XenDesktop SQL High Availability… What to use?!

The XenDesktop Site Configuration Database is an important part of your infrastructure, when it’s is down, users won’t be able to connect and IT won’t be able to make any configuration changes. Because of this you’ll probably want to implement some kind of high availability mechanism keeping your database up and running at all times, or at least to try and keep downtime at a minimum. During one of my recent presentations in which I talked about XD7 including it’s database dependency, a discussion around which type of (SQL) HA mechanism we should implement quickly formed… What options do we have?

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Desktop as a Service a.k.a. DaaS

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for Intense School IT educational services. During the past few weeks I repeatedly talk about virtual desktop infrastructures (XenDesktop, VDI-in-a-Box), some of the technology involved, features and probably the most important one, use cases. Especially with Windows XP coming to an end, see my previous article on this, this might be a good time to rethink your alternatives when it comes to replacing your (fat) client infrastructure and the accompanying back-end systems that come with it. That being said, there’s another concept I’d like to discuss since it’s closely related to VDI and could prove to be a valid solution for a great deal of use cases out there, especially when it comes to small(er) and mid sized companies. I’m referring to DaaS, or, Desktop as a Service in full.

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Configure StoreFront Multi-Site configurations

StoreFront Multi-Site configurations are still fairly unknown. I guess this has something to do with XenDesktop 7 still being relatively new (I know, it’s actually a StoreFront 2.0 feature) and with this I mean, the addition of the XenApp functionality. Since zones are no longer part of XenDesktop 7, or the Flex Management Architecture (they’ve disappeared together with the Local Host cache) you’ll have to, in most cases, create separate Sites to achieve similar results. Especially if Sites are geographically separated. When using StoreFront Multi-Site configurations we can still add in load balance and failover capabilities, even when using geographically ‘Dispersed’ Sites, just like we are (or were) used to with zones. No NetScaler required, although it’s probably a good idea to implement one anyway.

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Microsoft’s Windows XP is hot! Read why.

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for intense School IT educational services. This may sound a bit weird to some, but Microsoft’s Windows XP is hot! Perhaps not as hot as it was when it was first released, but it’s not far of. Unfortunately not in a good way. Next year, in April 2014 to be exact, Microsoft Windows XP will no longer be officially supported. During this article I’d like to explore the end of life concept, what we can do to prevent potential issues and have a look at some of the possible migration and or upgrade scenarios we have at our disposal. Is it time to dump those fat clients? Adopt VDI? DaaS or Hosted Shared Desktops perhaps? Let’s see what’s out there.

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VIAB and Windows Server 2012 R2’s Data Deduplication

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for intense School IT educational services. Now I wouldn’t directly call this part three of my VDI series, although it’s probably not that far off. Rather think of it as the ‘hidden bonus track’ an extra addition if you will. During some of my previous articles I already talked about VDI, storage, IOPS and more. I also highlighted some of the newly introduced Windows Server 2012 R2 features offering us divers methods in building and managing our public and private cloud infrastructures including technologies like Domain join, Work Folders and a few more. For this article I’d like to combine two worlds and technologies; Citrix’s VDI-in-a-Box, yes, another way to do VDI, this might just be what you’ve been looking for all those years, and Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 R2, focussing on (VDI) data deduplication in particular.

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How to… Install and configure your Host Infrastructure

Just a quick note I’d like to share with you all. During the setup of my XenDesktop 7 lab environment not to long ago I ran into an error (because I wasn’t paying attention) when configuring my Host Infrastructure, which, in my case is Microsoft’s Hyper-V. While were on the subject I’ll fisrt start by explaining and showing you the concept behind the Host Infrastructure which is often used in combination with either Machine Creation Services and or Citrix Provisioning Services. Of course, ‘normal’ provisioned virtual machines can be hosted on there as well.

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DaaS has grown up… Has it?

Amazon WorkSpaces. Fully managed desktop computing service in the cloud. Amazon WorkSpaces allows customers to easily provision cloud-based desktops that allow end-users to access the documents, applications and resources they need with the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablets. As stated by Amazon. However, when we look under the hood, it’s still good old Windows Server 2008 R2 (with a Windows 7 user experience) serving us our desktops. Old news, is it?

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VDI, storage and the IOPS that come with it. Part 1 & 2.

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for intense School IT educational services. One of the topics I’d like to discuss throughout this article is VDI and some of the  common issues we (might) run into when it comes to storage, IOPS and image management. At the same time I’d also like to point out some possibilities, or better said, technologies, we have at our disposal in addressing these issues and talk a bit more on IOPS, block vs file level storage and image management. During part one I’ll primarily focus on VDI in general, describing its use and some of the common pitfalls we might encounter with part two primarily focusing on some real world solutions.

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Citrix XenMobile (8.6) revisited

Just four months after Citrix released XenMobile 8.5 they’re now on the verge of launching version 8.6, I know, it’s hard to keep up. During this Blog I’d like to point out some of the new features and possibilities that version 8.6 will bring to the table, as announced by Citrix. At the same time I’d like to spend a minute discussing the device enrolment process when using MDM and have a closer look at the Worx enabled apps concept as well, including the MDX technology involved, since this tends to confuse people from time to time.

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A closer look at the Cloud, based on Server 2012 R2

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for intense School IT educational services. Let’s continue where we left off. Windows server 2012 R2 has been available as a tech preview download as of June 2013 and was officially released on October 18, 2013, together with Windows 8.1. It’s now more enterprise-class, application-focused and cloud-oriented than ever. High-performance multi-tenant storage, software-defined networking, and multiple VDI and RDP enhancements are some of the new and improved technologies that have been included in the R2 release.

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Delegated Administration… I’m just saying

If you are used to working with XenApp, then being able to create custom administrator roles is nothing new, it’s just there like it’s supposed to be. However, if you are a hardcore XenDesktop admin then this is probably something you’ve been waiting for. The predefined administrator roles (5 in total) in XenDesktop 5 just don’t cut it, and we want, or need, flexibility. Well… with the release of XenDesktop 7 it’s now all there. You’ll still find a set of predefined roles but with the added possibility of creating a custom role, finally!

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Mobility based on Windows Server 2012 R2

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for intense School IT educational services. Since I already discussed BYOD in general and, more specifically, I talked about Citrix XenMobile (see my previous article “BYOD…Beyond the Hype“ I thought it might be a good idea to have a look at some of the daily challenges we face when it comes to securely accessing our corporate data and applications, especially when mobile devices come into play, and to see what Microsoft has to offer as part of its new Windows Server 2012 R2 release to help us overcome some of these challenges.

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Citrix Summit… Just the tip of the iceberg

Last week I got some great news, next year I will attend Citrix Summit in Orlando Florida! I just found out a few days ago but I already made all arrangements, I bought my plane tickets, booked my hotel en registered for the event itself, in short, I’m ready to go… Just another 109 days to go from here. I will be there the whole week, 8 days in total to be exact, so I can also do some, not much though, sight seeing. I’ve never been to the ‘Sates’ before so I’m really looking forward to the experience. A special thank you to Qwise.nl for making this possible.

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XenDesktop (MCS) Personal vDisks

So, I’m back from my holiday (Tenerife Spain) but still have a couple of days off from work, although I’ll probably be back working by the time this goes online, anyway… Since I’m preparing for, and putting together a presentation on XenDesktop 7 which is due on October 1st I thought it might be smart to invest some of my spare time to get things organized. As I’m working on my slides, in which I also highlight Machine Creation Services, MCS in short, as part of the XD7 architecture, I came across Personal vDisks, kind of a hard one to miss I guess. Now, I’m not sure if this will make it into my presentation since it’s not a direct XD7 feature (although it has been updated to version 7.x have a look here) and it has been ‘on the market’ for over a year and a half, I still think it’s definitely one worth having a look at.

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A first look at Citrix Byte Squared

This week Citrix announced the acquisition of Byte Squared a.k.a. Byte². Another (big?) step forward in their mobile communication strategy. Citrix and Byte Squared, powering mobile productivity, as they stated on their Blog. I decided to check out their website to see if I could find out some more detailed information, which I did.

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XenDesktop on Azure continued…

Last week I had a great talk with Mr. Kurt Moody from Citrix. We discussed my Blog post: Why you shouldn’t deploy XD7 on Azure just yet, together with some of my remarks regarding the Citrix XenDesktop 7 on Windows Azure Design Guide which I used as a reference throughout and, in the end, lead to my conclusion of Azure not being as XD7 ready as we hoped it would be, at least not for now. I know, last week I was a bit more ‘outspoken’.

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Why you shouldn’t deploy XD7 on Azure just yet.

Both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) are nothing new and have been around for a few years now. Just short of two months ago Citrix, along with Microsoft, announced the availability of XenDesktop 7 on Windows Azure. Finally, full Remote Desktop Services (RDS) availability in the Cloud, or so it seemed. Although I was instantly interested, my (spare) time was scares during that period so I had to postpone my ‘Cloud’ ambitions. About a week ago I came across a random article discussing RDS on Windows Azure, an interesting read. After that I decided to do some research and perhaps open up a temp Azure account so I could experience its look and feel for myself.

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Upgrade and or migrate to XD7… What’s involved?!

Although Citrix has done an excellent job describing both the upgrade and migration process on their E-Docs website, I still feel it’s a subject that somehow needs to be part of my Blog series on XD7 as well. And since I did the same for the XenApp upgrade and migration tools out there it just wouldn’t be fair now would it?! Citrix already announced that, at the moment, there are no upgrade or migration paths available for existing XenApp customers. They are however working on a toolset, including a bunch of scripts, to assist customers in their migration from XenApp 6.5 to XenDesktop 7, which will be included in one of the future releases. Let’s get started, I’ll try and keep it short :-)

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BYOD… Beyond the hype

This article was originally written as a guest blogger for Intense School IT educational services. When I started out in the IT business just short of 15 years ago, mobile phones were a big deal, a privilege to have and use, and if you were allowed to use it privately, that basically meant you were the man! Nowadays it’s all about mobility, smart phones, tablets, net and notebooks, and the list goes on. Internet is cheap, wireless, and it’s everywhere, for most people today, it’s hard to imagine going even one day without their mobile device, whether it’s an iPhone, an Android phone, or some sort of tablet device. In this post, I’d like to focus on some of the challenges we as IT admins face when it comes to managing and securing, not only these (mobile) devices, but the accompanying corporate applications and data as well.

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Get Citrix certified!

Shortly after Citrix released XenDesktop 7 they also announced their new Citrix Certification Program. Although still in beta back then, they were quite clear on what to expect in the months to come. Their new solutions-focused certification program, introduced a few months ago, has just gone live and offers us three brand new certification and upgrade paths which we will have a closer look at during this Blog. The accompanying exams, three in total, are now officially open for registration at Pearson VUE. Registration for the beta exams has been closed for a while. Individuals who registered before registration closed were eligible to take the beta exams through August 6th 2013. It’s the real deal from now on.

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