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Xenapp/Citrix Server Configuration advice

Posted on 2009-04-16
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I am installing a Citrix/Xenapp farm for around 50 - 100 users and I would like the setup to be robust while haveing failover and redundancy. I am thinking 3 Servers, 2 running the sessions in failover and one AD and database server holding the profiles and database files.

I would appreciate any advice on this and what elements of Citrix/Xenapp I should install on each Server. Also, whether 3 servers is enough? It will basically be accessing a Client/Server type app and then normal Office documents and mail via Outlook/Exchnage. This will be accessed from around 5 sites via a VPN and possibly a Web Access Interface for external usage. I have also heard that Xenapp4 (x64) and Win 2008 (x64) will give the best performance.

Thank in Advance !
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Question by:sascotty
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24156258
Is there an existing Windows Active Directory infrastructure already in place?  Is there a SQL Server available for use?  Will these be the only servers available for use for everything?
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by:sascotty
ID: 24156302
New Stabd alone site and new AD. SOme sort of SQL/MSDE will probably be required for the client/server application. Yes, only servers for use with everything.
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24156830
For maximum psuedo high availability in a small environment, this is what I would recommend:

2 Active Directory Domain Controllers
1 SQL Server (if only the Citrix data store and 1 client server app is on this server then this server can be combined with the following server)
1 File Server for Roaming profiles and Redirected folders
2 XenApp servers
1 Web Interface server using the FREE Citrix Secure Gateway software

1 of the AD DCs will also be your Terminal Server license server and your Citrix license server

This will get you started and allow you to grow without having to throw anything away.
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by:amichaell
ID: 24156863
x64: In theory this should give the best performance, though you don't know until you test.  If your applications are not x64 then you may not see much of a performance increase.  Also need to verify that you will retain vendor support under x64.  x64 will get you over the x86 kernel memory limitation.

server load: You won't know how many servers you need until you figure out how many users you can get on a single server.  If you have 100 users connecting and get 50 users per server then you will need two servers at minimum.  Three to provide some measure of redundancy.  In short you need to determine how many users can fit on a single box and then provide enough redundant servers to cover the complete loss of a entire physical server.

roles: Do not make the Citrix servers your domain controller.  I don't even know if it will install and at the very least Citrix will not support due to security reasons.  I recommend web interface for internal and external connectivity.  I would run two sites for redundancy with load balancing/failover (we use Access Gateways for this).

So likely looking at:

Server1: XenApp, Web Interface, License Server

Server2: XenApp, Web Interface

Server3 (maybe): XenApp

Server4: AD, profiles, Terminal Server License Server
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24156928
XenApp will not install on a Domain Controller because there are no local accounts on a DC and the XenApp install needs to create several local accounts.  Plus, it is very bad security to have users remote into a DC.

Citrix Best Practice is for the Web Interface to be on a separate server preferably in the (a) DMZ.

There are, unfortuanately, still many issues with moving to x64 Windows and x64 XenApp.  Printer Drivers and application compatibility are the two main factors preventing widespread adoption of x64.  The only way to know is to test, test and then do more testing.

Starting with Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows server versions will only be x64.  So eventually there will be a forced migration to x64 as eventually support and maintenance for x86 will cease from both Microsoft and Citrix.
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Author Comment

by:sascotty
ID: 24157012
That was the solution I had in mind:

Server1: XenApp, Web Interface, License Server

Server2: XenApp, Web Interface

Server3 (maybe): XenApp

Server4: AD, profiles, Terminal Server License Server

This will give me failover on the Citrix front end although Server 4 will be a single point of failure I guess? So I configure Server 1 and 2 both with Web Interface and citrix knows to redirect sessions when the other server is too busy, is that more or less how it works?  
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24157080
No that will NOT give you failover on the front-end.  Citrix does not recommend or support Web Interface installed on the same server as XenApp when you use network load balancing for the web interface component.  Which is what you will have to use if you want failover on the web interface part.

The Web Interface should be a separate server and you can have multiple sites on the one WI server.  One for internal users and one for external users, if you wish to do it that way.

Don't forget your SQL server for your client/server app.  You can also use that server for your Citrix farm data store.  I would not recommend using the default Access data store because if you reboot or shutdown that XenApp server the other server(s) will cease to function properly.

You domain controller will be a busy server, why bog it down with profiles and redirected folders?  You are asking for trouble if you do that.
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Author Comment

by:sascotty
ID: 24157205
So, better to go this route then:

Server1: XenApp

Server2: XenApp

Server3: Web Interface in DMZ ideally

Server4: AD, profiles, Terminal Server License Server and Citrix License Server

Server1 and 2 will give me load balancing for terminals utilised internally.
Server 4 will be busy and a single point of failure.

Or would you do it another way ?
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24157250
Server 4 will be a major single point of failure.  But you do have to consider the money involved, the user load, the server load, application loads and then relate all those to just how much availability you want and can afford.
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Author Comment

by:sascotty
ID: 24157330
I will go with that then as reasonable solution with load balancing on the Xenapp Servers.  I will go x64 and chuck loads of memory in for better performance. Thanks for all the advice !
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Assisted Solution

by:amichaell
amichaell earned 800 total points
ID: 24157437
Need to consider how your internal users will connect.  If WI, then a single WI is still a single point of failure.  We ran our WI servers on XenApp servers serving applications just fine for a years, though it isn't ideal.  We eventually put in a virtual environment at which time we virtualized a couple of WI servers.
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Carl Webster earned 1200 total points
ID: 24157439
You need to test x64 before committing to it.  Some apps and printers refuse to work in an x64 environment.

You can get a free virtual environemnt to test with from several places, you can also get a free eval copy of server 2008 x64 and XenApp 5 x64 for testing with.  Do that before you go and start spending money.
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Author Closing Comment

by:sascotty
ID: 31570891
Thanks for all the comments guys!
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24157487
He needs to balance cost with high availability needs and wants.  Any role on a single server is a single point of failure.

1 DC means no network if it goes down.  No authentication, no DNS, no profiles, no licenses (but you have a 30 day grace period on Citrix licenses)

A lot of people demand high availability but still have just one router, one firewall, one switch, one Internet connection, one electrical feed, one HVAC system - I could go on and on and on.  Define your availability needs and budget and start making the necessary tradeoffs.
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by:amichaell
ID: 24157597
I'm aware of that.  Point being with WI is that it will not incur any additional cost.  He can put another site on an existing XenApp server.  It is not ideal, though it will work in a pinch if needed.

I agree, though.  There is always a line you draw with HA.  In our XenDesktop environment we run multiple WIs, DDCs, PVSs, central storage, AGEEs, etc.  All that is great except we still have a SINGLE entry point in our main building, so if that point goes down all of my remote offices can't work.
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Author Comment

by:sascotty
ID: 24157962
What would my options be on adding redundancy with Server 4. Replicating it to another Server using a technology like DoubleTake?
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by:Carl Webster
ID: 24158320
Don't worry about it for the license server components.  For the domain controller add another.  Fir file server shares, use DFS.
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Author Comment

by:sascotty
ID: 24158478
Will dfs replicate the profiles succesfully ?
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Expert Comment

by:Carl Webster
ID: 24158556
Never tried it.  Most of my customers have that kind of stuff on a SAN with multiple access paths and various other HA options.
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