Citrix Cloud Vdi

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Why is it called Citrix VDI? Citrix is a company that provides an array of products and solutions for wireless network security, cloud computing, desktop virtualization, analytics, content collaboration, endpoint management, and more. Citrix and VDI: Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly Citrix XenApp) is an application delivery solution that enables access to Windows-based applications to any device compatible with Citrix Receiver. VDI stands for virtual desktop infrastructure. A VDI desktop is a desktop running on a server in the datacenter that a user can access from virtually.

You connect your resources to the service through a Citrix Cloud Connector, which serves as a channel for communication between Citrix Cloud and your resource locations. The Cloud Connector enables cloud management without requiring any complex networking or infrastructure configuration such as VPNs or IPsec tunnels. Citrix Cloud and Machine Provisioning Citrix Cloud manages the operation of the control plane for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service environments. Delivery controllers, management consoles, SQL database, License Server, StoreFront, and Citrix Gateway are all delivered on Citrix Cloud and managed by Citrix.

After attending Citrix Synergy this week, there is no denying that Citrix is quite serious about their cloud offerings and announced more offers that will be arriving later this year. This includes offerings like their Citrix Analytics Services and Workspace Service, but still it will take some time before these services will be available. Today Citrix Cloud consists of multiple services such as XenApp and XenDesktop Essentials, ShareFile, XenMobile and the “plain” XenDesktop deployments which are labeled Apps & Desktops.

So if you plan to start using Citrix Cloud today, what do you need to think about? It is an important fact to know that Citrix Cloud is not a solution which manages your VDA agents (meaning where you applications and data is stored) it is about controlled management plane with additional services.

Brief overview of the architecture
This shows the architecture on Citrix Cloud with Apps and Desktop Service. You have an active subscription with Citrix Cloud and you setup a integration between your resources and Citrix Cloud using a Cloud Connector whic his the link between your resources and Citrix Cloud. These Cloud Connectors are stateless and
To ensure security compliance, the Connector will self-manage. So do not disable reboots or put other restrictions on the Connector virtual machines. These actions prevent the Connector from updating itself when there is a critical update.

Limitations
In Citrix Cloud, Citrix will manage the XenDesktop infrastructure for you, this includes delivery controllers, backend site database, license server and such. Also you will automatically get updated every two weeks as part of it as well which provides us with access to new functionality directly. So what do we as customers need to maintain?

  • * VDA Agents (endpoints such as VDI or Session Hosts)
    * NetScaler appliances (Unless using NetScaler Gateway as a Service)
    * Storefront (Unless using Citrix Cloud Hosted Storefront)
    * RDS Licenses and RDS License Server
    * Active Directory (We need to bring our own)

So what else are we missing out on?
* Logging and Auditing (Since we do not have the option to check logs on who has been logged into Citrix Cloud from a management perspective.) In case we need to figure out who has logged in Citrix has extensive internal auditing information. If a customer has a concern, contact Citrix within 30 days. They will review the audit logs to determine which of the customer’s administrators performed an operation, on what date, from which IP address, etc.
* The Citrix Cloud control plane is only hosted in the United States, which might pose as an issue for customers who want their resources to be in EMEA.
* The customer owns and manages the Resource Locations. It can be created in any data center, cloud, location, or geo desired. All critical business data (such as documents, spreadsheets, etc.) are in the Resource Locations and are under customer control.

Access from the end-users and management
In regular Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp enviroments we can give end-users access from multiple types of authentication mechanisms such as Smart Cards, SAML, OAuth, KDC Constrained Delegation and even regular LDAP based as well. This allows us to utilize Azure AD or Google IAM to delegate authentication to them as identity providers. Citrix Cloud only supported regular Active Directory authentication for regular end-users. From a management perspective they support Azure AD which allows us to specify which people are allowed to access the management plane.

Using Azure AD as identity provider allows us to get some more insight into who has authenticated into Citrix Cloud, but it does not give us any insight into who has done “what”.

Using Storefront in Cloud
You also have the option if you want to have Storefront hosted from Citrix Cloud as well. When you set this up the end-users can access it from the .xendesktop.net/Citrix/StoreWeb/'>https://<customername>.xendesktop.net/Citrix/StoreWeb/ address. This address cannot be changed. Using this service has still some limitations when it comes to UI customization options, also the ability to do more advanced features such as Optimal Gateway Routing and other Authentication options such as SAML. But again it is a question if you want to manage your own Storefront servers or consume it as a service.

Using NetScaler Gateway as a Service
If you plan on using Citrix XenApp Essentials, NetScaler Gateway as a Service is the default option since it does not require any type of configuration or deployment of virtual instances since it is actually running as a Windows Service on the Citrix Cloud Connector machine. This service is actually “ICA-proxy” as a service it does not provide anyof the Smart Access features such as SSL VPN, Endpoint Analysis, support for the newer protocols such as Framehawk and EDT as well. Also from an authentication perspective it does not provide any other options that regular pass-trough from Storefront option.

You can also use NetScaler Gateway as a service as an option for regular Citrix Cloud deployments as well. You need to be aware of since this is a cloud service running in Citrix Cloud all traffic will be routed trough from your endpoint to Citrix Cloud to the Cloud Connectors and to the VDA agents. This feature is natively supported in Citrix Reciver and Receiver for Web as well.

Vdi

NGaaS is a multi region geo load balanced services which is available on different locations around the world, and will always try to route a user to the closest PoP. Note that if you do not have PoP which is close to your location you might suffer with higher latency values than setting up your own NetScaler virtual appliances. Also NGaaS does not provide any AppFlow analytics which means that we do not have the insight we might be used to in Insight Center or MAS, it will give information about ICA RTT and such within Citrix Director.

Here is a chart of where the closest PoPs are located:

Eight PoPs in Azure
Azure South Central US
Azure West Europe
Azure Australia East
Azure East US
Azure West US
Azure North Europe
Azure Japan East
Azure Brazil South

Three PoPs in Amazon
US-East
US-West
EU-Centra

Concurrent Users: No Limit
Data Transfer Limit per user: No Limit
Overall Bandwidth Up to 250 Mbps – Can be scaled up with setting up multiple Citrix Cloud Connectors wherever your resources are located.

Cloud health and SLA
Citrix has an SLA for all their different cloud services on 99.9 every 30 days. They also have their own status page for all cloud offerings here –> http://status.cloud.com/

And they have also implemented an subscribe option which allows us to send notifications to Slack or other Webhooks directly to our Service Management tool –> http://status.cloud.com/subscribers/new


NOTE: The status page does not show if there is any planned Maintance.

Is Citrix Cloud an option for me?
After having a lot of good conversations and discussions with customers and partner at Citrix Synergy I got a lot of good feedback which I want to share directly.

* I don’t wanna manage Citrix I just want to deliver my apps and desktops and make it easy for my end-users
* I like the OpEx model for Citrix but they need to make it easier for adjust licenses for our end-users directly.
* For large enterprises we require complete visibility and full role based access control based upon what kind of responbiility our IT-staff has, Citrix Cloud does not have that option yet.

Now I don’t think that Citrix Cloud is going to replace any large XenApp/XenDesktop Enterprise solutions anytime soon, I belive that Citrix cloud will provide customers with an even broader range of deployment options to choose from depending on what kind of setup they are looking for. If you are considering a Citrix Cloud setup, you can use a finished a deployment guide from Citrix here –> http://tools.cloud.com/

Citrix and VDI: Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly Citrix XenApp) is an application delivery solution that enables access to Windows-based applications to any device compatible with Citrix Receiver.

VDI stands for virtual desktop infrastructure. A VDI desktop is a desktop running on a server in the datacenter that a user can access from virtually any device. To use VDI with Citrix, you need to purchase Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop (formerly Citrix XenDesktop). Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop (formerly Citrix XenDesktop) and VMware Horizon are two well-known solutions to implement and deploy virtual desktop infrastructures.

What is VDI?

VDI comprises host servers for desktop operating systems and application software residing inside guest virtual machines. The VMs are accessible from devices of any kind, e.g. desktops, tablets PCs, and mobile devices, within the network.

Users connect to VMs, or their virtual desktops, using their preferred devices. Virtual desktops can be assigned to either a single user or multiple users:

  • Single-use desktops are configurable by their assigned users
  • Multiple-user desktops go back to their default configuration once a user completes their session

What makes the above possible is an abstraction layer known as a hypervisor, which allows guest VMs to be installed on a single server. It’s possible to scale the IT infrastructure up or down according to demand by adding more servers with more VMs. Hypervisors manage the VMs and broker the connections to the VMs.

What Are the Different Types of VDI?

While there is a standard definition of VDI, there are various methodologies to deliver virtual desktops, classified into three main categories:

  • Desktop-Based VDI – A desktop running in a virtual machine that is hosted on a server in the datacenter.
  • Server-Based VDI – A desktop running in a server operating system that is available only for a single user at a time (Remote PC).
  • Session-Based VDI – An individual session running inside a server OS on either a virtual machine or a physical server.

What Are the Limitations for Citrix and VDI?

Deploying and maintaining VDI with Citrix is complicated due to different licenses offering different features. For example, to support desktop-based VDI and server-based VDI, organizations need to upgrade from Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly Citrix XenApp) to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop (formerly Citrix XenDesktop). In essence, even in its Platinum Edition, Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly Citrix XenApp) does not support a full VDI.

How to Deploy VDI with Citrix

To deploy VDI with Citrix, organizations must consider what kind of VDI they need for their infrastructures (desktop, server, or session-based). They also need to be aware that publishing applications require either Citrix Virtual Apps or Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop Enterprise/Platinum version.

Citrix’s VDI solution Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop works in small environments and large ones, but it’s geared toward the medium and big enterprise. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop is available in three versions.

1. Virtual Desktops Standard

This version provides only the basic Citrix virtualization technology, restricting the delivery options to VDI for both pooled and dedicated services on Windows 7 and Windows 10. However, the app lacks basic security configurations, including FIPS compliance, Common Criteria certification, SmartAccess, Intelligent session recording, and provisions for SSL VPN.

In terms of productivity, the Virtual Desktop Standard does not provide optimized Skype and Microsoft Teams for business. Also, the app doesn’t allow for Citrix casting (transitioning applications and desktops from a mobile device to any display connected device in a Citrix Ready hub) and Workspace Environment Management.

2. Virtual Apps and Desktops Advanced

This version offers more virtualization features including, server-based hosted apps, server-based virtual desktops, VDI (for both pooled and dedicated services), Remote PC access, and VM hosted applications.

The main benefit of this version is the inclusion of extra features to boost employee’s productivity, such as optimized Skype and Microsoft Teams for businesses that are not available in Virtual Desktop Standard. However, it still lacks Citrix casting and Citrix SD-WAN for WAN optimization that could boost efficiency in an organization.

In terms of security, Virtual Apps and Desktop Advanced lacks standard security configurations including FIPS compliance, Common Criteria certification, SmartAccess, Intelligent session recording, and provisions for SSL VPN just like its Virtual Desktops Standard counterpart.

3. Virtual Apps & Desktops Premium

Citrix Vdi For Dummies

This version includes all VDI features, plus an enhanced version of Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly Citrix XenApp) called XenApp Platinum. It also includes a couple of additional features such as seamless local applications, self-service password reset, and a UX network analysis.

Note: To deploy a fully-featured application and desktop delivery infrastructure with Citrix, you also need to purchase Citrix add-ons such as Citrix ADC (previously NetScaler).

Printing issues with Citrix Solutions

Printing is often a problematic area in Citrix. Among the pain points are:

  1. Slow printing: Citrix uses a virtual channel for printing. As a result, latency, packet loss, and lack of bandwidth may slow down printing across networks. Proper configuration with the use of the correct protocol and PCL6-based drivers may help address this issue.
  2. Not printing: Worse than slow printing are jobs that do not print at all. For example, while connected to a VPN, printing across a network may lead to jobs not being received on the other end. When this happens, check to see that your devices can connect to your printers, as network configuration may be the underlying cause.
  3. Printer misconfiguration: Citrix provides printer drivers for just about any possible printing scenario. However, if these drivers are not properly configured, users cannot utilize their advanced features, making them unsuitable for their needs. In this case, printer redirection may be needed.
  4. Printer is missing: Sometimes, connected printers may not appear at all when you try to use them for printing. When this happens, faulty policies and missing drivers may be to blame. The problem goes away when the correct policy is set, or the correct driver is installed.
  5. Printer stops working: When errors appear during printing or the printer stops working altogether, this can be traced to problems in either the Citrix and/or Microsoft printer services. Restarting the services on the session hosts often resolves the problem.

Parallels RAS Is an Ideal Citrix Alternative

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is a cost-effective Citrix alternative that is easy to deploy and maintain. Install docker toolbox windows. It delivers applications and desktops from RDS, VDI, Windows Virtual Desktop and Remote PC without feature limitations. In addition, it is available for a variety of deployments including on-premises, hybrid and the public cloud.

So, what are you waiting for? Download the Parallels RAS trial today!

Citrix

References:

Citrix Cloud Vdi

whitehatvirtual.com
wikipedia.org
redmondmag.com
techtarget.com
basvankaam.com
parallels.com/citrix-alternative/
parallels.com/vdi/