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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…

Metro Availability – Nutanix site-to-site cluster! Sooo cool! – #Nutanix, #EnvokeIT

October 10, 2014 Leave a comment

This is a really cool feature, I know many companies right now that are thinking about refreshing their platform (computer, network and storage) solution(s) and datacenter strategy. Most have dual datacenters today and would like to simplify the setup and ensure that they don’t have to handle two private clouds and manually create disaster recovery processes and technical solutions for ensuring that they can ensure high availability of their applications running on top of the IaaS solution.

This is where this new feature from Nutanix comes into play, now you can get data protection and mirroring of your data across two or more sites built into the product. Think about it, you can ensure your application availability in the event of downtime (planned or unplanned). Really cool!! 🙂

Introducing Metro Availability

Business-critical applications demand continuous data availability. This means that access to applications and data must be preserved even during a datacenter outage or planned maintenance event. Many IT teams use metro area networks to maintain connectivity between datacenters so that if one site goes down the other location can run all applications and services with minimal disruption. To keep the applications running, however, requires immediate access to all data. 

Nutanix is the first hyper-converged infrastructure vendor to deliver continuous data protection across multiple datacenters. Using synchronous mirroring, Metro Availability stretches datastores for virtual machine clusters across two or more sites located up to 400km apart. All functionality is natively integrated into Nutanix software, and supported across all Nutanix platforms with no hardware changes. Enterprise IT teams benefit from improved business operations by maintaining application availability during planned and unplanned site downtime. 

Virtualization teams can now non-disruptively migrate virtual machines between sites during planned maintenance events, providing continuous data protection with zero recovery point objective (RPO) and a near zero recovery time objective (RTO). Metro Availability is deployed within minutes and managed directly from Nutanix Prism UI, eliminating any need for additional management consoles. 

  • More Flexibility – Only Nutanix enables customers to deploy different configurations for primary and secondary sites, and support one-to-many and many-to-one topologies. Customers are no longer forced to have identical platforms and hardware configurations at each site
  • VM Awareness  – Individual VMs can be mirrored across sites using Metro Availability, giving administrators unparalleled flexibility in configuring multi-site deployments and improving overall system efficiency
  • 2X Greater Distances Between Sites – Nutanix Metro Availability supports single datastores stretched up to 400km – twice what current systems support today

Metro Availability enhances and extends the already rich set of integrated data protection and high availability capabilities in the Nutanix solution, catering to the diverse needs of enterprise customers.

Official release not you can find here!

And contact EnvokeIT if you want more information on how this can provide value to you!

//Richard

 

#XenDesktop 7.1 on #Hyper-V Pilot Guide! – #Citrix

February 19, 2014 1 comment

This is a great PoC guide, some thing I would have done differently in detail but overall great work!

You’ve heard of XenDesktop 7.1, experienced a demo and worked through the Reviewer’s Guide. Now where do you turn when you’re ready for a PoC, pilot and preparations for a full-scale rollout?

Here on the Citrix Readiness and Enablement Team, we’re always looking for ways to empower our customers to be successful on their projects. To this end, we’ve taken one of our most popular hands-on lab guides used to train hundreds of internal and external students and reworked it for consumption by the masses. The XenDesktop 7.1 on Hyper-V Pilot Guide can be download fromhttps://citrix.sharefile.com/d/scaa256260df4ab3b. In this guide we cover the following topics with step-by-step instructions and screenshots:

– Configuring System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Installing the Agent
– Setting Up SQL Server Mirroring for a XenDesktop site
– Setting up the XenDesktop Site
– Joining a Controller to an Existing Site
– Configuring StoreFront and Installing Certificates
– Configuring NetScaler for StoreFront Load Balancing
– Installing the VDA Software on Desktop and Server VMs
– Creating Catalogs of Machine for Desktops and Servers
– Creating Delivery Groups for Desktops and Servers
– Delivering Installed and App-V Applications
– Provisioning Services Configuration and Optimizations
– Using the XenDesktop Setup Wizard
– Setting up Remote Access with NetScaler and StoreFront
– Internal and External Connectivity Scenarios
– Load Evaluator Policies
– Monitoring with Director
– Exploring Configuration Logging
– Exploring Delegated Administration
– Working with PowerShell

And much more!

Take a look through the document and let us know your thoughts…

IMPORTANT: This guide is designed to be used as a reference for building PoC and/or pilot environments. Production environments should always be…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

How to: Create Desktop Appliance site on StoreFront – #Citrix, #StoreFront, #ThinClient

February 3, 2014 4 comments

I guess that some of you out there by now are using Thin Clients and some are using Desktop Appliance site functionality in the old Web Interface for these thin clients that are XenApp- or XenDesktop-ready.

So now you have or are thinking on how to setup this on StoreFront!

Citrix has A LOT of work to do in order to ensure that StoreFront becomes a stable and enterprise ready! There are so many tweaks and configurations needed in config files etc. that just isn’t ok! Add them into the console! It’s not hard, even I could code in some menus, forms windows and trigger the underlying PowerShell scripts!

But back to the topic, how do we configure Desktop Appliance site in StoreFront? Well, first we need to have a look at the following edocs articles that explain how to do it:

Desktop Appliance sites – And the most important in this article is the bottom that details WHAT DOESN’T WORK!

Important considerations

Desktop Appliance sites are intended for local users on the internal network accessing desktops from non-domain-joined desktop appliances. When you decide whether to use Desktop Appliance sites to provide users with access to your stores, consider the following restrictions.

  • If you plan to deploy domain-joined desktop appliances and repurposed PCs, do not configure them to access stores through Desktop Appliance sites. Instead, configure Citrix Receiver with the XenApp Services URL for the store. For more information, see XenApp Services URLs.
  • Desktop Appliance sites do not support connections from remote users outside the corporate network. Users logging on to NetScaler Gateway cannot access Desktop Appliance sites.

How do you release this and don’t support connecting through a NetScaler Gateway? Then you miss the whole point of SmartAccess, you cannot trigger EPA (host checks) for instance to control ICA/HDX features like drive mapping etc. internally. And you cannot have thin clients on the Internet that connects into the enterprise through NetScaler Gateway! 

Next you should read this article that details the PowerShell madness 😉

Configure Desktop Appliance sites

I won’t go into details of the article above but rather show you how it’s done and with some examples of arguments to pass to the PowerShell scripts.

Step one is to log on to your StoreFront server, and just to show you our current setup is that we have one Receiver for Web (RfW) sites used for browser access into StoreFront:

Receiver_for_Web_site

From a Store perspective you can see that we have one (1) store that the RfW site exposes:

StoreFront_Store Read more…

GREAT VIDEO – #Citrix #XenDesktop vs. #VMware #Horizon #View installation video

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

This is really funny! Have a look at this video to see how you can compare a XenDesktop and a Horizon View installation side-by-side!

And another thing that is kind of funny is that VMware still compares Horizon View with XenDesktop 5.6: https://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMware-View-vs-Citrix-XenDesktop-Datasheet.pdf

//Richard

#Citrix #StoreFront subscription database replication, #GSLB, #NetScaler

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Ok, so we’ve all started to use StoreFront (or have U?) and find out that there are A LOT of things that you have to do in order to get it to work as you most probably want it to.

This post is more around how you ensure that the StoreFront architecture supports an enterprise with multiple sites while still having a concistent end-user experience.

Just imagine that you’ve built your architecture out in a true high availability manner with global server load balancing across all products used in the stack to deliver your Windows apps and desktops to your end-users. It may look something similar to this:

overall_storefront_nsg_GSLB_architecture

In this view you can see that we’ve setup GSLB to ensure that external (Internet) connected users  and devices are being connected to a NetScaler Gateway vServer in either London or Miami, and from there the NetScaler and the session profile that communicates with StoreFront (SF1 and 2 in each site) is also load balanced using GSLB to ensure high availability. So everything seems good, right! But no… consider that you as an end-user is being connected to the Miami site and that StoreFront group that has a subscription database containing all the apps and desktops etc. that you have selected and added to your workspace.  You will see all these icons by default now when you login to Miami, but you will not see them in the case Miami goes down for some reason or if you travel to London and then gets connected to that StoreFront group as I try to show by this picture:

No-StoreFront-Replication

Read more…

Ten websites that teach coding and a bunch of other things – via @caleweissman

This is a great summary blog post with many good references to where you can start learning to code!

Seemingly every day there’s a new article or blog post imploring you to learn how to code. “Those who code have the power to transform their dreams into reality.” “Coding will help you keep [your job], or help you make a case for a raise.” “You should learn to program because it’s easy, it’s fun, it will increase your skill set, and… it will fundamentally change your perspective on the world.” What’s more, “If you want to start a technology company, you should learn to code.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Year’s resolution was to learn how to code. Douglas Rushkoff, who calls coding “the new literacy of the digital age,” wrote an entire book about it. And didn’t Marc Andreessen say that “software is eating the world?” As a result, companies from Codecademy to edx and many others have popped up to meet this rising demand.

As a person who’s grown up in the digital age, I have often heard the cry, “digital literacy or die.” Conventional wisdom – at least today – is that in the way you know how to read and write English, “you need to have some understanding of the code that builds the Web… It is fundamental to the way the world is organized and the way people think about things these days.” If you buy that then you’ll want to start now.

But where should you go? I’ve been dabbling in the black arts, although I am by no means a ninja coder, and am ready to report back. The courses below offer everything from HTML to Python and beyond. HTML and CSS are good, because they’re the basic building blocks of Web design, and in my opinion, Python is useful, because it’s the most universal in many respects. Others say Java is better to learn, because its so prominent on the Web. I would rebut that you can learn Java from Python. Potayto. Potahto.

In any case, each program below emphasizes different pedagogical techniques and  philosophies, and they are all mass market in the sense that anyone is welcome. No previous experience is necessary.

MIT Courseware Online

MIT has long been a pioneer of online courseware. One course is their Intro to Computer Science & Programming class, thought by many to be the best, most encompassing intro computing course offered. Taught by tenured MIT faculty, the online course is structured via taped lectures, written assignments, and self-assessment quizzes.

The course itself is quite rigorous as it was an intro course for MIT students. This isn’t a sort of online class you can do some parts and not the other.  It requires a certain amount of pre-existing math knowhow to be truly successful. The course description says it only requires high school algebra as a prerequisite but I don’t buy this. I remember being pretty stumped by the second assignment, and I passed AP Calc with flying colors. This doesn’t mean the math is terribly high-level, but that it probably requires a certain amount of mathematical aptitude beyond algebra unless you want to spend the entire course scouring forums for help. As with any MIT course, there is an expectation that you not only know how to do a function, but why that function is performed and from where it stemmed. After attempting to follow this courseware for two sessions, I was officially stumped and dropped it.

edX

MIT and Harvard partnered up to create edX. It is a conglomeration of all of their available open courseware, along with a new department for the two institutions to perform research about the future of online courses and new pedagogical technologies. For MIT courseware, you can watch the lectures anytime, read the assignments, and self-assess. EdX has you follow the course in real time and complete the assignments and exams to receive a physical certificate from the program. It currently offers numerous classes in more subjects than just coding and far beyond the purview of Computers Science….

Continue reading here!

//Richard

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