Within Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, there has been a hidden gem called Remote PC Access.
For many people who commute to work, they sit in the same chair in front of the same PC. In it’s simplest terms, Remote PC Access simple moves that chair away from the PC.
This simplified architecture shows what this looks like, with Citrix Gateway sitting between the firewalls, allowing remote users access to internal resources:
To make this work, each PC that needs to be accessed remotely must include the Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA). There are ways to get this VDA.
- Full VDA: Within the ISO (\x64\XenDesktop Setup\XenDesktopVDASetup.exe), there is the full VDA. If this is used, it must include the “/remotepc” command line parameter. This simply prevents certain features, which are not needed in a Remote PC Access deployment, from getting installed.
- Remote PC Access VDA: Within the ISO, there is a VDA specific for Remote PC Access called “\x64\XenDesktop Setup\XenDesktopRemotePCSetup.exe”. This executable is the same as the first one except no command line parameters are required, making for an easier installation process.
Once installed, one of the biggest questions when it comes to Remote PC Access is how are users assigned to the correct PC? It is not extremely helpful if you are sent to your coworker’s PC, unless your coworker is Chuck Norris.
Remote PC Access includes an automatic assignment routine. Once the VDA gets installed, when the next user locally logs onto the PC, the VDA creates an assignment for that user to the PC. This information gets stored within the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops data store. When the user tries to access the environment remotely, the assignment directs the user to the correct PC.
The most important thing when it comes to Remote PC Access is power management. It is true that Remote PC Access can implement Wake-on-LAN functionality, but this requires Microsoft Endpoint Config Manager (previously called Systems Center Config Manager). If you don’t have this or don’t want to use it, the physical PCs MUST remain powered on.
Let me say that again, because it is super important: the physical PC MUST remain powered on.
There are ways to help keep a PC powered on:
- GPO: Create a GPO, enable this setting and assign it to users: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Start Menu and Taskbar – Remove and prevent access to the shutdown command.
- BIOS: In the unlikely event of a power failure, the PC will be off. But when the power comes back on, we need those PCs to auto-start. Some BIOS settings allow the PC to automatically power on after a power failure. This should be enabled.