Netscaler Insight and Integration with XenDesktop Director

This is another one of Citrix hidden gems, Netscaler Insight. This product has been available from Citrix some time now, but with the latest update in became alot more useful. Insight is an virtual applance from Citrix which gathers AppFlow data and statistics from Netscaler to show performance data, kinda like old Edgesight. (NOTE: In order to use this functionality against Netscaler it requires atleast Netscaler Enterprise or Platinum)

Insight has two specific functions, called Web Insight and HDX insight.
Web Insight shows traffic related to web-traffic, for instance how many users, what ip-adresses, what kind of content etc.
HDX Insight is related to Access Gateway functionality of Citrix to show for instance how many users have accessed the solution, what kind of applications have they used, what kind of latency did the clients have to the netscaler etc.

You can download this VPX from mycitrix under Netscaler downloads, important to note as of now it is only supported on Vmware and XenServer (They haven’t mentioned any support coming for Hyper-V but I’m guessing its coming.

The setup is pretty simple like a regular Netscaler we need to define an IP-address and subnet mask (Note that the VPX does not require an license since it will only gather data from Netscaler appliances that have a platform license and it does not work on regular Netscaler gateways)

After we have setup the Insight VPX we can access it via web-gui, the username and password here is the same as Netscaler nsroot & nsroot

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After this is setup we need to enable the insight features, we can start by setting up HDX insight, here we need to define a expression that allows all Gateway traffic to be gathered.
Here we just need to enable VPN equals true. We can also add mulitple Netscalers here, if you have a cluster or HA setup we need to add both nodes.

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After we have added the node, just choose configure on the node and choose VPN from the list and choose expression true.

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Now for Web insight we need to define an expression for instnace I can use an hostname expression and define a website that I have using DNS. This will start gathering appflow data when clients are accessing websites having the hostname web in it.

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After a while now we can see that info is starting to appear in Insight, we can “drill” down in the data to show different metrics.

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I can go into a user and show his sessions

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And I can show what kind of applications the user has been running

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For web insight we can see what kind of URLs that are accessed

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And I can see what clients have accessed the URL

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Now that is the first part, the Insight will not just sit there and gather data. The next part is to integrate this with Director to allow helpdesk users to user this data together with the Edgesight feature which is now a part of XenDesktop 7.

To integrate this we need to install Director on a server, next we need to run a command C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Director\tools\DirectorConfig.exe  /confignetscaler

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After this is done do an IIS reset and log into Director again.
We can now go into the Network pane and see the data that is collected.

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Note: There are some requirements that need to be in place in order for it to function properly.

  • NetScaler HDX Insight must  be v10.1 or above.
  • XenDesktop VDA version 7.0 and above are supported by HDX Insight and NetScaler.
  • Storefront from the XenDesktop 7.0 installer or above versions can be used to launch the user sessions.
  • Receiver for Mac v11.8 and Windows Receiver 14.0 (4.0) and above are required for accurate ICA RTT metrics.

#citrix, #insight-center, #netscaler, #xendesktop-7

XenDesktop 7 Monitoring from System Center Operations Manager

So a year ago I wrote a blog post regarding Comtrade and monitoring of XenApp enviroments in Operations Manager. This was possible due to a partner called Comtrade which creates management packs and connections to Citrix (Actually most of Citrix products)

* XenDesktop
* Netscaler
* Cloudportal Service Manager
* XenApp
* PVS
* WebInterface
And more are coming in the future that are announced.

Now I wanted to try this feature for monitoring of my XenDesktop 7 enviroment, so I got a evaluation package from ComTrade.

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The installation of the package was much more simplified than it was before, it also allowed to automatically import the management packs into SCOM. (If you have any error messages appear or not having adequate rights, go into SCOM console and administration –> Management Packs and import them there.

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So basically you have these 3 management packs that need to be imported.
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After the management packs are imported you also need to make sure that all the DCC that you are going to monitor are setup with agent proxy, this can be done pr agent under administration.

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If we now go into Monitoring pane we can now see all the different views and alterts from the management pack. I didn’t check the reporting feature ill get back to this.

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Now after the installation is complete of the management packs you should think that the setup is complete but not quite… Smilefjes
We have to install a specific Comtrade agent on each Citrix server roles.
And Attach a license (NOTE: Im not going to cover how to add the licese here)

But to install the agent you can to this by two ways, if you go into XenDesktop computers view in Monitoring pane in OpsMgr and locate one of the DCC that you want to monitor and on the right pane you have tasks –> Install Comtrade MPXD agent

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NOTE: Now we also need to created some dedicated Citrix Run As accounts before we can use this management pack

After you have installed the agent and installed the license it will start to generate information back to operations manager. So after the DCC server starts to publish data back to OpsMgr we will start getting alot of information.

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It will give the complete overvie of how the Xendesktop infrastructure is linked together.
It also gives you a good overview of how the state of the solution is at the moment.

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This solution also monitors Server OS machines remotely using WinRM. Now if I were to combine this with for instace StoreFront monitoring (When is comes) and Netscaler we can create a complete monitoring solution which covers our entire Citrix infrastructure.

ill get back to a more complete post when I get a hold of the other management packs. Smilefjes

#comtrade, #system-center-operations-manager, #xendesktop-7

Performance tuning Citrix Storefront

This is something I wanted to write about for some time now, after the release of XenDesktop 7 but there are only 24 hours in one day so therefore I didn’t have the time before now Smilefjes

But the purpose of this post is to really say that Storefront is slow…..
Don’t get me wrong it not about Citrix but the combination of Storefront and IIS that makes it a bit complex and therefore this makes it a bit slow.

Now there are a couple of tricks that can tune the perfomance.

Socket Pooling
In Web Interface you could enable it from the console, but in StoreFront we have to change it in the store config. By enabling socket pooling, Storefront maintaines a pool of sockets instead of creating a socket each time a new user connects, this will give a better performance for SSL based traffic.

You can enable this by opening the web.config file under C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\storename\

pooledSockets="off"

And Change this to “on” after that you have to do an IIS reset.

Application Initialization

(NOTE: Make sure you backup the config files before making alterations)

With Windows Server 2012 we have a new feature in IIS called always running on the application pools, this allowed for IIS to make everything ready after an application pool has restarted, before this the previous IIS was set to start loading after the first user tried to login after a restart. This caused the first user to login after an application pool has restarted to take loooong time to login. With Server 2012 IIS we can change the application pool to always running.

With 2008 R2 not so easy. But we can make it happen Smilefjes
First we need to download the application initialization feature from Microsoft
http://www.iis.net/downloads/microsoft/application-initialization

After that is done and installed do a restart on the storefront server.

Then we have to make som changes to the config. First we need to change the application pool to always running (we cannot do this via the gui in 2008 R2)

Open the C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config on the storefront server. Locate the following setting /configuration/system.applicationHost/applicationPools

Then we have to add the always running paramter on each application pool for instance the authentication pane we need to add the startMode=”AlwaysRunning” on each ofthem.

<add name=»Citrix Delivery Services Authentication»
autoStart=»true» managedRuntimeVersion=»v2.0″
managedPipelineMode=»Integrated» startMode=»AlwaysRunning»>

And you might have the following application pools in the config that needs to have this paramter.

  • Citrix Delivery Services Authentication
  • Citrix Delivery Services Resources
  • Citrix Receiver for Web
  • Citrix Delivery Services

Now after we have done that in the same document we have to change under the /configuration/system.applicationHost/sites we need to add the preloadEnabled=”true” paramter. So for instance for the authentication application

<application path=»/Citrix/Authentication»
applicationPool=»Citrix Delivery Services Authentication»
preloadEnabled=»true»
>

This paramter needs to be added for all the Citrix Applications (Depending for instance if AG is setup)

  • /AGServices
  • /Citrix/Authentication
  • /Citrix/Roaming
  • /Citrix/<StoreName>
  • /Citrix/<StoreName>Web

After this is done save the config, do an IISreset and test the login to make sure that is it operational and that you don’t get any errors (check also under the web server event log)

Next we need to make changes to the following config files

  • C:\inetpub\wwwroot\AGServices\web.config
  • C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\Authentication\web.config
  • C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\Roaming\web.config
  • C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\<StoreName>\web.config

Under the section /configuration/system.webServer we need to add

<applicationInitialization skipManagedModules=»true»>
<add initializationPage=»/endpoints/v1″ />
</applicationInitialization>

On each of the following config files.

After this is done we need to change the Store config file which is located under C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\<StoreName>Web\web.config
Under the same section as those above we need to add the following parameters.

<applicationInitialization skipManagedModules=»true»>
<add initializationPage=»/Home/Index» />
</applicationInitialization>

After that is done save the config, and do an IIS reset.

Now if you are having trouble with Storefront, it generates its own events in Event Viewer under Citrix Delivery Services.
Also it is important to note that if you are having to much issues with a slow StoreFront you should go with 2012 since it is out-of-the box optimized ASP/IIS setup.

And it is also important to remember that Storefront should be on a dedicated server with atleast 2 GB of ram and 2 cores.

If you are having trouble with Storefront you can enable trace logging *This requires alot more CPU on the server”

Add-PSSnapin Citrix.DeliveryServices.Framework.Commands

Set-DSTraceLevel -All -TraceLevel Verbose

To disable you just need to set –TraceLevel off.
All the information will ge placed in C:\Program Files\Citrix\Receiver StoreFront\admin\trace folder on the storefront server.

#storefront, #xendesktop-7

MVP Enterprise Client Management + XenDesktop 7

A suberb day so far! earlier today I received information from the Education team from Citrix that I received my beta result from the XenDesktop 7 exams, and I passed them all! Smilefjes
Thats the 200, 300 and 400 exams!

Then later on today I just got a email from Microsoft which has honored me, by giving me an MVP title for Enterprise Client Management!
This is the first time I am reciving this title.

MVP_Horizontal_FullColor

Now finally alot of hardwork has paid off! Im humble and looking forward to further working closely with Microsoft and its products.

Next inline is CTP Smilefjes som blunker

another part today is that Citrix released a new version of XenDesktop 7, which allows support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Window 8.1
Which can be downloaded here –> https://www.citrix.com/downloads/xendesktop/betas-and-tech-previews/desktop-and-apps-tech-preview.html

As well they released the version of GPU-sharing Tech-preview for XenServer http://www.citrix.com/go/private/vgpu.html

Exiting times ahead! Smilefjes

#mvp, #xendesktop-7

XenDesktop 7 and Configuration Manager (Project Loki)

With the release of XenDesktop 7 I was eager to see if there were any integrations with Configuration Manager, but no not yet….
Citrix also recently released an update to the Configuraiton Manager connector (Project thor) and there it was announced that Citrix is wokring on a new project called Loki, which is a connector between XenDesktop 7 and Configuration Manager!

You can see it here –> http://blogs.citrix.com/2013/09/25/getting-started-with-the-xenapp-sccm-connector-youll-find-this-useful/#comment-111648

Will this allow you to use the App-V capabilities from within Configuration Manager to XenDesktop instead of having a standalone App-V enviroment ?

Looking forward to it!

#configuration-manager, #loki, #xendesktop-7

XenDesktop 7 beta exams

So Citrix has released (a couple of weeks ago) beta exams of their upcoming XenDesktop 7 exams (Which are at the moment free for the taking for a limited time on pearson-vue.com)
There are three exams

http://training.citrix.com/cms/index.php/certification-links/new-certs/#beta-exams

1Y1-200  Managing Citrix XenDesktop 7 Solutions Beta Exam
which is equivilant to CCA on XA/XD

1Y1-300 Deploying Citrix XenDesktop 7 Solutions Beta Exam
which is equvilant to CCEE on XA

1Y1-400 Designing Citrix XenDesktop 7 Solutions Beta Exam
which is equivilant to the CCIA

And for each exam, Citrix har designed a prep guide

http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxmodviewer/view.php?mod=resource&id=1140 (1Y1-400)
http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxmodviewer/view.php?mod=resource&id=1138 (1Y1-300)
http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxmodviewer/view.php?mod=resource&id=1139 (1Y1-200)

Now I am fortunate enough to have tried all three exams so far and the study guides give you good pointers where to start looking.
Citrix has already documented alot on the eDocs site regarding XenDesktop 7
http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xendesktop/cds-xd-7landing-page.html

The exams as well might also include questions from Netscaler, PVS 7, Storefront 2, XenServer 6.2 so there is plenty of stuff to read on Smilefjes

Some of the other stuff is documented here on eDocs (Storefront, PVS, etc)
http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/technologies/lic-library-node-wrapper.html

Good luck for those give it a go!

#1y1-200, #1y1-300, #1y1-400, #beta-exams, #xendesktop-7