Certainly 2020 has been an interesting year we won’t forget soon, this year has caused me to do some reflection and I realized one of the things i miss doing is blogging and documenting random things that come up in my day to day job, training and tid bits I learn along the way, failures and successes. I personally find value for me in that it helps me retain the knowledge and others have shared with me in the past they found things that were valuable to them.
So what does that mean, I am going to start blogging again pretty actively. I am going to reload my lab and start from scratch and document it both in my on-prem lab and the cloud (Azure, AWS, and GCP) for various things listed further below.
My blog will probably focus on a mix of the following that come up in my day to day job in End User Computing (EUC) space, some will be detailed, some will be micro-blogs for a particular thing. Below is a list of topics that may come up but not all inclusive.
Citrix EUC solutions
VMware EUC solutions, may do some datacenter here and there too
Microsoft – WVD, Azure, M365/O365, AD, Cloud Services, SSO, MFA, FSLogix and more
Nutanix – Files, Frame
Of particular focus for me will be certification walkthroughs based on the exam guides, i have several on the list this year.
First blogs up will be around my lab and the following certs
It is now less than 30 days until Citrix Synergy 2016. This year Synergy is in Vegas from May 24-26 at the Sands Expo in the Venetian/Palazzo.
Whether this is your first, or one of many journey’s to Citrix Synergy, you should check out Neil Spelling’s Survival guide post on Citrix Synergy 2016, always filled with good tips, information, parties and more. A must read if you ask me and make sure to follow Neil on twitter.
I will be at Synergy and E2EVC (conference in Vegas immediately following Synergy) and will be sitting and hosting the Virtualization Tech Talk Tables this year. Last year I hosted the Mobility table and had many great conversations from people all over the world. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
So what are the tech talk tables..
Every day during lunch: Lunch Table Tech Chats (Sands Expo, Level 2, Sands Hall C, Solutions Expo)
Every day, lunch is served—with a tech twist—in the Solutions Expo. Lunch Table Tech Chats are grouped by technology solution, such as cloud, security or mobility management, and no reservations are required—just use your lunch break to join these informal discussions led by volunteer Citrix User Group Community (CUGC) members and Citrix Technology Professionals (CTPs), and take away new insights, not to mention a few new contacts.
Another year, another great Varrow Madness event is now in the books. This is one of the big events I look forward to every year. This annual free conference is a juggernaut and showcases some of the best solutions and technologies in the industry and is a balanced approach of showing where things are heading in the market and more immediate trends and needs. This year was held at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro North Carolina.
Varrow Madness is themed and centered around March Madness basketball tournament. North Carolina has a special connection with the tournament with the number and density of in state teams that make the sweet 16 year after year. IT folks can be very passionate about their technology but NC IT folks can also be very passionate about their basketball. When NC State won with the buzzer beater, there were some very happy people and some not so very happy people.
I am a VA Tech fan so take that for what it’s worth, Let’s go Hokies… We are not in it this year though… always next year.
After the video Varrow CEO and co-founder Jeremiah Cook took the stage to welcome everyone and provide a very touching keynote and kick off Varrow Madness to our Varrow family of customers, partners and all other attendees. It is always a treat to hear Jeremiah speak and reminds me every time on why I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.
There were over 45 individual breakout sessions in one day with a fantastic lineup of Varrow and special guest speakers so it is really hard to choose what to attend. As it is a one day only event, none of the sessions are repeated. With topics from traditional datacenter, software defined networking from both NSX and ACI, Cloud technologies, Mobility, End User Computing (EUC), Security and DevOps we had it all. There really is something for everyone at this event.
So what did I do at Varrow Madness, glad you asked…
Breakout #1 EUC Layering – Comparing and Contrasting the Options by Varrow Architect Earl Gay
About Earl: (Give him a follow on twitter He will make you laugh and learn). Earl also delivers great information on his blog as well.
About the session: Layering technologies can help ease application management for both physical and virtual desktops. There are many different technologies that fall under the layering umbrella, even though many of them work in dramatically different ways. In this session, we will discuss the options available from different vendors.
This technical session was packed with great information around the current players delivering layering technologies in the market today.
Also don’t fret if you couldn’t make Varrow Madness. Earl will giving the EUC Layering Smackdown at Briforum Denver this July 20th – 22nd, don’t miss it.
Breakout #2 Automate your life with PowerCLI 6.0 by Alan Renouf
About Alan: Alan Renouf is a Product Manager at VMware focusing on Automation Frameworks and CLI, he is responsible for providing the architects and operators of the cloud infrastructure with the toolkits/frameworks and command-line interfaces they require to build a fully automated software-defined datacenter. Alan is a frequent blogger at http://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI and has a personal blog at http://virtu-al.net. You can follow Alan on twitter as @alanrenouf.
Attend this session to find out why PowerCLI 6.0 is the best way to automate your life, remove those common unwanted tasks, manage your environment from vSphere to vCloud and even improve your love life! Find out how PowerCLI can automate the latest vSphere 6.0 features and make you a superhero.
This was a great session packed with information, PowerCLI 6.0 is a great release with a ton of new enhancements, enhancements that enable other products like VSAN, vCloud Air, module based approach that could enable faster development of PowerCLI enhancements in the future.
For a full rundown of PowerCLI 6.0 Check out the announcement post here. I am a big fan of PowerCLI and Alan, Alan has done a lot for the community including his well known vCheck Script.
If you haven’t started with Powershell or PowerCLI, anyone can learn and use powershell and make their lives easier. Alan has also written several books about PowerCLI as well that would be excellent resources for getting started with PowerCLI. Keynote #2 Alexis Ohanian – Co-founder of Reddit and and has been involved in a number of other startups such as Hipmunk and more…
Alexis Ohanian is an American internet entrepreneur, activist and investor based in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, best known for co-founding the social news website Reddit, helping launch travel … Wikipedia
I wish i had video I could share of this keynote, but what I can share is this was a great engaging keynote, he capture the audience with his colorful keynote.. He also made me want to go eat Waffles at Waffle House, go on a binge watching Smooth McGroove videos and look at pictures of grumpy cat… I also had to go play a game of Scorched Earth for old times sake.
This is not the actual video from our event but a TED Talk
After the keynote, I got to meet Alexis for a few minutes. This guy is awesome, I am now a fan. On Slack we were talking about how much Alexis reminded us of one of our own Varrowites, AJ Kuftic. In fact they were talking together, I even think there is even a resemblance between the two…
If you are not using Slack for internal communications, you should be. Slack was also given a big shout-out during the DevOps Toolkit session I attended next.
BreakOut #3 The DevOps Toolkit – Jonas Rosland, EMC – aka @virtualswede
Jonas works for EMC Code – perhaps a lesser known division within EMC that focuses on Open source tools and development to help the community and EMC. Check out their Github page.
“CODE OPEN, DEPLOY EVERYWHERE” – EMC believes in open source. CODE is here to share and collaborate with developers worldwide.
Business opportunities change all the time, and every business opportunity is now an IT project. In this session, you’ll learn about the toolkit that IT needs to understand to better survive in this more rapid and fluid world of IT/Business intersection. Learn about Automation, Continuous Deployments, working with Public Clouds and other tools/techniques to deal with projects that need to move at the speed of business.
This was another fabulous session and really got me thinking about DevOps, this is something that has crossed my mind from time to time. As someone who has dabbled in development of things from scripts and automation, this session hit a spark for me to really start digging further in DevOps and how this can help enable business and IT, both internally and more importantly for our customers.
BreakOut #4 and final session for me. Last but not least and saving the best for last.
The last session of the day for me was the “Mobility Panel”
The panel consisted of an all star team of Varrow engineers and the scary thing is this just a bit of the depth that Varrow has in this technology.
Jim Ryland – Just about every Citrix certification you can imagine – extremely smart and talented
And me… let’s move along
This is an open Q&A session with Varrow Mobility’s best and brightest. Are you considering VDI? Wondering how to reign in those mobile devices? Curious what your peers are doing in the end user computing space? Bring your questions and get a chance to ask Varrow’s Mobility experts.
This session was great, lots of questions about End User Computing and mobility trends with everything from Desktops as a Service (DaaS) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Enterprise Mobility Management questions that cover products like Airwatch, XenMobile, application management technologies like layering and much much more. We could have easily went another hour with questions. What I did not get to do: I missed a number of great breakout sessions from a lot of great guest speakers like Scott Lowe (VMware), Chris Colotti (VMware, VCDX), Brian Gracely (ECM Code), Sean Cummins (EMC VMAX), Andy Gossett (Varrow CCIE), Rawlingson Rivera (VMware, aka Captain VSAN), Mike Foley (VMware Security), Nelson Estevez (Citrix Netscaler), Geremy Meyers (Citrix) Art Harris (Varrow Citrix), Sarath Velagaleti (Varrow Citrix), Josh Coen (Varrow VCDX), & Jason Nash (Varrow CTO, Dual VCDX-NV & DCV) & Many more
I do wish the sessions were recorded, maybe one day.
Event Closing The event ended with a ton of prize give sways and a Thank you to all attendees of the event. After all the many prizes were handed out, there was one last piece of business to attend to and that would be the St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour.
Invitation for Next Year. Next year Varrow Madness will be held in Charlotte North Carolina at the Westin – Stay Tuned as we get closer to the event. Come join us next year, you won’t be disappointed.
I drive… a lot and one of my favorite things to do when driving is listen to training and podcasts. There are a lot of good podcasts out there and I decided to post some of them that I listen to and ask what podcasts you listen to…
I am only going to list the ones that are technology related for me, mostly focused on VMware, Citrix and end user computing (EUC). I have broken them up into groups below. I also encourage you to join live when you can, sometimes the best moments are after the recordings stop 🙂
Size Matters is a podcast focused on enabling small business IT pro’s. Topics range from technology deep dives to more business focused topics to help IT people not only become more proficient with technology, but in support the organization.
Ted Talks – Lots of great things to listen to – not specifically a Tech related but a wealth of great topics to listen to
EUC – End User Computing
The End User Computing Podcast (www.eucpodcast.com) is a community driven podcast for IT Professionals. The content covered on the EUC Podcast is primarily geared toward community support and enablement for application, desktop, and server virtualization technologies
Eric gets a lot of emails from his blog visitors and customers of his training. Many of the questions are being repeated time after time. So, Eric decided to dedicate an entire podcast show to answering your questions instead! Each episode is only 5-8 minutes
I have long been a fan of IRC and in particular the channel CitrixIRC. CitrixIRC is a community driven real time support channel which exists on the Freenode IRC server. YES… IRC is still around, and not just used for world domination! Freenode is actually the home of hundreds of technical IT channels. Wither it’s technical question, shooting the breeze, or just looking for some career advice CitrixIRC is the place to be. From Netscaler, Cloudbridge, XenMobile to XenApp & XenDesktop this group has you covered.
On Monday March 9th 2015 at 11:00 AM CitrixIRC will be hosting the first of hopefully many webinars by CitrixIRC participants who range the gamut from customers supporting small and large environments, consultants, service providers, Citrix employees as well as even a handful of Citrix CTPs. I have seen many many issues resolved live over the chat channel faster than support will even answer the phone. IRC is not dead so come join the channel with us and get help and give back to the community.
From the blog post on the first webinar
Webinars topics will consist of debates, How To’s, tips from the field, and open discussions to name a few. The goal with the community driven focus is to have these conversations open up to the community, allowing everyone to learn from each others experiences. Panelists and presenters will consist of various industry professionals from the community and will constantly be switched up to always ensure new and exciting content. Real time chat options during the webinar will be either audio, or chat using the CitrixIRC WebChat client . This is a first run, if we get some good feedback we’ll look to host these on a regular basis. We forward to your feedback and contributions!
I am not saying this is a requirement today for every use case or workload but I think in some ways it will be standard. Recently a conversation on twitter from a few folks I highly respect instigated this thought exercise. Today vGPU isn’t even a capability with vSphere (though it is coming) though vSphere does have vDGA and vSGA for graphics acceleration. XenServer has had vGPU since 2013 where it was announced as a tech preview with 6.2 but let’s take it back a step on what vGPU is first, and then I will present my irrational thoughts on the matter.
First off lets start at the beginning…
So what is vGPU – From NVIDIA’s web page
NVIDIA GRID™ vGPU™ brings the full benefit of NVIDIA hardware-accelerated graphics to virtualized solutions. This technology provides exceptional graphics performance for virtual desktops equivalent to local PCs when sharing a GPU among multiple users.
GRID vGPU is the industry’s most advanced technology for sharing true GPU hardware acceleration between multiple virtual desktops—without compromising the graphics experience. Application features and compatibility are exactly the same as they would be at the desk.
With GRID vGPU technology, the graphics commands of each virtual machine are passed directly to the GPU, without translation by the hypervisor. This allows the GPU hardware to be time-sliced to deliver the ultimate in shared virtualized graphics performance
So to break that down…
NVIDIA came up with some really cool graphics cards that you could split up the graphical ability of the card to multiple virtual machines directly which greatly improves the performance. The NVIDIA Grid K1 and K2 cards designed for just this purpose.
Example of what vGPU can do..
Gunnar Berger (CTO of @Citrix Desktops and Applications Group did a great video on Youtube when he was an analyst with Gartner on comparing vSGA and vGPU. I highly recommend checking out other videos he has posted as well on this and other subjects.
So back to the original topic at hand..
Oone only needs to sit and reflect on the history and evolution of desktop PCs and see that times are changing. Browsers, Microsoft Office and other programs all benefit and are accelerated by GPUs. This is not solely relegated to the likes of those working with digital images, AUTOCAD, Solidworks, MATLAB, GIS programs etc. Sure vGPU is designed to be able to handle these workloads. One might call these graphic intensive programs the last mile of desktop virtualization, i.e. workloads that were bad fits for VDI. But in my mind this is just the beginning as almost every program out there begins to take advantage of the almighty GPU.
As the desktop progresses and adds capability so must VDI to be able to even keep up. Many people strive for equal or better than desktop performance but even today’s cheapest laptops and desktops come with HD video card chipsets and share the ever increasing on board RAM. I just purchased a PC for one my many children to build him a gaming machine, he is using the on-board card for now and running games like Skyrim, Minecraft (uses more GPU than you think, go look at these FPS charts based on the video cards). Sure your typical office worker may not be playing games or maybe they are…
Software developers are NOT designing their programs to look simple any more whether it be a web app or good old installable based application. They are designing them to run fast and look great and using all of the resources at their disposal including hardware GPUs. They are not trying to design programs that only run in a virtual desktop.
How can we deliver even equal performance to the desktop they have today without giving these capabilities when even the core applications like Microsoft Office and your Browser (which many apps are now rendered in) are using hardware acceleration via your GPU. Look at products like HP Moonshot that give dedicated quad core CPU / 8 GB of RAM and an integrated Radeon GPU. The writing is on the walls, GPU in VDI is here to stay. Were just at the beginning of the curve.
So I submit that GPU is a requirement, please feel free to share your thoughts on this.
If you have been in the SBC or VDI space for any amount of time, you have heard or seen Login VSI whether in a whitepaper, reference architecture, blog, or something. If you have not heard about Login VSI you have been hiding under a rock and should start here. Login VSI is the most prevalent load testing software around for testing scalability and performance at scale.
Today Login VSI steps into the world of monitoring and alerting announcing today Login PI (formerly Login VUM). There are many different monitoring products, but rather than looking at systems-level performance or CPU, Login PI focuses on what end users actually experience, such as logon times and application start times. This product reminds me a lot of Citrix EdgeSight Active Application Monitoring but more advanced, I am not aware of another product like this today and this could compliment your existing monitoring focusing on more user centric criteria and enabling you
How it works Login PI will launch a virtual user similar to how you would use Login VSI to launch sessions to simulate workloads. Instead of launching a massive amount of sessions and giving you statistics related to that. It will launch specific sessions, and track “User Experience” metrics that you can configure alerts for if thresholds are reached. You can also run reports and watch trends to look for system degradation over time. Out of the box, Login PI measures log-on times and application launch times for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Adobe Reader. The workload can be customized to include other line of business apps for startup performance measurement. Alerts Alerts can be configured to do the following.
SNMP Trap to a 3rd party Network Management Tool such as another monitoring solution
Execute a command.
Log a Windows Event
A key goal of Login PI is to provide connectors to communicate with commonly management and monitoring tools, so it’s not another console to monitor. PI notifications can be pushed to the consoles already in use in IT today. – I really like this, as you can integrate with the tool you already use and not have to add another console to manage for day to day operations.
This is your canary in the coal mine protecting your miners before they start having issues…
The Netscaler VPX Express is a great tool to test and play with Netscalers at no cost to you. Great for home labs and even testing various things. It is pretty well featured. You can find out more about the Netscaler VPX Express here in a previous blog post where I touch on benefits and limitations. I have been asked several times for a How-to on deploying the Netscaler VPX Express, I will do further posts on basic Netscaler setup and features in future posts.
Here are the basic steps for getting the Netscaler VPX Express up and running.
Download the NetScaler VPX virtual appliance package using the link below. Packages are available for both XenServer and VMware.
Import NetScaler VPX Express onto the virtualized server of your choice.
If you don’t currently have XenServer, download a free version of XenServer.
If you don’t currently have VMware ESX, evaluation versions can be downloaded from vmware.com.
Get and activate your free NetScaler VPX Express license via the get license link below.
Please note you will need to get your license after you deploy the VPX to get information from the virtual machine to license it properly.
Want more than one license? just click get license again.
Toward the bottom of the page is a License section -> Expand selection by clicking + sign and click Get License
Click “Yes I accept” to accept the End-User License Agreement
Click the green link under Serial Number in the area I have blacked out in the screenshot below.
Click continue on Host Name Warning
Click in the field Host ID and enter the MAC address of the VPX. You can find this in VMware in the network adapter properties in the Edit Settings option of the VM.
Click Continue and you should go to the Next step.
Click OK to go the license download page.
Click Download to download the license.
Return to your browser window with the Netscaler VPX – On the licensing selection, select Upload license file from the local computer
Browse and locate the license file downloaded from MyCitrix
If applied successfully, you should see the below screen. Reboot the appliance
Log back into the Netscaler and verify the licenses in the Licensing section. It should appear as below (I have seen this take two reboots). If it does not come back successfully and shows all Xs, please check to make sure the MAC matches the Host ID you entered earlier.
Congratulations you have successfully completed deploying the VPX Express.
There is a lot of news and chatter going on around right now about the OpenSSL vulnerability Heartbleed. This is a critical issue. as documented here. So what is Heartbleed and what makes it so dangerous.
The (1) TLS and (2) DTLS implementations in OpenSSL 1.0.1 before 1.0.1g do not properly handle Heartbeat Extension packets, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information from process memory via crafted packets that trigger a buffer over-read, as demonstrated by reading private keys, related to d1_both.c and t1_lib.c, aka the Heartbleed bug.
This is a very wide reaching issue and considered critical. Patching OpenSSL or products alone will not be enough to solve the issue. Your certificates would have to either be regenerated or rekeyed and depending on how your programs interact this may require additional work for programs that connect to each other such as XenDesktop connecting to a vSphere instance as it imports the certificate for trust so if you update vSphere certificate you also need to import your new vCenter certificate into XenDesktop.
Citrix has released a Security Advisory detailing the products affected by Heartbleed. Other vendors are also coming out with articles detailing their products affected such as VMwareEMC and Cisco. Per the Security Advisory released from Citrix most of the products that Citrix has in its portfolio are unaffected but check the article to confirm and they are still researching some of their products.
Many Citrix environments run on VMware vSphere and some versions such as vSphere 5.5 are affected by Heartbleed. XenDesktop (any version) as well as XenApp 7.x and higher are dependent on the certificate that vCenter uses. If you resolve the issue and regenerate the certificate for your vCenter, you will need to import the certificate into XenDesktop following these instructions again that were completed on the initial setup.
My general advice is to find and document the items in your environment that are affected and map out any dependencies and create an attack plan to resolve these as this is a major compromise in your security. If you aren’t sure of what those may be, reach out to your partners who may have detailed information on what to look for.
Citrix has recently released XenDesktop and XenApp 7.5. This page was created to mainly link content directly related to this latest release. As this post has grown, it will be adding some relavent 7.x content as well that may still apply to the 7.5 release. The purpose of this post is an easy referance or jump point to some of the content released officially from Citrix and the greater Citrix community including CTPs, bloggers and analysts. Most of the posts linked below will be of a technical nature.
I will be updating this page regularly and if you find an article worth adding. Please let me know by commenting or messaging me. All comments are welcome.
XenMobile Promotion!Finally, as a promotion to XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5, Platinum edition customers of these products will be entitled to XenMobile MDM at 100% discount (free) or 20% discount towards purchase of XenMobile Enterprise.