Fun with NetScaler Gateway and StoreFront

I don’t work with NetScalers on a regular basis.  I am familiar with the product and the capabilities, but prefer to leave that to NetScaler and networking engineers.  As I explained to a friend of mine once, I understand the core product, but it’s the overall networking and security landscape that I don’t have enough experience in.  It’s the same for someone to say they know Windows so they should be able to design a full virtualization environment… you need to know the full topology to be effective.

That being said, sometimes I still get my hands dirty in the NetScaler world, either because no one else is available or I am a glutton for punishment.  It seems like every time I do, I have to relearn points I had forgotten.  Some of the points raised in this post will be common sense or common knowledge, but I want to list them for my own future reference.  Who knows, they may help you too!

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I’ve been away…

Sorry for neglecting the blog lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with work since November. Running at about 150% utilized between projects and management responsibilities. Things are starting to settle down for me know, so I am hopeing to blog a bit more.

I have two things brewing that I think everyone will appreciate…
(1) XenAppAudit 2.0 is in the works. I have laid out the logic flow and have an idea of how I want it structured. It will probably still be a few months before it is ready for consumption. Sooner if I have time…
(2) Series of blog posts on DR for VDI. I’ve been doing a lot of VDI and DR planning recently, so I plan to share the knowledge…

If there is anything else you are interested in, let me know.

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Thoughts on Baselines

Establishing baselines are a critical component to long-term management of any system (IT, manufacturing, etc.)  Baselines allow you to understand your norms and help forecast your future.  I find myself constantly baselining in everyday life. When I take the kids to school, is there a more efficient or faster way?  How long should it take me to commute?  We tend to do these things without conscious thought.

One area where I am consciously and constantly measuring my baseline is when I am in the security lines at the airport… 
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Back to the Blog…

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything new.  I always thought that with more travel, I would have more downtime at nights to write.  However, I have found the inverse to be true.  By the time I get back to the hotel at night, or have time at the airports, I am so beat that I don’t have the energy to write.
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XenAppAudit v1 Now Available

I am happy to announce I have made my XenAppAudit Utility generally available on my site.  This is free to any and everyone who wants to use it.  I have been developing this on and off over the past year.
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Interview with ServerWatch

I was recently interviewed by Paul Rubens with ServerWatch.  He featured some of my comments in his article titled “VDI: The ‘Other’ Virtualization Technology” which was published on December 1, 2011. 
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Optimizing Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop on VMWare vSphere

I previously wrote a series of posts about Optimizing XenApp on VMWare.  These posts were taken from REAL WORLD experience with tuning XenApp 4.5 on Windows Server 2003 running on VMWare ESX 3.5.  Obviously, times changes and technology improves.  Also, your frame of reference changes with more deployments and more experience.

Please note: these are my own personal recommendations.  They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of GlassHouse, Citrix or VMWare.  So, some updated recommendations:
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Fun with PVS on VMWare

I was recently engaged in a project deploying PVS 5.6 SP1 in an environment running VMWare vSphere 4.1.  This was not the first such environment, but we encountered some interesting issues.  I figured if this helps someone else out there, I am happy to share.

What made this environment different is they had an automated/scripted build process, as opposed to templates.  So the XenApp Master Image was created with a script, which used a VMXNET3 network driver.  Citrix recommends using the E1000 driver due to known issues with the VMXNET3 driver when using PVS.

So, we added a second network card (e1000), then removed the VMXNET3 card.  Windows was still aware that a virtual NIC had been removed, so the e1000 card was treated as a second NIC.  We installed the PVS Target software and associated to the e1000 NIC.  Everything was good, streaming was fine, HA was fine… sweet!
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VDI Planning Guide: Highly Available Desktops

My latest article “VDI Planning Guide: Highly Available Desktops” has been published at E-Commerce Times under their Expert Advice section:

A key advantage of virtualization is the ability to decouple an operating system from its hardware layer. This improves flexibility and maximizes uptime. Virtual server infrastructure commonly utilizes this flexibility to provide high availability, moving virtual servers between hosts. When planning and deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, the question you must ask is: “How do we design the desktops to be highly available?” … [read more]

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XenApp Audit Release Candidate

XenAppAudit Release Candidate available for limited preview, now available!

My pet project, XenAppAudit Utility is now available for limited preview.  It’s not perfect, but its a good start…

  • Automation Data Collection for XenApp Farms (versions 4 – 6) – leveraging MFCOM, VBSCRIPT, WMI, and POWERSHELL
  • Data Analysis using Microsoft Access
  • Summary Reports for Analysis
  • Excel Spreadsheets for Additional Summary Analysis

Taking XenApp Audit Data Collection from days down to minutes….

If you are interested in previewing/testing the app, please post a comment or email me.

UPDATE: Thanks for the interested everyone.  All testing seats are filled for now… but don’t worry, I plan to RTW in about a month…

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