Within Citrix, I’m on the team called Worldwide Consulting Solutions whose overall goal is to provide our customers with the tools and resources to successfully implement Citrix solutions. Talk about an easy task . The interesting thing about this goal is our customers. Our customers are potentially any Citrite, Citrix partner or Citrix customer. Within this team, we have something called the Solution Center. It is essentially a lab, but with some serious requirements. The Solution Center lab must do the following:
- Be capable of supporting integration tests and scalability analysis with Citrix products and 3rd party solutions
- Be capable of supporting our readiness activities where many of Citrix’s field personnel are trained and tested on our latest products and solutions
- Be capable of providing temporarily systems for solution testing for our consultants and SEs, where they can test a feature, or look into a potential solution for our customers.
This is quite a task. The challenge with the lab is provisioning these systems out on an as needed basis. From week-to-week the environment changes based on the needs of projects, training and testing initiatives. Let me explain how this process works now:
- A user would make a request for hardware based on a SharePoint web page. This page contains numerous fields so the Solution Center team can figure out what hardware to provide for the project. Items include dates, server type, OS, quantity, applications, HW requirements and an overall description. Once a user submits this request, it is up to the Solution Center team to work out the logistics.
- The Solution Center team takes the requests and tries to identify available hardware based on a master scheduling SharePoint page. Once hardware is identified, the new systems are built based on the user’s specifications with SysPrep and Ghosting techniques. Currently, the group is building a library of XenServer virtual images to simplify this process.
- Once the system is built, the user is notified with IP Addresses and connection procedures. The entire time from request to delivery can be up to 2 business days.
This group as they have a very difficult job and they do it great, but one would think there would be a better way. We have started to build XenServer virtual images libraries to more quickly build the requested environment, but there still is a manual process involved that slows the entire system provisioning down. Is it possible to create a self-service system that would not require manual work from the Solution Center staff? What if we could cut down the time to build these environments from days to minutes while providing 24×7 service? A self-service system like this would allow the team to weasel out of this time consuming work. “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.” (Homer Simpson).
During Synergy we heard all about Citrix’s vision for a Dynamic Delivery Center on the big screen (It looked like a really big TV). And again, Homer provides us with a good recommendation, “When will I learn? The answer to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle, they’re on TV!” So, we started drinking the Kool-Aid and we are going to see if the Kool-Aid tastes good. Can we turn the Solution Center Lab into a Dynamic Delivery Center? We will all find out together as we have just started to work on this project.
I will continue to blog about our challenges and successes throughout the project, which will contain analysis, PoC, design and implementation. You will see
- Our requirements are (and they are challenging)
- Our overall architecture design
- How we implemented it
- The final outcome
This is going to be a fun project allowing us to get into the details of all of the Citrix solution stack. So, stay tuned for Part 2: Analysis
(Homer Simpson Quote: I want to share something with you: The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3: It was like that when I got here.)