Monday, October 29, 2012

Virtualizing XenApp Using Citrix PVS or NetApp VSC

Hi Everyone,

This blog is WAAAAAAAAAY over due.  I had this paper published in January and here it is October.  The cool thing is it's still relevant.  Well, I think it is anyway....

A growing trend in the XenApp world is to virtualize your XenApp servers.  It's easier to manage, less hardware, and it melds very nicely with your current virtualized Citrix environment.  XenApp is a very flexible tool and allows you to do MANY things in MANY different ways.  In my paper I discuss launching an application from a Citrix streaming profile using a NetApp CIFS share to store the profile.
If you have plans to virtualize your XenApp servers, you'll probably want to use a product like Citrix PVS or NetApp Virtual Storage Console, VSC, because it will keep the images from changing.  Remember, you've got users connecting to these things and the last thing you want is for them to be different if they connect from one to another.  Some applications don't take very kindly to that.  What's even cooler is you have one master image and all of the other images are read only, this makes for really easy OS updates!

In the paper I chop up the storage to reflect 1/2 using PVS and 1/2 using VSC, in the real world, you would really only do one method.  I was just showing both methods to be thorough.  Both are great products, but today I'm going to focus on VSC.  If you'd like to try this architecture, you'll need vSphere for your hypervisor and VSC installed as a plugin. 

I know what you're thinking, "But Neil, I thought VSC clones were full read/write clones, how are they helpful here?"  Ah, good question!  It is true that the clones created by VSC are full clones, but I'm using the Redeploy feature available to keep things in sync.  If you haven't tried Redeploy yet, it's a very cool feature.  Clones created from a parent can be redeployed from that parent and will retain their MAC addresses so when they come back your applications won't freak.  The product works in conjunction with the Customization Specification tool built into vCenter. (Another very cool tool!)  This way machines will be given their unique names and set everything correctly in Active Directory.  When the servers come out of the redeploy, they have any new patches or OS changes from the parent and will be ready to stream out your XenApp application.

There's so much more I could tell you, but I wanted to share the NetApp VSC and Redeploy capability in this architecture.  If you've got any questions or comments, please feel free to write one!

Thanks for your time.


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