Best Practise – Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp

Citrix Consulting have released this awesome whitepaper that is a most read if you are an consultant, architect, administrator or you would like to learn how to design, implement XenApp / XenDesktop with the best practise advise from citrix consulting.


The foundation of any good XenDesktop or XenApp enterprise design should be adherence to a collection of best practices which are based upon knowledge gathered from previous enterprise deployments, lab validations, and lessons learned in the field. Such best practices are just a starting point for a design, as an organization’s specific design requirements will often necessitate deviation from the recommended path. By using the following recommendations as a starting point, the foundation of the design will be robust enough to support many different deployment scenarios.

This document consolidates and summarizes the best practices for XenApp and XenDesktop environments. As products evolve, best practices also change, which is why each best practice discussed in this document is associated with a specific product and version, which includes the

  • XenDesktop 5.0, 5.5, 5.6
  • XenApp 6.0, 6.5

Additional best practices are provided for those products which provide complimentary functionality to both XenDesktop and XenApp, including:

  • Citrix Provisioning Services
  • Citrix XenServer
  • Citrix Profile Manager
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • VMware vSphere

For further guidance and more detailed information, please refer to the XenDesktop Design Handbook.
The recommendations provided within this document may not be appropriate for every environment. Therefore, all best practices within this document should be evaluated in an isolated test environment prior to being implemented in production.

Caution: Some of the best practices in this document will require you to edit the registry. Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that might require you to reinstall your operating system. Citrix cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk. Be sure to back up the registry before you edit it


Download Best practise whitepaper on XenDesktop / XenApp here

XD Implementation Guide – Migrating from MCS to PVS

Citrix Consulting have created this whitepaper about “How to Transition Machine Creation Services (MCS) desktops to Provisioning Services (PVS) desktops
* This apply to MCS, which is a feature in XenDesktop 5.


With the release of XenDesktop 5, organizations have two ways to perform single image management delivery for virtual desktops: Provisioning Services and Machines Creation Services. While Provisioning Services focuses on flexibility, Machine Creation Services focuses on simplicity. Because of the simplicity, many organizations, regardless of size, utilize Machine Creation Services.

However, as organizations continue to provision desktops to match the increasing demand, they will surpass the abilities of Machine Creation Services. Larger, more complex environments often require the ability to deliver images to physical/virtual XenApp servers, physical desktop endpoints, blade PCs or even physical servers. Because Machine Creation Services is limited to delivering desktops to a hypervisor, organizations usually find that they require the flexibility of Provisioning Services.

By the time an organization reaches the point where it needs to use Provisioning Services, it is likely that the environment already includes many desktop images and virtual machines configured for their own specific use cases and rebuilding each image would be time consuming. This Implementation Guide  shows how to migrate Machine Creation Services images and Machine Creation Services created virtual machines to Provisioning Services ready images and virtual machines.

This implementation guide is not meant to demonstrate how to install and configure Machine Creation Services and Provisioning Services. It is meant to show how to migrate an image from Machine Creation Services to Provisioning Services. It is assumed that the following actions and configurations are in place.

1. Machine Creation Services was successfully implemented in the creation of virtual machines.

2. Provisioning Services is setup, configured, and integrated within the  infrastructure.

This document is divided into the following sections:

  • Prepare the Machine Creation Services Image
  • Create the Master vDisk
  • Create the Provisioning Services Target Devices
  • Migrate the Desktop Group

It is assumed that the reader has knowledge about how Machine Creation Services and Provisioning Services operate.

Download Whitepaper here

Design Considerations for Virtualizing Provisioning Services

Citrix Consulting have created this great whitepaper on which design considerations if you want to virtualize your provisioning services hosts.


Today, IT architects strive to virtualize most server workloads in the datacenter. When designing a virtual desktop solution with Citrix XenDesktop or Citrix XenApp, there are conflicting schools of thought with regard to implementing Citrix Provisioning Services as virtual servers. As architects begin to standardize on a virtualized platform, the imminent question that always appears to arise is ‘Should Citrix Provisioning Services be installed on a Physical or Virtual Server?’ In the past, it was always considered a best practice to have Citrix Provisioning Services installed on a physical server. Now with advances in virtualization technology, there are several options available that make virtualizing Provisioning Services a reality in the enterprise.

Citrix Consulting Solutions has been involved in multiple scenarios where Provisioning Services was successfully virtualized within XenDesktop and XenApp environments on all three major hypervisors (Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, and VMware vSphere). The most notable reference of these successful implementations was accomplished in partnership with Cisco and is documented within the Cisco Validated Design documents. In each circumstance, the Provisioning Services virtual server was designed to ensure that it was adequately able to handle the assigned workload and ensure that the virtual Provisioning Services server was not the major restricting factor within the environment.1

Based on the experience of the Citrix Consulting Solutions team, this document provides detailed design considerations for virtualizing Provisioning Services such as:

  • Ensure that the hypervisor host is able to distribute processing power across multiple CPUs.
  • A 10Gbps network is the most conducive environment for virtualizing Provisioning Services and the respective Provisioning Services network traffic.
  • If a 10Gbps network is not available, consider link aggregation at the hypervisor level to provide more available bandwidth for the virtual Provisioning Services machine.
  • Consider utilizing SR-IOV or Pass-Through to minimize the virtualization overhead associated with network intensive virtual machines, such as Provisioning Services.
  • Always configure Provisioning Services in a high-availability configuration with multiple virtual machines distributed across different hypervisor hosts.
  • Virtualize Provisioning Services on an x64 version of Windows to take advantages of Windows System Cache.

In summary, Provisioning Services workloads can and have been successfully virtualized in both XenDesktop and XenApp deployments if the design considerations outlined in this document are thoroughly evaluated.


Download – Design Considerations for Virtualizing Provisioning Services here

XenDesktop Planning Guide – XenServer Integration

Citrix Consulting have released a new whitepaper about XenDesktop Planning Guide – XenServer Integration.

This document provides design guidance for Citrix XenDesktop 5 deployments that leverage Citrix XenServer 5.6. It should not be considered as a replacement for other Citrix XenServer or XenDesktop design guidance, but rather an addendum that will assist in design decisions specifically related to using Citrix XenServer as the hypervisor. For further planning guides, please refer to the XenDesktop and XenServer Design Handboo

Download XenDesktop Planning Guide – XenServer Integration here

Planning Guide: XenDesktop 5 Migration

With the release of XenDesktop 5 in December 2010, Citrix has introduced among many other features (see Key Features) a new architecture of the brokering layer. While the brokers of previous releases of XenDesktop where based on XenApp and its IMA core, XenDesktop 5 features a brand new state of the art architecture (see Key Differences). As a result an in-place upgrade of the brokers and the XenDesktop farm respectively is not possible and a parallel implementation of the new components is required.
While this approach is more complex than a simple in-place upgrade, it also offers a unique opportunity to review the existing design and adapt it to user requirements, which might have evolved over time, and to incorporate operational experiences.
To provide some guidance on this process Citrix Consulting has prepared a XenDesktop Migration Planning Guide, which outlines a typical project approach focusing on the following phases:

  1. Evaluation
  2. Planning / Design
  3. Build
  4. Test
  5. Rollout

Furthermore we discuss the technical steps and considerations required to transition virtual desktops successfully into the new XenDesktop 5 infrastructure. Hereby we focus on a typical XenDesktop 4.0 environment that brokers virtual desktops provisioned by means of Citrix Provisioning Server. Within another key area of the document we discuss the most important changes introduced by the new architecture of XenDesktop 5, which need to be considered before starting a migration, such as:

  • Server Roles: Until XenDesktop 4, it was necessary to dedicate servers for XML brokering, VDA registrations and farm master. This is not required for XenDesktop 5.
  • Desktop Catalogs: Another key change is the introduction of Desktop Catalogs in addition to Desktop Groups. This additional layer can offer a big plus in flexibility.
  • Citrix Policies: XenDesktop 5 allows configuring user session policies and site settings within Active Directory Group Policies in addition to configuring policies within the XenDesktop database. It is strongly recommended to choose one exclusively, which incurs less administrative overhead and easier troubleshooting in case of unexpected results.
  • Database: XenDesktop 5 has a greater reliance on the SQL database, resulting in considerably higher utilization and performance requirements. More importantly, the database is now a highly critical component, which needs to be configured for redundancy.

The XenDesktop Migration Planning Guide has been posted as part of the XenDesktop Design Handbook (

Note: Make sure following the XenDesktop Design Handbook to get notified automatically as new technical content (such as XD scalability information or MCS/PVS planning guides) becomes available.

Download the Planning Guide to XenDesktop 5 Migration here