I recently delivered several webinars on implementing XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5. If you were unable to attend, the webinars have been recorded and posted to CitrixTV:
Jump Start your XenApp 7.5 Deployment – http://www.citrix.com/tv/#videos/11374
Jump Start your XenDesktop 7.5 Deployment – http://www.citrix.com/tv/#videos/11383
Throughout these webinars I received some great questions and wanted to thank all of you out in the Citrix Community for submitting them. As promised, I have compiled a list of the top questions and will present the questions along with answers here in this blog. So in no particular order, here goes…
1. Are there any updates in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 when you compare it to XenDesktop 7.1 or 7.0?
Yes. XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 allows you to provision workloads on cloud environments such as Citrix CloudPlatform and Amazon AWS. StoreFront also has several updates at the 2.5 version including improved performance, Store customization and high-availability improvements among other things. Refer to http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xenapp-xendesktop-75/cds-75-about-whats-new.html for details.
2. How can I publish applications to certain Active Directory groups while keeping the number of needed groups/servers to a minimum?
Published applications have the option to limit visibility where you can define specific users and/or groups at the application level for access as opposed to just using the Delivery Group assignment.
3. What are the plans for the Framehawk acquisition?
Citrix is currently determining how to best integrate the Framehawk technology into existing Citrix solutions. Improvements to HDX are planned though there is nothing to officially announce at present. See the blog at /blogs/2014/05/28/a-video-is-the-next-best-thing-hdx-with-framehawk/ for a sneak peak.
4. Is it possible to take a XenApp 6.5 PVS-based image and migrate it to an MCS-managed XenApp 7.5 image?
Yes this is possible. Perform a reverse image process on the PVS vDisk to a VM, uninstall the PVS software on the VM, install the 7.5 VDA software and anything else required and then proceed to use the VM as your base image for MCS.
5. What is the status of Citrix Single Sign-on (formerly Password Manager)?
Citrix Single Sign-on (formerly Password Manager) is no longer being developed or invested in. XenApp 6.5 was the last release that included this feature. This means that when XenApp 6.5 achieves end-of-life, so will SSO. Until then, it will continue to be maintained and supported per the XenApp 6.5 dates. It is also important to note that SSO is not going to work on Windows 8.x or Server 2012 or higher. With the last release SSO only supported Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.
Our preferred partner right now for an alternative solution is Imprivata. Their OneSign solution is very similar architecturally to Single Sign-on making the learning curve a little easier. They are also a Citrix Ready partner.
6. What is the status of SmartAuditor?
The screen-recording solution of SmartAuditor is not available on the new FMA platform and we are working with customers that currently leverage it to implement alternatives from Citrix Ready vendors. TSFactory and ObserveIT are the two main alternatives that provide the same features as SmartAuditor plus more.
7. What is the capacity of a single delivery controller? How many sessions can it broker simultaneously?
Testing has shown that a single delivery controller using 4 vCPUs and 4GB RAM can support more than 5,000 VDAs. To reduce risk and provide high availability, at least one additional delivery controller should be assigned to each site (N+1 redundancy) to ensure availability should a single controller fail. The following formula can be used to calculate the number of controllers required beyond the minimum recommendation of 2 when working with larger environments:
# of DCs = (# of VDAs/5,000) + 1
8. What are the requirements for a source XenApp farm in order to use the PowerShell migration scripts to go to XenApp 7.5?
Any source farm at XenApp 6.5 can be used to migrate over settings. XenApp 6.0 may also work but has not been fully tested and will not be officially supported. Please visit www.citrix.com/migrate for information on the PowerShell migration scripts for XenApp.
9. When is session pre-launch and lingering coming back in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x?
Session pre-launch and lingering are coming back to XenApp and XenDesktop in a future version yet to be announced. A sneak peak of the feature is available /blogs/2014/04/15/part-3-new-and-improved-session-pre-launch-and-lingering-coming-to-xenapp-and-xendesktop/.
10. When might it be necessary to use a desktop OS (such as Windows 8.1) as a VDA to deliver applications as opposed to a server OS VDA (such as 2012R2).
Application and hosted-shared desktop delivery are always preferred on server OSes. Servers provide much greater user density handling hundreds of simultaneous users compared with desktop OSes that can only handle one user at a time. In situations where you have specific application requirements though, it may be necessary to deliver applications to users from a desktop OS (perhaps due to platform requirements, licensing, etc.)
11. Do I need to create different sites for XenApp 7.5 and XenDesktop 7.5?
XenDesktop 7.5 contains the same features as XenApp along with VDI and other capabilities. Therefore, if you have XenDesktop 7.5 licenses you will only need to create a single site to deliver desktops and applications to users. It is also important to note that the product software is essentially the same whether you install XenApp or XenDesktop. It is the license entitlement that enables the features. For example, you can start off with a XenApp 7.5 site and XenApp licenses and later upgrade to XenDesktop 7.5 simply by importing the new licenses. No software uninstall and reinstall is required. If, however, you want to consume XenApp and XenDesktop licenses at the same time, you will need at least one XenApp site and at least one XenDesktop site.
12. Can the delivery controller and VDA be installed on the same server (similar to a single-server XenApp 6.5 farm)?
You can take a server OS and first install the delivery controller software. Then install the server VDA software.
13. Is NAT/translation support no longer available in StoreFront without the use of a NetScaler?
This is correct. NAT/translation is no longer available. The use of a NetScaler is recommended.
14. Is Configuration Logging available in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 to track administrative changes?
Yes. All changes through the management consoles and PowerShell are fully tracked by default in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5. You can run reports on the changes and configure various settings as required.
15. Describe the Enhanced Desktop Experience option. Is it available in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 with 2012 R2?
The Enhanced Desktop Experience feature provides a desktop-like experience to users while connecting to the desktop of a server operating system. This feature is available with XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 and 2012 R2 and is configurable through the “Enhanced Desktop Experience” policy.
16. Is the Citrix Universal Print Server still available with XenApp 7.5?
Yes. Refer to http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xenapp-xendesktop-75/cds-print-univ-print-server.html for additional details.
17. I have a large amount of Citrix Streamed applications. How can I migrate them to App-V 5?
AppDNA can help to analyze and determine the best migration strategy for migrating from Citrix Streaming to App-V. It is available in Platinum licensing.
18. Is Secure Gateway supported with XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5?
Secure Gateway will work with Web Interface 5.4 and XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5. Secure Gateway will not work with StoreFront however.
19. In XenApp 7.5, how do I control load evaluators, load balancing policies, application priority, etc.?
These settings can be controlled through Citrix policies managed in either Citrix Studio or the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) with the Citrix policy extensions installed.
20. We run Web Interface on NetScaler. Will there be a StoreFront on NetScaler at some point?
We are looking into the possibility of StoreFront features running on NetScaler; however, we do not have anything to announce at the present time.
21. Can I mix license types in the same site? For example, I have XenApp and XenDesktop licenses that I would like to consume from a single site.
No. A XenApp or XenDesktop site cannot support multiple editions from a single deployment. A single site can only support one edition and one licensing model (e.g. user/device or concurrent) at a time. For example, if a license server has XenApp Enterprise and XenDesktop Enterprise licenses, there needs to be at least one XenApp 7.5 environment for XenApp Enterprise licenses to be consumed and at least one XenDesktop 7.5 environment for the XenDesktop Enterprise licenses to be consumed. More information on licensing can be accessed in the Licensing FAQ at http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX128013.
22. With XenApp 7.5, what will happen if the SQL database goes down? In XenApp 6.5 we have the Local Host Cache that allows servers to operate when the database goes down.
XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 are both based on the Flexcast Management Architecture (FMA) which is critically dependent on the database. If the database goes down, no new users can connect but existing connections will remain. A SQL HA option is therefore recommended (mirroring, clustering, or AlwaysOn). We are working on a connection HA option for this platform in a future release. A sneak peak is available at /blogs/2014/04/09/part-2-simplifying-connection-high-availability-for-xenapp-and-xendesktop/.
23. With XenApp 6.5 we have a globally dispersed farm spanning multiple locations and data centers. Is this possible with XenApp 7.5?
With XenApp 7.5 and the Flexcast Management Architecture (FMA) the best practice is to have a single site for each physical location. Sites spanning multiple locations should be relatively close and have a high-speed, low latency link.
24. Can we manage multiple XenApp and/or XenDesktop 7.x sites from a single Citrix Studio console?
Yes. Start with a blank MMC console and add in multiple Citrix Studio snap-ins as required pointing each one to a specific delivery controller in the site you wish to manage.
25. Is the Citrix XML Service still around in XenApp 7.5?
The Citrix XML Service functionality used for resource enumeration is now contained within the Citrix Broker Service.
26. I currently have Citrix policies applied via GPO to OUs for XenApp 6.5. Will I need to re-apply them or can I use the PowerShell migration scripts in this scenario?
Both XenApp 6.5 and XenApp 7.5 are based on the same policy engine; however, there are some policy changes and additions with XenApp 7.5. Many policies from XenApp 6.5 will work fine as-is in XenApp 7.5 though the recommendation is to review your policies from a system where the latest Citrix policy extensions are installed. The policies will continue to apply and the PowerShell migration scripts are not needed as those are designed for migrating policies configured within a site as opposed to Active Directory GPOs.
27. Are RDS CALs needed on both delivery controllers and VDAs?
No. RDS CALs are only needed on your server-based VDA machines.
28. When is it acceptable to use SQL Server Express in a production environment? Is it based on a certain number of users, number of VDAs, etc.
SQL Server Express is not recommended in a production environment due to the lack of high availability features such as SQL mirroring, clustering, and AlwaysOn Availability Groups. It also has resource limits around the maximum database size, number of vCPUs that can be utilized, etc. XenDesktop/XenApp 7.5 is dependent on the SQL database for administration and user connections and therefore SQL Server Express is only recommended for use in test environments. Citrix recommends using the Standard Edition of Microsoft SQL Server for hosting Citrix databases in production environments, if the SQL server is dedicated to Citrix databases.
29. Can I use the same PVS servers to deliver both server-based VDAs and desktop-based VDAs?
Yes. A single Provisioning Services 7.1 farm can deliver multiple vDisks for server-based and desktop-based VDAs.
30. When importing applications via the PowerShell migration scripts, are the imported applications immediately shown to users?
No. The applications will be assigned to a new delivery group with no user or machine assignments. Please visit www.citrix.com/migrate for information on the PowerShell migration scripts for XenApp.
31. I’m currently at XenDesktop 7.1, do I need to upgrade all of my VDAs to 7.5 before I upgrade my controllers?
No. You can run 7.1 VDAs with a 7.5 controller and upgrade them to 7.5 when you are able to. You can also run 7.5 VDAs with a 7.1 controller.
32. Can I set different types of disconnect policies for the same application published from one server based on user AD group membership?
Yes. Sessions to server OSes leverage the RDS settings for disconnect and idle timers. They must be configured via Active Directory, but are user policies so therefore may be filtered by users and/or groups.
33. Is there an easy way to move 20+ applications assigned to a delivery group to a different delivery group?
Yes this is possible with PowerShell. Use Add-BrokerApplication to associate the new delivery group, followed by Remove-BrokerApplication to remove the old association.
34. How do we provide a comparable solution to using zones in XenApp 6.5 for application/server failover?
Under the FMA architecture, a single site is not intended to span multiple geographic locations. So each “zone” in a IMA farm would become an independent site under FMA. StoreFront has many multi-site options which provide similar functionality to Zone Preference and Failover when using multiple sites (http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/dws-storefront-25/dws-plan-ha.html). It may also be worth looking into the StoreFront Store Customization SDK for more advanced options.