VDI and xendesktop

Any experts with xendesktop experience,  I need, help with installation  and configuring.
phillip bessixAsked:
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phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
I  need to know all the separate  components I need to successfully  deploys VDI'S.  for example do I need a xenserver for the hypervisor, a sql server for the daya ases and for xendesktop and the store front can, some of these run on the same server?  my pb only has 16gb of ram so I have limited resources.  please help I love this technology and would really love to master it

Thanks
Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
Yes.  No.

Are you setting up POC?

Easiest option is XenServer and DOM0 instead of vCenter as the Hypervisor proxy.

The XenDesktop components consist of XenDesktop, Studio, Director, Storefront, SQL Express 2012, and your choice of PVS or MCS.

MCS is a little quicker but not as scalable.

PVS seems to scale better if you have more than 1000 desktops.

Particularly if you can keep you master disk to a single image hosted on NAS and implement write cache to RAM with disk overflow.

Install 7.6 base components then download the Feature Pack 2 components with Framehawk.  

If you want to get all the features you must install Citrix Receiver 4.3, StoreFront 3.0, and Feature Pack 2 components.

Supports SQL Express 2012.  SQL 2008 SP 3 or SQL 2012 SP2.

SQL Express 2012 is fine for POC, install all components on 1 server.

Works with ESXi, XenServer or Hyper-V hypervisors - you choice.
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
Brian,

All this is new to me what is POC?

 It's best to install xenserver, then install XenDesktop, Studio, Dicrector,StoreFront, SQL 2012 and reciever on the xenserver.   I would like to use,3 servers how do u. Recommend  installing apps per server.
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Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
Proof of Concept.

This is more of chicken or the egg question.  Which came first?

Your question has too many directions, you must first do the homework then ask more narrow questions.

First review the different Hypervisors and pros and cons.

Then read the 20MB PDF files published by Citrix for XenDesktop and XenApp 7.6.  
https://www.citrix.com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/products-solutions/xendesktop-reviewers-guide.pdf

https://www.citrix.com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/oth/xenapp-reviewers-guide.pdf

Then Google "xendesktop 7.6 reference architecture".

Read something from every vendor;  example
http://h20195.www2.hp.com/V2/getpdf.aspx/4AA4-5412ENW.pdf

Then review "design and architecture" articles and videos.
http://24x7itconnection.com/2015/02/17/xendesktop-7-6-architectural-considerations-from-the-trenches/
http://blogs.citrix.com/2014/10/13/design-guidance-for-xenapp-xendesktop-7-6-updated-virtual-desktop-handbook/

Regarding installation itself, there are many good step-by-step already published.
http://www.virtualizationadmin.com/articles-tutorials/citrix-articles/installing-and-configuring-citrix-xenapp-xendesktop-76-part3.html

Not to mention a 2 hour Master Class video step-by-step from Citrix on Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv-XEsniMu8

You will want to research Citrix Netscaler as well.

If you have questions after doing the homework, I'll help further.

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phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
Thanks Brian,  I was,in the process of reading those docs, but I guest it push me look for shortcuts,  I read info and watch vids.
Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
Philip-
There are no shortcuts in IT.  Not if you strive for your personal best.,  I've seen the downside of others not learning the technology.

What happens is bad implementations that give Citrix a bad name instead of the person claiming to know the product.  Our industry, like many, has those who talk the talk but cannot walk or stand-up for that matter.

That is only the beginning.  What I gave you is the easiest part of the equation.  To truly know Citrix you must also know the dependencies.  Citrix runs on Microsoft Server, leverages Microsoft SQL, requires properly configured Storage.  Storage for XenApp is not the same as Storage for XenDesktop.

Architecture for MCS won't work for PVS unless you configure all the requirements for both.

And the most common, #1 overlooked skill?  Application Lifecycle Management.

Convincing a group of Developers writing applications for Windows 7 32 Bit to make applications work in 2008 R2 64 Bit or 2012 R2 64 Bit.

My first implementation of Citrix was 18 years ago.

Today, that is 5% of my knowledge relative to Networking, Security, SAN Storage, NAS Storage, Hypervisor ESX / Hyper-V / and XenServer (must know them all), application development and best practices, SDK's, Powershell 2, 3 and 4 (soon 5).

And on Powershell, Citrix is built on it.  The GUI you see is using Powershell behind the scene.  When you create a connection to VMWare vCenter SDK that is SOAP and XML traffic. There are a lot of steps you cannot configure from the GUI.  

With StoreFront 3 as example, there are Powershell commands I run on the Storefront servers first before I configure the Storefront Monitor on Netscaler the I bind to the Service Group that contains the StoreFront Servers to which I will add to the Citrix Secure Gateway configuration.

I've been working with Netscaler since Citrix bought the original company.  I currently manage 12 - 9700 MPX FIPS Netscalers that cost 100K per HA pair.  

I recently worked with internal developers and the vendor for Rumba to make their application run on Citrix.  The latest version of DLL file now allows 8 sessions per user and operates 200x faster than when we started.  When it was first moved to Citrix, users could open 2 Terminal Emulation programs and kick off their Macros stored in Excel, was slow, then stopped working.

This was done because of a significant cost save over Reflections but it required a mass migration of Macro's from Reflections to VDA 7 that is part of Office 2010 Suite.  

By the time it was escalated to my group it had gone through multiple teams, people and vendor.

Using Microsoft System Internals VMMAP, RAMMAP, and Process Explorer I found the bottleneck which forced the vendor to accept they had something that was fixable.

Citrix has another product APPDNA that is probably the most valuable tools you have for migrating apps to Citrix and most people don't know it exists.  I've been using it since it was introduced.

Keep this in mind; Citrix is a "conduit for the business application".  You can build the perfect infrastructure and none of your applications will work.

If they do work, some will consume all the memory and process after 5 users.  All of these issues are fixable but it requires knowledge in Web technology, different versions of Java JRE, Oracle Clients, Sybase, ODBC 32 Bit versus ODBC 64 bit (common mistake).

You will either see this as a pro or con to Citrix.  For me it was a way to never be isolated to any tower.  I have more certificates in Cisco, Microsoft, Wireshark, Security, Networking, Storage.

Storage is a critical and required knowledge for Citrix.  You should consider all this before deciding if you wish to go in that direction.  You must know storage, and now Solid State and Flash.

In Storage alone you SAN and have your different vendors such as ESX, VPX, IBM, and Dell.

Then you have Flash Storage, and within that you have your drastic differences.  Gartner does not consider a disk array design that is equipped with solid state drives (SSDs) based on flash memory as an all-flash array. If you can put a disk drive into an array, Gartner does not consider it an all-flash array.

The solid state arrays, or SSAs, have an operating system and accompanying data management software (including deduplication, compression, replication, snapshotting  that has been tuned specifically for flash technologies.

EMC, Pure Storage, and IBM are perceived as being out ahead of the pack. EMC and IBM have gained their positions in the all-flash array market through acquisitions – XtremIO in the case of EMC and Texas Memory Systems in the case of IBM – and have reworked the acquired products to make them more suitable for their enterprise customers in the ensuing time.

IBM has married its SAN Virtualization Controller to the FlashSystem 840 arrays to give it data management features it was lacking, and EMC has added similar features to the XtremIO arrays.

Spindle is your bottleneck.  Particularly in XenDesktop.  The reason why so many companies are banking on all-flash arrays is simply that disk technology is not progressing. Spindles are stuck spinning at 15K RPM and I/O bandwidth coming off drives is not improving. But every year, the disks get fatter – Seagate just shipped an 8 TB drive – and the performance per terabyte keeps getting worse.

First it was Memory as the bottleneck, the bus speed, now that is gone.  With 64 Bit operating systems the memory was no longer the issue, particularly with Cisco UCS that is capable of 384 GB of RAM and zero reduction in bus speed.

Then it became Processor.  A lot of memory but not enough CPU, threads, and so on and so forth.

Now if you have a processor problem it is due to the fact you are still writing a page file to a set of spindles (disks) that max out at 15K RPM.  

SAN Storage the limit is the controller and cache.  There is a limitation to how fast you can write data to spinning disks and the chances of those spinning disks getting faster is low.

Then you had deduplication to artificially speed up slow disks like SAS drives.  But that only works for certain things.  

XenDesktop is heavy writes, 5 to 1 compared to XenApp.  Your better off with all flash array versus hybrid.  Hybrid arrays attempt to balance SAS or spindle drives and cache data in Flash as FIFO model.

This does not work well for Provisioning Services and XenDesktop or XenApp.

Then you get into the whole HA design for Provisioning Server.  This requires a NAS or shared storage design.  Unless you want to maintain 4-5 copies of every Master Disk.  And forget about Versioning.  That was meant for shared storage design but I've seen where people have attempted to use Versioning in PVS but separate LUNS for each PVS server and keep it all synchronized using Robocopy.

Complete Disaster.

I just don't want to give you the wrong perception that just learning that information above is all that is required.

It is only a starting point.
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
Brian,
I love your passion for Citrix, I share that passion for wanting to learn it.  Citrix is all new to me, I’ve done some homework in an attempt to ask more narrow questions.  I read the white paper, installed a virtual XenServer, 3 virtual servers windows 2012 and 2008r2, 3 workstation windows 7 and 8.  I created the group CitrixEval and added the 2 users to one of my windows 2012 server, I have the XensServer communication with XenCenter on one of the windows 7 workstations.   I am still having a little trouble with the infrastructure for example on the white paper page. 7, Table1 VM #1.
Question 1.  This server has AD, DHCP, DNS and I made it a domain server, the group is under local administrator.  Do I install XenDesktop, Citrix Studio, Director, StoreFront, SQL Server database, and License server?
 Question 2. Will the SQL Server database be create by XenDesktop or should I install SQL on an additional server?
Brian Because I am using a virtual environment I have limited resources, I am trying to get out the pieces in line.
My goal is to first learn to successfully create, provision and deploy apps and desktops PC’s and 0 clients
I will continue to do more homework on this, as I implement this lab.
Thanks
Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
Question 1.  This server has AD, DHCP, DNS and I made it a domain server, the group is under local administrator.  Do I install XenDesktop, Citrix Studio, Director, StoreFront, SQL Server database, and License server?

You need all those components and yes you can install on single VM.  Just make sure you have at least 16GB of RAM.  

You do actually need a domain.  You can spin up a single root forest.  You need two 2008R2 servers, create a new forest, install Integrated DNS and after reboot ADD the DHCP Role.  Make sure you account has "Enterprise Admins" and you will need to "Approve" the DHCP Scope on the domain.

Now you can wait and install the DHCP Role on your XenDesktop server, after your forest is configured.

DHCP is required to spin up Virtual Machines.  They must get a DHCP Address.

For now, best to use Machine Creation Services for you desktops.  This will install by default if using XenDesktop 7.6


 Question 2. Will the SQL Server database be create by XenDesktop or should I install SQL on an additional server?

I would use the base install which is SQL 2012.  XenDesktop 7.6 installed on a single VM with Studio, Director, StoreFront, and Citrix Licensing Server.

Depending on your My Citrix access you will want to locate HotFix Rollup 2 for version 7.6

Then, you should download the Feature Pack 2 for XenDesktop 7.6 for added functionality.

After you establish a "domain" or "Forest" and you XenDesktop Server with DHCP Scope authorized in the domain create a Windows 7 or 8 or 10 VM using XenServer Console.

Don't add it to the domain, install your applications, install the VDA Client, install your XenServer Hypervisor client.

That is your "gold image"

From "Director" you would create a "New Connection" to XenServer, enter the username and password (of XenServer account) to communicate with your hypervisor.

This will allow you to choose any storage allocated, see the VDA client, and during that it will ask "PVS" or "MCS"..... Choose MCS (Machine Creation Services).

I found what appears to be some pretty good websites that are step by step.....

http://carlwebster.com/citrix-xendesktop-7-6-provisioning-services-7-6-xendesktop-setup-wizard-write-cache-personal-vdisk-drives/

http://9to5it.com/citrix-xenapp-7-6-install-guide-introduction/ 

http://www.virtualizationadmin.com/articles-tutorials/citrix-articles/installing-and-configuring-citrix-xenapp-xendesktop-76-part1.html

I'm sure there are a lot more.  I have a document myself but it is "branded" so I cannot send it out.

But the sites above look accurate to me, and I'm sure there are others as well.
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
I really appreciate the help, I will start working on the Lab right now.

Thanks
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
Hello Brian,

We are using Hyper-V at work,  so I changed from the xensever 6.2.  I am  am using Virtual box to run server 2012 hyper-v,  I am trying to create a virtual machine in prepreaition for deployment using xendesktop 7.6.  after connecting to the hyper'v server and creating the vm, then trying to the start the vm I get this error "the application encountered an error while attempting to change the state of win70811".  win70811 is the name of the vm I create.    Brian it's looks like you can create the machine but it will not start in an virtual environment do you know  a solution,   also do you know if xenserver will work in a virtual environment.  I am making good progress and if the hypervisor would have worked I would successfully provisioned and deployed my first DVI.  Brian it is my mission to learn and master this technology.  

 Thanks
Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
You lost me.  You can sort of use Oracle Box to create VHD files which are compatible with HyperV and XenServer.

But to bring up images on Hyper-V simply install XenDesktop on the primary Hyper-V host.

Install 2008 R2, Service Packs, enable Hyper-V Feature.  If you run DataCenter edition you get unlimited virtual machines.

Enterprise Edition is Four Virtual Machines per host.

If your not running DataCenter Edition, your wasting dollars by not using XenServer.

I'm talking about the new Linux distribution at www.xen.org

Install that on a physical server (2U), or blade.  I don't recommend running it as a VM on top of Hyper-V

That are both paravirtualization hypervisors compared to VMWare hardware type but you should not mix and match.

You can use both Hypervisors but not on the same physical host.

You can make it a lot easier if you just bring up one open source www.xen.org XenServer instance.
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
Hello Brian,

Citrix Studio connection type, there is no option for server hyper-v,  also what about the no management option?  I have a Hyper-v server already setup, what should I do, I've search for solutions, but it seems you have all the answers

Thanks
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
I think I found the answer, I have to install the SCVMM Agent on t he Hyper-V host,   isn't correct?
phillip bessixAuthor Commented:
On virtual box lab,  I have 1 Server 2012 Domain Controller, one Serve 2012 with XenDesktop 7.6 installed, one Hyper-v 2012 Server and 2  win 7 virtual stations.  I have a group and 2 users who are Domain Administrators
My DC has Active Directory, DHCP and DNS installed
My other server only has XenDesktop 7.6 installed with bundle SQL Server express installed
I have Hyper-V  installed on another and  all Servers and workstations have static IP addresses and or all on  the same Domain.
I am having an infrastructure problem since there’s so many pieces to this puzzle.  
Question 1: First I decided to used Hyper-V as my Hypervisor, those this require me to install SCVMM on the Domain controller or the server with Xendesktop installed.  In the Xen Studio setup wizard under connect type I want to select Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, but I need to resolved question 1 first.  
Most of the videos out there assume you already have the infrastructure in place. The master class on you use xenserver,,, just need to figure out SCVMM if not I will use xenserver
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