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What’s so Special About a Citrix Engineer?

This past January I had the pleasure of participating in the Citrix Partner Expert Council (PTEC) that was held in Las Vegas. Over 200 partners, myself included, were able to directly communicate and give our feedback to the different Citrix Product Managers. It’s great to know that Citrix is still on top of it’s game and gets partners involved in the product development cycle.

During one of the casual events I had a pretty interesting chat with a couple of my fellow participants. One thing we all seemed to agree on was the difficulty in finding senior level talent within our field – especially senior level talent competent in both Citrix virtualization and networking practices.

For many organizations, the Citrix engineers (Citrix/VDI/RDS) are seen as responsible for the whole of the presentation layer and all of it’s related parts. Usually this ends up meaning that when a user encounters any issue from that presentation layer (applications, the network, storage, etc.), they will first look to the Citrix engineer.

In order to adapt, Citrix engineers have needed to develop other skills to prove their innocence. They’ve now had to expand their areas of expertise to encompass other layers within the environment such as networking, applications, the database, storage, directory services, and anything else related to Citrix/VDI/RDS. Although still specialized in presentation layers, most Citrix engineers end up becoming a bit of an IT generalist due to their accumulated knowledge of the layers over time.

It’s hard to train anyone to become a subject matter expert in one area, but it’s even harder to train someone as a subject matter expert in multiple areas. This is what makes it so difficult to find experienced and competent Citrix engineers.

Here at Centrinet we are an engineer-driven company. Always striving to stay on top of the most cutting edge technologies, our engineers will delivery solutions that consistently exceed client expectations. Please contact us with any questions, we’d love to help!

Part III – Updating a Pooled Desktop Image

Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

Part III

In Part II we saw how to deploy and publish a Windows 7 pooled virtual desktop. Now let’s take a look at the steps needed in making a change or update to our image and making it available to users. To recap our environment, we have a Windows 7 pooled desktop collection available to our users. This was created from our master virtual machine called Win7master. Part of the process needed when we created our collection was to run sysprep on our master image. As a good practice measure, I created a checkpoint of the virtual machine prior to running sysprep. This was done so I can easily revert the virtual machine back to a normal state prior to when I ran sys-prep. Read more

Part II – Publishing a Windows 7 Pooled Desktop

Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

Part II

Now with our RD Virtualization Host deployed as per Part I of deploying VDI for RDS 2012, we are ready to publish a Windows 7 pooled VDI desktop. This section will cover the deployment of a pooled desktop and the options available when deploying the desktop. The first thing we will need is a Windows 7 virtual machine. I’ve pre-created this machine along with some applications installed on the image. Once you are done installing applications and configuring the Windows 7 image, we will need to prepare the image for deployment. In order to do this, we will need to run Sysprep with the following options. Read more

Part I – Deploying VDI for RDS 2012 / 2012R2

Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

In previous articles, we looked at the deployment steps of a traditional form of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) for 2012 and 2012 R2. Now let’s take a look at the setup of VDI for a 2012 RDS farm. This will be broken down into three parts. In this first part, we will go through the process of deploying the RD Virtualization Host role to a single Hyper-V server in an existing 2012 RDS farm. Then in the second part, we will go through the process of creating a desktop collection and publishing a Windows 7 pooled VDI desktop. Finally in part three, we will go through the process of maintaining a desktop image for a pooled desktop. This portion will cover the maintenance and updating of the main image in a pooled VDI desktop environment.

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Configuring the RD Gateway Server for a 2012 RDS farm with HA enabled for the RD Connection Brokers

Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

In a previous article, we demonstrated the steps needed to configure HA for the RD Connection Broker servers in an RDS 2012 farm. If you are using an RD Gateway server for a farm where HA is configured for the brokers, there are a few steps you will need to do in order for users to be able to successfully connect through the RD Gateway server(s).

When a user connects through the RD Gateway server, the gateway server will initially connect the user to one of the RD connection broker servers in order for the broker to determine what server or desktop the user will be connecting to. When HA is enabled for the farm, the gateway server will try to connect the user to the brokers using the DNS Round Robin name when HA was configured for the farm. By default, the DNS name used is not on the gateway’s allowable resource list for users to connect to. So for any user trying to connect to the farm through the RD Gateway, their access will be denied. To get around this, we will simply need to add a new resource authorization policy which will allow users to access resources through the gateway server using the designated DNS round robin name.

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Configuring HA for the Remote Desktop Connection Broker in a 2012 RDS Farm

Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

One of the biggest issues with Remote Desktop Services on Windows 2008 R2 was the limitation of only having a single active RD Connection Broker server per RDS farm. Yes, you still could have multiple broker servers, however they would run in an Active/Passive mode. This was a major problem since it would limit the size of the farm. The more servers, resources, and users added to the farm put a strain on the single active RD broker server. In most cases, you would have to create multiple RDS farms to get around this problem. This has changed with RDS for 2012. You can now have multiple active brokers in a single RDS farm.

As per Microsoft, the RD Connection Broker provides the following functionality: Read more

Deploying the RD Gateway Service Role in a 2012 / 2012 R2 RDS Farm

Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

For any RDS farm, there is a very good chance users will be accessing the farm from a remote location outside of the corporate network. When doing so, it is critical to secure their connection, especially when corporate data is being accessed. In order to secure a user’s connection into a RDS farm, a RD Gateway server will be required. The RD Gateway enables authorized remote users to connect to resources in an internal corporate or private network, from any Internet-connected device that can run the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client. The network resources can be RD Session Host servers, RD Session Host servers running RemoteApp programs, or computers with Remote Desktop enabled.

The following will cover the steps needed in deploying a RD Gateway Server into a 2012 / 2012R2 RDS farm. Before deploying the RD Gateway Server, the RDS farm should already be built and configured. Please check out the following for more information on deploying a 2012 / 2012R2 Remote Desktop Services (RDS) farm. Read more