While working with the Citrix Merchandising Server and Receiver clients in different internal testing and production environments, I’ve found utilizing the Rules functionality of the Merchandising Server to be of great benefit. We often test various versions and variations of our software and hardware devices simultaneously in our ITDev environment and we have a diverse group of voluntary internal users who wish to use specific products or versions. By using Rules in conjunction with the evaluation order of the Deliveries we create, we are able to provide a simplified experience for our users utilizing a single Merchandising Server.
Rules can be defined by User Name, User Group, User Domain, Machine Name, IP Address, or Operating System. You can create as many rules as you need and use them individually or in combination to define a set of delivery recipients. The evaluation order for Deliveries is simple – the lower the number, the higher the priority. The Merchandising Server compares the recipient’s criteria to the highest priority Delivery first, then the next highest, and so on, until the appropriate Delivery is found and then provided to the client.
One example of this is how we offer both Access Gateway Standard and Enterprise to our users simultaneously. Our default is for all users to connect via our Access Gateway Enterprise VPN logon point; however, users can choose to opt-in to use the Standard VPN logon point instead. We do this by creating a Rule that simply checks AD for a user’s group memberships. If they are a member of the target Access Gateway Standard test user group in AD, they will receive the delivery we created to use the Standard VPN logon point instead of the default. By simply creating an identical Delivery to the default, modifying it so that the appropriate Standard Secure Access plug-in and logon point values are used and then placing that delivery higher in the evaluation order, we are able to accomplish our goal.
Another example of a simple use of a Rule that custom tailors the user experience for our testers is the Deliveries we target for our XenDesktop users. Since the XD VMs are running inside our LAN, there’s no need to provide the Secure Access plug-ins to those VMs. The XD VMs are going to all be part of a specified IP range that we know to be dedicated for use by those VMs. We use a Rule that is configured with that specified IP range, create a Delivery that does not push the Secure Access plug-in, apply it to that Delivery, and then place it higher in the evaluation order.
Above is an example of using evaluation order prioritize Deliveries.
These are just a couple of examples of the flexibility offered by using Rules and the Delivery evaluation order features of the Merchandising Server. I’d like to hear how others use these features to their benefit in order to custom-tailor the experience for their Citrix Receiver clients. Please take a moment to add your comments and share with the rest of us.