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Céad Mile Fáilte…

That’s Irish for welcome btw – Well, it actually means a hundred thousand welcomes but that’s just how the Irish roll

Get to the point already I hear you say.. ok ok, just wanted to share a couple of observations on the funky new welcome screen that you get with XD5 (one of the new featuers of the new VDA v5). See below:

1. It is enabled by default but can be disabled by Group Policy if desired:

-User Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Don’t run specified Windows applications (WelcomeScreen.exe)
-WelcomeScreen.ADM (available from XD Forums)

2. You can play with it and have lots of fun…

Just browse to the %SystemRoot%\Program Files\Citrix\ICAService\Content dir on your VDA and go for it!!!

Heres one I made earlier…

Citrix Support on:
Twitter – @citrixsupport & @citrixreadiness

  If you are considering VDI or any kind of Desktop Virtualization solution, chances are you have heard about HDX, ICA, RDP, PCoIP, VNC, etc etc.  Perhaps however you have not had a chance to use HDX first hand or at your location. Or you may be a solution provider, reseller, consultant or knowledgeable IT Pro that knows the benefits of HDX and ICA over the alternatives but have not been able to demonstrate it easily to others.
It is now possible to install and use HDX with only two LAN connected PC’s or Virtual Machines. PC to PC, PC to VM or VM to VM. If you have a test rig with a few VMs ( ESX, XenServer, Hyper-V, whatever ) just install the Host MSI in the VM and the Client Receiver MSI on any PC and you can be up and running in less than ten minutes.  It is intended for LAN evaluation but can also work over a WAN with a VPN connection. So if you have hesitated evaluating a full XenDesktop Proof of Concept and just want to kick to tires on HDX, this is your answer. An easy step up from HDX Connect is the XenDesktop Express for up to ten users. ( See everything you need for free VDI

The best way to get HDX Connect now is from your local Citrix Solution Advisor, Citrix Rep or SE ( or maybe a friendly CTP ). If you haven’t reached out in a while, this could be a good time to talk. If you are an authorized Citrix Advisor, you can find the HDX Connect Demo in the demo section of the sales kits on MyCitrix.  

Right now only Windows 7 Pro and XP Pro are supported. No Windows Home or Server editions, Mac, or tablets, however let us know if you think it makes sense for these alternatives. There is a 4 hour session limit and then a 5 minute cool off, plus ULA restrictions so keep that in mind. HDX Connect Demo is not intended for production use, however I expect many ingenious IT Pros may find interesting use cases and ask for something more so let us know what you think.     



With the XenDesktop 5 release, we introduced the new way to provision desktops – Machine Creation Services (or MCS). As Kevin explained in his introduction blog, Machine Creation Services is about more than just provisioning desktops though. MCS enables full life-cycle control of desktops.

Those of you familiar with XenDesktop know that we have an existing technology, Provisioning Services (PVS), that specialises in the same area – so why did we create MCS? We listened to the feedback of our customers and partners with experience in deploying XenDesktop 4 – and received a lot of feedback that Provisioning Services is a vital technology that brings the TCO and management benefits people expect from VDI. However, PVS is an additional component to deploy – and in some environments is overkill. MCS is designed to provide many of the benefits of PVS with a lower management cost.

Having two related technologies introduces choices – so how do you decide whether to deploy MCS or PVS with XenDesktop 5? Here’s my guidance…

Machine Creation Services is the right choice when you first want to get hands-on with VDI – it’s the quickest and easiest way to explore how VDI can change how you think about the management and delivery of desktops.

For production, Machine Creation Services is the best fit providing your deployment meets all of these criteria:

  • You are looking at a pure VDI environment
  • You intend to deploy NFS storage (for XenServer and ESX), or Clustered Shared Volumes (for Hyper-V)
  • You intend to deploy up to 2500 desktops per XenDesktop site (we’re aware of no hard limits, but our internal production environment testing is at 2500 desktops, which we will increase over time)
  • You have sufficient IOPs available on shared storage – unlike PVS, which provides a ‘RAM cache’ of disk blocks, MCS directs more read activity to the shared storage. MCS has approximately 1.6x the IOPs load of PVS.

In other environments, Provisioning Services is the right choice, especially when:

  • You are looking to deploy some Hosted Shared (RDS-based) or Streamed physical desktops
  • You need proven scale above 2500 desktops
  • Your environment is IOPs constrained
  • NFS is not an option (for XenServer and ESX)

In future, as we integrate IntelliCache (which will be the subject of a future blog in this series) and make further improvements, expect to see the range of use-cases for Machine Creation Services increase. For more information on MCS, see the Kevin’s introduction blog.

[Edited: 18 Feb 2011 - removed some ambiguity]

Did I just read that!

On February 9th, there was an interesting press release from VMware that was brought to my attention over the weekend. After reading it, I was rather perplexed as VMware makes the following statement:

“The TCO of an SBC deployment used to deliver all applications to users is 8% to 13% lower than that of a locked and well-managed PC deployment, and up to 44 to 47% lower than that of an unmanaged desktop deployment.”

This quote is clearly referencing Gartner as the source as evidenced by the following statement in the press release:

“Research firm Gartner recently compared the TCO of personal computers versus what they term server-based computing (SBC).”

I totally agree with VMware and Gartner, these are great TCO numbers. SBC saves a ton of money for many use cases such as Task Workers. Citrix has been doing this for a long time and SBC represents the Hosted Shared desktop model that is included as part of XenDesktop.

So why was I perplexed?

Well, VMware is clearly inferring that their View platform can deliver this type of TCO. This would be great for VMware except for the fact that the world for a long time defines SBC as Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Windows Terminal Services) or Citrix XenApp and VMWare does not offer an SBC solution. VMWare only offers VDI as part of their hosted desktop offering.

Perhaps I am missing something?

Since VMware references Gartner, a very respectable industry analyst firm, as their source. I decided to look for a report I recalled from 2008 that I used as reference prior to joining Citrix. I wanted to understand if perhaps my definition of SBC was inaccurate. After a quick search I found the report available as a free download on various sites, with a direct link here. Nowhere in the report does it talk about SBC being anything else but a mature client architecture that delivers substantial TCO with the right group of users. Very much in line with the philosophy of XenDesktop that offers multiple desktop virtualization models to suit different use cases and budgets. While the numbers in this report are different from what the press release says, I do assume that the latest report referred to is an update. I don’t have Gartner’s permission to use that report or quote from it, but I am confident that if the fundamental definition of SBC was changing, somebody at Citrix would have been consulted as part of the process.

Surely something can’t be right here, so I thought let me go and check to see if there is anything in the desktop geek community that I may have missed. I checked Brian Madden’s site and even as far back as 2007 there is a very clear distinction as to what is SBC vs. VDI. I also checked on Doug Brown’s site and even there I see no obvious references to believe that VDI should be thought of as SBC. So it remains a mystery to me how such a press release could have been approved….

Integrity and ethics seem to be optional at VMware

I also came across a blog written prior to me joining Citrix which talks about the same misdirection, dating all the way back to 2009. It also references another Brian Madden blog that calls out VMware misleading TCO with their VDI solution. It seems the same tactics are in full force at VMware and nothing has changed. Wow! Am I really writing this? How can anybody trust them? This is why I guess they fudge their quarterly desktop financials by hiding VMware Workstation revenues with VDI. Certain analysts may be blind to the obvious, but clearly customers are not buying it as there would be no need for such shenanigans if View was delivering value broadly.

Do people really understand that VDI is not desktop virtualization?

What perplexes me the most is that the press release, which includes customer quotes supporting the inference has been circulating for several days and nobody else including VMware or any other vendor has raised an eyebrow that would get one to correct what obviously is misleading. Certainly, I don’t blame people for not catching it, as it’s very subtle and easy to miss if you don’t bother to read or understand what looks like a bog standard harmless press release. Perhaps that’s the underhanded tactics that VMware now has to resort to after being called out numerous times in the past….

Irrespective of solution, it hurts our industry when customers are presented with inaccurate information from the so called “experts”. That’s very different from saying it was just a marketing oversight or an honest mistake. It also does not mean that one can’t achieve a great TCO with the VDI model, but that is not the point of this post.

Is this due to a lack of understanding or is it something more sinister?

It’s certainly more than creative liberty but I’ll reserve final judgement until VMware has had an opportunity to respond. What I will however say is, it’s about time many more customers, analysts and media woke up and understood that VDI is a dangerous term that is thrown around by too many naive people who don’t understand that desktop virtualization is so much more. There are just way too many customers with use cases like Task Workers that even VMware admits can be addressed with SBC and its excellent TCO that is part of XenDesktop. VDI is not the same thing as SBC and VDI is not desktop virtualization.Desktop virtualization is a comprehensive solution that includes VDI and allows you to tailor desktop delivery to meet your enterprise users’ requirements, from task to mobile workers.

So beware and don’t be naive…

If VMware’s intent was just to point out how great SBC is as part of desktop virtualization, then I’ll say thank you for pointing out what VMWare View doesn’t provide this functionality and therefore results in a higher TCO than XenDesktop. If this is anything else, well at least on this Valentines Day VMware can send flowers to all those customers who may be just a tad miffed.

PR response from VMware and my counter

VMware updates press release with quote removed. Guess we can move on.

While I’ve blogged on the mechanics of upgrading from UPM 2.x to UPM 3.x, I’ve not yet addressed the other aspects of planning and configuration. This came up recently in-house, where we’d decided to upgrade an XD4 farm to XD5.

The original request came in as:

“We are creating a new CPM environment for XD5 Pooled in Showcase. We would like to take the contents of the existing user profiles in XD4 Pooled, being managed by an older version of CPM, and migrate them to a new folder share and then attach them to the new CPM environment.

Is this possible? Is it as simple as a robocopy command preserving permissions and pointing the new CPM to this directory?

Any guidance you can offer would be appreciated.

We are using UPM 2.1 currently – is it safe to move the profile folders to a new share and point UPM 3 at them (after the templates have been normalized)?”

So skipping the mechanics (for which, see How do you migrate from Profile Management 2.x to 3.x? )…

From the description, I assumed there was no co-existence phase. (If there is, then start with the above reference). So in essence you just switch off the old UPM 2.1 , copy the profiles to a new file share and turn on the new UPM 3.2.2 (the latest UPM). We recommend this version because the driver has been rewritten for improved coexistence with antivirus software.

So next: “is it safe to move the profile folders to a new share and point UPM 3 at them” – yes, this can be a simple robocopy operation. Please bear in mind the security (ACL) recommendations for the new share – Security Recommendations for Roaming User Profiles Shared Folders

Your existing configuration will form a good basis for the new XD farm. If you update the ADM template, then you will need to configure very little:

  • Path to user store – should point at the new file share. If the old Path to user store was something like \\oldserver\oldshare#sAMAccountName#%ProfVer% (where ProfVer is a system environment variable to differentiate between v1 (XP) and v2 (Vista/Win7) profiles – see here for how to set these up), then you will need to ensure the new farm has an identical environment variable set up. Note that the \\server\share part of the path can now refer to a DFS namespace – supported configurations and use cases are described at High Availability and Disaster Recovery with Profile Management
  • Active write back – this is enabled by default in version 3. It is designed to write back file changes to a profile without waiting for the user to log off. It may be valuable in XD setups using virtual machines, to avoid data loss following an outage.
  • Profile streaming – this is disabled by default in version 3, but is the “flagship” feature. It is designed to speed up logins, by only copying files from the network user store “on demand”. Its use is strongly recommended.
  • Always cache – this setting is only effective if Profile streaming has been enabled, and if set to zero, will cause the whole of the profile to be trickled down to the XD machine in the background after the logon completes.

Finally, assuming that you are planning to support local Internet Explorer on the XD desktop, then you should also read To manage cookie folders and other transactional folders. In order to maintain the integrity of the cookie folder, the supported configuration is to set both Folders to mirror and Process Internet cookie files on logoff policies.

Open-E, Inc. is one of the pioneering leaders and developers of IP-based storage management software. The Open-E® DSS V6™ and Open-E DSS V6 Lite™ line of products enjoy a reputation for best-in-class performance, flexibility, reliability, scalability and return-on-investment and are known for their robust architecture, ease-of-use and affordability. Open-E Data Storage Software (DSS) V6 has been verified for Citrix®XenServerTM (Version 5.6) and is now designated Citrix Ready, providing confidence in joint solution compatibility.

As a part of a special promotional offer from Open-E, two free of cost NFR (Not For Resale) versions of Open-E DSS V6 with unlimited TB of storage are now available for all Citrix professionals. This offer is valid until March 31, 2011. Citrix experts will have the opportunity to work with the powerful iSCSI SAN software and will be able to build shared storage for training and performing demos with Citrix XenServer Version 5.6. Open-E DSS V6 works effectively and offers secure access to storage and straightforward interface to iSCSI SAN.

For more information about Open-E DSS V6 please visit Open-E Data Storage Software V6 on the Open-E website.

How you can qualify for this promotional offer:

The accepted certificates for two free Open-E DSS V6 licenses are:

  • CCA Citrix Certified Administrator
  • CCAA Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator
  • CCIA Citrix Certified Integration Architect

Certified professionals can receive the licenses by sending an e-mail with a copy of one of the above mentioned certificates to certification@open-e.com.

Learn more about Open-E DSS V6 verified for Citrix XenServer Version 5.6 through the resources listed below:

  1. Citrix Ready Catalog – Product page and Profile page.
  2. Video – Open-E DSS V6 iSCSI-Failover with Xen-Server (video of a recent Webinar about the use of Open-E DSS V6 iSCSI Failover with a XenServer, available in English and German)
  3. How-to Ressource – “Open-E DSS V6: How to setup iSCSI Failover with XenServer
  4. Press Release – “Open-E DSS V6 is verified as Citrix Ready” (available in English and German)

Write to us at CitrixReady@citrix.com should you have any questions. And catch more partner updates from Open-E and others on Twitter. Leave your comments and feedback for Open-E DSS V6 here, have you tried this solution yet?

Following my blog post last month discussing the January edition of the FREE XenDesktop monthly technical newsletter I am pleased to announce that the February edition of the newsletter is now available.

Check out the archive page, where you can access both the current and past issues, as well as subscribe to the FREE monthly newsletter.

The February edition of the newsletter is packed with great content, including:

• Provisioning Services or Machine Creation Services… Big Picture Matters (by Dan Feller, Consulting)
• FAQ for XD5 from the Frontline (by Citrix Consulting, Tech Support, and Engineering)
• How to Install and Manage XenClient (by Karen Bridgewater and Meghan Meyers, Eduction)
• How to: Add XD to web interface
• Confused with XD 5 and What you knew with XD 4?
• New XenDesktop 5 Training for Admins is Online
• XDDBDiag Tool
• Migration Planning Guide for XD 5 (by Thomas Berger, Consulting)
• And much more.

If you have any feedback/suggestions please let us know. Also don’t forget to Sign-up now!

Citrix Support on:
Twitter – @citrixsupport & @citrixreadiness

Great news for all you planners out there. The session catalog for Citrix Synergy in San Francisco May 25-27 is now available! Why the excitement? This means that you can peruse the session line up and determine which sessions about virtualization, networking and cloud technologies you MUST attend this year to maximize your learning opportunities. There are lots of great sessions to choose from – with more technical sessions, best practices and hands-on learning labs than ever before. And if you don’t see what you need, be sure to let us know and we’ll see if we can still add it to the agenda.

I encourage you to sign up early for the event.  I’m not trying to be alarmist, but remember that Synergy in San Francisco last year was standing room only and the Berlin event last Fall was literally sold out. That said, we’ve learned from past experience, as well as from your feedback, and we have enhanced the event structure and content in several ways.

First, we’ve enlarged the keynote room, such that every Synergy attendee will have unfettered access to Citrix CEO Mark Templeton’s opening session and all of the other main-stage activities. We’ve also doubled the number of Geek Speak Live! sessions, since these unscripted discussions and rapid-fire debates among technical experts, analysts and influencers are always incredibly popular with Synergy attendees. And we’re investing more time and energy in the Citrix CTO session, which has grown into one of the most buzz-generating activities of the entire event.

But wait there’s more! Based on your feedback, we are putting special emphasis on hands-on learning and technical best practices at Synergy San Francisco. This year we’ll offer more “how to” and “how we did it” sessions featuring customers, tech alliance partners, Citrix Technology Professionals (CTPs) and industry analysts. They will share their experiences implementing desktop virtualization and cloud solutions in order to help you be successful with your strategic deployments.

We’ve dramatically increased the number of breakout sessions, and you can search for categories to build the best agenda for you, including:  What’s New, Best Practices, Hot Topics and Key Technologies. Just to give you a taste of your options, specific titles include:

  • XenDesktop.next: the future of on-demand desktops and apps
  • Scaling XenDesktop for the enterprise
  • Best practices for using FlexCast to drive desktop transformation
  • Building multi-hypervisor, multi-workload enterprise clouds with Citrix OpenCloud
  • What’s new in NetScaler MPX and VPX
  • Say “yes” to BYO and employee-owned tablets, computers and smartphones in the workplace

There truly is something for everyone at Citrix Synergy, regardless of where you are on the technology learning or adoption curve. Whether you’re setting a virtualization strategy and vision for your company, gathering technical content, or looking to rub elbows with the industry’s best and brightest, now’s the time to make your plans for Citrix Synergy in San Francisco.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Synergy catalog and start building your plan to attend the sessions that will give you exactly what you need to reap the benefits of virtual computing.

Together in San Francisco, we will be inspired, learn and network!

VMware responds with scripted PR

Yesterday I pointed out how VMware was inappropriately trying to infer that a quote showing substantial savings from a Gartner Server Based Computing (SBC) research report was somehow applicable to VMware View which offers no such solution. VMware responded with a scripted PR statement on the CRN site that is geared towards VARS and technology integrators in response to coverage from Kevin McLaughlin. Below are some highlights from the Kevin’s article which includes a response from VMware.

Reporter Quote
“VMware says the Gartner figures quoted in the press release referred to Wyse’s portfolio of thin, zero and cloud PC client solutions, which support both SBC and VDI.”

VMWare Quote
“It is appropriate for Wyse to choose to feature this when talking about their products,” the VMware spokesperson said in an e-mail. “VMware’s portion of the announcement featured customer momentum and results related to our portfolio of desktop and application virtualization technologies.”

Repeat offender

Before I respond to the quotes it’s worth pointing out that in 2009 an earlier version of the report was also called into question. VMworld – Misuse of Gartner’s TCO Numbers to Make the Case for View

Who is VMware trying to fool?

VMware is trying to wriggle its way out of responsibility for a press release on their corporate website and pin it on a partner with plausible deniability. Really VMware? Do VMware really except anybody to believe that a thin client TCO in combination with SBC where you have no solution can reasonably be merged into a quote in a single press release? It is rather insulting to assume that people are that dumb. It is therefore not appropriate under any stretch of the imagination. The fact that VMware is a repeat offender is also inexcusable.

Who did VMware pin the tail on in 2009 when similar facts were misrepresented? They also take a very similar tact when it comes to PCoIP. The reality is VMware have failed to take any responsibility for their continued pattern of outrageous fud with respect to TCO with VMware View. This kind of fud is designed to confuse and conflate customers, partners, the channel and integrators.

Fundamentally VMware is trying to defend an inaccurate press release. After a history of getting away with elastic facts, getting caught twice, the appropriate thing to do would be to retract the statement and claims of SBC having anything to do with VMware.

Update: VMware removes quote in updated press release.