Configure Azure Quick Deploy and Workspace Site Aggregation for Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service – Virtual Apps and Desktops deployments in Microsoft Azure and On-Premises Resource Locations


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I’m currently still buzzing after last week Citrix Synergy, which was by far the most impressive Synergy in my opinion. Gave a well appreciated Break-Out session together with George Kuruvilla on Citrix Cloud Best practices on different Clouds, and we had a completely packed room! Next, to that, I’ve seen many significant improvements and new product releases as new inspiration to blog – beginning with this article. 

“focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”Steve Jobs

The latest improvement on the XenApp and XenDesktop Service (or now also called Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops) is Azure Quick Deploy. This new option provides a more straightforward interface that offers faster deployment of Virtual Desktops and Apps in Azure Infrastructure-As-a-Service. This deployment method offers basic configuration, without advanced features. Therefore, you still need to use the Citrix Studio / Full Configuration console.

The process of deploying resources in Azure was only possible through a Published Studio console in the Citrix Cloud. This improvement aligns with the setup procedure of XenApp Essentials, which is also available for Azure deployments only, but then directly from the Azure Marketplace.  

Furthermore, Citrix also released Citrix Workspace Aggregation, the feature which connects the Citrix Workspace to on-premises resource locations, such as XenApp 6.5 and 7.x – all through the same pane of glass – whether your desktops and apps exists in the Cloud or on-premises! More on this specific topic later on in this article.

See the Cloud Workspace architecture with the Workspace Aggregation feature activated, including XenApp 6.5 to leverage the same user experience!

In this article, I’ll show you how easy you can deploy Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop – Virtual Apps and Desktops within Microsoft Azure by using the new Azure Quick Deploy feature and an extra I’ve also included the new Workspace Aggregation feature! As extra, I’ve included a Demo video at the end of this blog, where you can see how Workspace Aggregation works!

Enjoy reading!

Table of Contents

Click on the title to forwarded in the article:

More on Digital Workspaces in Azure?

This blog is part of a Citrix Cloud blog series about the different Citrix Cloud Digital Workspaces possibilities. Previous articles that I wrote about the Citrix Cloud, that you might find interesting to read as well:

Did you know?

  • You cannot use Azure Quick Deploy to deploy desktop OS machines.
  • It’s only available when using Azure Resource Manager as your host. It is not available with any other host types.
  • If you have separate user and resources forests in Active Directory, you must have Cloud Connectors installed in each forest before you add your on-premises Site.
  • Azure Quick Deploy is available only in the XenApp and XenDesktop Service and the XenApp Service. It is not offered in the XenDesktop Service and XenDesktop Essentials.
  • It uses different terminology compare to Studio: you create a catalog. In Full Configuration (Studio), you create a machine catalog.
  • During the process of adding your Site to Workspace, you can specify if you want to provide internal or external access to the resources you make available to users through Workspace.
  • After the Azure Quick Deploy automated procedure – a Delivery Group named – AzureQuickDeploy will be created in the Citrix Cloud Studio, with the status – Managed by Citrix Cloud
  • Ensure that port 2513 on the XenApp server is accessible from the Cloud Connector machines in your environment. During the discovery process, the Cloud Connectors contact the Citrix XenApp Remoting Service on the XenApp server you specify. This service listens on port 2513. If this port is blocked, Citrix Cloud can’t discover your deployment.
  • It automatically creates server VMs and installs two Cloud Connectors in your resource location. In the Studio / Full Configuration, these are separate steps you must complete before creating a catalog.
  • It does not use Delivery Groups. In Azure Quick Deploy, you configure all the deployment items in the catalog: the catalog, machines, applications, desktops, and subscribers. (A Delivery Group is automatically created for each Azure Quick Deploy catalog (using the same name as the catalog), but that action occurs behind the scenes. There is no required customer administrator action.) 
  • The Azure Quick Deploy interface has a different layout and style. There is more on-screen guidance.
  • You must be a full administrator to see both deployment options. If you are not a full admin, you won’t see the Azure Quick Deploy option, and will automatically use Full Configuration.

Important noteYou can also use Studio to edit a catalog deployed with Azure Quick Deploy. However, if you use Studio to change that catalog or its corresponding Delivery Group, you will no longer be able to edit that catalog from the Azure Quick Deploy interface (Manage > Catalogs).

Source: https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/service/install-configure/azure-quick-deploy.html

VDILIKEAPRO Survey on Cloud Workspaces

I see Azure as the way to go for future Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop deployments. Our Community friends from VDILIKEAPRO, Mark Plettenberg and Ruben Spruijt did another excellent community survey, which is quite interesting. You see a small difference between the Netherlands and USA results as well, let’s see if we – Dutch fellows – can change this number next year!

All the other survey results will be posted online very soon, so keep tracking the VDILIKEAPRO website and socials. 

Feature Comparison sheet

The following sheet shows which features are available through the new simplified Azure Quick deploy service and which aren’t. Do it yourself Studio(Full Configuration) means that you’ll need to use the old fashion Studio for that, which means no automation – all by yourself!

Azure Quick Deploy process diagram

The following menu shows all the automation steps, which are part of the Azure Quick Deploy Process. The deployment of the Desktop Machines will take place through Machine Creation Services in Azure. Before this process, 2 Citrix Cloud Connectors will be deployed in one Availability Group to provide an HA connection from the Citrix Cloud to Azure.

Citrix Workspace Aggregation for on-premises Virtual Apps and Desktops, including XenApp 6.5 and Citrix 7.x support

Citrix Workspace now includes probably the most requested feature, support for on-premises XenApp 6.5 and XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x or higher. The unified – single pane of glass – portal, which can be used to access all your desktops apps, and SaaS apps, whether they’re active in the Cloud or on-premises – will support older XenApp environments to leverage the transformation to the Cloud. Published apps and desktops all started from the same portal, and users would love this new approach instead of switching between all the different websites and consoles with a Single-Sign-On (SSO) experience. From a Cloud transformation/migration perspective, this makes it a lot easier for the users to adopt a new workplace in the Cloud!

Note: The Aggregation feature requires a Citrix Cloud Connector on-premises in the same network location as the Data collectors. It typically works the same as placing a Citrix Cloud connector in a resource location of Azure for example. The feature is currently only available in Tech Preview and currently does not support Azure Active Directory.

I’ll recommend you to watch the following – SYN240: XenApp and XenDesktop Service: how to migrate– Synergy Breakout session to know all ins and outs on an architectural perspective.

 License usage in Citrix Cloud

Another excellent feature improvement is the new license usage menu, which you’ll find in the hamburger menu of Citrix Cloud. Before this, there was no possibility to manage Citrix Cloud user licenses from the Studio.

Deploy the Master Image Virtual Machine in Azure

Before we start, please keep in mind that you cannot switch back to Azure Quick Deploy when you open the configuration items, catalogs and delivery groups in the Citrix Studio – Full Configuration. You’ll get a warning before, so make your decision wisely!

 Note: The Citrix Cloud connectors will automatically be deployed during the Azure Quick Deploy automation process.

 The first step will be the deployment of the master VM in Azure.

Choose for a Windows Server 2016 Operating System in the Azure Marketplace. I don’t go (again) through all these steps, if you are not familiar with the process, please check one of my previous blog articles, such as this article one around deploying Windows 10 in Azure. These are the same steps as for Server 2016, just choose for Server 2016 from the Azure Marketplace.

Login to the Citrix Cloud 

Go to https://xenapp.cloud.com/ 

Log in with your Citrix Cloud credentials 

Click on XenApp and XenDesktop ServiceManage

Start Azure Quick Deploy 

Click on ManageAzure Quick Deploy

   

Create a Catalog 

Click on Create a Catalog

 

Note: If you already have instances running through XenApp and XenDesktop Service – through Studio / Full Configuration, then they’re listed in the same Catalogs screen below.

 Enter a name for your Catalog, Click on Save 

Click on Link an Azure Subscription

 

Enter the Administrator credentials

 

And password as well

 

Approve the request

 

Background insights: The following user will be created on the Azure subscription to provide the deployment of the machines and to perform the Power Management of the Virtual Machines.

 Select the correct subscription

 

Link your Azure subscription

 Select the subscription, choose your Resource Group, Virtual Network and subnet – to place your Workers in.

 Click Save

Join the local domain

 

Enter the Active Directory information.

 Note: Make sure to enter a service account with proper rights to provide the domain join within Active Directory!

 

Connect to a resource location

 The Connection to the resource location, which takes places through the Citrix Cloud connectors is now

If there are no Citrix Cloud connectors, you’ll get prompted for a new Resource Location name. When you start the deployment, two Citrix Cloud connectors will automatically be placed in Azure.

Click on Save

 

 

Choose the master image

Choose for the option – import a new image.

 Note: If you already performed these actions, you can also choose to link an existing image.

 

 

Open the Disk / click on the Disk

Remember the VHD URI location for the next steps

 

 Select the location of the Base image and give in a name. Click on Save

 Note: Make sure to unselect this checkbox, Azure Managed Disks are a Hugh performance improvement to the performance and maintenance process.

You have much lower limitations active and also optimizations on performance for your environment. See them all below.

  • Faster provisioning time
  • Scalable elastic storage / dynamically expandable storage
  • No IOPS limitations anymore

Note: N-Series are also supported! Which are Nvidia graphical vGPU Virtual Machines in Azure for High User Experience / Performance. Check out this blog article for more information.

 

 

If you choose custom sizings, choose them wisely. See the graphics below to make this decision a bit easier. These are LoginVSI measurement results of Citrix from one year ago.

Configure Smart Scale – Capacity

Choose your sizing’s

Activate Smart Scale if you want to save money on Virtual Machine resource costs. Within this option, you can downscale the Virtual Desktop and Apps environment after working hours, which saves resources costs.

Click on Save

Note: If you want to save more money for Azure, I advise you to take a look at Reserved Instances. With this typically new service, you can reserve resource for 1 or 3 years, which can save up to 50% on resource costs! See this Microsoft Docs page for more info!

 

Click on – Start Deployment – to start the Automated enrolment process!

The deployment is started… 

 

Background insights: The Citrix Cloud connectors are currently deployed in Azure under the machine name Edge1 and Edge2. Within the same Availability Set – including 1 fault and update domain!

Process status… 

 Master image is being created…

When the process is finished, you’ll see the following machines running

 

The deployment process is finished

Publish Virtual Apps

Click on Publish Apps

 

Select the Apps that you want to Publish to the Citrix Workspace

 

 Check if all the Apps are listed

 

Publish Virtual Desktops

Click on PublishDesktop – give in a Desktop Name

 Click on PublishDesktop 

Wait some seconds… The Desktop will be added to the list…

 Click on the cross to close the screen

 

Assign Apps and Desktops to Groups and Users

Click on the previous screen on + Manage App Subscribers

Select the Groups

 

 Close the screen

 Click on +Manage Desktop Subscribers to assign groups/users to the Publish Desktop

 

Search for a Group and/or Users

 Close the screen afterwards

 

 Copy / remember the Workspace URL to test the Virtual Apps and Desktops later on

  

Set up profile management in Azure subscription

Click on More Settings

 

Provide a UNC network file share path to save the Citrix UPM Profiles – the configuration is all set during the creation of the machines and can’t be changed.

Specify the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) License Server

Give in the RDS Licensing FQDN of the server to use your own server RDS CAL’s

 

Citrix Workspace Aggregation configuration

Switch to the Workspace Configuration menu

 

Click on Sites (Tech Preview)

Click on Add Site 

Select the on-premises XenApp 6.5 version

 Click on – Add new Resource Location – to add the on-premises site

 

 Give in a random name, such as on-premises

 

Download the Citrix Cloud Connector software and install it on a server in your on-premises network. This can also be on the Data Collector for example.

 

 Click on Download Connector

 

 Run the cwcconnector.exe on the server

 

 Click on Sign In

 

 Enter in your Citrix Cloud credentials, click on Sign In

 Select the on-premises Resource

 

The installation process will start directly

Note: Troubles with the connection? Please check out this troubleshoot article.

The installation is successfully finished

Switchback to the Workspace Configuration Menu in Citrix Cloud

Select the on-premises Resource Location – which now has 1 connector installed

Enter in the FQDN and port of the XenApp 6.5 Datacollector or Desktop Delivery Controller if you have an on-premises 7.x version.

Click on Discover to test the connection

Note: For XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x Sites, Citrix Cloud automatically discovers the XML server port.

Enter the Administrator credentials of the Citrix site / farm

Note: Discovery might take a few minutes to complete, depending on the type and size of the Site

And yes! The XenApp 6.5 has been found! Click on Continue

Click on Continue

Note: This is only a check if you only use one Active Directory domain – or multiple – no further action are needed.

Choose your external Connectivity – I’m using the NetScaler Gateway Service for that, therefore an Existing NetScaler in Azure Infrastructure-As-a-Service is also possible.

Accept the terms and click on Continue

 

We’re done with the Site Aggregation setup – Click on Save and Finish

Test the Citrix Workspace Site Aggregation – see it yourself demo

See how Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service and an on-premises XenApp 6.5 environment all come together in the Citrix Workspace!

And as always, I hope this helps.

Cheers,

Christiaan Brinkhoff

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Christiaan Brinkhoff

Christiaan Brinkhoff

Christiaan Brinkhoff works as a Cloud Architect and Evangelist, and own his own consulting firm, Brinkhoff ICT Consulting. Where he focuses mainly on Public Cloud infrastructures and End-User Computing environments for the larger multinational enterprise customers. He designs and provide complex migrations, helps customers with the Digital Transformation, advises on Cloud strategies, writes business continuity plans, strategies, and realizes on-premises and cloud-based environments. When he wants to get something done, he keeps going until he reaches his goal. He is very resourceful in finding solutions for challenges that seem impossible at first.

In addition to his work, he also shares his knowledge by speaking at large international conferences, such as Citrix Synergy, E2E - PubForum, local user groups (Dutch, Irish and Denmark User Group), and provides webinars and writes articles for IT vendors, as well as his website, christiaanbrinkhoff.com - to share his passion for Cloud innovation. This community-related work got him the privilege to achieve the following three vendor awards, such as Microsoft Valuable Professional (MVP) for Microsoft Azure, Citrix Technology Professional (CTP), and VMware vExpert.
Christiaan Brinkhoff