Who wouldn’t want to automate the deployment, configuration and management of their Citrix applications and services? Speed set up, reduce errors, simplify tasks? With Citrix Lifecycle Management you can do all that and more.

To make this process straightforward, robust and repeatable, Citrix Lifecycle Management uses blueprints, which are assembled scripts and other components combined into a single solution. Once an IT team has created a blueprint, it can be reused, modified and shared with others.

What, exactly, is a blueprint?

When architects design houses or other buildings, they create blueprints that define and organize visually the components, layout and integration of all the materials, wiring, plumbing that go into the construction project. A blueprint helps a builder understand how to assemble all the components into a construction that works just as the architect intended.

In Citrix Lifecycle Management, a blueprint is similar: a description of an application, including its topology, software, platform components, configuration and a workflow of the deployment process. It also includes metadata describing the application. These are all the things you need to deploy and manage Citrix workloads, such as XenDesktop, XenApp, ShareFile and Net Scaler.

What’s more, as a component of Citrix Workspace Cloud, Citrix Lifecycle Management is a cloud-based service, so blueprints allow you to deploy on a variety of hypervisors as well as public or private clouds. Because a blueprint is made up of discrete scripts and other components, they can be modified easily to accomodate each environment.

Defined roles for working with blueprints

Citrix has defined roles that facilitate the use of blueprints. An architect creates blueprints, and this is usually someone with a deep understanding of the deployment components and flow, and who can write scripts in PowerShell or other languages such as Bash or JavaScript.

Once a blueprint has been created, an operator can deploy it. The operator may not know how to write scripts, or have the deep understanding of an architect.

This division of labor allows the architect to focus on creating blueprints, and the operators to spend their time and attention launching deployments and managing their performance.

A blueprint architect creates a blueprint from scripts and steps that take input parameters, performs an action and then passes output parameters to another script or step. Repeat over and over, and you can see the potential for saving time, increasing productivity and reducing errors.

Why blueprints are so awesome

With blueprints, you can:

  • Capture everything in a single place, rather than as individual scripts and other components.
  • Compartmentalize sets of scripts and subprocesses according to each server that you are setting up.
  • Create conditional steps so each deployment can have conditional options that the operator can select as the situation requires.
  • Share a blueprint with others, who can deploy it, modify it or access it from another blueprint.
  • Use a single blueprint across multiple clouds and hypervisors. By modifying certain settings, you can deploy the same blueprint on XenServer, vSphere, Amazon Web Services, Hyper-V, CloudPlatform and Azure.

Let’s take a look at an actual Citrix blueprint to see what it does.

XenApp/XenDeskop Proof of Concept

The XenApp and XenDeskop Proof of Concept blueprint is a good place to start, to see what a fairly basic blueprint does when you deploy it:

  • Creates an Active Directory domain with a single domain controller.
  • Creates a XenDesktop Delivery Controller
  • Installs an SQL Express database
  • Installs the XenDesktop Controller
  • Installs Citrix Studio
  • Installs Storefront
  • Installs a Citrix License Server
  • Creates a XenDesktop database and site
  • Creates a Windows Server with the Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) installed

You can optionally use this same blueprint to configure a NetScaler Gateway to provide secure remote access to the XenDesktop Storefront.

Let’s stop for a minute and consider: with this blueprint, the operator literally enters some parameters in a setup wizard, presses the Deploy button, and goes for a cup of coffee. The blueprint takes care of everything, creating the instances, installing the applications, and launching the services in a single, coherent step.

The specifics for this blueprint depend in part on the environment you select, which Citrix Lifecycle Management identifies as resource locations.  So setup on Amazon Web Services may be different from setup on XenServer or Microsoft Azure. Still, a single blueprint can be designed to run on a variety of environments; with a few tweaks, an operator can deploy to any resource location supported by the blueprint.

This is just a peek at the things that blueprints can do to make your life easier and more productive using Citrix Lifecycle Management. Read these recent blogs to learn more about its features:

Show me all the blueprints, by David Noland

How to Monitor Your Resource Location Connector in CLM, by Eric Chen

And if you haven’t yet given it a try, log into www.cloud.com and sign up for a free trial version of Citrix Workspace Cloud.