Posts tagged: Citrix

Workspace Manager SR3 Highlights

By Max Ranzau

 

Update: Since the June 12th, the SR3 9.7.3.0 release has been updated. If you already read this article, cut to the chase below.

From the Yay-New-Toys! Dept. Yesterday we got the long awaited Workspace Manager Service Release 3. Due to yours truly being 6-9 hours behind the rest of the RESverse here in the Bay Area, you won’t hear it first on RESguru, but at least I get dibs on diving into the deep end of the feature pool and perhaps fill in a few blanks that you weren’t aware of. This time we’re in for a treat as there are several new SR3 features to look at. [RANT=ON] It took a little while extra tonight, as the retarded WordPress editor decided to hose my article – twice! And autosave had gone fishin’ as well..#@%&! [RANT=OFF] Anyway, you will find the release notes for download at the end of this article. Here is some of the new enhancements and features in no particular order: Read more »

All about the Workspace Manager SR2

By Max Ranzau

From the There-We-Fixed-It Dept. Once again it’s that time of year where we get the extra presents that didn’t quite make it under the tree. Today RES Software released the long awaited Service Release 2 for RES Workspace Manager. As always due to that I’m on Pacific time, I’m more or less the last RES guy on the planet to know – but hey – at least I can share the nitty-gritty details with you. This time around you’re in for a treat, as the the update contains a massive overhaul on the Citrix publishing subsystems, among other things. As per usual the Service Release is available to our subscribed customers and partners at the RES Support portal. Now, let’s have a quick look at the most interesting things in SR2:

  • handfullofappsAbility to remote publish XenApp published apps ! Yay – this was a personal thorn in my side, as up to now the only way to publish was to run the RES WM console on top of one of the XenApp boxes, as we previously could only communicate with the old MFCOM objects directly underneath. You still need a WM Agent installed on the target publishing XenApp server, as it’s the one doing the handywork. The difference is that now you can publish even from an admin workstation running the WM console.
  • workergroupsSupport for XenApp 6.5 WorkerGroups: Another big enhancement on my wishlist. Even though that Workspace Manager has had servergroups for many years providing this functionality back from the early Citrix Presentation Server days, when Citrix finally added a group object in XAS6.5, we of course had to support it, so customers do not have to do double work.
  • Cross-Farm publishing: RES Workspace Manager SR2 allows you to publish an XA app across multiple farms. Note that if you’re using Relay Servers, they must be upgraded to SR2 as well for this to work.

There is a few other items that relate to Citrix, which you can read more about in the release notes. Other than that, some other noteworthy items:

  • A slew of new registry tweaks to Workspace Manager. The Registry Guide to Workspace Manager has been updated accordingly. See fixes 073 to 066
  • Various performance enhancements on Database Connectivity, User Settings and Logon time. Note: There is a specific reghack to boost logon time when offline. 
  • laptopA new setting under Setup|Advanced Settings: The option is to quote the release notes; “set delay for network refreshes when network connectivity changes”. This works well where a laptop may change network connectivity within a short period of time, possibly causing unnecessary Workspace Composer refreshes. Also, by configuring a delay, you can ensure that the ‘new’ network connection is fully established before the refresh takes place, preventing long refresh actions. Default value is 0 (zero) seconds, meaning it’s business as usual unless you change it.
  • Hiding apps in the startmenu when using merge-mode is now possible when managing the startmenu. Something I’m personally quite happy about, as I got egg on my face during my last training class due to just that :-)
  • Several labels and default views have changed as part of decluttering the console. Nothing crucial, but you might just want to glance over the releasenotes to for a heads-up on all items.
  • New Zone rule for computer’s AD group membership. This has been a long standing wish of mine since we could check on the site and OU of the computer, so now this part of the big picture is complete.
  • New commandline option to export the Network Security log as XML. See this section of the updated WM CommandLine reference for further info.
  • Exception tab on Agents: I believe this is a very important piece to understand for designers and architects (which is why it probably deserves it’s own article at some point): The short story about SR2, quoting from the releasenotes, is that Agent-related zone rules set on the Workspace Container are now taken into account when determining the applicability of an exception tab for the node Administration | Agents. This makes it possible, for example, to define different Datastore or Relay Server connections on exception tabs based on Agent-specific properties such as IP address. Note that the following zone rules are not Agent-specific and are therefore not evaluated when defining the Workspace Containers on which to base an exception tab for the Agents node:
    • Citrix Receiver client type
    • Session Type
    • (Partial) terminal server listener name
    • User property
    • VDX / Workspace Extender

    The Workspace Container’s Access Control/Identity is still ignored for exception tabs on the node Administration > Agents; and the evaluation of Workspace Container applicability for an exception tab remains unchanged for all other features and nodes.

  • Windows-8-logoLast but not least is the question on everybody’s lips: Does SR2 support Windows 8? The answer is yes and no. Yes, the software is supported running on Windows 8. Yes, it can now recognize Windows 8 as there’s now OS Zone rules for Win8 and Server 2012. This makes the temporary hack I created in article RG04C obsolete. However SR2 does NOT include management of the Metro/Modern tiles. Aparently there are some things we are working on together with Microsoft in order to make that a reality. Hopefully we’ll see this in the next Service Release.

For now, here are the releasenotes for you to download: pdffile

Enjoy!

 

New Technote: WM and XA prelaunched apps

community-hero-logoFrom the Community Hero Dept. A new technote has been added to the RESguru Library. This time we are joined by guestwriter Mr. Lasse T. Hohmann, who besides being a former colleague of mine in the past, is a Citrix Systems Engineer at JN Data in Denmark. JN has been running RES for quite a long time and it’s great to be able to share some of their experiences with our products.

The article at hand explains how to use the PreLaunch feature of XenApp 6.5 together with RES Workspace Manager.

doc-icon2<<< Click here to read the article

 

New technote: Parsing files with AM

From the TechNote Dept: A new article by Patrick Kaak has been posted in the TechLibrary. This time around Patrick shows us the advantages of incorporating existing scripts into RES Automation Manager, illustrating by example how an otherwise semi-static script can be converted into a reusable runbook, which requires no editing what so ever. The example at hand utilizes Thomas Koetzing’s excellent Citrix Hotfix downloader script. By embedding it into an AM runbook you don’t have to ever edit it again. As usual for your convenience, an example buildingblock is included

<<< Click here to read the article

That’s the way RES rolls!

From the sideline comments dept. Just before xmas Brian shares his view on what’s important for vendors in relation to Desktop Virtualization. I’m not going to recap his article in total, you can read it here. What I wanted to comment on specifically, is that it’s really nice to have been working with a vendor for 11+ years now, who all along has been doing what the good Dr. Madden orders today! :-) While we originally back in the late ’90s started out being a product only for Terminal Services/Citrix environments, RES products were kept in tune with the times and trends to embrace all windows platforms: Workstations, Laptops and Server Based Computing – what I referred to as tri-platform support back in the day.

With the emergence of virtualization, first on hardware, then later on applications, it was  possible for RES to add 3 more innovative dimensions to that picture:

  1. Early VDI Workspace support: RES Software actually didn’t have to change much, if anything in the Workspace Manager (back in the day known as PowerFuse) to support VDI. As the Workspace Composer runs inside the user’s session, seen from a technical perspective of the product, it’s running on a workstation OS, which just happens to be accessed as a terminal server through RDP, HDX or whatever. In other words, all the goodness which Workspace Manager offered already for Laptops, Physical workstations and Terminal servers, was available for VDI from day one.
  2. First App-V integration: RES was TRUTHFULLY, THE VERY FIRST VENDOR who worked proactively with the Grand-Daddy of all application virtualization technologies, SoftGrid by Softricity – now known as App-V by Microsoft. Since then, we’ve adapted to support pretty much every major App Virtualization platform out there. Application virtualization is an important piece of VDI as it will allow you to have more apps to co-exist in the same image. Using the workspace manager to differentiate access to these apps, you can litterally cut down your VDI configuration to one golden image per operating system. Look out for an article on this topic later.
  3. First Reverse Seamless provider: Back in the day, RES had this little – relatively un-noticed – sidecar utility to the Workspace Manager, known as the RES Subscriber aka Workspace Extender. These were the first implementations of Reverse Seamless Windows. Few people saw the potential early on, but I’d like to highlight a specific video, made by my former colleague Rick Eilenberger, that demonstrates what it was able to do already then in 2007. It was known as the RES Subscriber. The technology later licensed by Citrix, evolved to a stand-alone product, known as VDX. For more information on VDX, go read here.

The only thing we’ve left alone in regards to virtualization, is so called ‘User Virtualization’. This is some sort of horn which the Usual Suspects likes to blow (and do I mean blow… ;-) To my experience, the concept of virtualizing the user makes no sense at all. The user is the only real “object” in the entire getup anyway. Sure, hardware is quite real too, however unlike the behavior of users, it’s behavior is way more predictable, hence virtualizing it is relatively easy in comparison. This is one of the reasons why I believe the idea of redirecting the profile to a database is a flawed concept to begin with. You want as fast and reliable access to your settings to your settings as well as your documents to cater for the user’s sometimes erratic behavior. This is why the RES Workspace Manager was built with purpose to store User Settings in the same manner as User Data is stored; in a location which is unique and readily accessible to the user.

With the ever-growing adaptation of Cloud Computing into the Enterprise space, the profile game is a-changing. Boatloads of other pundits have been describing in vivid detail how users will demand access to their settings virtually anywhere. One way of dealing with this is to provide ACCESS from anywhere to a centralized solution. Citrix have been doing this for well over 20 years. Thing can however quickly become harrowing if changes the user makes should follow them between different infrastructures (different server farms, operating systems or even different laptops). This is where an intelligent and granular approach to handling user settings is required. If you are contemplating storing your settings only in a standard SQL database – or on a fileserver for that matter you are asking for trouble, or at the very least unnecessary complexity. I’ve discussed this previously in this article.

Anyway, while the usual suspects are duking it out on the commentary section over on BM, RES Software is ready to take on the new year. Stay tuned to this blog for even more tidbits and useful info in 2012! Happy new year everybody.

XenApp 6.5 BuildingBlock for Automation Manager

From the Gold-Brick-Through-Your-Window Dept. A while back you may have read about the work that was initiated at the Citrix Servtech event in Santa Clara, CA. As it turns out RES Software and Citrix Systems found a lot of common ground in leveraging the power of the RES Automation Manager to speed up Citrix XenApp 6.5 deployments.

IMPORTANT: The buildingblock has been updated Dec 5th. See below.

There is good reason to look into automating XA6.5 installations: You may not have noticed it, but the end-of-life date for XenApp 6.0 was recently updated. In other words, within the coming year you may need to start thinking about upgrading your XenApp farms. To ease this transition, it is my pleasure already now to be able to share with you the fruits of the collaboration between Citrix and RES. You can download the building block for Automation Manager at the end of this post.

A few words about the building block: It contains a Run Book which will schedule several Modules, necessary to install and configure XenApp 6.5 – including it’s prerequisites. To try it out, you need to download and install the RES Automation Manager. You can pull down a fully functional 45-day eval copy here. Getting-Started guide is available here. Out of the box there will be enough licenses to install a handful of XenApp servers. You will also need your XenApp 6.5 ISO image handy. You will either mount the image somewhere or extract the contents to a folder. Either way, the buildingblock requires the contents of the ISO to be accessible via a share. This is important. Once you schedule the Run Book, you will be prompted to enter some information such as paths, passwords, etc. See the screenshot on the right for an example.

Those of you who are savy AM hackers may wonder what’s up with the share. As it turns out, it’s really the most efficient way to access the Citrix distribution media, simply because of it’s size, it’s not feasible to upload as a AM Resource. Second, bear in mind that the ISO contents may be updated by Citrix in the future.

I wish to personally thank the following people for their contributions to this project: Rick Eilenberger, Josh Fleming, Alex Danilychev and Brian Mirrotto @ Citrix Systems. And last but not least my fearless Sicilian friend Luca Lo Castro here at RES, who put the pieces together into a working building block. Credit also goes to Musa Cakar and Arno Vos, who took the time to expand the datastore capabilities. See below:

As mentioned, the buildingblock was updated December 5th 2011. The update consists of support of MS SQL Datastores. While the original buildingblock only supported SQLserver 2008, it now supports creating the XenApp Datastore on MSSQL 2005 and 2012 (Release Candidate 0).

Click here to download the updated XenApp 6.5 block:

December 1st – LA Citrix/RES event!

From the Be-There-or-Be-A-Quad-Sided-Polygon Dept! Los Angeles, December 1st. 2011. A place and time you do not want to miss this year. Citrix Systems and RES Software are getting together to throw the largest UserGroup event yet! There’s be presentations, exhibitions, live demo’s, geekspeaks, and a whole bunch of other interesting stuff to see and experience. RES Software is the platinum sponsor of the event, and your’s truly will be there with my cool colleagues to present, demo, answer all your RES questions and smoke cigars! :-)

Last I heard over 500 folks have already registered, so better hurry and sign up! For more information and itinerary, see Rick’s posting on the LA Citrix blog. For registration, go here.

RES at Citrix ServTech 2011

From the Alliance Partner dept. Wednesday last week, together with a handful of good colleagues, I had the pleasure of presenting for about 300 SE’s at Citrix ServTech 2011 in Santa Clara, California. This is an internal event which Citrix does every year, to update their own folks on the latest and greatest. As a Citrix Ready Leadership partner, RES Software was invited to show off our stuff and explain how we can help Citrix’s field engineers speed up XenApp/XenDesktop Proof-of-Concepts installations. As the whole notion of profile management is a moot point at that stage,  I explained how Automation Manager can roll out an entire Xenapp farm straight from a consultant’s own laptop and showed as an example how our Automation Manager can roll out hotfixes in a matter of minutes. Here’s a few snaps we took during the event (click to enlarge):

 

Overall it was a great day. Presentations and demo went well, feedback was great, and the ensuing Pool & Cigar party at the Hyatt was awesome! BTW: Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better,  the CTO of a certain UK based competitor, made his way out of the building as we walked in. Seeing us, the look on his face was priceless! ;-)

Anyway, to make sure this article still holds technical relevance, I’m sharing the actual Building Block for RES Automation Manager that I built during the live demo at ServTech. As mentioned above, this buildingblock installs all current XenApp 6 hotfixes, valid as of August 10th 2011. The list was based on the CTX129229 KB article. I’ve pimped the module a bit with some nice commentary since then, but besides that it’s the very same block:

Click the brick to download the AM BuildingBlock (60MB, faster mirror here)

Note: To the Citrix SE’s who are reading this: Just go to the RES Download page and grab a copy of Automation Manager (you’ll need to enter a few details, but you’ll get the package immediately) Before you install it, you will need a database server. In case you’re not running a server OS on your laptop, consider MySQL or SQL Express.

Finally I want to send thanks to all our friends over at Citrix Systems for hosting us. I look forward to training with you soon! Be sure also to check the good Mr. Donahue’s article on the RES Blog, for more impressions, pictures etc.

Parsing Remote User Access via PowerFuse and Citrix

Animated, Gears, boxHere is a new technote, kindly provided by one of the cool folks over at RES. This technote explains how you can configure an application for the PowerFuse Desktop. What’s special in this scenario is that the application will be made available to all users logging onto the network internally, however only certain managers will be able to access the application remotely via Citrix Web Interface. This could come in quite handy.

Have a look at the document here:  Icon, PDF file

Creating a Streamed Citrix Application in PowerFuse

Animated, Gears, boxHere’s a fine article submitted to RESguru.com by a nice fellow at Intercept IT in the UK. The technote describes in detail how to integrate applications from a Citrix Streaming Server into the RES PowerFuse environment, using the Generic Isolation Integration feature of the product. Great work dude – The RES Community salutes you!

Click here to download the technote: Icon, PDF file