Citrix Cloud Hybrid

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Configure a hybrid NetScaler Management and Analytics Service(MAS) environment in Citrix Cloud to manage NetScalers located on-premises. In this article, we will review how to configure a hybrid NetScaler Management And Analytics Service environment in Citrix Cloud to manage NetScalers located on-premises. With this setup, no need to have a local MAS infrastructure, except the.

Integrated into Lean-On´s version of the ultimate Hybrid Cloud-based infrastructure, the Application Accelerator and Citrix enables a perfect example of a combined (I)PAAS & DAAS solution. The concept has changed the fundamental way, one of Denmark’s large industrial enterprises - BWSC A/S - runs its business operation today. Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler ADC) is the most comprehensive application delivery and load balancing solution for application security, holistic visibility, and operational consistency for monolithic and microservices-based applications across hybrid multi-cloud. Hybrid customers with a VPN (such as ExpressRoute) should deploy replica Domain Controllers in Azure. It was previously described that many customers will have multiple Azure Active Directories. The key take away that affects any implementation is that the Azure Active Directory used for the application service account, can be different from the Azure Active Directory where user accounts reside.

The evolution of cloud computing has transformed all aspects of the IT landscape – how applications are deployed, how data is consumed and stored, how security is managed, and so on. A recent Forbes survey reports that in the span of 15 months, about 80% of all IT funds will be committed to cloud solutions. Cloud adoption has also started in the end-user computing (EUC) world. From Citrix’s latest financial update, we can see that Citrix Cloud accounts for over 10% of their annual revenue and is growing at over 40% year on year.

32% of organizations are using virtual desktops or virtualized applications in the cloud, while 48% are considering this in the future.

A survey by eG Innovations and DABCCCitrix Troubleshooting 101: Watch Webinar »

Citrix Cloud services offer a simple, fast, and flexible way of delivering digital workspaces. These are rendered as hybrid cloud services where Citrix provides cloud-based management while customers decide where workloads are located. In the hybrid deployment model, Citrix implements and manages the Citrix Delivery Controller, StoreFront, ADC Gateway, SQL Server, License Server, etc. This is called the Citrix Control Plane. On the other hand, the Citrix customer or service provider is required to implement the Virtual Apps and Desktop VDAs in their datacenters (or private/public cloud). The Citrix components in the datacenter are referred to as the Resource Plane. To enable connectivity between these two planes, one or more Citrix Cloud Connectors need to be installed (usually installed in pairs for HA) and managed in the resource plane.

A typical Citrix Cloud deployment

The Performance Monitoring Challenge: On-prem vs. Citrix Cloud

Monitoring the performance of Citrix Cloud services is challenging for several reasons:

  • The Citrix Cloud architecture is distributed and involves several domains of control. There may be multiple administrators responsible for elements in the Resource Plane. The Control Plane is hosted and managed by Citrix, and organizations do not have visibility into its operation and performance.
  • Some organizations may deploy the Resource Plane in a public cloud – AWS, Azure, etc. Performance of the public cloud can also affect the user experience.
  • Network connectivity between the Resource Plane and Control Plane is also important. Slowness in the inter-connecting network will affect the quality of Citrix services.
  • At the same time, end users are not aware of or interested in knowing the complexity of the Citrix Cloud architecture. They will still expect the performance of Citrix services to be on-par with that of physical apps and desktops.

Therefore, performance monitoring of Citrix Cloud is challenging, and when users complain about slowness, Citrix administrators have to be able to determine what is causing the problem – is it to do with the Citrix Resource Plane and its components, or the public cloud, or the Citrix Control Plane, or the network interconnecting the resource and control planes?

Requirements for Citrix Cloud Monitoring

From the above analysis, it is clear that the built-in tools from Citrix are not sufficient for monitoring Citrix Cloud environments effectively. Organizations deploying Citrix Cloud need to be able to:


Built-in Tools from Citrix: Do They Suffice for Citrix Cloud Monitoring?

There are several tools available for monitoring the availability and performance of Citrix Cloud services:

  • Citrix admins can check the Citrix Cloud portal – Citrix posts updates if they have known problems that are impacting their cloud services. Typically, only significant outages that are affecting many customers are reported here.
  • Citrix’s SLA for Citrix Cloud is based only on availability. So, if there are performance issues, they are mostly attended to reactively. Often customers must report issues to have them investigated.
  • As part of your Citrix Cloud subscription, you have access to Citrix Director in the cloud. This gives you insights into session usage, activity, logon times, and such. But you don’t get end-to-end insights to troubleshoot the cause of slowness – i.e., whether it is in your infrastructure, with a hypervisor or storage, with your PVS server, or with your network connectivity to the cloud, or in the cloud.
  • Finally, Citrix has just introduced Performance Analytics. This is mainly a way to easily interpret aggregate metrics collected by Citrix Director into a single metric that indicates if your users are happy or not. Analytics does not provide you any additional insights for troubleshooting performance issues. Plus, this is a paid tool that must be purchased additionally. DirectorCitrix Analytics
  • No performance SLAs: Only availability guaranteed
  • Monitoring is reactive: Issues are reported only when many customers are impacted
  • Performance issues need to be reported to Citrix support and wait for their response and resolution
  • Mainly session-level data
  • No visibility into the infrastructure and cloud-connectivity issues
  • Limited root cause diagnosis
  • Limited historical data retention (only 90 days)
  • Focuses only on some UX metrics: logon, latency, failure, reconnects
  • Aggregates data across multiple sites
  • Licensed and priced separately
  • Limited historical data retention
  • Not very helpful for troubleshooting

In summary, the built-in Citrix monitoring tools:

Definition of hybrid cloudCitrix Cloud Hybrid
  • Lack the ability to monitor user experience end to end
  • Do not provide monitoring to all the Citrix and non-Citrix tiers of the Citrix Cloud service delivery chain
  • Force organizations to use several monitoring tools to troubleshoot performance issues
  • Do not provide the analytics that organizations need to right-size, optimize and plan their Citrix Cloud deployment

eG Enterprise: Enabling Four Best Practices for Citrix Cloud Monitoring

eG Enterprise addresses the performance monitoring needs of organizations that are deploying Citrix Cloud. Using eG Enterprise organizations can:

  • Measure the user experience of virtual apps/desktop service delivery: As with any cloud service, synthetic monitoring is important as it touches every tier of the service delivery chain. eG Enterprise has built-in synthetic monitoring tools to simulate user logons, application launch and application access in virtual apps/desktop sessions. Simulations can be set up from multiple locations to understand performance from each location. At the same time, through integration with Citrix Cloud APIs and using agents deployed in the Resource Plane, eG Enterprise collects real user experience data. Every user logon to the Citrix site, every application launch and the latencies seen by every user session are tracked, so administrators can be alerted to performance anomalies in advance.
  • Deep user logon drilldowns into Citrix Cloud Delivery Controller
  • Monitor every layer and every tier of the hybrid Citrix cloud infrastructure: Once you know that there is a performance issue, the immediate next question is what is causing it. And because of the distributed nature of the Citrix Cloud environment, Citrix admins need visibility of all components of the Citrix delivery stream – from the Control Plane to the Resource Plane and the Cloud Connectors in between. With eG Enterprise, Citrix admins get a single pane of glass to monitor all aspects of the Control Plane and the Resource Plane, as well as any public cloud infrastructure used and the interconnecting network’s performance.
  • Isolate the root cause of performance problems: When you get data from all the tiers, you will need help determining where the root cause of the problem is. By understanding the dependencies between tiers — i.e. between the Virtual Apps server and the underlying virtual machine and host, between the Cloud Delivery Controller and the Cloud Connector and so on — you will be able to pinpoint the potential root cause of performance bottlenecks. Using intuitive topology maps, eG Enterprise allows administrators to visualize interdependencies easily between the Control Plane, the Cloud Connector, components in the resource plane, and the supporting on-premises/cloud infrastructure for root cause diagnosis. An automatic root-cause diagnosis engine automatically analyzes performance anomalies in each tier and uses the dependency map to determine where the root-cause of a problem lies.
  • End-to-end topology of a Citrix Cloud environment
  • Get insights for performance optimization and cloud migration: Historical insight plays a vital role in performance management. There is lot to learn from data – trends, patterns, anomalies, bottlenecks, and so on. eG Enterprise provides Citrix admins the historical reports that provide actionable insight to optimize capacity on their Virtual Apps and Virtual Desktops servers and hypervisors. Historical reports also help perform migration assessments to compare KPIs pre- and post-migration.
  • Webinar: Is Citrix Cloud Enterprise Ready? How to Prepare for Your Cloud Migration »

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    Create Azure MCS catalog to utilize HUB

    Ensure you establish the Azure host connection using Citrix Cloud’s XenApp and XenDesktop service or XD 7.12 where support for Azure HUB MCS catalog is available.

    Launch the Studio from your Citrix Cloud client portal or from Studio console for XD 7.12 and navigate to Machine Catalogs in the left hand pane. Right click Machine Catalogs and click on Create Machine Catalog to launch the machine creation wizard.

    Click Next on the Introduction page.

    On the Operating System page Select Server OS and click Next.

    Note: that HUB is available only for Windows Server OS.

    On the Machine Management page select Citrix Machine Creation Service (MCS) as the deployment technology and select the Microsoft Azure hosting resource and click Next.

    Master Image Selection – Select the master image VHD prepared using HUB image from Azure marketplace or the on-premises image uploaded to Azure.

    Storage type and License type selection – In the previous versions of XenDesktop, this page was used to select storage type, but now it is updated to select storage and license type both. When you select Yes for the license type, you are telling XenDesktop that the master image you have selected in the previous step is either HUB image from Azure marketplace or the on-premises Windows Server image with software assurance. This choice will enable the HUB for the VDAs provisioned in the Azure.

    VM instance size selection – XenDesktop will show only those VM instance sizes which are supported for the selected storage type in the previous step. Enter number of VMs you want to provision and select the VM instance size of your choice and click Next.

    Azure Write Back Cache – Write back cache is now available for Azure MCS catalogs. Refer to Configure cache for temporary data section in Citrix documentation to learn more about write back cache. Enabling write back cache is optional, so disable it by unselecting the two check boxes on this page if you don’t want write back cache.

    Network Interface Card Selection – Select network card and the associated network. Only one network interface is supported.

    Select resource location domain and enter the machine naming scheme.

    If you are using Citrix Cloud, enter the credentials for your resource location Active Directory and click Next. On the Summary page review the catalog summary. You will find the on-premises license is set to “Yes” in the catalog summary. Enter the catalog name and click Finish to start provisioning.

    Once the catalog provisioning is complete, ensure that the VDAs provisioned are utilizing Azure HUB. Check the snapshot below, the VDAs provisioned for this catalog shows the license type Windows_Server.

    Citrix Xenapp On Azure


    Citrix Cloud Hybrid Service

    • If you are using PowerShell scripts to provision MCS catalog, you need to update the CustomProperties details in your script to pass the LicenseType parameter with value Windows_Server. Check the New-ProvScheme in the PowerShell output generated by the studio when we provisioned MCS catalog using studio. The output shows the CustomProperty that you need to pass for creating HUB catalog. Once you update your script to use this custom property, you can use PowerShell script to create HUB MCS catalog.

    • New-ProvScheme -AdminAddress 'xa-controller.xenapp.local:80' -CleanOnBoot -CustomProperties '<CustomProperties xmlns=`'`' xmlns:xsi=`'`'><Property xsi:type=`'StringProperty`' Name=`'StorageAccountType`' Value=`'Standard_LRS`' /><Property xsi:type=`'StringProperty`' Name=`'LicenseType`' Value=`'Windows_Server`' /></CustomProperties>' -HostingUnitName 'ARMHu1' -IdentityPoolName 'Azure HUB Catalog' -InitialBatchSizeHint 2 -LoggingId 'bfd0936f-fe3a-4d0a-b3bb-19ca5b309131' -MasterImageVM 'XDHyp:HostingUnitsARMHu1image.folderPreFlightTesting.resourcegroupmanualvmstorage.storageaccountnewvm.containerAZ-HUB-Sr1220161221180543.vhd.vhd' -NetworkMapping @{'0'=''} -ProvisioningSchemeName 'Azure HUB Catalog' -RunAsynchronously -Scope @() -SecurityGroup @() -ServiceOffering 'XDHyp:HostingUnitsARMHu1serviceoffering.folderStandard_D2_v2.serviceoffering' -UseWriteBackCache -WriteBackCacheDiskSize 127 -WriteBackCacheMemorySize 256

    • Remember that only pre-configured HUB images from the Azure marketplace can be used as master image. If you use a Windows Server image in the Azure marketplace that is not a HUB image and prepare it as a master image to provision HUB MC catalog, the provisioning will fail with the following error.
      DesktopStudio_ErrorId : ProvisioningTaskError
      ErrorCategory : NotSpecified
      ErrorID : FailedToCreateImagePreparationVm
      TaskErrorInformation : Terminated
      InternalErrorMessage : Error: creating virtual machine failed. Exception=Microsoft.Rest.Azure.CloudException: Long running operation failed with status ‘Failed’.

    • To confirm whether the above failure is really due to the HUB image issue, you can try to deploy a VM using PowerShell in Azure using the same master image VHD. You will notice the VM deployment failure with the following error.
      New-AzureRmVM : Long running operation failed with status ‘Failed’.
      ErrorCode: InternalDiskManagementError
      ErrorMessage: An internal disk management error occurred.

    • Azure hybrid use benefit can only be used for Windows Server OS, it is not supported for the Windows Desktop OS.

    • If you deploy MCS catalog using the HUB image and Yes for the license type on the Storage and License Types page but when updating the catalog if your update image is non HUB Azure marketplace image, the catalog update will fail during the image preparation process. So make sure you prepare your update image as HUB image.

    • If you deploy MCS catalog using the non HUB image and No for the license type on the Storage and License Types page but when updating the catalog if your update image is HUB Azure marketplace image, the catalog update will be successful but the VDAs will not utilize the HUB. For VDAs to utilize the HUB, you need to deploy first MCS catalog by selecting Yes for license type.

    • If you have an existing MCS catalog created with non HUB image and No for the license type on the Storage and License Types page, it is not possible to migrate that catalog to use HUB. You need to create new catalog with HUB master image and Yes for the license type.

    • If you add machines to existing HUB catalog, the machines added will also have the license type set to Windows_Server.