Monthly Archives: February 2017

What’s New in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.13

The following content is a brief and unofficial prerequisites guide to setup, configure and test delivering virtual apps and desktops powered by XenApp & XenDesktop 7.13 prior to deploying in a PoC, Pilot or Production environment by the author of this entry. The views, opinions and concepts expressed are those by the author of this entry only and do not necessarily conform to industry descriptions or best practises. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Shortened Names
SECURITY ASSERTION MARKUP LANGUAGE – saml
LOCAL HOST CACHE – lhc
XENAPP – xa
XENDESKTOP – xd
XENAPP/XENDESKTOP – xad
WINDOWS – win
VIRTUAL DELIVERY AGENT – vda
HIGH DEFINITION EXPERIENCE – hdx
VIRTUAL DESKTOP – vd
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM – ceip
VIRTUAL APPS – va
DATA TRANSPORT LAYER – edt
FIREWALL – f/w
ACCESS CONTROL LISTS – acl
ADVANCED MICRO DEVICE – amd

What’s New
A full and complete list of what’s new is avaiable at – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/whats-new.html. I’ll start with one of my Citrix passions which is any and everything surrounding HDX technologies.

1. HDX Adaptive Transport is disabled by default in XAD 7.13* also referred to as EDT is a new HDX graphics mode that utilises both the UDP and TCP protocols with a fallback to TCP where UDP isn’t available. The HDX engineering team have engineered this new Citrix protocol called Enlightened Data Transport (EDT) which utilises the existing Citrix ports 1494 (ICA/HDX) and 2598 (Session Reliability) for both TCP and now new UDP so f/w ACL changes are near enough straight forward. To test this new graphics mode internally:

– Configure the ACL between your test end-point and through your internal network (over a VPN) VM running the 7.13 VDA to allow UDP and TCP for 1494, 2598
– Your test VM instance could be running in Azure (connected on-prem via a VPN) or on XenServer 7.1 and remember must be running the latest desktop or server VDA
– Your test end-point must be running the following min Citrix Receiver versions for Windows 4.7, Mac 12.4 and for iOS 7.2
– *In Studio create a machine catalogue, delivery group or use an existing one with your VDA upgraded from e.g 7.12 to 7.13 and then create a new HDX policy e.g HDX-TestofEDT and select the following HDX policy entitled “” and choose “Preferred“.

2. AMD Multiuser GPU (MxGPU e.g GPU Virtualization works with vSphere only) on the AMD FirePro S-series server cards for HDX 3D Pro workloads only e.g Desktop OSes ref – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/hdx/gpu-acceleration-desktop.html+ with support for up to 6 monitors, custom blanking & resolution, high frame rate and only GPU Pass-through is supported on the following hypervisors XenServer and Hyper-V. For further details please ref to the AMD website at – http://www.amd.com/en-us/solutions/professional/virtualization.

3. Intel Iris Pro (5-6th Gen Intel Xeon Processor E3) graphics processors supports H.264 h/w encoding for virtual apps & desktops, HDX 3D Pro support for up to 3x monitors (Ref to install options+), custom blanking & resolution, high frame rate. For further details and compatible Intel processors ref to – http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/servers/data-center-graphics.html

4. Other HDX enhancements include:

– Bidirectional content redirection – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/policies/reference/ica-policy-settings/bidirectional-content-redirection.html
– Wacom tablets improvements & connection methods – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/hdx/usb.html and also see http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/policies/reference/ica-policy-settings/usb-devices-policy-settings.html
– File copying performance enhancements for client drive mapping

5. StoreFront 3.9 support for the following below and for a closer look check out the following CTX blog article – https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/02/24/whats-new-in-storefront-3-9/

– HDX Adaptive Display
– CEIP automatic enrollment by default. To disable please ref to http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/storefront/3-9/install-standard.html#par_anchortitle_8ea6
– Importing of NUG configurations (ZIP file or via PowerShell) into StoreFront to setup through the XAD Wizard using the latest NetScaler UG 11.1.51.21+ ref – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/storefront/3-9/integrate-with-netscaler-and-netscaler-gateway/import-netscaler-gateway.html to reduce and avoid misconfigurations.
– Not new but if you’re looking to security harden your StoreFront standalone or cluster ref to – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/storefront/3-9/secure.html
– SAML auth through against your preferred Store with NetScaler Unified Gateway configured as your IdP – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/storefront/3-9/configure-authentication-and-delegation/configure-authentication-service.html#par_anchortitle_d712

5. The Connection Quality Indicator is not part of the XAD 7.13 release but an invaluable Citrix tool for Citrix SysAdmins check out its capabilities at – https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/02/22/citrix-connection-is-slow-not-really/ and you can download it from – https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX220774 and it also inclues group policies for better SysAdmin controls to enable or disable the tool which is supported from XAD 7.6 LTSR and upwards ref the CTX220774 article. The below image is taken from a Window 10 virtual desktop powered by XenDesktop 7.x.

6. Linux Seamless published applications from a Linux supported OS using the 7.13 VDA – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/linux-virtual-delivery-agent/7-13/whats-new.html and also please read the publishing apps for Linux at – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/linux-virtual-delivery-agent/1-4/suse/configuring/publish-apps.html for advanced tips and guidance on seamless mode vs. window manger configuration.
7. LHC in 7.13 introduces a new support feature for brokering operations for Citrix Cloud when the internet connection between the Citrix Cloud Connector and the Citrix Cloud control plane at – https://citrix.cloud.com/ is in a failed state or unavailable due to an ISP outage. You can also force an outage following the documentation available at – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/manage-deployment/local-host-cache.html++ by creating and manually modifying the following registry entry “HKLM\Software\Citrix\DesktopServer\LHC with entry of OutageModeForced” set to the value in the documentation++ to force an outage for testing and or evaluation purposes prior to implmenting Local Host Cache. I’ve embedded below a simple architectural recap of LHC introdcued in XAD 7.12 and you can read in more depth detail about Local Host Cache from a previous blog post available at – http://axendatacentre.com/blog/2016/12/13/whats-new-in-xenapp-xendesktop-7-12/.

Finally LHC still provides support for brokering operations for traditional XAD Controller Site Database on-prem ref ++. I’d also recommend that you watch this TechTalks To Go covering LHC in XAD 7.12 release.

8. Provisioning Services 7.13 now supports Linux streaming and a brand new caching technique only available and supported on XenServer 7.1 called PVS-Accelerator. Check the following YouTube video from Citrix entitled “Introducing PVS-Accelerator, only available with XenServer!” via https://twitter.com/juancitrix/status/835202277317148672.

9. HDX Thinwire enhancements in 7.13 have resulted in up to 60% bandwidth savings. Take a look at the following CTX blog post at – https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/01/11/hdx-next-cuts-bandwidth-by-up-to-60-yes-sixty-percent/ which has some great high level LoginVSI 4.1.6 graphics comparing Thinwire in 7.12 vs. 7.13 on Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2016.
10. AppDNA what’s new ref – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/dna/7-13/whats-new.html now includes support for Windows 10 Anniversary Update (AU) and now defaultor analysis and reporting, Secure Web reports and finally improved importing to process to analysis OSes and apps. There are a few more to be sure to check out the whats news!

Deploying XenApp 7.13 for Evaluation & Testing Purposes
The fastest way to deploy and test the latest new features from Citrix XA 7.13 release with little to no effort is to deploy the “Citrix XenApp 7.13 Trial” from Microsoft Azure available and accessiable at – https://azuremarketplace.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/apps/citrix.citrix-xa?tab=Overview.

Removed from XenApp and XenDesktop 7.13
Please be sure to read and review the complete removed features and future removal features within XAD 7.x platform topics on Azure Classic, AppDisks, Desktop OS support and supported HDX Graphics Modes e.t.c –
https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-13/whats-new/removed-features.html.

Viso Stencils from Citrix’s Ask the Architect – https://twitter.com/djfeller for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.13.


Image credit: https://twitter.com/djfeller/status/836557405173477376

https://virtualfeller.com/2017/02/28/visioxenappxendesktop713/

Deploying & Understanding the NetScaler Gateway Service from Citrix Cloud

The following content is a brief and unofficial prerequisites guide to better understand NetScaler Gateway Service from Citrix Cloud test delivering virtual apps and desktops powered by XenApp & XenDesktop Service prior to deploying in a PoC, Pilot or Production environment by the author of this entry. The views, opinions and concepts expressed are those by the author of this entry only and do not necessarily conform to industry descriptions or best practises. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citrix.

Shortened Names
NETSCALER GATEWAY SERVICE – nsg service or ngs
CITRIX CLOUD CONNECTOR – connector
NETSCALER – ns
HIGH-AVAILABILITY – h/a
XENAPP – xa
XENDESKTOP – xd
XENAPP/XENDESKTOP – xad
VIRTUAL DELIVERY AGENT – vda
HIGH DEFINITION EXPERIENCE – hdx
CITRIX CLOUD – cc
INFRASTRUCTURE AS A SERVICE – iaas
VIRTUAL APPLIANCE – vpx
USER EXPERIENCE – ux
ICA PROXY – hdx proxy

Introduction & Overview
The NetScaler Gateway Service is a simple, clean. effortless and but most importantly a powerful way to demonstrate the power of Citrix Cloud by providing secure remote access to your HDX virtual apps and desktops from your resources location over the internet (https) securely. While this service is very very powerful & simple to implement and use, you should under the keep in-mind that NS VPX/MPX/SDX is fully featured vs. the NSG Service which is focused on delivery of HDX virtual apps & desktops! So in summary when implementing service undering what is right vs. relevant for the customer needs and requirements is very important. Finally you can read more about the service and its benefits at https://www.citrix.com/products/citrix-cloud/services.html.

+Enabling the NetScaler Gateway Service
1. Login to https://citrix.cloud.com
2. Select to Manage your XAD Service which will take you to https://xenapp.cloud.com/.
3. Select from the drop down menu “Service Delivery” which is beneath the top menu item displayed “Service Creation
4. Now Select to toggle “ON” and choose to use the NSG service (preferred for blog article only) or your own NetScaler (Unified) Gateway at your resource location and if you enable to the NSG Service you can choose to check the session reliability (2598) checkbox.

The UX
Users connect to https://.xendesktop.net and then login using there AD UPN domain credentials e.g lyndon-jon@x1co.eu and the user’s credentials are encrypted through-out the login process. User’s can equally choose between using a full Citrix Receiver (HDX Optimisation Pack 2.x.n for offloading Skype for Business 2015-2016) vs. HTML5 Receiver (HTML5 compliant internet browser) experience by selecting their username in the top right hand corner and selecting to “Change Receiver” to their preferred choice of Receiver. It also important to set the correct +HDX Policy to get the best UX that is good and balanced (backend vs. network vs. client connected device) so I’d suggest that you implement HDX Adaptive Display v2 by selecting the following policy entitled “Use video codec for compression” and select the following option “For actively changing regions” and thereafter tweak the frame rate and adjust the Thinwire color depth support as described at http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-12/whats-new.html#par_anchortitle_59c9 and you can also read more about benefits and a YouTUBE demostration on HDX Adaptive Display v2 at the following blog article I wrote in 2016 at – http://axendatacentre.com/blog/2016/10/01/foractivelychangingregions/.

HDX Traffic flow of the NSG Service
Please note that traffic flow is based upon the diagram avaiable at – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-cloud/xenapp-and-xendesktop-service/netscaler-gateway-as-a-service.html as of Jan 2017.

1. User MUST login into cloud hosted StoreFront e.g https://.xendesktop.net. There credentials are securely handled please refer to – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-cloud/xenapp-and-xendesktop-service/technical-security-overview.html to understand the traffic follow.
2. Once the user has authenticated successfully he/she can select to launch a virtual app or desktop.
3. User connects to the NSG Service powered by Citrix Cloud
4. Traffic is securely brokered to the Connector in your resource location that is severing up the user’s selected virtual app or desktop or both from the server or desktop VDA.

Tech Overview of the NSG Service
1. The Citrix Cloud NetScaler Cloud Gateway service on your Connector allows and provides the secure remote access feature of the NSG Service from your chosen resource location. I have written a blog article about the Connector services and leading best practises which you can read at – http://axendatacentre.com/blog/2017/01/27/understanding-the-citrix-cloud-its-services-architecture-connectors/.
2. To ensure high availability you should always deploy at a min a pair of Connectors within your resource location and increase the compute capacity of your Connectors as user demand increases initially and thereafter deploy another Connector based upon usage of service.
3. *To use the NSG Service you MUST configure to use the cloud-hosted StoreFront provided by Citrix Cloud under “Service Delivery” tab at https://xenapp.cloud.com/delivery.
4. The NSG Service only supports HDX Traffic only and the service is currently only available on Eastern, Western coasts within the USA and in Europe so for those users accessing virtual apps and desktops via the NSG Service outside of these geos or not in close proximity to an entry point will experience higher latency so tweak your HDX policy(s)+ accordingly or deploy a NS VPX in your resource location.
5. ICA files are STA signed the below example is a small snippet from my own PoC and testing*. I have also intentionally scrammed some of the unreliable text to :-).

Sample ICA file
My Azure vDesktop $S19-38]
Address=;40;CWSSTA;9D09CE5552BDE4581E888CD87EEEEFC
AutologonAllowed=ON
BrowserProtocol=HTTPonTCP
CGPSecurityTicket=On
ClearPassword=5FFE184444B0A0
ClientAudio=On
ConnectionBar=1
DesiredColor=8
DesiredHRES=4294967295
DesiredVRES=4294967295
DesktopRestartAllowed=1
Domain=\78034E8888586B61

The NSG Service currently does not support and or is limited as of writing this blog article in Jan 2017 and based upon the embedded Twitter image – http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-cloud/xenapp-and-xendesktop-service/netscaler-gateway-as-a-service.html. Finally please remember that Citrix Cloud is consistently been updated and upgraded with new feature so please please refer to the online documentation and the service overview of Citrix Cloud even a day after posting the blog article as it may become out of date! You’ve been warned!

6. No support for Unified experiences (e.g Branding with your logo, colour scheme).
7. No support for Two Factor Authentication.
8. No support for authentication via outbound proxies for access outside of the resource location over the internet.

Citrix Cloud – NetScaler Gateway Service (NGS) Offering
You can find out more about the NGS subscription options which is avaiable at – https://www.citrix.com/products/citrix-cloud/subscriptions.html#tab-41499 and the service overview at – https://www.citrix.com/products/citrix-cloud/services.html#tab-23235