Archive

Posts Tagged ‘PVS’

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…

How to pick virtualization (HW, NW, Storage) solution for your #VDI environment? – #Nutanix, @StevenPoitras

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Here we are again… a lot of companies and Solution Architects are scratching their heads thinking about how we’re going to do it “this time”.

Most of you out there have something today, probably running XenApp on your VMware or XenServer hypervisor with a FC SAN or something, perhaps provisioned using PVS or just managed individually. There is also most likely a “problem” with talking to the Storage team that manage the storage service for the IaaS service that isn’t built for the type of workloads that XenApp and XenDesktop (VDI) requires.

So how are you going to do it this time? Are you going to challenge the Storage and Server/IaaS service and be innovative and review the new cooler products and capabilities that now exists out there? They are totally changing the way that we build Virtual Cloud Computing solutions where; business agility, simplicity, cost savings, performance and simple scale out is important!

There is no one solution for everything… but I’m getting more and more impressed by some of the “new” players on the market when it comes to providing simple and yet so powerful and performing Virtual Cloud Computing products. One in particular is Nutanix that EnvokeIT has partnered with and they have a truly stunning product.

But as many have written in many great blog posts about choosing your storage solution for your VDI solution you truly need to understand what your service will require from the underlying dependency services. And is it really worth to do it the old way? You have your team that manages the IaaS service, and most of the times it just provides a way for ordering/provisioning VM’s, then the “VDI” team leverages that one using PVS or MCS. Some companies are not even where  they can order that VM as a service or provision it from the Image Provisioning (PVS/MCS) service, everything is manual and they call it a IaaS service… is it then a real IaaS service? My answer would be now… but let’s get back to the point I was trying to make!

This HW, Hypervisor, Network, Storage (and sometimes orchestrator) components are often managed by different teams. Each team are also most of the times not really up to date in terms of understanding what a Virtualization/VDI service will require from them and their components. They are very competent in understanding the traditional workload of running a web server VM or similar, but not really dealing with boot storms from hundreds to thousands of VDI’s booting up, people logging in at the same time and the whole pattern of IOPS that is generated in these VM’s “life-cycle”.

This is where I’d suggest everyone to challenge their traditional view on building Virtualization and Storage services for running Hosted Shared Desktop (XenApp/RDS) and Hosted Virtual Desktop (VDI/XenDesktop) on!

You can reduce the complexity, reduce your operational costs and integrate Nutanix as a real power compute part of your internal/private cloud service!

One thing that also is kind of cool is the integration possibilities of the Nutanix product with OpenStack and other cloud management products through its REST API’s.  And it supports running both Hyper-V, VMware ESXi and KVM as hypervisors in this lovely bundled product.

If you want the nitty gritty details about this product I highly recommend that you read the Nutanix Bible post by Steven Poitras here.

Nutanix_Bible640CVM_Dist-1024x384

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 on #vSphere Validated Design Guide is available now!

Really good design guide by Citrix and blog post by Carisa Powell:

We are pleased to announce the availability of the Citrix Solutions Lab 5000-user XenDesktop 7 on vSphere Validated Design Guide.

Yes, you read that right, XenDesktop on vSphere.  XenDesktop is also known to many vSphere customers as the best VDI solution for vSphere, and this design guide showcases the latest release of XenDesktop features and functionality all being hosted on a vSphere hypervisor.  XenDesktop is the best of both virtual apps and desktops from a single platform, so XenDesktop is VDI, XenDesktop is app virtualization, XenDesktop is server-hosted apps and desktops, XenDesktop is secure remote access, XenDesktop is mobility…and with XenDesktop 7 you get all of this functionality from a single platform.

This design guide combines everything that is XenDesktop 7 and delivers it from vSphere to showcase how you can provide an app, desktop, remote access, and more solution for any type of user:

  • VDI – XenDesktop offers a variety of VDI use cases, whether the user needs a standardized, corporate desktop that remains consistent and routine, or the user needs a personalized virtual desktop that he or she can customize to meet their business needs.  This design guide validates XenDesktop Provisioning Services central image management technology for Pooled VDI on vSphere and XenDesktop Personal vDisk technology for delivering Personal VDI on vSphere.
  • Server-hosted Apps and Desktops – XenDesktop also offers server-hosted apps and desktops by leveraging Microsoft Remote Desktop Shared Hosted (RDSH) technology to enable multiple users to connect and share resources from a single server.  This design guide showcases XenDesktop server-hosted resources from Windows Servers on vSphere.
  • Remote Access – XenDesktop leverages Citrix NetScaler appliances to provide secure, remote access from any location.  NetScaler can be a virtual or physical appliance, and this design guide highlights the implementation and configurations of NetScaler Gateway virtual appliances on vSphere.

So why showcase all the features and functionality of XenDesktop 7 on vSphere?  Staying true to the Citrix vision, XenDesktop continues to remain the only hypervisor agnostic app and desktop virtualization solution – including VDI, virtual apps and more.  This means XenDesktop 7 seamlessly integrates with any hypervisor including Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix…

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

Simplified VDI Architecture – #Citrix, #XenDesktop

This is a great start of a blog series from Citrix!

There’s a perception that VDI is complicated.  I’m far from being a rocket scientist, and I’ve managed to implement many successful VDI projects over the past ten years.  I truly believe that VDI is one of those things that is only as complicated as you make it.

It’s like saying that driving is complicated.  You’d have to be crazy [or very brave] to take your first lesson in Manhattan…during rush hour.  That’s why your driving instructor starts you off on a quiet street.  You need to know your boundaries.  Being successful with VDI is the same – keep things simple to start with and slowly increase complexity at your own pace, when you’re ready for it.

This raises the question – what’s the quiet street equivalent of a beginner’s VDI architecture?  It might not be the most optimized and efficient solution, but it would be quick to implement, do the job well and wouldn’t require specialist knowledge or skills.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’d like to share my thoughts.

There’s a lot to consider, so I’m going to break this up over four different blog posts:

  1. Simplified VDI Architecture – Introduction & FlexCast
  2. Simplified VDI Architecture – Storage
  3. Simplified VDI Architecture – Provisioning
  4. Simplified VDI Architecture – Reference Architecture

Martin Zugec will be helping me out with this blog series and will be referring to his experience on actual customer projects that followed many of these recommendations.

XenDesktop or VDI in a Box?

First up, you need to make a decision on VDI in a Box or XenDesktop.  VDI in a Box is easier to setup but does have some limitations.  Check out Allen Furmanski’s excellent blog post for guidance on how to make this decision.  I’m going to concentrate on XenDesktop for this post.

FlexCast

Although each FlexCast model has its own unique advantages, each additional model included adds complexity to the overall project.  There is a great table in the Virtual Desktop Handbook (FlexCast Model Selection – Table 11) that provides guidance on the capabilities of each model.  The main thing to note is that all scenarios, apart from offline, can be accommodated using the Hosted VDI model (XenDesktop), either with or without a Personal vDisk.  It may not be the optimal selection in every instance, but it is almost always a viable solution.

There are a number of reasons why I think that XenDesktop is simpler than XenApp, including:

  1. Desktop applications are developed to run on desktop operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows 7.  There aren’t many developers that test their applications on Windows Server 2003 or 2008.  Therefore, you’re far less likely to run into application issues with XenDesktop than you are with XenApp.  Even if your applications run okay on 2008 with XenApp, you’re probably going to have issues getting support from the application vendors.
  2. Hosting applications on multi-user operating systems can introduce additional application compatibility challenges.  Users may share the same configuration files and registry hives, especially if the applications are not multi-user aware.  This means that one user may change a setting that affects all other users of that server.  There are a ton of tips and tricks to get these apps working correctly but we want to keep things simple and choosing XenDesktop helps us achieve this goal.
  3. As multiple users are hosted on the same operating system, it is important that XenApp desktops are locked down to prevent security breaches and misconfiguration that could impact all users sharing the environment. Typically, this results in an extremely controlled and restricted user experience, hindering user satisfaction and acceptance.
  4. With XenApp desktops, a single user can consume a disproportionate amount of resources, impacting the performance of other users sharing the same XenApp server.  XenDesktop, on the other hand, allows vCPU and RAM assignments to be controlled on a per-user basis.  For this reason, I strongly recommend that heavy users are hosted on XenDesktop rather than XenApp.
  5. With XenDesktop, it is possible to provide users with fully personalized desktops.  This includes the ability for users to install their own applications.
  6. Unlike XenApp, XenDesktop supports generic USB redirection:

I’m a huge fan of Remote PC, especially when you consider just how simple it is to deploy.  However, there are some things Remote PC just can’t do, including:

  • You don’t have the flexibility to quickly provision or de-provision desktops based on business demands.
  • Image management is more complicated than a virtual desktop because you can’t use MCS and PVS can be challenging with desktops outside of the data center
  • You need to have a good connection between your XenDesktop Controllers and the physical desktops.  Something not always available for WAN users.

Regardless, Remote PC is a great solution in many scenarios.  Consider deploying Remote PC at the very start of your project.  It allows you to realize immediate value while you’re designing and implementing your full VDI solution.

If XenDesktop is so much simpler why do so many projects still standardize on XenApp?  It all comes down to cost – XenApp offers significantly higher levels of scalability than XenDesktop (some sources quote 300% more users).  Let’s take a look at this in more detail.

Processor

The Virtual Desktop Handbook provides us with guidelines on processor requirements for both XenApp and XenDesktop (Processor Requirements by Workload – Table 22):

If processor is the bottleneck, we can estimate the scalability of XenApp and XenDesktop for a fairly typical server configuration (2×8 cores):

As you can see, XenApp offers between 17% (heavy user) and 28% (light user) more users than XenDesktop – but nowhere near 300%!  Let’s put this into context, if you had 1,000 concurrent normal users, you would need seven physical servers for ‘XenDesktop: Windows 7’ and six physical servers for ‘XenApp: 2008 R2’.  Is one additional server per ~1,000 users enough to justify the additional complexity of XenApp?

RAM

For RAM, the Virtual Desktop Handbook table (Memory Requirements by Workload – Table 23) shows us that ‘XenDesktop: Windows 7’ requires significantly…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

%d bloggers like this: