Microsoft launched RDS RemoteFX clients today for iOS and Android

So big day today Microsoft released System Center 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 and just today they release RemoteFX clients for iOS and Android which are now available at their respective stores.

So I haven’t given it a try yet, but if you have get around to try it give me some feedback! Smilefjes

#android, #ios, #microsoft, #rds, #remotefx

Citrix on Microsoft Azure

This is huge news! Microsoft Azure has for some time now had a solid IaaS platform with suppor for most of the different Windows Server roles and features, except the most importent one RDS.

Since Microsoft until recently didn’t allow for use of RDS or other options like Citrix to run against Azure, (because of the licensing) people would have to use on-premise solutions until that was allowed / fixed
But now with the latest changes on the Volume Licensing agreement you can now bring SPLA based RDS sal usage in the cloud.

Now this brings two options for a service provider in Azure.

  • Session Shared Terminal Servers
  • Server VDI Workers (VM/Server Isolation)

So first of, this makes ALL of the different Citrix components supported in Azure not just XenDesktop 7, of course this restricts itself such as RemotePC cannot be used there.
And Citrix has also created two design guides for how you can setup Citric XenApp / XenDesktop in Microsoft Azure. This also requires that users enter to the citrix servers trough a Netscaler gateway on-premise. XenDesktop 7 XenApp 6.5
And im guessing with the next release of XenDesktop 7 (Project Merlin) will include provisioning options against Azure but until that arrives we will have to manually provision and use PowerShell. Since also Citrix and Microsoft has a strong relationship im guessing that more options on how to host Citrix in Azure will appear.

#azure, #citrix, #microsoft, #xenapp, #xendesktop

Citrix and Microsoft cloud solutions

Now If people see any wrong facts here please leave a comment below, I can’t cover everything Smile but this post is written purely based on my opinions and my own knowledge and not everything may be correct.
The purpose of this post is to show capabilities and features that Citrix and Microsoft’s cloud solutions possess and how they can benefit each other. Let’s face it, Microsoft or Citrix (which are huge huge huge! in the cloud market)  for that matter can’t do everything themselves, they both have a solid solution around cloud, but each solution has their strengths and their weaknesses.

Now Cloud is a term that consists in 3 shapes. Private, Public or Hybrid.
And there are some common terms that describe a Public cloud solution
* Self-Service
* Elasticity
* Scalable
* Pooling of resources
(Some Public Cloud solutions: Amazon, Windows Azure)
With Private Cloud you have more control of the resources and it is easier to do customization. More are thinking of going with the Hybrid solution which gives you the advantages that a private cloud brings and the benefits of the low cost with a Public cloud. Both Citrix and Microsoft have the ability to support a Hybrid cloud approach. Then again there are may ways to offer a cloud solution for a customer, either it is an application, infrastructure or a platform.

Now Microsoft’s cloud solution consists of the following core components

* System Center
* Windows Server
* Windows Azure (Public Cloud)

Now what do you get with System Center ?
A brief overview
App Controller ( Self-service of their services & virtual machines for system owners, with support for on-premise and public cloud)
Operations Manager ( Monitoring capabilities, SLA monitoring with support for on-premise and also allows for Azure monitoring)
Data Protection Manager ( Backup solution for Windows and Windows Applications ( Physical and Virtual)
Service Manager (IT Service Management, Helpdesk solution, self-service for the users )
Virtual Machine Manager (Manages your virtual infrastructure, network and storage. With support for Citrix, VMware and Hyper-V of course with most capabilities with Hyper-V allows for creating of 1, 2 and 3 tier templates)
Configuration Manager ( MDM, client/server management, antivirus, patch management, can integrate with Azure as well)
Orchestrator (Automation with runbooks across all kinds of different products)
And of course the corner stone of this is Windows Server.

Now a problem with Microsoft’s as of now is that System Center 2012 does not support Windows Server 2012 until Service Pack 1 is released, this will most likely be released Q1 2013, which will close the “gap” that many are waiting for.
Microsoft has acknowledged that everyone isn’t running just Microsoft and has added much more support and functionality for Unix/Linux based servers.

And Citrix’s cloud solution consists of the following core components

Much of Citrix strategy on Cloud is based upon Project Avalon which has the key components (Any Cloud, Any Hypervisor, Any Device)
Which comes in this nice wrapping.

Citrix is part owner of the OpenStack solution that Apache has, and has made some changes to it and have their own solution called CloudPlatform
Which is very similar to virtual machine manager. It has support for multiple hypervisors such as
* XenServer
* VMware
But their solution has more benefits against XenServer.
It also supports storage solutions and network. So this is the main product for administrating your “cloud”.
Then we have the other products such as
* Cloudbridge (Allows you to “bridge” your private and public cloud” this is actually an add-on to Netscaler which uses IPSEC)
* Cloudgateway (Which is the gateway in for end-users (Which again consists of Netscaler and Storefront )
* Netscaler ( A Network appliance which provides for ADC (Application Delivery Controller) features
* CloudPortal (Which allows for provisioning of users and services, control panel solution)

So depending on what kind of cloud and service you wish to offer your users, both companies provide a solid cloud solution. With automation and multiple hypervisor support.
Microsoft has made a solid improvement to Hyper-V in the latest release so it provides with more advanced features then XenServer it also has support for larger workloads and scalability. So if you choose Hyper-V you need to have VMM, if you choose the latest XenServer you would need CloudStack (VMM has XenServer support but not for the latest release and not for the more advanced features)
Citrix is building much of their solutions based upon XenServer (and some VMware) for instance the AppController that is part of the CloudGateway will not function in Hyper-V

Microsoft also offers a more complete monitoring solution with System Center (You have the capability to monitor all of Microsoft’s products, Network devices, Citrix Products + inlcuding Netscaler (With ComTrade MP) and Unix/Linux services)
And I don’t have enough insight on the automation part of CloudStack go give it a good overview but Orchestrator has also the ability to run commands against SSH devices which allows for running commands against Network devices it also has a broad support of hardware and storage vendors. You can also use it to run PowerShell commands which allow for automation of Citrix installation. (And more and more vendors are implementing PowerShell cmdlets with their products, PowerShell 3 also supports CIM which many vendors support)

But what Microsoft is missing is the network component that Citrix provides with it’s Netscaler product.
* Advanced load-balancing features for all applications running on TCP with or without SSL (With hardware acceleration on the hardware appliance)
* Protection against DDoS attack (SYN flood, ICMP floods) and can also provide with defense against application level attack (XSS, HTTP DoS)
* URL responders, rewrite, filtering
* Intelligent SQL load balancing
* Caching and compression
You can also integrate it with System Center to provide automation of new solutions that should be load balanced. You can also use Orchestrator to automate other options with the SSH options.

When regarding device access Citrix has provides a better solution with support for all types of Mobile devices, which makes it possible for full BYOD. Microsoft on the other hand also promises that you can bring your own (as long as it is running Windows) This solution  requires that you can Citrix on your terminal servers. Citrix also has more MDM capabilities then System Center has (as of today), and with the coming of MDX technology, Citrix is going to gain more ground there.
Microsoft also offers a VPN solution with allows you to connect with your Azure cloud, but this does not provide the same throughput that a dedicated Netscaler with Cloudbridge would provide (Cloudbridge again has limited support against Azure )

And I forgot to mention that Citrix has also their own monitoring and helpdesk tools which are part of the GoTo package (GoToAssist and ) But I am unsure how they compete against Operations Manager which has been around for a long time and against Service Manager which is a core part of the Self-service solution to System Center.

System Center with SPF (Service Provider Foundation) provides the capabilities for hosting providers to create their own control panel solution to automate activities against Orchestrator and VMM) This is a feature that is still in the early stages with an open API. Citrix on the other hand has a more mature product with their CloudPortal solution which can provision users, set up full services on Lync, Exchange, SharePoint, CRM, XenApp and XenDesktop ++ for customers.
But the weakness is that it does not have any integration against System Center to complete the circle on management and monitoring ( and of course backup)
But again this feature is more suited for hosters, for enterprise businesses not so much.

So a little conclusion on my part. What do I think makes a good combination of what these two deliver. This solution will consist of a few products that are yet to be released (But are in beta)
1: Hyper-V 2012 as my main Hypervisor
2: System Center for infrastructure & cloud management and monitoring (SP1 with provides support for WS2012)
3: Project Excalibur next generation XenApp / XenDesktop which provides the best BYOD support (And Provides support for WS2012)
4: XenServer for components that need XenServer
4: Cloudgateway with Netscaler ADC

So it would look like something like this
(Just a glimpse)


And I would appreciate some feedback on your thoughts

#citrix, #cloud, #microsoft, #netscaler, #system-center

System Center 2012, SCCM part 1

Phuh! This easter has been alot to do, reading for my MCP exam and setting up my new home lab enviroment. So far I have setup most of the servers, they consist of:
1: AD + DNS
2:  SQL w/Reporting Services
3: SCCM w/DP, MP, Application web site point, PXE role, Reporting point (all in one)
4: SCVMM Management + Self Service Portal
5: SCOM w/Management Server

So im going to start with the innstallation of SCCM 2012. I presume that you have a basic understanding of what SCCM is, if not I suggest heading over to Microsoft -> In short it is a system management framework, used to manage computers (Software deployment, patching, OSD, AV, Baselines and compliance, reporting ++++ )
Before we start with the installation be sure to check that you have either of these versions of SQL server installed.

  • SQL Server 2008 SP2 with Cumulative Update 9
  • SQL Server 2008 SP3 with Cumulative Update 4
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 with SP1 and Cumulative Update 4
  • The instance of SQL Server in use at each site must use the following collation: SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS

To check what version of SQL server you have installed start SMSS, and then click About on the Help menu.
You can download the SCCM 2012 RC from here

And then the Server that  is going to have SCCM installed needs
.Net 4.0 (
.Net 3.5 SP1 (servermanagercmd -install Net-Framework)
Remote Differencial Compression (Servermanagercmd -Install Rdc)
WSUS 3.0 SP2 If you are going to use it for Patch Management (Which im going to do )You also need to do some changes in Active Directory (You need a user with domain admin access to change this )  This is because SCCM will publish information in AD that the clients will access later (more info on that later). (You don’t have to to this if you want to but it makes it easier for the clients to find what server the agent should communicate to)

Perform this on a  Active Directory Domain Controller as a Domain Administrator

Open ADSI Edit, click on Action, Connect To and click Ok, Double Click on Default Naming Context and the DC= that appears below it. Click on the + and scroll down to CN=System.

Right Click on CN=System and choose New, Object

Choose Container from the options,
click Next and enter System Management as the value.
Click Next and Finish .Open Active Directory Users and Computers. Click on view, select Advanced Features.Select the System Management Container, and right click it, choose All Tasks and Delegate Control
When the Welcome to Delegation of Control Wizard appears click next, then click Add. click on Object Types, select Computers. Type in your SCCM server name and click on Check Names (It my case my server name is SCCM (I changed it later to configmgr) so therefore enter the name of your server here)

Click Ok, then Next. Choose Create a Custom Task to Delegate, click next, make sure This folder, existing objects in this folder and creation of new objects in this folder is selected.
click next, select the 3 permissions General, Property-Specific and Creation-deletion of specific child objectsare selected then place a check mark in FULL CONTROL, and click next then Finish.
If you don’t do this, you will recive some errors from the SCCM server and the agents  (Since by default SCCM tries to publish its information to AD)
Next we need to extended the AD schema, do this on your Active Directory server as well, browse the network to your sccm server \\sccm\isodrive$ and locate the folder where you uncompressed SCCM 2012 and find \SMSSetup\Bin\x64\Extadsch.exe, right click and choose Run As Administrator,
after you have done this there will be generated a log file on your c:\ ExtADSch.log so please check this for error before continuing, if it is successful it should look like this.

Now when you start the wizard, you have the option to download the prerequisites,  I suggest you start by download those to a local folder on the server since we need them later in the setup. 

After they are downloaded continue with the install.

Since this is a new install, We choose the Install a Configuration Manager primary site (The other option, install Configuration Manager Central administration site also known as a CAS is used to centrally manage multiple CM sites. more on that later)
Since I don’t have a product key I choose evaluation
Accept the license terms
Accept more license terms

Browse the path to the previous downloaded prerequisites

I choose english here


Same here


Here we enter a site code, which consists of 3 letters, this site code is used as a boundary so the clients know that when it belongs to that particular site it should contact these servers. Much like when you live in Oslo, you know that you need to contact the local police station in case something happens 🙂
In the site name just type something relevant, this information will also appear in the application web portal we are going to install later.


Next I choose, install the primary site as a standalone site ( Since this is a singel domain )


Now enter the name of the SQL server (Need to make sure that port 1433, and 4022 is open in order for it to work ) (Also you need to give the computer account administrative access on the SQL server and on the server you are installing SCCM on. )



review the SMS provider settings,


Client computer communication settings, select Configure the Communication method on each site system, since I don’t have a Root CA I need to choose http,


Next I choose to install a Management Point & Distribution Point on this site, that will communicate via http


Now you get the summary screen just doublecheck that this is correct and continue,

Next, now its going to check the prerequisites.  This consists of checking if the server has rights to publish information to AD, if the AD schema is populated with the new SCCM schema, if the SQL server is responding, if WSUS and/or AIK (You don’t need to have these installed since you might be using some other solution for patch management, so these will just give you a warning if you don’t have it installed) + some more. You can check the setup log file on C:\ drive and you can see what checks the setup does.

In my case I forgot to install WSUS, and I forgot to give the server administrative rights on the server, so I need to fix that before we continue (As you can see, we can’t continue until we fixed the problems that are listed as critical, you can have multiple warnings but still continue with the install )


Now that I’ve the previous steps, we only got some warning messages, So I continue with the installation (Since my SQL server is running on a low specced Virtual machine I get those error messages)

Voila, installation if complete, if I check in Active Directory now you can see that it has automaticly published information about that site.

PS: IF something went wrong during the installation doublecheck the log C:\ConfigMgrSetup.log it might contain information what went wrong.
In case you might want to install cmtrace which is a log viewing tool which resides on the installation media of configmgr under Tools.

Now I can open the console so we can continue with the configuration, so stay tuned for part 2 of this SCCM blogathon.

#active-directory, #configmgr2012, #microsoft, #sccm, #sql, #systemcenter, #wsus