The Solutions Lab is embarking on a series of projects and associated collateral focused on an Enterprise deployment of our Citrix Mobility Workplace Suite for Enterprise customers. The first step in the process was to build an Enterprise Data Center complete with multiple Citrix FlexCast models (XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile) supporting both local and remote users. From our baseline deployment, we will evolve this solution to include an Enterprise Cloud Deployment to be later followed by a Hybrid Cloud solution. We put ourselves in your shoes by looking at our current investment and platforms and designing a solution to maximize our current investment.

Normally when building a XenDesktop environment the path is to decide on a server and storage model, do some POC (proof of concept testing) to get sizing data, then architect the solution.  This is the approach in building many reference architectures.  As previously mentioned our goal was to build an environment to support a XenDesktop 7.1 and XenMobile 8.6 environment using existing hardware. The first step was to do research around the point of intersection for between XenDesktop and XenMobile, this being the NetScaler.  Our initial focus involved a high number of external XenDesktop users (5,000) and a larger numbers of mobility users (in the thousands).  Click here (PDF) to read more about this testing.

Our environment was going to have some internal and external users as well as only 1000 XenMobile users at any one time.  So how did we put this together?

First we selected a single HP C7000 enclosure with 16 BL460c Gen 8 blades as a single module.  These blades did not have the fastest CPUs, 2.6GHz, and only 192GB of memory, and this became the driving factor on how many users could be supported on the remaining blades.  First, three blades were set aside to support the infrastructure VMs required to support XenDesktop and XenMobile.  For the remaining blades we aimed for a mix of 80/20 Hosted-Shared Desktop (HSD/XenApp) users versus Virtual desktop (VDI) users.  For the VDI users, memory became the deciding factor.  We did not want to be leveraging the Hyper-V (hypervisor of choice for this test) Dynamic Memory continually so we set each VDI VM at 2GB max and with the slower CPU we set the number of users per physical server to 90.  For the HSD VMs we leveraged testing performed by other groups in the Solutions Lab and got 50 users per VM with 4 VMs per physical server.  To get close to our 80/20 mix, this meant 9 physical servers for HSD, and 4 physical servers for VDI.

Once the server breakdown was determined, a mix of 20/80 External/Internal users was select and the NetScalers were configured to support both the XenDesktop and XenMobile users.  Our collateral also includes details about the NetScaler configurations, StoreFront configurations, network layout and the test environment. Click here to access the document.

Everything performed as designed and architected, but there were a couple of things that could have done better.  First, was the high availability around the XenMobile configuration.  A fourth physical server should have been configured to support the XenMobile HA environment.  Second, the HSD VMs could have been configured with an additional vCPU to improve performance.  Third, we realized we had oversized the storage (leveraged existing array) while understanding other options down the road would be possible.

What’s next? We plan to move this test bed forward by upgrading to XenDesktop 7.5 and adding an enterprise cloud to the environment by adding Cloud Platform, upgrading to XenMobile 9 and adding HA to it, and bringing ShareFile into the cloud environment.  Keep watching this blog site for updates and notifications on when the new papers are published.

Citrix Solutions Lab