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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

VMworld 2015 Recap

image VMworld 2015 is over. The US conference is done and everyone is getting ready for VMworld Europe coming in October. If you were like me and didn't attend VMworld in San Francisco but still want to know a little bit about what went down, then this post is for you. :)

Cloud Cloud Cloud. You knew it without even going but VMware has a lot to say about cloud! Whether it was VMware Cloud Air or the Site Recovery Manager Air, VMware is ready to bridge your VMs into it's cloud based hypervisors. Moving between local based hosts and the cloud based vSphere implementations is getting easier and more cost compelling (Global vMotions Anyone?). Leveraging a vCloud Air based Site Recovery Manager Air to test your disaster recovery plans is becoming a reality. Bridging private and public clouds is going to require some pretty fancy networking!

Enter the NSX. It was everywhere at VMworld. It is being positioned as the gateway to and from the clouds. Security on the NSX was a high point in most of the sessions. Security is not one of these things that should be bolt on but thought of from the very beginning. VMware promised NSX was developed with internet security in mind. I expect to run into more and more NSX implementations at client sites as vSphere 6.x is rolled out at clients.

And there was lots of vSphere 6 stuff. With the exception of missing Update Manager, the vCenter appliance is looking great. Once VMware pushes Update Manager into the appliance, I don't see myself recommending a Windows based vCenter anymore. I love what VMware is doing with their appliances.

Horizon View was on display (subtle NVIDIA pun!) as well. End user computing in general. Whether you are running View or Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp, VMware wants to be a part of the puzzle. If you are running full blown Horizon or just Citrix XA/XD, VMware thinks App Volumes and Immidio for Profiles has a place in the solution. Citrix is pushing for VMware View take-outs but I don't think it is going to be as cut and dry as it looks. I think the View solution is a solid platform and holds its own against competitors.

There were tons and tons more cool things like Project Enzo and the NVIDIA GRiD vGPU but these were the high level topics that caught my eye talking to colleagues.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Citrix and SQL always On Designs.

Image result for pros and consChris Hahn put together a quick PROs & CONs list to using SQL Always On for Citrix instead of SQL mirroring.

A lot of clients have been asking about SQL Always On with new Citrix designs.  A couple points on the PROs / CONs vs. SQL mirroring.

  • Don’t have to set mirror database configuration on clients.
  • Not applicable for Citrix yet, but Always On supports reading the DB from any node of the Availability group.  With SQL Mirroring you can only read from active node.
  • Faster failover than mirroring, if SQL nodes are in single subnet.

  • Requires Enterprise Edition which is much more expensive than the Standard edition required for Mirroring.
  • If you are failing over across sites / subnets, failover times will probably be slower than mirroring.  If the application supports the multi-subnet failover SQL connection string, then both subnet IPs register in DNS and the app attempts connection to all IPs in parallel for the fastest failover times.  Very few apps support this though, so the legacy mode is to not register all IPs in DNS, and have clustering change IP at failover.  Then you have to wait for DNS changes to propagate during a failover.  This is much slower than failover with traditional mirroring.
  • Not all applications support Always On, particularly the multi-subnet failover option.  Mirroring has been around for a long time and has much broader support.

Some additional information related to the subject can be found here:

Multi-Subnet failover connection string can be configured for XenDesktop Databases and there is a handy script to configure this -

Multi-Subnet failover option is still not supported for PVS -

SQL connection timeouts

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Document Starter: Deploying an Application / Desktop

Sometimes you just need a little help creating documents.  Just a starting point to really get the juices going and head start to get the documentation ball rolling.  Aaron Silber has a nice starter document for anyone looking to document their XenApp/XenDesktop groups.

You can download the actual Word Document here: <ShareFile Location Here>

This document will detail the steps necessary to deploy an application or desktop to users via StoreFront or the Receiver. At a high level, the process is broken down into two steps,

  • Creating a Machine Catalog, which is a collection of desktops or physical computers that are managed as a single entity.
  • Once the catalog has been created, the administrator assigns applications from the machine catalog to users via delivery groups.

In the new world of XenApp/XenDesktop v7.x, in order to publish an application, you create and add applications in the Citrix Studio and make them available to Delivery Group Users. Create Delivery Groups for specific teams, departments, or types of users. Delivery groups specify the groups of users who access desktops or applications. Users can be members of multiple delivery groups to enable various access to applications and / or desktops.

Creating a Machine Catalog

Launch the Citrix Studio Console


Select Machine Catalog


Right click and select Create Machine Catalog


Click Next


Select Windows Server OS


Click Next


Select Another service or technology


Click Next


Select the computer accounts to be part of this machine catalog.


Click Add Computers



Enter in the Computer Name


Click Next


Fill in a Machine Catalog Name and optionally a description for administrators to see.


Click Finish


End of Machine Catalog Creation

Creating Delivery Group

Click on the node called Delivery Groups


Right-Click and select Create Delivery Group


Click Next


Select a machine Catalog to be used to publish the applications to.


Increase the number of machines to the amount of machines that should be made available to this group.


Click Next


Select Desktops and applications


Click Next


Click Add users, to add in users and/or groups


Click Next


XenApp will automatically scan the server for applications and display them for easy publishing.


If you want to customize an application, click it and select the Application Properties button for more details.


Click Next


Click Next


Enter in a Group name and a Display name.


Click Finish


End of Delivery Group Creation

You should now be able to log into a StoreFront server and access the application(s) / Desktop(s) that were just configured.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

PSA: VENOM Exploit on Citrix XenServer

I’ve had some clients ask about a new exploit making it’s way around security desks lately.  It’s called VENOM and it leverages a buffer overrun scenario that has been detected in certain code used to process commands from a Virtual Floppy controller on a VM to gain unauthorized access across the entire HOST and all VMs running within it. VENOM exploits the hypervisors specifically to gain unauthorized access to additional Virtual Machines running on the host platform.


After some research, it looks as though this is primarily an issue with the QEMU floppy controller code found in some open source Hypervisors including Citrix’s XenServer. 

VMware and Hyper-V are not known to be affected by this exploit.

EDIT: As of this post, Citrix has not issued patches for XenServer but AND has opened up a KB article to track the progress of the exploit.  (

This is also a good time to discuss whether it makes sense to even have Virtual Floppy Drives on VMs.  It’s such a legacy thing and is typically a default configuration setting for new VMs.  It might be worth looking at your templates to see if there are any unnecessary devices that should be removed to avoid future exploits.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Come see Sam Jacobs talk StoreFront at Citrix Synergy!

imageIf you have had a Web Interface, Netscaler or Storefront issue and took it to the Citrix Forums, there’s a good chance Sam Jacobs (@WIGuru) has helped you sort it out!  For the second year in a row, Sam has landed a coveted spot at Citrix Synergy to share his deep knowledge on bending Citrix technologies to his will.  ;)  (BTW: Last year was standing room only for BOTH sessions so if you are going to be at Synergy, pre-register for the session to get a seat!)

Here is Sam’s official Promo announcement with all the details:

Making a Splash with Storefront – A Deep Dive!

It’s official! StoreFront is here to stay so let’s ensure StoreFront servers are production-ready through solid documentation. Documentation is essential because is allows you to:

- Clone a StoreFront server group,
- Help troubleshoot any issues with the deployment, and
- Re-create servers after a crash.

Dive deep with me during my session at Citrix Synergy, where you will see how easy it is to automagically generate awesome StoreFront documentation (in MS Word or PDF format) using the StoreFront PowerShell SDK. You will learn which PowerShell cmdlets are used to document a StoreFront server group (there are also complementary cmdlets with which you can create/modify your server group).

Plus, the techniques you will learn in this session are not limited to StoreFront! You will learn how to create an intuitive GUI for your PowerShell scripts that can modify itself based upon variables in the script. You will also learn how to add custom icons and graphics to the forms used in your scripts.

As usual, all source code for the session customizations will be made available to presentation attendees.
[Be sure to subscribe for all updates!]

So join me at Citrix Synergy for SYN417: StoreFront PowerShell documentation deep dive, on Tuesday, May 12 from 4:00-4:45 PM PST in Valencia Ballroom D. Let me show you how to produce awesome StoreFront documentation, and become more proficient in PowerShell in the process. Hope to see you there!

Sam Jacobs is IPM’s Director of Technology Development Services. With more than 25 years of IT consulting, Sam is a Citrix StoreFront, Web Interface and Netscaler customizations and integrations expert. He holds Microsoft MCSD and Citrix Netscaler certifications, is the author of IPM’s TechDev blog and is an active Citrix Forum contributor. A seasoned technical speaker, Sam integrates industry insight with real implementation experience, and has presented customizations at Synergy and BriForum.

Learn more about
IPM or the TechDev practice.
Sam can be reached at:

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