Remote access, local access, file sharing, mobile devices, WAN performance, it can be daunting.

Today users want to be able to access their data and applications from anywhere, with any device. The concern is how to build a secure environment that allows sharing and accessing files from a desktop, a virtual desktop, a virtual application, or even a mobile device. If users are working in a branch office, then the concern becomes WAN performance.

Citrix offers the Citrix Workspace Suite to help IT address all of these issues.  The Citrix Workspace Suite consists of:

  • XenDesktop – the only hybrid cloud-ready platform that can deliver Windows applications and devices to any device.
  • XenApp – the industry leading solution for virtual application delivery.
  • XenMobile – delivers mobile device and application management and enterprise-grade productivity apps to users on any mobile device.
  • ShareFile – provides secure enterprise file sync and share services for mobility, collaboration and data security, while meeting the requirements of enterprise business.  It is the only industry solution optimized for virtual desktops.
  • NetScaler – application delivery controller to optimize, secure, and control the delivery of enterprise and cloud services.
  • CloudBridge – accelerates application delivery and WAN performance from enterprise to branch office connectivity.

More about all of these can be found at

To help you get started with a new deployment of Citrix Workspace Suite, the Citrix Solutions Lab has created a starter guide called the “Citrix Workspace Suite Reference Architecture”.  The following diagram gives an architectural view of the environment.

The initial design was to support 2,000 XenDesktop and XenMobile users, with 500 of those users being at a branch office using IPSec tunnels in NetScaler and application acceleration with CloudBridge. All of this was deployed in vShpere 6 and is documented in the reference architecture.

The deployment also highlights some unique Citrix features like PVS (provisioning server) RAM cache capability with disk overflow.  For each VM on the supporting physical host a small write cache file was created, but also RAM was reserved for caching. Any writes that normally would go to the write cache on disk were cached in RAM. This greatly reduced the IOPs and space requirements, and if configured correctly, would reduce IOPs for the write cache files to as little as1 IOP in many cases. The second Citrix advantage was to leverage the SSL to the VDA capability of XenDesktop to secure traffic communications.

Since we are in a lab, we are always looking for more ways to test things, and we just happened to have an extra 32 servers lying around, so we decided to expand from 2,000 users to 5,000 users to see what it would require. To accomplish this we:

  1. Deployed vShpere 6 to the servers
  2. Provisioned additional hosted shared desktop VMs to the physical servers
  3. Created the necessary delivery groups with XenDesktop
  4. Ran a 5,000 user test

We changed or added nothing to the infrastructure.  The delivery controller/broker, PVS servers, StoreFronts and NetScalers had no issue keeping up with the additional 3,000 users (got some nice charts and graphs in the reference architecture). If we had additional physical servers lying around we could have supported close to 10,000 users without changes to our initial infrastructure design. Our original calculation of 5,000 users was intended to push our existing environment to about 80% of the hardware capacity.

Check out the Citrix Workspace Suite RA here to see how we built it, how we tested it, and some of the results.