Presentation server 4.5 added some cool features to optimize ICA performance. The improvement is most visible over slow links. To set up a test environment to see the difference requires multiple machines and some ways to control the network characteristics such as bandwidth, latency, packet loss rate etc. Products such as Shunra can be used to simulate the network. http://www.shunra.com/vedesktop desktop version costs $499 dollars though the last time I checked.

I just found out that vmware workstation has the team feature that allows virtual machines to be grouped together and connect using a virtual LAN. You can specify the virtual LAN bandwidth and packet loss rate. You can change the latency of the virtual LAN though. The ability to change latency would be a nice feature to add I think. This allows a relatively quick way to conduct some comparison testing in a controlled environment.

am using vmware workstation 6.0. I am not sure about vmware workstation 5.5.

is an example of what I tried.

a new team

an XP VM to the team

a CPS 4.5 VM to the team

a new virtual LAN for the team

both vms to use the virtual LAN

Since vmware workstation doesn provide automatic DHCP server for the virtual LAN, I configured static IP addresses for both VMs. You can configure static IP addresses in the Guest OS. Make sure you set the network mask and default gateway correctly.

vms can now communicate with each other. They are not directly connected to the outside network. Now you have an isolated environment to conduct your test. Optionally you can enabled shared folders or/and host only networking to move data between your vms and your host machine.

an ICA connection from the XP VM to the CPS VM. Launch a test application. I used google earth from http://earth.google.com/. It worked really well for me. When the internet connection is not available, google earth will use cached data. If you would like to run your test in an isolated environment to reduce variables caused by internet connection, you may want to enable only the private network. Google earth worked really well for me. You can try rotating the 3D globe. Such operation is typically a challenge for remote display protocols.

Shut down the team, change the virtual LAN characteristics and try again. Note that you will need to restart the team before the changes to the virtual LAN takes effect. I wish VMWARE would remove this restriction in the future.

make some changes to CPS settings (create new policies for example) to see for yourself how well the new features work! Please note that you will need to open the old Citrix management console to configure policies. I heard the development team is still working on moving all features to the MMC based Access management console.

also possible to add another virtual network card to allow one or more VMs to gain access to external networks. I will try to write more on that topic in a separate post.

also tried RDP connections and compared the results.

it yourself and share your experience with the rest of us…