Citrix XenDesktop set-up using PVS servers and VMware hypervisor?

Hello there,

WE have set-up XD farm using MCS with following servers:
2 x Storefreont
2 x DDC
1 x Citrix License Server
1 x SQL server to host XD DB
1 x Profile Management server
We have decided to implement PVS and create machine catalog (100 machines). Please advise what are the steps required?
- how to spec PVS servers
- how to ensure DHCP scope for 100 VM's
- Personal Vdisk
- how to create template in VMware
- how to create vdisk

Thanks and Regards
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goprasadAuthor Commented:
Please advise.
Ayman BakrSenior ConsultantCommented:
Before I could answer about the PVS spec, let me understand the following:

Are you planning to have one vDisk for all the 100 machines? Or do I understand that you want a vDisk for each machine? I strongly do not recommend the latter because you will create huge overhead for your admins besides defying the real purpose of using PVS.

-> DHCP Scope: you will ensure you create a DHCP scope with a pool of IP addresses for the same subnet of your 100 machines. You will configure options 66 and 67 on that scope to specify the IP or FQDN of the TFTP server (actually your PVS) and the bootstrap file name (ARDP32.BIN) respectively. Your VMs will have to be PXE-enabled and set to boot from network.

-> To create a VMWare template, there are three ways: convert a VM to template, clone a VM into a template or clone an existing template. I suppose you mean the first. This is simple: right-click the VM > select TemplateConvert to Template.

-> To create a vDisk:
1. First you will create the VM with Windows OS, install VMWare tools, install VDA, latest hotfixes and patches and any applications required including anti-virus. You will also install the Provisioning Services Target Device sotware (but do not join to the domain) and shut down.
2. Next you will have prepared a vDisk on the Provisioning services and made it in Private mode (read-write).
3. You will also have created the target device on the provisioning server host related to that VM - this is actually a representation of the VM in the PVS server host with the MAC address of the VM and this will be called your Master target Device.
4. You will assign the vDisk to the target device (which will be your master target device) and change the general tab properties to boot from Hard Disk.
5. Next you will startup your VM from the network so that when it starts up it connects to the vDisk on the PVS server host. You will install XenConvert and use it to 'convert' the VM to PVS vDisk - i.e. it will copy an image of the VM and write it to the connected vDisk on the PVS server host.
6. Change your vDisk back to standard mode (read-only).
Thank you Mutawadi, that was a technical platter for PVS solution.

Just as a little sauce, let me tell the condition when you go for PVS.

You would need to have 2 physical servers for PVS. The only factor that determines PVS or MCS is the number of VDIs and the storage used for it.

MCS utilizes complete image disk storage. If your vdisk image is configured for 25GB (example), you will need to create 100 VDIs of 25 GB, which will be 2.5 TB (approx).

With PVS, you need to create VDI with Write cache of 5-6 GB (provided you have done the folder redirection and necessary GPOs apllied). It will be 600 GB storage.

Hence you are saving 2TB (approx) storage per 100 VDIs. Now it is upto your environment to calculate the cost effectiveness.

Also, if you are looking for admin overhead, similar to read-only PVS based VDI (streamed), we can create read-only MCS based VDI (pooled).

Hope this help.
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Ayman BakrSenior ConsultantCommented:

With VMWare hypervisor, its support to LACP protocol and the availability of 10 Gb NIC technology, maybe you would want to reconsider the decision making your PVS physical!
Especially that you want to stream to 100 machines you should be very good with at least 2 virtualized PVS having 4 vCPUs and 8 GB RAM (preferably 16 GB RAM) and at least 2x1Gb NICs.

Please read this:
goprasadAuthor Commented:

Thank you so much for the solution. We have Virtualization first policy and there is no way we get allocated a high spec physical machine, please advise, can I go for the same spec for Virtual server - 4 x vcpu's and 16 GB RAM and at-least 2 x 1 GB NICS.

And also is it recommended to assign 2 x NICS to win7 VM template, one for PVS streaming traffic and other for normal DHCP?

Please advise.
Ayman BakrSenior ConsultantCommented:
Yes, I recommend for PVS server host a VM with 4 x vCPUs, 16 GB RAM and at least 2x1 GB NICs for streaming. You will also require another NIC for management.

As for the Win 7 VMs, you do not require them to be multi-homed at all. That is, the NIC used for DHCP communication will be used for PVS vDisk streaming traffic. You can use a bonded NIC from your hypervisor though to aggregate the throughput. Bottom-line, for your Win 7 VMs you will only need a single network channel for both DHCP and streaming traffic. DHCP traffic ends before even starting the streaming traffic, so why to waste a resource?

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Senior IT System EngineerIT ProfessionalCommented:
Can the SQL server be deployed as Express Edition in the same server as Licensing server (non busy server) ?

Because in that way it is free or cost is saved.
Ayman BakrSenior ConsultantCommented:
I think this can be done as long as it is on the Licensing. It can be installed on the PVS, however this is strongly NOT recommended.

But, you should be aware of the limitations of SQL Express that makes it unsuitable for a big environment. SQL express can only see 1 CPU and can only utilize a maximum of 1 GB of memory for its data buffer. Moreover, the DB size is limited to a maximum of 4 GB.
Senior IT System EngineerIT ProfessionalCommented:
Cool, many thanks Mutawadi for the clarification, so in this case I will put the DB outside on separate SQL Server virtual machine.
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