Archive for August, 2011

XenDesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5.0 Architecture Overview

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in VMware, Whitepapers, XenApp, XenDesktop

Citrix Consulting have created this great whitepaper on which design considerations when you are designing a high-level architecture of a Xendesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5 solution.

Introduction

Many organizations are looking for a better way to manage and deliver desktops to their end-users, and increasingly look to desktop virtualization as an alternative to traditional desktop deployment. When designing a desktop virtualization solution, IT organizations need to decide how to create an infrastructure pairing hypervisor technology with desktop delivery technology. With the release of XenDesktop 5.5 and VMware vSphere 5, Citrix Consulting Solutions is providing a first look at the high-level architecture of a XenDesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5 solution by showing how the two components fit together to create a desktop delivery solution that provides end users with key functionality such as:

  • Through Citrix Receiver, IT organizations are able to provide users with access to their virtual desktop environment from any client, including Windows, Mac and Linux workstations and the latest iOS, Android, RIM and webOS tablets and smartphones.
  • Citrix XenDesktop 5.5 release, including XenApp 6.5 provides the virtual desktop users with the best-in-class user experience through Citrix HDX technologies. Including over 150 new HDX features, Citrix XenDesktop 5.5 delivers high performance personal desktops and applications with all the flexibility, performance and user experience of a PC even over challenging network conditions.

Download XenDesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5.0 Architecture Overview whitepaper here

Whitepaper – Citrix Branch Repeater VPX Scalability Analysis

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in Branch Repeater, Whitepapers, XenDesktop

Citrix Consulting have released a whitepaper called Citrix Branch Repeater VPX Scalability Analysis.

The Whitepaper is about Scalability Testing and Design Considerations for Implementing Branch Repeater VPX 6 with XenDesktop 5

Overview

The Branch Repeater VPX is now included in XenDesktop Platinum edition for no additional cost

As IT administrators begin evaluating the cost savings and performance improvements that Branch Repeater VPX can bring to their XenApp or XenDesktop environment, questions regarding scalability and implementation recommendations usually arise – especially when evaluating the decision between a physical or virtual Branch Repeater appliance. Citrix Consulting Solutions embarked on a project to assess scalability considerations for the Branch Repeater VPX model 45 (45 Mbps) to provide such implementation and configuration recommendations. As part of this project, scalability testing was conducted with the Branch Repeater VPX hosted on Citrix XenServer in both the data center and the branch office connected over a 45 Mbps simulated WAN link. The goal was to identify the scalability considerations of the Branch Repeater VPX and hosting hypervisor within the environment when optimizing HDX traffic for delivering virtual desktops with XenDesktop.

To perform the scalability analysis, Branch Repeater VPX resources such as vCPU, memory and disk I/O were studied along with the XenServer CPU to provide scalability guidance under high bandwidth usage scenarios. Unique XenDesktop session traffic up to 45Mbps was simulated and sent across the WAN for acceleration by the Branch Repeater VPXs. As a result of the test scenarios, the following topics have been identified as the key scalability factors to consider when deploying Branch Repeater VPX for XenDesktop workloads:

Key Observations

  • During first pass testing, where all XenDesktop session traffic is unique to the Branch Repeater VPX pair, it was determined that throughput can be constrained by the number of vCPUs assigned to the Branch Repeater VPX as illustrated by high vCPU usage. As the bandwidth being optimized by the Branch Repeater VPX reached the licensed 45Mbps limit, the CPU utilization exceeded 80%. Even higher CPU usage must be expected for highly compressible workloads. The BranchRepeater VPXs showed a sharp decrease in CPU usage when multiple appliances were load balanced with a NetScaler VPX.
  • During second pass testing or ‘warm runs’, where most data has already been compressed by the by the Branch Repeater VPX instances, throughput is constrained by disk I/O when Disk Based Compression (DBC) is primarily used. With a high amount of compressible second pass data, the disk I/O increases causes a reduction in the compression ratios obtained by the Branch Repeater VPXs. Disk I/O consists of predominantly writes for the first pass and reads for the second pass. The disk reads for the Branch Repeater VPX increased 4x between the first and second passes.

It was determined that the amount of memory assigned to the Branch Repeater VPX directly impacted the amount of data compression the Branch Repeater VPX was able to provide for the workloads that leverage Memory Based Compression (MBC).

The testing concluded that although the XenServer hypervisor is managing and routing all the network traffic between physical NICs and virtual appliances, the resources on the hypervisor were not significantly impacted when processing the licensed limit of 45Mbps (WAN-side).

Key Recommendations

  • Virtual CPU Utilization:  Allocate 2vCPU, the maximum supported configuration, to each Branch Repeater VPX instance. To allow Branch Repeater VPXs to scale to a higher number of users and branch offices, it is recommended that multiple instances be load balanced by a NetScaler physical or virtual appliance in a hot-hot configuration to support increased throughput, performance, and high availability.
  • Disk I/OTo measure performance impact due to high disk I/O while leveraging disk based compression for large amounts of second pass data it is recommended to deploy VPX in a test environment to monitor disk usage for realistic workloads leveraging DBC. To achieve better disk performance utilize faster disks when possible and potentially upgrade to physical Branch Repeater appliances if high disk utilization is reached. For better second pass Disk I/O a read optimized RAID configuration, such as RAID 10, is recommended.
  • Memory Usage: Allocate each instance of the Branch Repeater VPX with the 8GB of RAM configuration when possible to support a higher number of simultaneous connections for workloads that leverage higher amounts of Disk Based Compression (DBC).
  • Hypervisor Overhead: It is recommended that the hypervisor CPU be actively monitored. While a single hypervisor can support multiple Branch Repeater VPX instances, this will still not provide the highest levels of high availability as provided by the physical appliances. The limitations of hosting multiple Branch Repeater VPX instances on the same hypervisor is not expected due to hypervisor CPU overhead but by either VPX CPU usage, disk throughput and memory available. Therefore it is recommended that while leveraging the hypervisor hosting VPX to host other workloads, VPX instances are assigned dedicated disks if possible.

Click here to download and read the whitepaper

Citrix EdgeSight 5.4

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in Edgesight

New Features for EdgeSight 5.4

This release of the product includes the following new features:

  • EdgeSight Agent support for XenApp 6.5 for Windows 2008 R2. The EdgeSight for XenApp 6.x Agent x64 5.4 is supported on both XenApp 6.0 and XenApp 6.5 for Windows 2008 R2 systems.
  • Support for SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 R2.
  • Reporting on user/device license usage in the license trend and usage reports available on the Track Usage tab.
  • The ability to export a list of user/device licenses currently checked out from a selected license server. The User/Device License Listis available on the Track Usage tab.
  • The addition of advanced EdgeSight Agent properties used to throttle the number and frequency of event log message alerts for each log type (Application, Security, and System).
Important: Note that EdgeSight Server 5.3 requires SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008. If you are upgrading EdgeSight Server from a release prior to EdgeSight 5.2 using SQL Server 2000, you will also need to upgrade your SQL Server installation.
Note: If you are upgrading EdgeSight Server from a release prior to EdgeSight 5.2, note that support for the EdgeSight Virtual Desktop Agent is not enabled by default. To enable support after upgrading, open the EdgeSight Server Console and go to Configure > Server Configuration > Settings and set EdgeSight for XenDesktop Support toOn.

New and Revised Reports and SQL Views

The User/Device License List is the only new report included in this release. There are no new SQL views, but the vw_lsm_archive_license_statistics (License Server Monitor Archive) SQL view was revised to remove unused fields and add fields related to user/device license data. The following fields were removed: license_type, grace_period, component_list, subscription_advantage, overdraft_protection, days_to_expire, and perm_license_count. The following fields were added: total_user_count and total_device_count. Use of the revised SQL view requires EdgeSight Server 5.4 and Citrix License Server 11.9.

EdgeSight Agents Supported for Upload to EdgeSight Server

Only the following agent types and versions are supported for upload to EdgeSight Server:

  •  EdgeSight for Endpoints 5.2 or higher
  • EdgeSight for Virtual Desktops 5.2 or higher
  • EdgeSight for XenApp 5.2 or higher
  • EdgeSight for XenApp 6 Agent x64 5.3 (64-bit) running on XenApp 6.0 systems.
  • EdgeSight for XenApp 6.x Agent x64 5.4 (64-bit) running on either XenApp 6.0 or XenApp 6.5 for Windows 2008 R2 systems.
A list of  fixed issues in Citrix Edgesight 5.4
Download Citrix Edgesight 5.4 here 

Citrix XenDesktop 5.5

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in XenDesktop

What’s New in XenDesktop 5.5

XenDesktop 5.5 includes the following new features and enhancements:

HDX MediaStream

  • Second Generation Flash Redirection. Adobe Flash content can be redirected to the user device for local rendering in many more cases than before, resulting in even higher server scalability and a great user experience. Flash Redirection now supports WAN-connected users. Good results with video playback have been observed, even at high latency.
  • Server-Rendered Video. For multimedia content that is rendered server-side, the need to configure complex policies for best performance under different network conditions has been eliminated. HDX MediaStream automatically adjusts to the effective network bandwidth to use the level of compression that delivers the best video experience (image quality and frame rate) while displaying non-video regions, such as text, at full clarity.
  • Windows Media Redirection. A new end-to-end flow control and frame dropping capability has been introduced. This improves the user experience when the bandwidth available for viewing a Windows media video (WMV, MPEG, AVI, DivX, etc.) is less than what is required by the bit rate of the video, an issue increasingly experienced by customers as videos are recorded at higher resolution. This technology allows multimedia redirection to be used in more access scenarios, further reducing server CPU consumption. Priority is given to smooth audio playback and audio-video synchronization at the expense of the video, so video frames are dropped when the available bandwidth is too low. In Citrix’s own comparison testing, this technology delivered a better-than-local user experience under the same bandwidth constraints.
  • Multi-Stream ICA including UDP for Audio. XenDesktop 5.5 introduces the option of delivering ICA over multiple streams: four TCP/IP streams and one UDP/RTP stream (for audio). This gives full flexibility for QoS routing over the network and provides superior audio quality when there is packet loss or congestion.
  • Citrix Receiver for Windows. Various enhancements in Citrix Receiver (formerly the Citrix online plug-in) offer benefits to users of softphones and unified communications clients:
    •  UDP and RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol) support
    •  Improved multi-tasking with real-time applications
    •  Smoother audio when network latency fluctuates (“jitter”)
    •  Improved echo cancellation when using speakers and a microphone

HDX Broadcast

When running a typical office user workload, as represented by the standard Login Virtual Session Indexer (VSI) “Medium” knowledge worker test, Citrix expects customers to see a 30% reduction in bandwidth consumption along with reduced CPU consumption on the server (leading to higher server scalability) and improved desktop image quality on low bandwidth connections.

In addition, RDP protocol support in HDX Broadcast has been enhanced to support RDP 7.1 with RemoteFX. For more information, see HDX RichGraphics.

HDX RichGraphics

  •  Microsoft RemoteFX Support. Microsoft RemoteFX, a feature of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V, uses server-side graphics hardware acceleration to deliver the full Windows 7 Aero and multimedia experience over a LAN-like connection. XenDesktop 5.5 supports RemoteFX using enhancements to RDP protocol support in HDX Broadcast and to Citrix Receiver for Windows. This is the first phase of a vision and collaboration announced by Citrix and Microsoft in March 2010. For more information about using Microsoft RemoteFX with XenDesktop, see: http://support.citrix.com/article/ctx129509/.
  • Windows 7 Aero Redirection. Aero Redirection leverages client-side graphics hardware acceleration to deliver the full Windows 7 Aero experience (including glass effects, Flip 3D, and Aero Peek) over a LAN-like connection. Using the DirectX 9 graphics processing capabilities of the user’s rich client device (Windows XP/Vista/7 PC or higher-end thin client), Aero Redirection delivers an outstanding user experience that truly feels “like local”, if not better. This is the first phase of a powerful new HDX technology based on DirectX graphics command remoting.
    Note: This feature is disabled by default. To use it, expand the HDX Policy node and click Users. In the ICA options select Desktop UI, and in the Settings area selectAero Redirection. If Aero Redirection has been enabled, click Edit; otherwise, click Add. From here, you can enable or disable Aero Redirection.
  •  3D Pro Enhancements. In XenDesktop 5.5, HDX 3D Pro adds full multi-monitor support for Windows 7 desktops. This extends the best-in-class solution for remote access to professional 3D graphics applications and very large models to enable full desktop replacement. HDX 3D Pro also offers limited support for multi-monitor access to Windows XP desktops. Other enhancements include support for GPU-accelerated deep compression with NVIDIA Fermi GPUs and the addition of XenDesktop policies enabling administrator control of the end user image quality configuration tool. XenDesktop 5.5 supports the Multi-GPU Passthrough feature of XenServer, which is currently available for technology preview with the Citrix XenServer “Project Boston” Beta release on the Citrix Downloads Web site.HDX 3D Pro supports the Microsoft WDDM display driver model, enabling users to access their multi-monitor Windows 7 workstations from home or remote locations over a high speed Internet connection. The software intelligently collapses applications from the multiple monitors on the host machine to the available monitors on the remote device, and blanks the host monitors for data security.

HDX Plug-n-Play

New HDX Plug-n-Play capabilities include support for WAN-connected scanners (via the TWAIN standard) and Japanese and Korean keyboards. Usability of removable storage devices has been improved. Client Drive Mapping now supports read-only access on all Virtual Desktop Agents. Client Drive Mapping also supports Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path support on Virtual Desktop Agents with Windows 7 and Windows Vista environments.

Desktop Director version 2. A new version of Desktop Director is available for use with XenDesktop. For more information, see the Desktop Director documentation.

Download Citrix XenDesktop 5.5 here (My require MyCitrix ID)

Citrix XenApp 6.5

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in XenApp

These are exciting times for desktop virtualization.  The industry is growing and Citrix is leading the charge.  The XenDesktop product line is getting plenty of well-deserved attention, but today Citrix is also announcing exciting new enhancements for XenApp 6.5. Whether included as a component of XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum or deployed as a standalone product, XenApp has long been recognized as the de-facto standard in on-demand app delivery.  Now with turbo-charged app launches and a seamless multimedia experience over any network, XenApp 6.5 makes the user experience better than ever.

Instant App Access

The XenApp 6.5 feature generating the most excitement among customers is Instant App Access.  Gone are the days when users would have to wait several seconds for the creation of an ICA session before their application launched.  By creating an ICA session immediately upon user log-in to Citrix Receiver, Session Pre-Launch dramatically reduces overall application launch times. Since the ICA session is created even before the user clicks the application icon, the only remaining time to wait is for the application launch itself.  Depending on the application, this can be nearly instantaneous.

Similar technology allows an ICA session to linger after users close their last published app so that the next application launch is just as instantaneous.  While these features do consume a license, the time periods for lingering or pre-launch are configurable by the IT admin.

Seamless multimedia experience with HDX

With only a few exceptions, all of the HDX enhancements seen in XenDesktop 5.5 are also applicable for XenApp 6.5. For example, significant updates to HDX MediaStream for Flash mean that Adobe® Flash® content can be rendered locally over more network conditions than before.  This dynamically takes advantage of computing resources at the end point, resulting in even higher server scalability and a great user experience even at up to 300ms round-trip latency.

Multi-Stream ICA

IT administrators now have the option of delivering XenApp ICA traffic over up to four TCP/IP streams. Now instead of prioritizing the entire ICA pipeline over HTTP traffic, this feature enables more granular control for Quality of Service (QoS) routing.  Now customers can provide superior audio/visual quality for apps delivered over the WAN for example without disrupting other HTTP traffic.

Any Device, Anywhere with Citrix Receiver

XenApp 6.5 takes advantage of new Citrix Receiver enhancements for extreme multi-tasking, faster Windows app performance and advanced Linux device support. Customers can now deliver self-service apps to more than one billion devices, including PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones, and thin clients – and all major device operating platforms, including new environments like iOS, Android, and Google ChromeOS.   Add it all up and we’re talking about over 1 Billion devices.

Enhanced Desktop Experience

Previously provided as an add-on pack for XenApp 6.0, support for an enhanced desktop experience is now included as an integrated feature of XenApp 6.5. IT can transform the typical server desktop published by XenApp.  This feature enables support for themes, installs accessory apps, and allows for the display of high-res wallpapers.  With a Windows-7 like Start Menu and taskbar, users can enjoy the look and feel of a Windows 7 desktop, while IT can benefit from the server density and locked down image management of a hosted shared desktop

Desktop Director

When end-users need support help with their XenApp delivered apps, help desk support staffs can use the popular Desktop Director console that now includes the integrated capability to assist users with applications delivered by XenApp and with desktops delivered by XenDesktop.

Dynamic Data Center Provisioning

Now XenApp 6.5 deployments can be scaled in record time by creating “controller” or “worker” roles in a XenApp server farm.  Because workers in the farm need to sync much less data, fewer overall database transactions are required.  Plus, these new roles make the process of joining a large number of servers to a XenApp farm faster and easier.

These are just a few of the new features in XenApp 6.5.  For a full list of all features and a comparison to previous versions, you can refer to the new comparative feature matrix.

For a free interactive overview of XenApp 6.5 be sure to check out this new online course.

About Citrix XenApp 6.5 for Windows 2008 Server R2

This release includes several new features and enhancements to Citrix XenApp.

What’s New

  • Server Platform Support
    The XenApp software can be installed on the following platforms. For all system requirements, see System Requirements.

    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Microsoft Windows Server 20008 R2 Service Pack 1
  • Windows Desktop Experience IntegrationInstalled by default when installing the XenApp server role, this feature provides a Windows 7 look and feel including desktop customization. PowerShell script options enable administrators to control desktop and environment defaults while allowing end users to customize their desktops.When installed and enabled, this feature also removes the Windows Server Manager Console from the XenApp server’s toolbar and relocates the Citrix XenApp administrative tools such as the AppCenter to the Start menu’s Administrative Tools\Citrix folder. See Delivering XenApp to Software Services Subscribers for more information.
  • Citrix AppCenterThe AppCenter provides a streamlined interface for performing management functions. From the AppCenter, you can manage components administered through other Citrix products, such as Citrix Secure Access and Citrix Single Sign-On. For Citrix XenApp, you can configure and monitor servers, server farms, published resources, and sessions.
  • Session Pre-launch, Session Linger, and Fast ReconnectThis collection of features improves the user experience by eliminating delays when launching and maintaining sessions. By using configurable Session Pre-launch policy settings, a session is started automatically when a user logs on to the farm. By implementing Session Linger policy settings, sessions remain alive for a configurable period before termination, rather than terminating when users close applications.Fast Reconnect, built into XenApp and requiring no configuration, helps minimize delays when users reconnect to existing sessions.
  • Citrix HDX Enhancements
  • Migration Center with Graphical User InterfaceWith the choice of using a PowerShell cmdlet command line or graphical user interface, XenApp administrators can import application, folder, server configuration, and other XenApp object types from farms running previous versions of XenApp into XenApp 6.5 farms. See XenApp Migration Center for requirement and installation information.
  • Improved Performance for Pooled DesktopsApplication launch time in pooled desktop environments is improved through the use of virtual hard disks. Using the Streaming Profiler, virtual hard disks can be created when profiling an application. When the application is launched for the first time, the virtual hard disk is mounted and all the profile contents are copied to the virtual hard disk. For all subsequent launches, the application is launched from the virtual hard disk, resulting in a speedier launch.
  • Printing Optimization

    XenApp printing features include improved print session performance, lower bandwidth required for printing, and improved user experience when printing to redirected client printers. Universal Printing policy settings enable the administrator to control print quality, spooling, and optimization defaults. See the printing topics in the Manage node of this documentation for more information.

Download Citrix XenApp 6.5 here (Require MyCitrix ID)

eDocs Citrix XenApp 6.5

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