Citrix Partner Accelerator, 2016

29 02 2016

Welcome to Part 1 of my blog “mini-series” on the Citrix Partner Accelerator 2016.  I decided to write a couple of blogs on this as there was a lot of content squished into a single day. Well done Citrix! This article will focus on the Keynotes.

This year’s CPA took place on 25th February at Wembley Stadium in London, a very grand venue for Citrix to announce their grand plan.  This was my first official Citrix event so I was prepared for the self-gratifying, backslapping and whooping that one hears about from such type of events.  However, this is Britain and we have decorum.  It was a civilised affair!

Mark Beaumont, Head of Channels for North Europe kicked it all off to give us all the facts and figures with Jason Tooley popping on to cover off a few points.  There was also a live demo of the new Virtual WAN features in NetScaler SD WAN (formerly WANScaler, formally Branch Repeater, formally CloudBridge but not officially changing name until Q2 apparently) which included hi-vizzes, hard hats and bolt croppers!  Citrix may think this is novel but many a customer facing consultant would be used to this equipment!  This was by John Spencer.  He seemed nice.

The main points from the Keynotes have been distilled into bullet point below, however there is a lot of content!

Citrix have decided to spin off GoToMeeting & GoToTraining – these are not strategically aligned to their other core products.

  • Q4 2015 profits beat expectations (good for you Citrix)
  • New CEO with Forrester naming Citrix as EMM leader
  • Citrix UK&I business growth of 8% with significant growth in NetScaler and Workspace Suite
  • Citrix will be moving from tactical to strategic solutions (welcome to 2016!) with more focus on vertical markets (that’s the tall ones not the fat ones apparently).

In order to try and convince the part of the world that doesn’t know about the core benefits of Citrix’ main product set, there was a big drive on the seemingly obvious, which was good in a way as it’s now been said with pretty pictures and lots of % signs meaning people can nod sagely and regurgitate the information to their customers. I would also like to add for transparency that this was based on an “independent” report that Citrix themselves commissioned.

By 2019, organisations will deliver twice as many apps remotely than 2015 – good news for Citrix and their partners

  • The “Flexible working tipping point” will be 2017 (not good news for the impatient types). This is where 50% of UK organisations will adopt some form of remote working, with this number rising to 70% by 2020.
  • There was also the usual reasons on why remote working is cool
  • Citrix will being focusing on the “workspace” (it’s all about the workspace nowadays) with their tried and trusted “any, any, any” mantra. This time slightly changed to:
    • any device
    • any cloud
    • any app

Citrix also wanted to reiterate the fact that Networking using Netscaler is core to Citrix’s workspace vision which was seem in the technical stream with 50% of breakouts being NetScaler orientated. There is a lot of love for NetScaler at the moment!

The 2016 sales priorities were announced as; new customers, Expand footprint and Partner for success. These were expanded upon in the Sales track of the breakouts but that’s for Salesy types.

Then the event that we were all looking forward to except the one who had the spoiler from Neil because he’d seen the demo already this week at Chalfont…

John Spencer, Citrix Northern Europe CTO, came up and told us about the latest techno shiz and direction.

  • Browser App Service. You can now launch an IE 11 or Chrome browser session seamlessly within any other browser!  This is an alternative approach to just publishing the link in IE via XenApp but to try and give the user a more native experience. For more on Browser App Service, see here.
  • Citrix are more aligned with Microsoft than ever. Collaboration with the a massively used platform with huge cloud services and the leader of “any app, any device, anywhere” can only be good.  Just a bit odd that all the Citrix big boys are now ex-Microsoft…
  • Skype for Business (S4B), Azure, Windows 10, Office 365 and Windows Server 2016 are the main tech focus of this year, which I found very pleasing and reassuring as these things feature in my own personal focus and I believe any self-respecting Citrix partner’s focus.
  • CloudBridge is now called NetScaler SD WAN (although Simon Cooper gave a conflicting account and said the name change wasn’t until middle of 2016)

 

NetScaler SD WAN Overview

With NetScaler SD WAN, you can put your Corporate MPLS line, internet-based ADSL backup and even 4G backup-backup line through the NetScaler SD WAN and it will seamlessly switch over if one of these goes down.  As discovered in a later breakout, there is even more coolness here but that’s for another blog J  This was where John Spencer risked life and reputation but getting his assistance to chop through the links one by one, MPLS, then ADSL whilst holding a S4B video call live on stage.

Mark Beaumont returned to wrap up the keynotes with some more £ signs to get the bosses and Sales guys to sit up again after the chop chop demo.

 

  • $500m opportunity for Citrix license sales in the corporate and mid-market businesses. That sounds good! Plenty to go round you’d think!
  • The vertical focus that were discussed before will centre on finance, healthcare and local government. Again, good move as these are sectors that can all easily benefit from Citrix’s core products, even if you just gave them XenApp!
  • Never under estimate the importance of services! This is why we’re called Service Providers right?  There were some of those modern day pie charts, more like ring charts (?) with the facts.  In 1995, 20% was services, rest was product revenue. In 2015, this rose to 35% with 2020 predicted to be 60% services compared with product revenue. No wonder Citrix are looking to change!  A valuable insight to us all here!
  • Mid market use cases and success kits available on SalesIQ
  • New incentives for new opportunities in the mid-market (free pens and USB sticks probably)
  • CARs now available on all customer segments (I was a little bit mystified at this one) but they seem to be making it easier for people to register and claim CARs
  • Citrix are committed to partner success and want to help everyone more this year by having better partner engagements (they want to be in front of your customers), help growth, increase profitability with more predictable engagements. Again, this is good news and this is the type of thing we’re all trying to achieve right?  So, Citrix are our friends and will help us to be bigger, better and more vertical (something some people think I could benefit from)

 

Thanks for reading.  Man, that was slog!  Keep an eye out for Part 2 where I’ll “summarise” the four technical breakout sessions with good stuff from NetScaler, NS SD WAN, XenApp/XenDesktop and the very sexy Citrix Workspace Cloud!






Scale Up or Scale Out?

23 01 2014

Well? 

You know the answer to this one.  It depends.  :-)  Of course it depends as every environment is different.  However, today I was looking into the scalability of a XenApp 6.5 farm for a customer to see if we wanted to scale up or out.

Tradition says to scale out but tradition is for ceremonies, Christmas and getting tourists to part with their money🙂  Tradition doesn’t have a place in today’s modern virtualised world of IT.  So, in order to work out if we need to scale up and out, I needed data!  “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts”.

That data came in two formats – knowledge of what governs why we would scale up or out in the form this article by Citrix Architect Nick Rintalan – very useful.  Also, in order to understand the current hardware used and see what the CPU and NUMA configuration was I found this article and this article on the Xen Wiki very useful indeed!

The second part of the data came from EdgeSight.  Real life actual statistical data from the client’s XenApp farm. Treasure!

To give a little bit of background, the customer is running XenApp 6.5 HRP2 on XenServer 6.0.2 to publish a single, business critical application, which turns out is a bit more CPU hungry than originally envisaged.  The XenApp servers are provisioned via a Provisioning Services 6.1 vDisk.  All basic stuff.

The underlying hardware uses 4 Intel Xeon E7540 2GHz CPUs with 6 cores each which gives us a grand total of 48 logical cores (4 x 6 x 2 ;-p).  Plenty to be getting on with!  The current XenApp VM configuration is 6 vCPU and 32GB RAM.

EdgeSight was showing that the servers were getting their CPU maxed out with around 52 users, each running the same published application.  Rough maths shows that this means each instance of the process was using about 11% of a CPU.  In comparison, we were seeing peak memory usage of 28GB so about 87-88% meaning we did have some memory to spare.

So, do we add more vCPU, say to take it to 8 or add more XenApp servers?  The decision is going to be based on if the XenApp servers will scale linearly or not, i.e if we add an additional 33.3% of CPU, will we get an additional 33.3% of users?  In this case would we max out at 70 users?  If we maxed out at less than 70 users then we’re not scaling linearly so it would be better to scale out – savvy?

In order to try and work this out prior to any testing, I wanted to understand the NUMA topology of the Intel E7540’s to see what the multiples would be (again, reference here for more details).

On the XenServer host, using the command xl info –n, you will see the following:

CPU configuration

CPU configuration

This confirms that we’re running 48 cpus and have 4 nodes.  These are the NUMA nodes.  As we have 4 sockets, that means 1 node per socket.  Scrolling down, we see the following to confirm that and also show we’re getting 12 CPUs per NUMA node.

Numa configuration

Numa configuration 1

Numa configuration 2

Numa configuration 2

Numa configuration 3

Numa configuration 3

So, to summarise, based on Mr Rintalan’s insight, we want to be running CPU multiples of the NUMA configuration, in this instance 12.  We don’t want to use less CPUs than we currently have (4), which means the next one up is 12 .  This is not practical as to have 12 vCPU we’ll need 64GB RAM which isn’t an option at present so with all this in mind we ARE running the OPTIMAL configuration at present so the answer is…

Scale out🙂

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my experiences and the links useful.





I’m now a Citrix Certified Integration Architect!

11 01 2014

Well, there’s not much more to say except that I’m pretty chuffed and proud to have passed 1Y0-A16 and join the CCIA club. I actually passed on 18th December but just had my certificate come through the post to make it officially official.

I look forward to upping my game in 2014, blogging more and trying to add to virtualisation community further as we’re all in it together.

Thanks for all who read my blogs and I hope they’re useful.

Things I hope to work on in 2014:

  • My take on desktop virtualisation – who cares about the desktop
  • Trying to be agnostic by comparing Citrix XenDesktop 7.1, VMware Horizon View 5.2 and Microsoft VDI 2012 R2.
  • Looking out for the next best thing in the virtualisation workspace
  • Try to make it to a virtualisation conference to meet and mix with others and learn some good stuff (maybe BriForum in May…?)

Thanks again,

Stephen





2013 in review

8 01 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on my blog in 2013.  Keep an eye out for new and hopefully insightful blogs in 2014!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.





XenApp 5 Automated Install Scripts

31 01 2013

Here’s a blast from the past! XenApp 5 for 2003!

As part of the project I’m currently working on, there is a need to have a XenApp 5 farm for legacy apps. Damn those legacy apps, holding onto the past like a 1950’s revival weekend (but without the tea and dancing). It is one of those necessities in life I’m afraid but it’s no bother is it? I mean, it’s only XenApp 5. How hard is that to install and configure four ZDCs and a gold image for PVS.

Wait a minute! It’s not as easy as XenApp 6/6.5 with command-line parameters and an easy-peasy GUI to shoot though…

D’oh!

Wait a minute! With a slightly dangerous knowledge of Powershell and plenty of enthusiasm, perhaps we can automate the build to make it quicker, slicker and very importantly, consistent!

Well folks, that is what I did and to my surprise, it worked! I have included the scripts I used to build a XenApp server to full XenApp 5 FR3 level, with the last hotfixes installed. As a Powershell and scripting newbee, I don’t have the skills to cobble them all together and as time was against me, I thought it best just to script everything required and then run the scripts manually. You will need to download all the required media yourselves J

Each script, once run, is fully automated and reboots the server once those tasks are complete so you’ll know when it’s time to run the next script. It wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to fully automate the process with something like Microsoft SCCM or RES Automation Manager if you use these in your environments. I know for a fact it would be very simple to do with RES. Just be aware that apart from the prerequisite media needed, there are some answer files that will need creating too. The XenApp install answer file is super easy though as it has everything in a preconfigured one already and all you have to do is fill in the specific parts and un-hash the relevant lines of code. It is found here – <XenApp media root>SupportInstall UnattendedTemplate.txt.

Anyway, the scripts are broken down into the following areas:

1. Prereqs – XenApp 5 prerequisites

2. XenApp 5 – XenApp 5 base install

3. Consoles – installs the Delivery Services Console, the Advanced Management console and runs the fix required if you install the DSC AFTER installing .NET 4 (which I had). See here for details – The good thing about having the consoles as a separate install is that for my PVS image, I didn’t want the consoles installed as it would not be a XenApp management point so just skipped this step.

4. Post Install – installs all the updates required to make XenApp 5 FR2.

5. HRP 7 – installs the latest Hotfix Rollup Pack, HRP7.

6. Hotfixes – installs all required post-HRP7.

7. FR3 – installs the HDX Flash hotfix to make XenApp FR3.

My basic script is here for your use and abuse and no doubt improve! You can either edit various bits you need to fit it around your install/organisation or make sure that you place the prereqs, XenApp 5 install media, hotfixes etc. in the correct folders so that the scripts work. These were just names I used so feel free to change it for your own use! I’ve annotated the script quite a bit so although basic, it’s easy to read and make the amendments you require.

No doubt some of you scripters out there will laugh when you see some of my newbee ways/mistakes and be able to make it much slicker. For example, I know that for the Terminal Services install, it requires you to have the sysoc.txt answer file. Someone with better scripting knowledge would be able to generate the file as part of the script and put it in the correct place, hence eliminating the need to have preconfigured this. This is also no doubt true of the XenApp 5 unattended install text file too.

I have to mention at this stage that you are using this at your own peril and I cannot take any responsibility for the script not working in your environment but to quote one of my betters “what’s the worst that can happen?” J Always test first!

Hope this helps someone and saves time on your next Back to The Future install of XenApp 5! J

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I’ve got two versions of Java, the 1.5.09 version is a prerequisite of the XenApp Advanced Configuration console!

And that’s it! Perhaps not the prettiest script but it does work and speeds up deployments a lot, especially if you have to build a bunch of servers rather than just one PVS image, as was the case for me.

As the script code itself was too big to put into the blog, I’ve put it into a word doc and attached. Each of my separate scripts is listed as a different section – all very obvious!

Cheers! J

XenApp5Script.docx





Setting up Reporting Services for EdgeSight

18 12 2012

Having to recently setup EdgeSight for a customer, I noticed that Citrix’s documentation for setting up Reporting Services for EdgeSight using SQL 2008 R2 is a bit lacking.

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX111313 is good, as it has all the steps required but is dated as its for SQL 2005 so the screenshots are different.

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX130967 is for SQL 2008 R2 but it is missing setting up the user within Reporting Services and giving the correct permissions as in the article is aimed at installing Reporting Services on the same box as EdgeSight.  Not really an enterprise solution.

So below are the steps to get Reporting Services happily working with EdgeSight.  Please note that this does not include setting up Reporting Services in the first place.  I’m not a DBA you know! J

1. From a web browser, navigate to your Report Services instance, usually http://SQLserverName/ReportServer.

Reporting Services 1

2. Click on Site Settings.

Reporting Services 2

Reporting Services 2

 

3. In the left hand pane, click Security and then New Role Assignment.

Reporting Services 3

Reporting Services 3

 

4. For Group or user name enter an Active Directory user and select System Administrator as the role.  Click OK.

Reporting Services 4

Reporting Services 4

 

5. You will now see the new role.

Reporting Services 5

Reporting Services 5

 

6. Click Home to return to the main screen and then click Folder Settings.

Reporting Services 6

Reporting Services 6

 

7. Click New Role Assignment.

Reporting Services 7

Reporting Services 7

 

8. For Group or user name enter an Active Directory user and select all role options.  Click OK.

Reporting Services 8

Reporting Services 8

 

9. You will now see the new role.

Reporting Services 9

Reporting Services 9

 

10. Launch the EdgeSight console and login.  At the Reporting Services screen, enter the Report Server URL: e.g. http://SQLServerName/ReportServer.  Enter the username and password.  Click Save Changes.

Reporting Services 11

Reporting Services 11

11. Reporting Services for Citrix EdgeSight will now be configured.

Reporting Services 11

Reporting Services 11

12. Once Reporting Services is configured, click Close.

Reporting Services 12

Reporting Services 12

13. Under the Reporting Services window, click on the Operations tab.  Select Load Reports and Create Schedules.  Click Execute.

Reporting Services 13

Reporting Services 13

14. Reporting Services configuration will now run.

Reporting Services 14

Reporting Services 14

15. Once complete, click Close.

Reporting Services 15

Reporting Services 15

And there you have it.  Simple steps to get Reporting Services 2008 R2 configured with Citrix EdgeSight 5.4.

Hope you find it useful and keep looking out for new posts!








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