Preparing for Single Server Application Testing In working with our Citrix Alliance hardware partners such as Cisco, Dell, HP, and IBM, our goal is always to deliver a set of test results that will enable prospective customers to understand how a set of commonly used programs will execute and perform in a Citrix environment. These results can aid in the architectural decision-making process, and help determine hardware and software limitations, breaking points, and sweet spots. These kinds of results can also be useful for organizations evaluating Citrix XenDesktop with their own applications and infrastructure.

Single server scalability testing is key to our approach. Correctly configured single server scalability test results are often used as a benchmark for gauging how a larger-scale multi-server scalability test will perform. Throughout this process, it is crucial to ensure that the requisite applications are not only installed correctly, but are able execute without issues.

The process starts with a list of applications and a workload that describes how the applications are typically used. However, it is extremely difficult and tedious to assess a user interacting eight hours a day for five days a week to record and create an appropriate workload script. To help automate this process, Citrix utilizes workload automation tools such as Login VSI (http://www.loginvsi.com). When using Login VSI, a standard set of applications are predefined for certain workloads, allowing testers to easily evaluate scalability. The most commonly used applications and plug-ins are Microsoft Office 2007/2010, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, and Adobe Flash.

Microsoft Office applications are often virtualized with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop architectures, and they will be the focus in this first part of the article. When using Microsoft Office applications and plug-ins in a scalability-testing environment, there are many items that need to be modified and optimized. When using Citrix XenDesktop with Citrix Provisioning Server, applications must be tested prior to converting your master image to a virtual disk. This blog will talk about the installation options, application tweaks, and items to check for when performing a single server scalability test for use with Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise, and Login VSI.

Installing an Appropriate Version of Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010
Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 can be installed by a variety of methods, the most common being the traditional MSI package and App-V package format. However, when testing with Citrix XenDesktop it is a best practice to use Microsoft Office 2007/2010 Multiple Activation Key (MAK), Microsoft Key Management Server (KMS), or a Microsoft Development Network (MSDN) subscription. Retail versions of Microsoft Office are not supported for this purpose by either Microsoft or Citrix. The tips below can help save time prior to installing and testing Microsoft Office.

  • Verify the file name of the ISO file. Whether installing Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 applications using an ISO image, pay extra attention to the ISO file name as it will provide a clear indication of the type of Microsoft Office installation. For example, the second entry below indicates a volume license (VL) while the first does not:
  • en_office_standard_2007_united_states_x86_cd_483881.iso
  • en_office_professional_plus_2010_with_sp1_vl_x86_dvd.iso       (indicates Volume License)
  • Mount the ISO image and examine the installation disc. In the event that the file names for the ISO files or packages have been modified, the folder structure can be explored prior to installation to determine if the distribution is not a retail volume. The images below show an example for Office 2010 to help determine via Windows Explorer if the mounted media is a VL or not. Step-by-step instructions for this verification process can be found at the following link.http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931401

     

Please refer the Microsoft article below for more information on Microsoft Office licensing. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/828378.  Once the correct Microsoft Office installation media is verified, then installation can begin. Installing the latest Microsoft Office Service Pack also is a best practice for Microsoft, Citrix, and Login VSI.

Accessing Microsoft Office Licenses with Limited Internet Connectivity In certain situations, the system under test may not have appropriate Internet connectivity for Microsoft Office 2010 activation, or it may not be able to contact an appropriate KMS host. This situation can present a challenge if you plan on testing longer than the 25-day activation grace period for Microsoft Office 2010. Several options can be used to work around related activation situations.

In addition, the following link provides information on building Windows 7 in a laboratory setting with KMS: http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX124106 If you are able to use a KMS server in your laboratory, then you can also modify your vDisk for KMS as described in this article on configuring KMS with Microsoft Office 2010 for different scenarios. http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX128276

  • Option 2. Use Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT 2.0). Microsoft VAMT is a useful tool that allows administrators to activate Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows clients from a console, even when those systems have no Internet access. This tool is also useful with Citrix XenDesktop in a testing scenario since confirming KMS activation in a large laboratory setting can be a challenge for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.  Microsoft VAMT also allows you to save your product keys, activate via online or proxy, query license activation information status, and save your confirmation ID. If your laboratory hypervisors servers or virtual machines have no Internet connectivity, but one machine does have Internet connectivity, using the proxy activation can save significant time, allowing you to apply saved confirmation ID’s to specific virtual machines. More information on using Microsoft VAMT and a  step-by-step process can be found at the following link. http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/using-vamt-2-0/10tkzhtlq?cpkey=0c1a5986-4243-436f-8c40-8b2c49aa0670%7c%7c%7c%7c
  • Option 3. Re-arm the Microsoft Windows Activation Grace Period. If necessary, the Microsoft Windows activation grace period can be extended or re-armed. A simple re-arming of your master vDisk image and servers is an option to extend the activation grace period if you plan to test longer than 25 days and have no Internet access, no options for KMS, and can’t use VAMT. The Microsoft Office 2010 grace period can be re-armed a maximum of five times and Microsoft Windows 7 can be re-armed a maximum of three times. More information on re-arming can be found in the following Microsoft article. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee624357.aspx

Note that it is important to re-arm Microsoft Office prior to re-arming Windows 7 as mentioned in the following blog entry. http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/archive/2011/06/15/deploying-volume-activation-for-office-2010.aspx

Testing Microsoft Office Applications and Suppressing Messages Once Microsoft Office is installed and activated on the vDisk, it is time to test the individual applications from the master VM console. In order to save time during eventual automated Login VSI testing, it is a best practice to ensure that the Microsoft Office applications all launch successfully. Ideally the following tips should be followed before performing the golden image Provisioning Server convert process:

  • Suppress Office 2010 recommended settings dialog. If the Microsoft Windows 7 virtual machines are connected to the Internet, then it is likely that a settings dialog will appear when testing the first Microsoft Office application. If the systems are not connected to the Internet, the dialog may not appear. In either case, this Group Policy Administration Template will ensure that this message does not appear during you’re the critical testing period. http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=18968
  • Launch each Microsoft Office application as a user other than the domain administrator. Merely assuming that applications will launch correctly without testing can be highly problematic when running scalability tests for hundreds to thousands of users, potentially wasting lots of time. Testing each application from the VM console confirms how each application executes and verifies whether it will launch successfully. Ensure that you can manually use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook without any additional pops up or application hangs.

HDX MediaStream Flash Redirection and Single-User Login VSI Testing Please tune into the Part 2 blog of this series for a description of how to perform HDX MediaStream Flash redirection as well single-user Login VSI testing.