Manager Console to create a device collection

  • In the Assets and Compliance section of the Configuration Manager Console, click the “Create device collection” action on toolbar ribbon.
  • On the General Page of the Create Device Collection Wizard,

Read more…

True or False: Always use Provisioning Services – #Citrix, #PVS, #MCS

August 29, 2013 1 comment

Another good blog post from Daniel Feller:

Test your Citrix muscle…

True or False: Always use Provisioning Services

Answer: False

There has always been this aura around Machine Creation Services in that it could not hold a candle to Provisioning Services; that you would be completely insane to implement this feature in any but the simplest/smallest deployments.

How did we get to this myth? Back in March of 2011 I blogged about deciding between MCS and PVS. I wanted to help people decide between using Provisioning Services and the newly released Machine Creation Services. Back in 2011, MCS an alternative to PVS in that MCS was easy to setup, but had some limitations when compared to PVS. My blog and decision tree were used to help steer people into the PVS route except for the use cases where MCS made sense.

Two and a half years passed and over that time, MCS has grown up. Unfortunately, I got very busy and didn’t keep this decision matrix updated. I blame the XenDesktop product group. How dare they improve our products. Don’t they know this causes me more work? :)

It’s time to make some updates based on improvements of XenDesktop 7 (and these improvements aren’t just on the MCS side but also on the PVS side as well).

So let’s break it down:

  • Hosted VDI desktops only: MCS in XenDesktop 7 now supports XenApp hosts. This is really cool, and am very happy about this improvement as so many organizations understand that XA plays a huge part in any successful VDI project.
  • Dedicated Desktops: Before PVD, I was no fan of doing dedicated VDI desktops with PVS. With PVD, PVS dedicated desktops is now much more feasible, like it always was with MCS
  • Boot/Logon Storms: PVS, if configured correctly, would cache many of the reads into system memory, helping to reduce the Read IOPS. Hypervisors have improved over the past 2 years to help us with the large number of Read disk operations. This helps lessen the impact of the boot/logon storms when using MCS.

    Read more…

#Citrix #PVS vs. #MCS Revisited – #Nutanix, #Sanbolic

Another good blog post from Citrix and Nick Rintalan around the famous topic whether to go for PVS or MCS! If your thinking about this topic then don’t miss this article. Also ensure that you talk to someone who have implemented an image mgmt/provisioning service like this to get some details on lessons learnt etc., also with the change in the hypervisor layer and the cache features this is getting really interesting…

AND don’t forget the really nice storage solutions that exists out there like Nutanix and Melio that really solves some challenges out there!!

Nutanix, how it works..

http://go.nutanix.com/rs/nutanix/images/TG_XenDesktop_vSphere_on_Nutanix_RA.pdf

Melio Solutions – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Back to the Citrix blog post:

It’s been a few months since my last article, but rest assured, I’ve been keeping busy and I have a ton of stuff in my head that I’m committed to getting down on paper in the near future.  Why so busy?  Well, our Mobility products are keeping me busy for sure.  But I also spent the last month or so preparing for 2 different sessions at BriForum Chicago.  My colleague, Dan Allen, and I co-presented on the topics of IOPS and Folder Redirection.  Once Brian makes the videos and decks available online, I’ll be sure to point people to them.

So what stuff do I want to get down on paper and turn into a future article?  To name a few…MCS vs. PVS (revisited), NUMA and XA VM Sizing, XenMobile Lessons Learned “2.0″, and Virtualizing PVS Part 3.  But let’s talk about that first topic of PVS vs MCS now.

Although BriForum (and Synergy) are always busy times, I always try to catch a few sessions by some of my favorite presenters.  One of them is Jim Moyle and he actually inspired this article.  If you don’t know Jim, he is one of our CTPs and works for Atlantis Computing – he also wrote one of the most informative papers on IOPS I’ve ever read.  I swear there is not a month that goes by that I don’t get asked about PVS vs. MCS (pros and cons, what should I use, etc.).  I’m not going to get into the pros and cons or tell you what to use since many folks like Dan Feller have done a good job of that already, even with beautiful decision trees.  I might note that Barry Schiffer has an updated decision tree you might want to check out, too.  But I do want to talk about one of the main reasons people often cite for not using MCS – it generates about “1.6x or 60% more IOPS compared to PVS“.  And ever since Ken Bell sort of “documented” this in passing about 2-3 years ago, that’s sort of been Gospel and no one had challenged it.  But our CCS team was seeing slightly different results in the field and Jim Moyle also decided to challenge that statement. And Jim shared the results of his MCS vs. PVS testing at BriForum this year – I think many folks were shocked by the results.

What were those results?  Here is a summary of the things I thought were most interesting:

  • MCS generates 21.5% more average IOPS compared to PVS in the steady-state (not anywhere near 60%)
  • This breaks down to about 8% more write IO and 13% more read IO
  • MCS generates 45.2% more peak IOPS compared to PVS (this is closer to the 50-60% range that we originally documented)
  • The read-to-write (R/W) IO ratio for PVS was 90%+ writes in both the steady-state and peak(nothing new here)
  • The R/W ratio for MCS at peak was 47/53 (we’ve long said it’s about 50/50 for MCS, so nothing new here)
  • The R/W ratio for MCS in the steady-state was 17/83 (this was a bit of a surprise, much like the first bullet)

So how can this be?!?

I think it’s critical to understand where our initial “1.5-1.6x” or “50-60%” statement comes from – that takes into account not just the steady-state, but also the boot and logon phases, which are mostly read IOPS and absolutely drive up the numbers for MCS.  If you’re unfamiliar with the typical R/W ratios for a Windows VM during the various stages of its “life” (boot, logon, steady-state, idle, logoff, etc.), then this picture, courtesy of Project VRC, always does a good job explaining it succinctly:

The R/W ratio of the boot phase is a lot different than the steady-state!

 

We were also looking at peak IOPS and average IOPS in a single number – we didn’t provide two different numbers or break it down like Jim and I did above in the results, and a single IOPS number can be very misleading in itself.  You don’t believe me?  Just check out my BriForum presentation on IOPS and I’ll show you several examples of how…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

#Citrix #XenDesktop 7 released – #RTW, #BYOD, #HSD, #VDI

Ok, it’s here! The official release is now available for everyone!

XenDesktop 7 Editions

There are tons of blog posts and materials already out there and some great features as well that comes with this new release from Citrix. If you haven’t already played with the Excalibur release and know about them I suggest that you start evaluating and testing now!

Here are some good links to have a look at:

Enjoy! 🙂

//Richard

PVS support in XenServer 6.1 – via @_POPPELGAARD – #XenServer, #Citrix, #PVS

January 22, 2013 1 comment

Good blog post from Thomas Poppelgaard!

And this is something that many have waited for, either they upgraded and ran into the issues and had to revert back to 6.0.2… but now it’s fixed! 🙂

Citrix have released Hotfix XS61E009 & XS61E010 for XenServer 6.1 and now you are able to have Citrix Provisioning Services with XS 6.1 and use VVS.
I have been waiting for this for a while.

Issues Resolved In This Hotfix XS61E009

  1. Virtual Machines (VMs) with out of date XenServer Tools, may not be flagged as “out of date” in XenCenter. This hotfix resolves this issue and enables customers to be notified in XenCenter when new XenServer Tools are available.
  2. Booting a Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) target device using a Boot Device Manager (BDM) image can take an extended time to complete. This hotfix resolves this issue.

Issues Resolved In This Hotfix XS61E010

  1. Customers using XenServer Platinum Edition to license Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) may find that one PVS license per VM is checked out, rather than one PVS license per XenServer host. This may lead to a shortage of PVS licenses and an inability to provision VMs. Installing this hotfix along with CTX135672 – Hotfix CPVS61016 (Version 6.1.16) – For Citrix Provisioning Services 6.1 – English resolves this issue.
  2. Attempts to shut down Microsoft Windows Vista and later VMs can cause intermittent blue screen errors, with a "STOP: 0x0000009f..." error message.
  3. Adding more than eight NICs to Microsoft Windows Vista and later VMs, using the xe CLI can lead to a blue screen error on reboot.
  4. Copying data to a Microsoft Windows 2003 VM can cause the VMs to hang and lead to a grey screen error.
  5. When Dynamic Memory Control (DMC) is enabled, attempts to migrate Microsoft Windows XP and later VMs using XenMotion can cause the VMs to hang and lead to blue screen error.
  6. When the Citrix Xen Guest Agent service is running, Cut and Paste will not work between a XenDesktop virtual desktop and the endpoint device.
  7. Microsoft Windows XP and later VMs may hang during the boot process and may have to be forced to reboot.
  8. Attempting to install or upgrade the XenServer Tools on Microsoft Windows Vista and later VMs, which do not have access to a paravirtualized or an emulated network device can cause the installation process to hang.
  9. Manually installing the Legacy XenServer Tools without changing the device_id to 0001 can result in a "STOP: 0x0000007B..."error when rebooting a Windows VM. After installing this hotfix, customers will not be able to manually install the Legacy XenServer Tools by running xenlegacy.exe

Continue reading here!

//Richard

Wow, PVS creativity at its best – but still a workaround…

October 9, 2012 1 comment

Ok, I must admit that the blog post below and the efforts put into it from a creativity point of view is great!

Martin Zugec blog post about Pimp your PVS 1 – auto patcher is really neat! I give you all the creeds Martin, great work!

But, is this a solution to the problem that the PVS product has regarding configuration and patch management? NO… U still have a lot of work to do here Citrix, I’m just glad that you have such innovative and creative people like Martin to deliver interim workarounds to a problem that according to my personal believe is a major mistake in the product design and build principles.

Still waiting for a XenDesktop suite-wide “Update Manager” that handles life-cycle management of all components of the stack. Citrix has a lot of great products and now just need to “wrap it all up” and ensure that they are ready from an ITIL/ITSM point of view.

Cheers!

//Richard

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