Opinions on a XenApp deployment
Posted on 2014-11-07
I'm soliciting advice/opinions on a proposed XenApp installation. Currently our environment contains 80 Dell GX620s (Pentium 3.0GHz, on average). They're running disklessl via PVS, with server side write cache. This has worked pretty well for 4 years now. However, after the most recent Flash update (v15) I noticed CPU has jumped considerably when Flash is in use, sometimes as high as 90%. While this may simply be a bad Flash version, it struck me that maybe this is a good time to clean up a bit and rethink our implementation. We own XenDesktop Enterprise, grandfathered in because we were Ardence customers, but just never needed the extra XA/XD components. I think I'd like to take advantage of our XenApp licenses at this point to squeeze a few more years out of our desktops.
I have 2 ideas of how to do so:
1. Publish server desktops and convert our PCs to thin clients via ThinKiosk. This would allow me to use RAM caching on my physical targets, speeding up boot/logon times dramatically. I'm more than willing to set up the necessary GPOs to severely restrict users as needed. I probably wouldn't even join the physical targets to the domain, just lock them down with a lcoal policy (or whatever Thinkiosk recommends) and install AV.
2. Publish every app that we have, except maybe IE because it's already there and its nice to have a local browser "just in case". That still pushes a bit of overhead to our target devices, which I kind of prefer to avoid. However, consensus from others with XA experience seem to suggest this is the most common approach (although everyone has different explanations for that).
95% of our workload is MS Office, a small Java app, and a hearty amount of web browsing. There are maybe a dozen apps outside of that scope, each used by a 1-2 people. Regarding the way the servers would be deployed, whether it's apps or desktops, I'm not sure if it's wise to do them by department, or simply deploy a few VMs that have the most common apps and then add 1 more for the edge cases so I can take individual XA VMs down for maintenance as needed. Our shop is 9-9 weekdays, so it's not difficult to schedule a maintenance window at night, on weekends, holidays, etc.
Publish apps, or desktops? Desktops seem easier to me (once the GPOs are in place) and would almost completely take the load off our aging endpoints
Organize servers by department, or create 4-5 identical XA servers and 1 more to publish the specialized apps?
If it matters at all, we're using UPM but no folder redirection. We stream the profiles, but don't cache them, so I figure that's basically the same thing yet avoids the "redirect Appdata" debate. This seems like it could come in handy as it would allow me to set up independent disks in VMware to freeze the XA VMs. Also, server hardware can be upgraded/purchased as needed once I choose an approach and take a baseline of a pilot group.
Since there's not really a "right" answer I'll just award points based on length/depth of responses. If you have questions, I'd be happy to fill in the blanks because I want to get this right the first time!