XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 Reviewer's Guide

Faster, simpler publishing of apps & desktops

Who should use this guide?

This reviewer’s guide is designed to help you quickly install and configure XenApp and XenDesktop version 7.15 LTSR or later for a trial evaluation. It guides you through a XenApp and XenDesktop deployment scenario to help you better understand how the application delivery capabilities work with the FlexCast® Management Architecture (FMA).

This guide will walkthrough setting up the three most common use cases:

  1. Publishing applications from XenApp (Server OS)
  2. Publishing a Hosted Shared Desktop from XenApp (Server OS)
  3. Deploying virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) desktops with XenApp and XenDesktop (client OS)

Starting with release 7.0, XenApp and XenDesktop use identical code-base and are delivered using the same software download. The difference is in how it is licensed and purchased, offering flexibility of picking the feature-set and price point to suit different budgets and needs. Throughout this guide, the terms XenApp and XenDesktop may be used interchangeably. 

The target reviewer will:

  1. Have prior knowledge of managing virtual machines and Windows servers
  2. Possess experience in a system administration or technical reviewer role
  3. Be familiar, at least on a conceptual level, with previous versions of XenApp and XenDesktop

In the process of following this guide, the reviewer will use XenApp and XenDesktop for the core datacenter infrastructure, Citrix StoreFront for access to the enterprise app store, and Workspace appTM as the end user client software. An active directory infrastructure with DHCP and DNS services must be available. Setting up prerequisites is outside the scope of this guide.

For an in-depth evaluation and more details on the release, please see the Product Documentation.

Components of XenApp and XenDesktop

XenApp and XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum editions include both application and desktop publishing capabilities. Unlike previous deployments requiring separate infrastructure for XenApp and XenDesktop, unification of the architecture with FMA provides a single delivery infrastructure, and the same consoles are used for delivering server-based applications and desktops.

Organizations looking only for app publishing capabilities at this time may license the standalone Citrix Virtual Apps product. Since the code base is the same, subsequently upgrading from XenApp to XenDesktop is as easy as replacing the license key. There is no requirement for deploying additional infrastructure or management consoles.

Until XenApp 6.5, the product used a different architecture known as Independent Management Architecture (IMA). All current releases of XenApp and XenDesktop use the FMA. If you are upgrading from XenApp 6.5, please review this documentation.

A significant enhancement in this release, compared to XenApp 6.5, is the concept of separating XenApp management from the Windows Server machines that host virtual apps or server-based desktops. XenApp enables you to publish apps and server-based desktops from multiple platforms such as Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, and 2016 – all from one instance of the product. Future upgrades are also simpler as a result, because it is not directly associated with a specific version of Windows Server.

Getting Started

Please download the free evaluation software. For this evaluation, it is assumed that the reviewer will perform the necessary steps to put the downloaded ISO on a DVD or mount it as virtual disk.

For convenience in this guide, components are installed on fewer servers than are recommended for a production environment. An Active Directory infrastructure with DNS and DHCP services is required before you begin (during the evaluation, we strongly recommend a non-production Active Directory and DHCP service for the test environment).

While not recommended for production deployment, all virtual machines VMs for this evaluation may be run on a single physical server. The topology in this guide uses server hardware with 8 CPU cores and 64GB RAM for the test load.

Before we begin, please complete these prerequisite tasks:

  1. Ensure an Active Directory infrastructure is available. Create a group CitrixEval in Active Directory. Add users (user1, user2, etc.) to the CitrixEval group. To keep this evaluation simple, these accounts must have local administrator privileges and be domain administrators in Active Directory. In production, being a domain administrator is not required because relevant permissions will be assigned to administrator accounts according to their role.
  2. Create the virtual environment using your hypervisor of choice. XenApp and XenDesktop is supported on popular hypervisors such as Citrix Hypervisor, and Microsoft Hyper-V Server, as well as public clouds, such as Azure, AWS, and SoftLayer.

    Note: Please set up the preferred hypervisor (not in scope of this guide) before starting the lab.

    Download Citrix Hypervisor
    Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager is required if Hyper-V is used.
    Require VMware vCenter, with the correct certificates installed, if vSphere is used.
  3. You need a VM templates for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. Create these templates as follows: Define the VM specifications (2 vCPU, 4GB RAM, 30GB vDisk) for the VMs. Assign a single network interface to all VMs. Install the operating system and activate. Convert to the template. Refer to your hypervisor vendor’s documentation for details.

The installation and configuration (excluding the prerequisites) are expected to take about 3 hours. Following is a list of VMs required for the setup shown in Figure 1.

Using these templates, create VMs 1 through 7 as per Table 1. Apply all the latest Windows patches, and turn Windows Update setting to “Never” afterwards. Take a snapshot of the “clean state” for each VM before installing any software other than the operating system (helpful if you ever wish to go back and start over). Join all VMs to the Active Directory domain. Using these VMs to create the master image is explained later in Step 1.1: Creating the master image.

Table 1: VM Assignment

Once you have concluded the series of exercises in this guide, you will have an environment in which you can explore the full feature set and performance of XenApp and XenDesktop. Please read the product documentation for detailed instructions. The instructions in this guide are meant to provide you with an evaluation method. Not every component, feature or configuration is addressed.

The example scenario is to deliver applications and a desktop published from Windows Server 2016, and one pooled desktop based on Windows 10 operating system.

After you download and install the software, publishing desktops and apps is a three-step process, driven through a user friendlyuser-friendly wizard in Citrix Studio. One task needs to be performed outside of the wizard-based Studio console: creation of the master images. This involves setting up Windows machines with the required OS and other applications, then installing Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent on them to enable communication with the delivery controller.

At the end, apps will be launched using the Citrix Workspace app client from any device, such as a Windows laptop, MacBook, thin client, mobile device, or tablet. Citrix Workspace app is available as a free download from Citrix.com and the respective app stores. 

During this evaluation, the server-side activity flowchart will look something like this. 

Step 1: Installation and Initial Configuration

Ensure that the prerequisites (previous section) are in place and the software has been downloaded to a DVD (or mounted on a virtual DVD). Also, ensure VM1 has Windows Server 2016 (as per Table 1) installed, patched, and added to the Active Directory domain. This section describes the process for installing various components of XenApp and XenDesktop and configuring Studio.

The default option will be selected for most of the configuration settings. When a different option is recommended or explanation is required, those tasks are marked with a sign.

Step 1.1: XenApp and XenDesktop Installation

Install the Controller and other core components on VM1.

Step 1.2: Set up the site in Citrix Studio

When you launch Citrix Studio for the first time, the first run wizard helps you quickly build a new site, create a pool of application servers and desktops (called “machine catalog”) and assign users to those applications and desktops (called “delivery groups”). More advanced users may add this Controller to an existing site or access physical machines using Remote PC Access (not in scope of this guide).

Step 2: Create Master Image, Machine Catalog and Delivery Group

In this Step, you will create the Master Image, Machine Catalog, and Delivery Group. You have the option of delivering the 3 use cases, mentioned at the beginning of the guide: (1) deliver published applications from Server OS; (2) deliver a hosted shared desktop from Server OS; and (3) deliver VDI desktops from client OS.

Option A walks through the steps to deploy the first two use cases, to deliver published applications and a hosted shared desktop from Windows Server 2016.

Option B walks through the steps to deploy VDI desktop with Windows 10.

You can choose to deploy Option A, Option B, or both.

Option A: Publish Application and/or Hosted Shared Desktop from XenApp

Follow this section to deliver secure hosted application or a shared hosted desktop from Windows Server 2016.

Step 2.A.1: Install Delivery Agent on the master image

In the Getting Started section, we asked to create virtual machine templates. This is done by defining VM properties (how many vCPU, RAM, disk space), installation of OS, installation of common apps, and other configurations you want to be part of your users’ environment.

Your account must have local administrator privileges and be a domain administrator in the Active Directory, for the purpose of the evaluation.

Before you publish XenApp and XenDesktop, you must install the Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent on this server to create a master image.

The VDA is installed on this VM. For this evaluation, we choose to install it in the Master Image mode, so the virtual image will be managed and replicated using MCS. You may install the Delivery Agent in standalone mode, e.g. to deliver applications from the server itself, without replication. That is useful when the VDA is on a physical server, for instance.

Step 2.A.2: Creating the machine catalog

A machine catalog is a collection of desktops or physical computers that are managed as a single entity. To deliver applications and desktops to users, the machine administrator creates a catalog of machines and the assignment administrator allocates machines from the machine catalog to users by creating delivery groups.

For this isolated evaluation, we simply use a domain administrator in the Active Directory with local administrator privileges.

Step 2.A.3: Publish desktops and applications

Using Studio, you