remote office access to head office

we have web based application running in the hard office and planning to have 10 branch offices in very remote places . what is the beat way to optimized the web based application access from the client end  . few options are suggested as blow

Citrix
Optimization hardware or software applicant (best on the market and tested result )
or any other product can do the same
curAsked:
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Brian BEE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology ProfessionalCommented:
Another option would be VPN, which can be done for free. The VPN built into windows will probably suffice if you are just using it for a web based application.
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Brian CTXSupportCitrix ConsultantCommented:
The performance over VPN would be horrendous.  Citrix configured properly will work well, but it's not a magic solution either.  You will need a reliable connection for it to work.  It doesn't have to be necessarily fast, but a high-latency connection will not perform well.  I'd need more information about the application to say what the best options would be.  Just because it's a web app doesn't mean the footprint will be light.  How much data is transferred in the background on average?  Are there constant screen updates in the application?  What kind of internet connectivity (upload speed) do you have at the main branch?
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James NewportCommented:
As Brian B said - why don't you test how the application performs over a VPN before investing in Citrix, after all its not just the software it will be a learning curve if you have no prior experience.

There are of course lots of different VPN solutions - or maybe you could host the app in the cloud?
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Brian BEE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology ProfessionalCommented:
If it's really just a web based application, I can't see that the performance would be that bad as all that would go over the VPN is web traffic, but that's why it would be a good idea to test it. Like James said, it couldn't hurt.
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Brian CTXSupportCitrix ConsultantCommented:
Except that you'd have a pipe open that would allow other traffic that wouldn't be limited to just the traffic for that application.  If you do go the VPN route, make sure you configure split tunneling correctly, or you could have a lot of unexpected traffic routing through the VPN.  There's also an implication when you state "very remote places" that connectivity may not be the best, which I'm sure is why you volunteered that information.  What are the security requirements for the application?  Can it be publicly facing?  If so, just have it hosted with a host provider or on a web server at the main branch.  I see no need to add the VPN overhead if that's the case.  A NetScaler VPX could server as a reverse proxy for the site if there are additional security requirements.
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curAuthor Commented:
connectivity not bad as remote . this is application full web based ERP application
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Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
This might be a candidate for Framehawk.   Or, have you considered that it may not be a candidate period for Citrix?  HTTP is a connectionless protocol.  It can withstand a lot more packet loss and latency than ICA\HDX.   As matter of fact, HTML 5 and DOT NET were at one time considered to be the "end of Citrix" by a large number of people that lacked real experience.  It is better if you have both Citrix and Development background, makes it easier to understand that will never happen.

It would be improper to assume what you mean by Citrix.

Framehawk requires Netscaler on version 11 firmware, Citrix Receiver 4.3.1 client, XenApp or XenDesktop 7.6 with Rollup Pack 2 and Feature Pack 2.

The entire infrastructure must be updated to Feature Pack 2, like Site Controllers, Delivery Controllers, and the XenApp application hosting VDA's.  

I've not had a chance to test it but was told by acquaintance they had tested it at 400ms latency and it even worked with CRC errors when they forced half duplex on a test switch.

Thing is you stated web application.  This means a lot of things.  At one time, .NET and HTML 5 were considered competition to Citrix before reality hit.

If you have an optimized HTML 5, ASP.NET, MVC, or whatever - that is HTML VS ICA.

HTML can handle packet loss, it is a CONNECTIONLESS protocol.

If you have a website that is all server-side and no client dependencies beyond Internet Explorer, Chrome, or some browser you will have better performance with HTTP over a VPN.

VPN + Citrix, particularly IPSEC equals NOT good.

VPN + Citrix + Netscaler Secure Gateway equals WORSE

Slow Internet connection, down to Dial-up at all sites + Netscaler Unified Gateway or Netscaler used as a SECURE Gateway and publishing the application as a URL to launch in a browser may or may not outperform a well developed website.

With that said, you don't find a lot of well develeped.  You would be amazed the number of organizations that have over 1000 websites built for IE 8.  I still find IE 7 code.

This was the intended purpose for IE 11 Enterprise Mode which I've used extensively to force Enterprise Mode or different document modes using a SINGLE XML File.

With that said, if your website is a concern then Enterprise Mode "might" be an option combined with dedicated VPN connections over the internet or dialup.

Document Mode is specific to IE 11 only.  It should not be mistaken for Compatibility View Mode.  I've written a few papers on this and several successful migrations where I eliminated that manual list method of Compatibility Mode.  Deploying a single sites.xml file can easily make a website run in IE 8 Emulation mode, IE 8, or 9, or 10 Document Mode.  You can even have a root site like .mysite.com run in Native mode but .mysite.com/virtualdira/app2 run in IE 9 Document Mode.
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ie/dn262703 

Most migrations I've cleaned up 2 thousand or more domains added to compatibility mode list which are NEVER maintained.  If a site is sunset, do you remove it from compatibility mode list?  99% is no.

I actually disable Compatibility Mode with IE 11 ADMX files and enforce Enterprise Mode only.   Your better off setting up a web hosted sites.xml file from the start.  Inform or train the internal web development teams how to use F12 Developer Tools and how to change different document modes if they do not already know the code requirements.

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn640699.aspx 

So, about this web application.

What is the code?  What is the Framework (.NET, Ruby on Rails)?

What is the backend database?  I've seen where IT Management has mistaken SLOWNESS as being a Citrix problem when outside of Citrix that same "query" resulted in the same slowness due to really bad written queries.

Particularly prior to SQL 2012.  And yes, just as bad in Oracle realm.  Regardless of hosting platform.

Does the web application require any client dependency such as Active X component, Adobe Flash, any plug-ins, special printing software, special viewer software?

Those are your bottlenecks.

Does anyone need to create a report and print to a local printer?  This may be faster over HTTP or Citrix.  Going to Citrix expecting better performance without testing - big mistake.

I've seen certain websites that pegged the process at 100% after 30 connections on Citrix.  Something about 30 connections pegged a 4 processor, 16MB of RAM Virtual Server.

I've seen web applications that output a 1 GB (not MB) file for printing every single time.  That process pegs the underlying printing system at 30% for 10 minutes every time one is generated.

Then I've seen applications like QRM Analytics that you can get 4 users on a DL380 G5 server with 4 physical processors and 32 GB of RAM on 2008 R2 64 Bit.

And it cost less money to host on Citrix at 4 users - why? There were 20 users but at random intervals so I estimated considering time zones and work pattern that no more than 4 of the 20 would connect at one time.

The application requirements and vendor recommended Citrix because at the time it would require a Workstation with two physical processors and 16 GB of RAM per Workstation and they recommended a SCSI card and SCSI drive.  Some of these queries to the financial system could take 4-5 hours.

That was 20 workstations at 6K each or 120K versus two DL380's which I bought for 8K fully loaded back then and complete HA components.

This is the paradox with Citrix.  To achieve the best use case without becomming a DUMPING ground for crappy applications.

If you start out with no Standards or Application Lifecycle Management strategy you will find your hosting all the bad applications that no one wants to upgrade.

This gives the business or developers an out and their problem is now your problem.  

I cannot stress enough to set your standards for application hosting in General.  Instead of the guy saving the day you end up being the person everyone points the finger at.....

Just like outsourcing.  Paying for the right to point the finger?  Remember GM \ EDC \ HP.

The former CIO of GM made a comment about how outsourcing gave them the right to point the finger at the vendor.  American Airlines, a lot of large companies do this today and are stuck in application migration limbo because of it.
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