On-prem and on-cloud

Author

Stefanos Evangelou

Stefanos Evangelou has 58 articles published.

Azure backup and site recovery

in Azure by

Azure backup and site recovery

A disaster recovery and data protection strategy keeps your business running when unexpected events occur.

The Backup service is Microsoft’s born in the cloud backup solution to backup data that’s located on-premises and in Azure. It replaces your existing on-premises or offsite backup solution with a reliable, secure and cost competitive cloud backup solution. It also provides the flexibility of protecting your assets running in the cloud. You can backup Windows Servers, Windows Clients, Hyper-V VMs, Microsoft workloads, Azure Virtual Machines (Windows and Linux) with its in-built resilience and high SLAs. More details about Azure backup service can be found at: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-in/azure/backup/backup-try-azure-backup-in-10-mins. Full pricing model is available at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/pricing/details/backup/

The Site Recovery service ensures your servers, virtual machines, and apps are resilient by replicating them so that when disasters and outages occur you can easily fail over to your replicated environment and continue working. When services are resumed you simply failback to your primary location with uninterrupted access. Site Recovery helps protect a wide range of Microsoft and third-party workloads. More details about Azure site recovery service can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/documentation/learning-paths/site-recovery/. Full pricing model is available at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/pricing/details/site-recovery/.

You can refer to http://stefanosevangelou.com/blog/category/azure for more Azure-related articles.

Citrix in-session watermark

in Citrix Cloud/Receiver/XenApp/XenDesktop by

The fact in VDI security designs is that people are the weakest links in your protection chain. How can you prevent insiders from simply taking the screen and leaking your most brilliant ideas to external sources? How can you trace a leak back to when it first happened?

Citrix In-session Watermark offers a solution for you. It adds traceable information on top of the VDI screen. This provides a deterrent to prevent people from stealing the screen. To take this one step further, even if the information is leaked, you can still easily trace back to follow the identity on the screenshot.

While XenApp & XenDesktop provides a great barrier to information theft for outside attackers, In-session Watermark is provides an additional layer of security against theft from inside users. To clarify, watermarks are primarily a deterrent to inside users – for trustworthy users, yes, who sometimes need a reminder to be honest, and also for malicious insiders who are working to steal intellectual property. Since users control their endpoints running Citrix Receiver, there are security advantages to implementing server-side protections, and this is where we implemented In-session Watermark.

The watermark is added to the image before it is transferred to the endpoint. Compare the approach for implementing Citrix In-session Watermark on server side to other solutions and offerings on the market. The Citrix In-session Watermark cannot be removed without killing the session. If a watermark solution were implemented using a user space process to draw the watermark, the malicious users can kill that process to remove the watermark, which is clearly not a sufficient deterrent.

In the Citrix solution, the watermark is added deep inside the HDX engine and if the user were to kill the process that draws the watermark, it would also kill the user’s session, which is a much more effective deterrent.

The benefits of embedding this security into the HDX engine also include better screen coverage. The Windows 10 start menu and UWP apps will be covered properly with Citrix Watermark while a user mode process might leave some of the screen uncovered.

More details can be read in the original Citrix article at: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/12/04/a-new-option-to-protect-your-workspace-in-session-watermark/

XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR CU1 and 7.16 CR

in XenApp/XenDesktop by

XenApp and XenDesktop LTSR and CR latest releases are here!

You should always research release notes, known issues and fixes of the new releases under each of the two main XenApp/XenDesktop forks, LTSR and CR.

More details about the two new recently released versions can be found by following the Citrix links below:

XenApp and XenDesktop LTSR 7.15 CU1

https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-15-ltsr/whats-new/cumulative-update-1.html

XenApp and XenDesktop CR 7.16

https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/current-release.html

Citrix Receiver users prompted to download, run, open launch.ica file, instead of launching connection

in DaaS/Receiver by

Citrix Receiver launch.ica file

Applicable Products

  • Citrix Receiver for Windows

Symptoms or Error

When launching an application from the Internet browser, users are prompted to save or download the launch.ica file. The prompt Do you want to Open, Save, or Cancel the launch.ica connection file is displayed.The application does not launch immediately. Also, some but not all the users report that they are unable to connect.

For solution and more detailed analysis, see original Citrix Support article at: https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX804493

Understanding the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel

in Windows Server by

Microsoft has made major changes to the way that they build and release their operating systems. The new Windows Server “Semi-Annual Channel” (SAC) marks a substantial departure from the familiar release pattern that Microsoft has established. The change has pleased some people, upset many, and confused even more. With all the flash of new features, it’s easy to miss the finer points — specifically, how you, your organization, and your issues fit into the new model.

More details can be read on this highly informational article by Altarohttps://www.altaro.com/hyper-v/windows-server-semi-annual-channel/

NetScaler SD-WAN service now available to all CSPs

in NetScaler SD-WAN by

With the success of some initial Citrix partners, Citrix is excited to make this program available to all CSPs, giving them a solution to improve the quality and reliability of the applications they offer to their customers and allowing them to expand into offering managed network services.

Whether the applications are hosted in a data center, co-lo or the cloud, NetScaler SD-WAN creates a reliable connection from the CSP’s customer to the application, aggregating multiple network connections into a single, software-defined virtual path, selecting the best route for each individual application, and immediately moving traffic off of poor performing links. CSPs using NetScaler SD-WAN can make sure that their customer never lose connection to the application.

More details can be found in the original Citrix article at: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/09/27/citrix-csps-are-flocking-to-netscaler-sd-wan/

Citrix Receiver transforms your smartphone into a Cloud PC

in on-cloud/on-prem by

Citrix Receiver transforms your smartphone into a Cloud PC

Using a smartphone as a PC is not a new concept. Back in 2009, Citrix released the first mobile Receiver on Windows CE, which enabled working with your business applications on mobile devices. With the evolution of computer technology, today the smartphone is becoming a much more powerful computing platform than 8 years before; the boundaries become blurred between a thin client PC and phone. Technology is pushing the smartphone to play an even more important role in the cloud era.

The joint solution from Samsung and Citrix is one of the best solutions in the market, which can easily turn your mobile phone into a desktop computer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Receiver for Android installed in the Samsung DeX-powered smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+/Note8, you can easily continue your business work wherever and whenever you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are waiting to see more functionality being added to Citrix Receiver for iOS and Android in the immediate future. The remainder of this Citrix article can be found at: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/10/27/turn-a-samsung-smartphone-into-a-desktop-replacement-with-receiver-for-android-3-12-4/

Citrix Support Fix List

in Citrix certifications/Monitoring and operations by

Citrix Support Fix List

George Spiers from the Citrix Community has created an awesome page which acts as a collection of Citrix most recent software fixes for all Citrix products.

This is a list containing the majority of Citrix support articles collated to make this page a one stop place for you to search for and find information regarding any issues you have with the main Citrix products and their related dependencies.

The page is updated daily with new support articles and information. Articles will change from time and if information here is outdated or incorrect please let me know using the comments. Links may also expire or change so if you find broken links, please let me know. For each issue, the author records known product versions affected however that does not mean products versions that are not in the list are not affected.

Each product table has a search box that you can type in to if looking for a specific fault. For example if you have an error code or message, use that to perform a search. You can also use your browsers search feature which will perform a search against the whole page based on the words you enter.

The full article can be found at: http://www.jgspiers.com/citrix-support-fix-list/ . The Citrix Support fix list includes the following products:

  • App Layering
  • AppDNA
  • Azure, Citrix XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials
  • Citrix Cloud
  • Desktop Lock
  • Director
  • Federated Authentication Service
  • Internet Explorer/Firefox/Chrome
  • Licensing
  • Machine Creation Services
  • NetScaler
  • NetScaler Management and Analytics System
  • Profile Management
  • Provisioning Services
  • Receiver for Android
  • Receiver for HTML5
  • Receiver for iOS
  • Receiver for Linux
  • Receiver for Mac
  • Receiver for Windows
  • SCOM Management Pack
  • ShareFile
  • Skype for Business
  • StoreFront & Receiver for Web
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • Universal Print Driver & Server, General Printing
  • VMware ESX
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Workspace Environment Management
  • XenApp & XenDesktop (excluding Machine Creation Services)
  • XenMobile
  • XenServer

Datacenter standards and certifications

in on-cloud/on-prem by

What is a data center?

A data center (DC) is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g. air conditioning, fire suppression) and various security devices. A large data center is an industrial-scale operation using as much electricity as a small town. More details can be found in this nice Wikipedia article.

Data center standards

There are a few de jure standards however as with most technologies, the de facto standards imposed by major DC vendors are becoming the trend. An article posted at Data Center Knowledge website analyzes the most recent Data Center standards and which ones to comply with depending on each data center provider requirements and goals.

Data center certifications

The marketis yet not fixed however most major software and hardware vendors are updating their traditional certification programs to include the terms “data center” or “cloud” somewhere in between. One good example is the new “CCNA Data Center” and “CCNP Data Center” certifications from Cisco. Also the International Data Center Authority (IDCA) is offering a variety of Data Center certifications, which are worth exploring.

Data center news

One very good and up-to-date source of information and news on Data Centers is the Data Center Journal Magazine. You can subscribe and receive the paper or electronic version of the magazine. Also the Data Center Knowledge website provides a handful of news and latest events around Data Center technology. And last but not least, this is a handy and up-to-date data center map with data center locations around the globe.

 

Public clouds vs. private clouds vs. hybrid clouds

in on-cloud by

Types of clouds

There are many types of Clouds in the Cloud Computing era. One main distinction is among public, private and hybrid clouds. Public clouds feature multiple tenants while private clouds feature only one tenant. Hybrid clouds are combinations of both public and private clouds into one. Cloud orchestration software in coordination with Software Defined Infrastructure components are what make Cloud Computing more agile and scalable than traditional data centers.

The following Intel video compares and contrasts public, private, and hybrid clouds: the basic elements of each, the features and benefits that each delivers, and how each type meets specific business needs.

Citrix Cloud for Citrix Service Providers (CSP)

in Citrix Cloud by

Citrix Cloud services are now available to Citrix Service Provider (CSP) partners, bringing a set of new options for CSPs to deliver digital workspace solutions for their customers.

Citrix Cloud provides CSPs new options for solution deployment and delivery by offering the breadth of the Citrix portfolio “as-a-service.” Citrix Cloud is a powerful delivery platform that enables partners to address a broad range of customer types and use cases. With a diverse set of digital workspace offerings spanning across apps, desktops, networking, security, mobility and productivity, partners can provide solutions to their customers without the infrastructure, expertise, time, and resources required by traditional on-premises deployments. The “any and many” cloud approach of Citrix Cloud gives partners flexibility to run customer workload in public cloud or use existing data centers and private clouds – or a mix of both.

Citrix Cloud enables Service Provider Partners with a diverse portfolio of cloud services

The following services are made available to CSPs via the Citrix Cloud:

  1.  XenApp and XenDesktop Service
  2. NetScaler Gateway Service
  3. Content Collaboration service (Sharefile)
  4. XenMobile Service
  5. The full solution (including all above four services is called Workspace Service).

Additional services built on the Citrix Cloud especially for service providers are the following:

  1. License Usage Insights Service (LUI) for managing service provider and customer Citrix licenses.
  2. Customer Dashboard includes basic features for customer managed from the CSP perspective.
  3. Smart Tools, which include various tools for planning, migration, scalability planning, support, ticketing and monitoring/alerts.
  4. Secure browser service

Any user who is registered in Citrix Account as CSP member can utilize the Citrix Cloud as trial.

Log in at citrix.cloud.com with the same credential you’ve been using for Citrix.com – no additional sign up required.

As an individual user or customer you can register for Citrix Cloud services from https://www.citrix.com/products/citrix-cloud/try.html. Especially for the XenApp and XenDesktop service, make sure you check the service prerequisites first:

https://www.citrix.com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/guide/xenapp-and-xendesktop-service-trial-checklist.pdf

Bear in mind that for EU customers, now Citrix Cloud is ready for business in Europe as well: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/10/12/citrix-cloud-eu-region-is-now-open-for-business/

Training

Citrix offers a traiing curriculum for Service Providers in order to get up to speed with offered Citrix Cloud services for CSPs. Training modules available at: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/10/13/new-citrix-cloud-simulation-for-citrix-partners/

Sources:

XenApp/XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR lab on a single machine

in Hyper-V/XenApp/XenDesktop by

Having built a powerful Windows desktop with the following configuration, I would like to share the requirements and high level deployment process for a single machine XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR lab.

Host machine configuration: 

  1. Windows Server 2016 Standard evaluation with Hyper-V server role and management tools
  2. RAM and SSD storage will be much appreciated of course, the more the better.
  3. All virtual machines have single vNIC, minimum 2 GB RAM (Hyper-V dynamic), 2vCores CPU as well as basic 40GB dynamic Hyper-V disk. The following virtual machines pre-created based on sysprepped Windows 2016 Standard template:
    1. DC01. Includes Active Directory domain services, DNS, file server (for Citrix UPM), certificate services (for Storefront SSL certificate) and DHCP (for PVS).
    2. CTX01. Includes Citrix XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR Delivery Controller, Citrix Licenser server and Citrix Storefront 3.12. Initially a demo 30-day license can be used (included by Citrix) or a new trial license can be issued from MyCitrix account website. The Citrix server roles can be consolidated except for XenDesktop VDA.
    3. VDA01. Includes Citrix XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR VDA (session machine), which can be a server or desktop OS VDA.
    4. SCVMM01. Includes System Center Virtual  Machine Manager (for use of Citrix MCS provisioning technology)
    5. PVS01. Includes Citrix PVS server (for use of Citrix PVS provisioning technology), running also PXE and TFTP services.
    6. Master01. This used as the master image for creating PVS vdisk.
    7. (Optionally) Netscaler VPX Express can be used for evaluating HDX proxy with Netscaler Gateway.

Citrix lab high level deployment process: This is based upon guidance from Citrix CTP Carl Stalhood: http://www.carlstalhood.com/xaxd/xenappxendesktop-7-15-ltsr/ 

 

Powershell packages, repositories and GUI apps

in Powershell by

A common question which comes up around Microsoft Powershell is how to make use of the Powershell artifacts, including the following:

  1. functions
  2. snap-ins
  3. modules
  4. DSC Resources
  5. role capabilities
  6. scripts
  7. packages

In order to manage Powershell packages, the following Microsoft Powershell resource can be used as reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/packagemanagement/?view=powershell-6. The two cmdlets to run initially are the find-package and find-packageprovider cmdlets.

Also the Get-Help cmdlet should be run in order to download all script-related documentation for powershell packages.

Some of the most commonly used Powershell packages nuget, chocolatey and PowershellGet.

There are a lot of useful Powershell repositories in the public Internet. One good example is the Powershell Gallery. Setting up your own Powershell internal repository inside your organization is also easy (instead of setting up a full nuget server). Step-by-step instructions can be found at: https://kevinmarquette.github.io/2017-05-30-Powershell-your-first-PSScript-repository/ .

Now when it comes to putting all the above Powershell artifacts to work, from a practical point of view sometimes it is useful to create a GUI app without coding and at the same time wrap that GUI app into a standalone executable (.exe file) which can run on any Windows system. A solution for this can come from the combined use of the following free public services:

  1. PoshGUI. Using this service you can rapidly create the GUI elements of a Powershell script and copy the GUI-related code to further be populated with GUI control events and properties logic.
  2. PS2EXE. The output code from the PoshGUI service needs to be finalized with GUI control events and properties code as well as with additional business logic code as required. Then the final .ps1 file can be converted to .exe using this Ps2EXE service. The bundled download of PS2EXE includes a usage file with instructions on how to build an .exe from an existing .ps1 file. This service comes in two flavors:
    1. With GUI support.
    2. Without GUI support (original version).

What’s new in XenApp and XenDesktop LTSR 7.15

in XenApp/XenDesktop by

XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR is essentially a field-proven, hardened version of XenApp and XenDesktop 2017 releases, with a variety of fixes and updates based on internal testing and customer feedback. It also includes broad OS platform support from Server 2008R2 to 2016 and Windows 7 to 10. Unlike the first LTSR, which was retroactively declared, this LTSR and future LTSRs will use a dedicated version number and LTSR designation. This makes it easier to identify LTSR sites over time. However, this LTSR should be adopted by all customers including those of you who are on the Current Release path given that this 7.15 LTSR contains fixes and updates for the 7.14 CR as well.

As mentioned above, the three main focus areas for XenApp and XenDesktop are security, flexibility, and user experience. Let us now delve into the plot further by covering the key points for each below which have culminated from the past few 7.x releases into this 7.15 LTSR.

More details can be found at Citrix blog post: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/08/15/xenapp-xendesktop-7-15-ltsr-the-blockbuster-release-of-the-summer/ 

Also a great collection of articles can be found in the following Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR FAQ: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/09/07/xenapp-and-xendesktop-q3-2017-faq-from-the-whats-new-webinar/

and https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX205549

What’s Changed with this LTSR?

There are a few additional, notable updates that Citrix provides on its blog:

  • For the first time ever, Citrix Cloud will support LTSR benefits by combining the XenApp and XenDesktop Service with on-premises 7.15 LTSR VDAs.
  • The product lifecycle for all XenApp and XenDesktop Current Releases and LTSRs have been updated. Please review the latest information on the Citrix Product Lifecycle Support Policy and related pages.
  • With the retirement of Subscription Advantage, LTSR benefits are an entitlement of Customer Success Services only.

 

Citrix Receiver

in XenApp/XenDesktop by

A tedious but important task for any Citrix admin is to keep track of their customer’s Citrix Receiver client versions. You can grab the latest CR version from https://receiver.citrix.com and http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/receiver.html for all supported devices. The latest LTSR version can be found at https://www.citrix.com/downloads/citrix-receiver/windows-ltsr/ .

You can make use of Citrix Receiver Group Policy scripts for automatic mass deployment/upgrades in an Active Directory domain.

Always test before deploying in production, The known issues and fixed issues for each version of Citrix Receiver must always be checked thoroughly in the release notes section of Citrix Docs.

An exciting new feature is the auto-update feature in version 4.9. New Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.9 (LTSR) includes the Citrix Receiver updates capability, which enables updating it directly from Citrix, instead of manually downloading and installing it.

You can update to the new Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.9 (LTSR) automatically if you have installed Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.8 on your device, which has the capability to check for updates. In addition to the Citrix Receiver, you can get automatic updates to Real Time Media Engine for Skype for business (RTME) on your device, so now you can always be on the latest and greatest version of Citrix Receiver and RTME!

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