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Comparison of VMware View 5.2 VS Citrix XenDesktop 5.6

14 May

Recently I attended the VMware Partner Exchange 2013 and there was a session called “Technical Battleground – View VS XenDesktop”. In this post I will try and cover the differences that VMware showcased during their session and I am going to add an additional column for my comments and thoughts on this comparison.

The following table shows the feature comparison between View and XenDesktop:

VMware View 5.2

XenDesktop 5.6 (XD)

My Comments

Uses only VMware Hypervisor. Use the power of vSphere 5.1 with capabilities such as Fault tolerance, VMotion and Site Recovery Manager

No tight integration with Hypervisor and flexible with XenServer, vSphere and Hyper-V

I seriously feel it’s better to have multiple hypervisor support. That way you have the choice to: stick with the current hypervisor the company runs and manages;   use lower cost alternative hypervisors; or use a hybrid hypervisor model

Content based Read Cache (CBRC) feature available on vSphere using RAM cache

IntelliCache feature available on XenServer using Local Storage caching

This feature is only available for pooled desktop delivery method. CBRC and IntelliCache have their own share of pros and cons.  However, CBRC will be faster because it’s based out of RAM. This feature is very vSphere specific

View Composer Array Integration – Offloading the creation of linked clones to the storage array

Not Available (**Can be made available using vSphere + XD 5.6 but not sure if Citrix will support it)

This feature is more related to storage array functioning with the hypervisor. VMware (vSphere) and a few other storage vendors (EMC and NetApp) have coded specific drivers to offload the creation of linked clones process from the hypervisor level to storage array. Very limited vendors  and new arrays would have such capabilities

Sparse Virtual Disk – space reclaiming (deleted files) on the virtual machines

Not Available (**Can be made available at the storage array level provided any OEM supports and has tested features with XD )

Using this feature you can surely save some expensive storage space by deleting unwanted old files.

vShield security & hypervisor offload

 

Offloading Antivirus architecture capabilities is available with all leading hypervisors today such as Hyper-V, XenServer and vSphere. Vendors such as MacAfee Move and TrendMicro Deep Security provide hypervisor level security

Single console to manage the entire View environment using View Management Manage

Multiple consoles such as Desktop Studio, Provisioning Services,

Current versions of XD 5.6 for sure has many consoles to manage. But Citrix has overcome the problem in the next version (Excalibur) where there is a single console to manage desktop and application delivery

Cheaper View licensing cost

 

Yes the list price for View is cheaper than the XenDesktop license for all variants such as enterprise and platinum etc. However, one has to evaluate various use cases before making the choice of the products

E.g. The Citrix Provisioning services can reduce the storage cost by 30% VS Machine Creation Services  

VMware Compared a 10,000 desktop reference architecture published on the Citrix website and claimed they are:

          42% less Storage than XD

          19% few servers than XD

 

No detail was given as to which Citrix XD architecture they were comparing View to.

Virtual 3D Graphics over WAN and LAN

Similar capabilities of 3D GPU sharing using OpenGL available with XenDesktop

VMware said there was no 3D GPU sharing/virtualization within XD. However it is available within XD

A website that gives detailed information about VMware’s competition

www.whychooseview.com

Citrix Flexcast & Project Accelerator websites where you can get more information

http://project.citrix.com/

VMware is the only vendor which has public information on competition on their website compared against Citrix, Dell etc. A detailed comparison of VDI products is carried out by ProjectVRC in their VDI Smackdown

 

In this study, VMware compared View 5.2 (which is only 2 month old) with XenDesktop 5.6 (which is 1.2+ years old).  In most of the cases, the highlighted feature is not part of View itself, but a VMware vSphere hypervisor capability instead. Almost 80% of the vSphere hypervisor features can be extended to XD, but it will become a very expensive solution.

How this study will change in the months to come: Citrix has announced the Excalibur version which is in technical preview since Citrix Synergy 2012 and will include both XenApp, XenDesktop, Provisioning Services and Profile Management capabilities and will be served as a single product just like the Horizon suite from VMware.

I hope this provides a good insight on View and XenDesktop features side by side. If you found this blog post useful. Do leave your comments below

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

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Windows Live Tags: Horizon Suite,Hyper-V,Citrix XenDesktop,VMware View,VMware,Citrix,XenServer,CBRC,IntelliCache,MacAfee,TrendMicro,Excalibur,ProjectVRC,XenApp,vSphere

A comparative analysis of application delivery methods – XenApp vs. ThinApp vs. App-V

13 Feb

What is application virtualization? I am attempting to answer this oft-asked question here. Besides application virtualization, let us look at various other methods of delivery too. The minor differences between vendors and their capabilities often confuse our decision-making. Let us see how my blog helps in addressing these questions and more.

Let us first understand what the different types of Application Models are.

Traditional Application Deployment

Session Hosted Applications (SHA)

Application Virtualization (AV)

The application is installed locally on to individual desktops and laptops, either using manual or ESD methods

The application is installed on the server and only the screen pixels, keyboard and mouse clicks are sent back and forth between the server and the client

The application is separated from the OS, aka profiling, and installed in a virtual container. The entire package is stored at a fileserver from where it is streamed to the client or the server

Streamed to Server – The applications are put in profiles and stored on a file server; however, when launched, they stream to the server

Streamed to Client – The applications are put in profiles and stored on a file server. When launched, the files required to execute the application are streamed to the user device

All the compute processing takes place on the local desktop and laptop

All the compute takes place on the servers within the datacenter

All the compute may take place on the server or the client, depending upon the streaming method selected

Application compatibility required for various endpoint operating systems

There are chances of application conflicts as multiple applications are hosted on the same server

Application Isolation can be achieved and no fear of application conflicts

Application updates required for individual desktops and laptops using manual or ESD techniques

Application updates required on all remote desktop servers hosting the application within the datacenter

Application updates required on the single application profile

 

Vendor – XenApp

Vendor – XenApp, App-V and ThinApp

Vendors

There are mainly three popular vendors within this space: Citrix XenApp, VMware ThinApp, and Microsoft App-V.

Citrix XenApp: Industry’s oldest and no. 1 vendor for application delivery since last 23 years. The biggest differentiator that XenApp holds over its competition is the Session Hosted Applications, which is a proven and effective delivery method for incompatible, complex and cost effective applications. This delivery method is delivered using the Microsoft Remote Desktop Service. XenApp is also capable of application virtualization. This tool is considered to be an end-2-end application delivery. This software integrates with XenDesktop to provide Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) in which applications (SHA and AV) and desktop both can be seamlessly delivered to an end-user.

VMware ThinApp: A VMware tool used to perform application virtualization. The biggest differentiator that ThinApp holds over its competition is the Offline application delivery, Agentless, and portable apps in USB and removable storage devices. This software is integrated with View to provide Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) in which AV and desktop both can be seamlessly delivered to an end-user.

Microsoft App-V: A Microsoft tool used to perform application virtualization. The biggest differentiator that App-V holds over its competition is the centralized consoles and its marriage like integration with SCCM and other Microsoft products. This software is often the best choice with respect to cost ratio (if, and only if, you want to do application virtualization) and can be head-on compared against ThinApp.

Comparison of XenApp VS App-V VS ThinApp: (Source PQR Application Virtualization Smackdown v4 2013):

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Important Note: The complete comparison is not detailed here. Whatever seemed important enough functionalities to me, I have listed them here, which can be used as a cheat sheet. However, the complete comparison can be found here; thanks to Ruben Spruijt, CTO – PQR  for developing such a document for the public.

My Recommendations

After going through the various application delivery methods and features comparison, I would recommend understanding the various business cases the customer is trying to solve. Few of my recommendations are as follows:

  • If you are looking for an end-2-end application, delivery product then there is only one player, XenApp, as it can do all Hosted Session Applications and Application Virtualization (there may be few pros and cons, but that’s true for every product)
  • If you plan to use XenDesktop, then using XenApp for application delivery makes better sense as the complete integration works like a charm
  • If you plan to use View, then using ThinApp for application delivery is a good choice. However, you will miss the favorite and most used feature of XenApp – Session Hosted Applications. The complete integration is a good choice.
  • Do not mix n match these products like XenApp and ThinApp, as this would unnecessary increase the cost and add more complexity to the solution. One or two feature trade-off is normal but think about ongoing maintenance and unknown issues going forward due to integration of multiple vendors!
  • Costing is another crucial factor in making the choice. I would recommend, weigh the pros n cons of each vendor and then make your choice based upon the features and business problems you are trying to solve
  • If you cannot afford expensive products like XenApp and ThinApp, I would highly recommend using App-V would be the best bet for value for money.

If you like this post and find it useful, please drop in your comments here.

Best Regards,
Aresh Sarkari

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Streaming Google Chrome using Citrix Profiler 6.0 and XenApp 6.5 –Step by Step guide

27 Nov

With the increasing popularity of Google Chrome browser and the capabilities it can bring with the usage of its Extensions I thought why not stream Chrome to the end-user devices using the Citrix Profiler 6.0  and XenApp 6.5.

How to Profile the Google Chrome setup?

The most important thing to note here is the normal Chrome setup is available in the online mode. Now the challenge is using the online mode you cannot create the profile for Chrome. The purpose of writing this blog is the older process in which flipping the registries and lengthy process was involved can all be avoided now.

Google Chrome recently introduced a special enterprise MSI  package in which there are no hassles of tweaking the registry. Simply double click on the installer and you can profile the application.

Download Link: http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?msi=true.

Google Chrome Enterprise Browser

Using Citrix Profiler how to create the profile?

I am going to attach a step by step guide at the end of this blog. However, I am highlighting some important screens here.

Citrix Profiler 6.0

How to Publish the application on Citrix XenApp 6.5 for Streaming?

I am going to attach a step by step guide at the end of this blog. However, I am highlighting some important screens here.

clip_image002[10]

Download Link for Step by Step guide Streaming Google Chrome using Citrix Profiler and XenApp

If you like this post please leave your comments below.

Best Regards,
Aresh Sarkari

Documenting Citrix XenApp 6.5 Inventory Assessment Script – Windows PowerShell

22 Oct

Imagine yourself in a situation where you have to capture the entire XenApp 6.5 Farm information to understand what the customers have in their environment. The traditional way to understand the environment is  to sit down multiple times with the CTX Architects/Admins to understand the details of infrastructure and even then missing on important details. This script will document whatever you see under the Citrix AppCenter Console and the output can be copied to a txt or word document.

My Testing results

I ran the script in my environment and generated the output as per the figures mentioned below. I am listing down certain requirements and things I learnt during the execution:

Step 1:

  • Download the Citrix XenApp 6.5 PowerShell SDK and simply go through the typical installation
  • Downloaded the Citrix XenApp Group Policies and place the files under two folders
    • C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Modules, in a new folder named Citrix.GroupPolicy.Commands
    • C:\Windows\SysWOW64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Modules, in a new folder named Citrix.GroupPolicy.Commands
  • Make sure you open the File Properties of Citrix.GroupPolicy.Commands.psm1 file and click on Unblock and click Apply and OK. If you don’t go through this step you will get an error during importing of module

Step2:

  • Open Windows PowerShell console and type Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  • Open Windows PowerShell screen and type import-module Citrix.GroupPolicy.Commands

Step3:

  • Download the script from Script and place the script under the C:\XAInventory folder
  • Click Start – All Programs – Citrix – XenApp 6.5 Server SDK – Windows PowerShell with Citrix XenApp 6.5 Server SDK
  • Navigate to C:\XAInventory folder and type .\XA65_Inventory.ps1 |out-file .\XA65Farm.txt
  • Copy the output from C:\XA65Farm\XA65Farm.txt to a Word Document for better reading and formatting.

Step4:

  • Analyze the customer environment with complete detailed information for the XenApp 6.5 infrastructure

Inventory Output Results:

XenApp Inventory Output

A lot more is captured with respect to Server, Zones, Applications etc. Check it out yourself to experience the in depth details

Source: (Thanks)
Lets give some respect and thanks to the author of this script Carl Webster because of whom we all will be saving none less than 30-40 hours of efforts in capturing details of the XenApp Environment. He has written a 13 page blog on what all information is captured in the inventory script. Note if you check out his blog there are scripts for multiple versions of XenApp 6.5/6/5

If you like this post please leave your valuable comments

Best Regards,
Aresh Sarkari

Latest Citrix RemotePC feature with XenDesktop5.6 FP1–RemotePC VS RDP

4 Oct

With the recent launch of XenDesktop 5.6 Feature Pack (FP) 1 Citrix released a great feature known as the Remote PC. The Remote PC feature allows end-users to access their laptops/desktops on any device (Tablets, Mobile Phones or even other remote laptop and desktop) and anywhere (in the office, home and road). Citrix launched this feature for enterprises that are yet not ready to move into VDI mode and this solution allows end-users to continue using their desktop/laptop devices. The device that will be accessing the office desktop/laptop will require Citrix Receive to be installed beforehand.

Architecture for Remote PC to work:Citrix RemotePC (XenDesktop 5.6 FP1)

Many of you would ask what is the difference between RemotePC VS traditional RDP?

RDP

Remote PC

Works well on Microsoft platform. However, no standard or official applications are available on cross platforms such as iOS, Android and Blackberry You can access your desktop on multiple platforms such as iOS, Android and Blackberry with a single Citrix Receiver
No Standard apps available from Microsoft. All 3rd Party un-popular applications available at the App Stores for alternativesOfficial Citrix Receiver application integration that offers built-in Virtual Keyboard, ShareFile
No OS/Application Shell enhancement provision available with Microsoft RDP solutionCitrix Mobility Pack enhancement to make Windows OS and Applications touch and type friendly

Typical Use Case Scenarios:
Use Case 1: The customer has a desktop at his desk and is leaving for a meeting and wants to access the desktop from his/her tablet.

Solution: Simply install the Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) on the desktop and the end-user can access their desktop on any device and from any where

Benefits:

  • The enterprise doesn’t have the CAPEX to invest in a full blown VDI infrastructure. Simply enable this feature and take advantage from your existing infrastructure and investments.
  • Access to the resources from their mobile devices such as iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone, Windows 8 RT, Android Phones, Android Tablets
  • There is no resource sharing hence no complaints from end-users regarding performance degradation
  • Whatever Access, Software, Storage end-user carries remain the same while accessing on mobile devices
  • Leverage existing Electronic Software Distribution software to deploy the VDA on Desktop/Laptops within the enterprise

Video of the RemotePC Installation:

Building a XenApp 6.5 Farm inside your Lab Infrastructure – (Part 1)

1 Oct

Recently, I am setting up a poor man’s lab of Citrix XenApp 6.5 (64 bit). The reason to call it a poor man’s lab is because of the equipment in use. Though, I am complaining about the equipment I will tell you “my way” of efficiently setting up XenApp on a desktop class  Dell machine. My configuration is as follows:

Desktop Configuration:Dell Desktop Hardware Configuration

Preparatory Steps:

  • Install Windows 2008 R2 with Hyper-V as the choice of operating system on the Desktop.
  • Connect the desktop with internet to get all the Windows Updates
  • My next big thing was to create a Windows 2008 R2 EE template to create multiple VM’s and not waste time in creating individual virtual machines
  • Create a new Virtual Machine with Windows 2008 R2 EE SP1 and install all the Windows Updates
  • Install Features such as .Net 4 and Telnet Client from the “Add Features” as its reusable component on all VM’s 
  • Enable the ICMP inbound rule under the Windows Firewall port else you would be clueless during your troubleshooting
  • Sysprep the image Selection Option OOBE === Check Generalize === Shutdown. Your VM template is ready for use

Citrix Architecture for the lab

  • Plan to install Citrix XenApp 6.5 on 4 VM’s with the following server role breakup

Virtual Machine

Role

Memory

VM1Active Directory/Citrix Licensing/Remote Desktop Licensing400 – 700 MB
VM2Citrix Web Server/SQL 2008 R2 Express/File Server400 – 700 MB
VM3Citrix XenApp1 (Application Streaming/Publishing)Static 700 MB
VM4Citrix XenApp2 (Hosted Shared Desktop)Static 700 MB

Note: Clubbing up of roles like I have done is strictly for lab environments. Production environments should be sized and designed in a different way

Architecture Diagram

Citrix XenApp 6.5 Lab Infrastructure

List of my Best Practices:

  • Create a reusable Sysprep template to create multiple VM’s on the fly
  • Enable the ICMP inbound rule on all VM’s else you would be clueless during troubleshooting
  • Use Dynamic Memory for all your VM’s. Predefine the values for Startup and Maximum RAM options under VM Settings. I must say this feature is a savior when building labs with restrictive resources
  • Make sure the Citrix Licensing file (*.lic) carries the exact hostname of the virtual machine as it’s case sensitive. Simply type hostname under the command prompt and copy/paste the same while generating Citrix license file from www.mycitrix.com
  • In my case, the SQL Server Express is installed on the Web server. You will have to create a custom firewall rule to open the port number 1433 for all SQL related communication between the VM’s
  • During the Citrix installation make sure you select the “Install XenApp Server” option as this option brings in the convenience of installing all the prerequisite such as RDS, IIS components etc. automatically

Though, I am not sharing the step by step information on how to install each and every role because a lot of information is already available from Citrix & Microsoft and don’t want to make the blog lengthy.

I will be writing a series of blog on topics such as:

  • Application Publishing (Applications installed locally on Citrix XenApp Server)
  • Application Streaming (Application Streaming Server/Client Side)
  • User Profile Management (Separating the user profile using Citrix Profile Management)

If you like this blog please leave your comments

Best Regards,
Aresh Sarkari

My learning’s from Citrix Executive Briefing @ Bangalore, India

17 Apr

Recently, I attended a Citrix Executive Briefing at ITC Gardenia, Bangalore on 12th April 2012 and learnt a couple of new things over and above our normal XenApp & XenDesktop which I would like to share as follows:

XenApp Mobility Pack: This piece of software when installed on the XenApp server enhances the desktop or icons which are easy to touch and maneuver within the Windows 7 desktop. Like the traditional Windows Icons and menus it can really get difficult to click/touch on your tablet like devices that are 7” or 10” inches. See the below mentioned screenshot for the before and after experience.

Before: (Screenshot of a Shared Desktop)

clip_image001

After1: (With Mobility Pack)

clip_image002

After2: (With Mobility Pack)

clip_image003

Video:

This mobility pack works in general for the Windows 7 OS and Office, Adobe applications etc. out of the box. It would be advisable to check, if it works on custom applications or/else developers would require to use the XenApp Mobility Pack SDK to further customize their applications.

ShareFile:

This company was recently bought by Citrix. It provides cloud based storage solution on all platform like Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry. During the demo they showcased the capabilities like once you are logged into your VDI based desktop using the Citrix Receiver, whenever you create a file it can be directly saved onto your cloud storage drive. You can also retrieve the files from the internet (follow-me-data) that you had previously stored. It’s more like a mapped drive sitting in the cloud with all the necessary security measures.

This cloud storage integration with Citrix Receiver can help customers to follow-their-data wherever they go. It can be used as an additional storage on the go.

Don’t forget to leave your valuable comments.

Best Regards,
Aresh Sarkari