Tag Archives: citrix

Citrix VDI Handbook 7.6

The Citrix VDI Handbook is now available!

Let me answer a few questions about the VDI Handbook

  1. Version: The VDI Handbook is based on the XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 Long-Term Service Release.
  2. Updates: The plan is to release a VDI Handbook for each Long-Term Service Release. The VDI Handbook is based on real-world implementation experiences. Basing updates on LTSR releases (18-24+ months) allows us to include better recommendations than if we updated for the current release (every quarter).
  3. Format: PDF and HTML. The PDF version is ready now, the HTML version will be ready shortly.
  4. Content: The handbook includes information on Assess, Design and Monitor.

Grab version 1 of the Citrix VDI Best Practices Handbook for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
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Citrix VDI Handbook

At Citrix Summit in January 2016, I heard from many of you asking for an updated version of the Citrix VDI Handbook.

At Citrix Synergy in May 2016, I heard from many of you asking for an updated version of the Citrix VDI Handbook.

At BriForum in July 2016, I heard from many of you asking for an updated version of the Citrix VDI Handbook.

To me, it sounds like you want the Citrix VDI Handbook to be updated.

The good news.  It is being updated!!!

The better news. We got our Citrix consulting experts to validate the recommendations

The bad news. It isn’t ready yet.

So why am I telling you this?

First, you can stop hounding me about getting it updated.  It is happening.  I am currently buried in Microsoft Word.

Second, I need to know if there are things missing that you think should be included.

And third, does this news make you happy?


Microsoft Windows 10, Citrix XenDesktop and Logon Time

How long does your Windows 10 logon take?

Logging into my lab, my logons felt long. True I’m not using server-level hardware that you would see in production, but my logon times felt too long because I don’t have logon scripts, complex group policy preferences, or even massive profiles. After reading the Rule of 30 blog by Nick Rintalan, I decided to investigate. I was interested in knowing if all of the Windows 10 optimizations I previously blogged about would have an impact

  1. Default apps
  2. Services
  3. Scheduled tasks
  4. User Interface
  5. Runtime
  6. Release
  7. ICA

My first test was looking at the default Windows 10 install with Provisioning Services. It took 73.5 seconds to log in. So much for the Rule of 30.

I went ahead and permanently removed many of the default Windows 10 apps. I got a login time of 67 seconds. Not bad, 8% improvement.

Time to optimize and disable many Windows 10 services. Another drop of 6% reducing my login time to 62.5 seconds.

Scheduled tasks, user interface and runtime had no effect. This isn’t surprising. Runtime optimizations would only impact the user’s interactive portion of the session. Scheduled tasks don’t run constantly. They only run from a trigger resulting from an action or a time of day.

Next, I enabled Citrix User Profile Management (UPM) and saw a 29% improvement in logon time! Wow. Before I enabled UPM, the system used local profiles, which were deleted on each session logoff. Each time the user logged in, the system had to create a new profile for the user. This is time consuming. Enabling UPM gives the user a roaming profile, which is faster than a local profile.

And finally, because I love talking about Provisioning Services, I thought I would enable the RAM Cache with Disk Overflow. I didn’t really think it would have an impact, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Provisioning Services RAM Cache dropped logon times by another 18%!

By optimizing my OS, profiles and using Provisioning Service RAM Cache, my logon times went from 73 seconds down to 36. Not bad.

App-V Integration Overview with XenApp

For those who follow my blog, you know that I do astrophotography. A big part of astrophotography is automation. Each galaxy, planetary nebula or cluster photo I create is based on capturing 30-60 pictures. Each photo is assessed for quality and then only the best images are aligned, rotated and stacked.

I use multiple pieces of software that integrate nicely together that helps me make decisions on what images to keep and what to discard as well perform many of the tedious and time consuming tasks like aligning and stacking my images.

Finding ways to integrate multiple pieces of software together makes for an even more compelling solution.

Let’s look at another example: Integrating with Microsoft App-V.

  1. XenApp and XenDesktop can publish App-V sequences to virtual desktops without the need for the Microsoft App-V infrastructure (Management Server, Publishing Server and database).
  2. Citrix AppDNA can help an administrator determine if an application is compatible with App-V.
  3. Citrix AppDNA can automatically create App-V sequences

Let’s see how this looks

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
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Skype for Business – Edge Server

What do we know so far with a Skype for Business in a Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop

  1. The Same Experience: The Citrix RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business provides the same experience in an RDS/VDI implementation as a traditional PC implementation.
  2. Hybrid Deployment: The Citrix RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business provides the same experience regardless if both users are running RDS/VDI or only one user is on RDS/VDI and the other on a traditional PC
  3. Conference Calling: Citrix RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business provides the same experience in a 3-way or multi-party call.

This leads us to the next question I’ve received regarding the optimization pack:

Do we still need an Edge Server with Citrix RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business?

As a consultant, one of the most common answers I hear to a question is “It depends”. I like to be unique, so I try to avoid the answer “It depends”. The answer is Maybe

First, let’s look at a native VDI implementation.

Native Edge

In this instance, the Skype for Business Edge server is not used as the Skype client is on the virtual desktop, which is on the internal LAN with the Skype server. The voice/video also goes between the virtual desktops.

But what happens if we implement the Citrix RealTime Optimization Pack?

Optimized Edge

Same situation. The Edge server is not used because the SIP communication happens from the virtual desktop to the Skype server, all located on the internal network. The voice/video happens between the end point devices, again, bypassing the Edge server.

What about situations where only one user is on a virtual desktop and the other on a traditional PC?

hybrid edge

The traditional PC must access the Skype server on the internal network. The Edge server is required to transmit the session initiation protocol (SIP), but once the session starts, the voice/video communication occurs directly between the two end point devices, bypassing the Edge server.

And finally, what about 3-way or multi-party calling?

3way edge

In this scenario, the voice/video will pass through the Edge Server on its way to the Audio and Video Conferencing Server.

To answer the question “do we still need an Edge server with the Citrix RealTime Optimization Pack”

You most likely will.

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
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Changing the user experience can be dangerous

As many know, I like to do home improvement projects, so I spend quite some time at the local hardware store purchasing supplies.  I’ve been going to the same store for years. I’ve been using the self-service checkout lanes for years. I’ve been purchasing my items with a credit card for years.

Everything was going great until I personally crashed the credit card payment system for my checkout lane (seriously).

So what changed? The credit card checkout process changed because my credit card now includes the security chip technology.  The instructions on the screen were clear, I was simply on auto-pilot, doing the same process I’ve been doing for decades.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly fine changing my behavior IF (and that is a big IF) there is a valid reason for it.  This process changed because it is supposed to make my credit card more secure.

But changing something just to change it with no added value is a great way to annoy me.

Take a look at the following, recently recorded video discussing Microsoft Skype for Business.  Typically, in these types of videos, you see how much better something is to something else.  This is different.  The goal wasn’t to change the experience, it was to make the experience IDENTICAL to what users are accustomed to experiencing.

So tell me, did we hit the mark?

We accomplished this by going back to one of our XenApp Best Practices: For the best combination of user experience and resource consumption, optimize appropriately

So, how does this work?

Let’s look at it from 2 different perspectives:

  1. Admin Perspective: Skype executes within the virtual desktop but the media executes on the end point.  When I make a call to another Skype user, the voice and video goes from my end point to the other user’s end point.  If we are having a conference call, it’s the same process except with more people.  Although Skype is physically running remotely, within my virtual desktop, the media transcoding occurs on the endpoint. This removes network hops. It removes network latency.  It provides a better experience for the user.
  2. User Perspective: The entire Skype session executes within the virtual desktop. But even though the implementation is different, the user’s experience is identical to the traditional PC.

And finally, I keep talking about Skype in the virtual desktop, but that’s because saying published app, shared desktop, pooled desktop, personal desktop, and on and on and on is too long.  This works for all of these delivery options.

Daniel (Follow @djfeller)
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XenDesktop 7.7: Windows 7 vs Windows 10

Everyone loves a good battle

  1. The Simpsons vs Family Guy
  2. Kirk vs Picard
  3. Star Wars vs Star Trek
  4. Microsoft vs Apple

And now, we have one more, which will be a big debate for 2016… Windows 7 vs Windows 10

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing some of our single server scalability testing results for Windows 7 and Windows 10 across Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer utilizing XenDesktop 7.7. Each test compared a different image management model, Citrix policy and operating system optimization configuration.

What was more interesting, and worrisome, was when we started comparing the same test across the different desktop operating systems. The results went something like the following:

  • MCS Winner: Windows 10
  • PVS Disk Cache Winner: Windows 10
  • PVS RAM Cache Winner: Windows 10
  • User Experience Winner: Windows 10

STOP EVERYTHING! This can’t be right. The ProjectVRC.Team did performance tests comparing Windows 7 to Windows 10 and their tests showed Windows 7 always gave higher density. Did we screw up?

Seriously, we were extremely worried that all of the testing was flawed. But with only a few more tests left, we pressed on to see if the results kept favoring Windows 10.

Surprisingly, the very next test changed everything. Windows 7 gave us higher density.

  • Optimized for Scale Winner: Windows 7
  • Optimized for WAN Winner: Windows 7
  • Optimized OS Winner: Windows 7


How can we explain our mixed results vs other 3rd party tests that show Windows 7 winning the battle of server density all the time? As it turns out, most other tests simply focus on cramming the most number of users onto the server while we wanted to also look at User Experience. And Windows 10 outperforming Windows 7 is due in part because Aero (Aero Glass) in Windows 7 is consuming a lot of resources. Windows 10’s version of Aero is more optimized.

When our tests switched from user experience to scale, using the Citrix policy template, Windows 7 Aero was turned off, giving us a huge jump in density. To prove this point, we ran the same Windows 7 test comparing Aero enabled and disabled and the results aligned. But with Windows 10, we didn’t see the same drastic jump when moving between User Experience and Scale, because Aero in Windows 10 is different than Windows 7. For instance, there currently isn’t Aero Glass, which was shown to consume a lot of resources.

So, what will you decide… Windows 7 or Windows 10? Let the battle begin.

And for what it’s worth, my answers: The Simpsons, Sisko (DS9), Star Trek, Microsoft, Windows 10

Daniel (Follow @djfeller)

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