Archive for the ‘XenDesktop’ Category

VMware announces Horizon View 6 taking on Citrix XenApp with RDS Hosted Apps

April 9th, 2014 No comments

VMware has announced the latest version of their End User Computing product Horizon View.

There have been 5 major changes to Horizon View:

  • RDS Hosted Apps
  • Application Catalog Enhancements
  • Cloud Pod Architecture
  • Virtual SAN Support
  • vCOPS for View 6

RDS Hosted Apps

RDS Hosted apps will allow Horizon View clients to access applications and full desktops running on Windows Remote Desktop Services Hosts. This is big news as it gives VMware a competing product to Citrix XenApp.


For people who know about VDI, what is the difference? Well, VDI delivers an entire desktop to a particular user. This desktop is a whole virtual machine with an OS and applications. RDS (Remote Desktop Services) means using the capabilities of Microsoft RDS (previously Terminal Services) to allow multiple users to connect to a single OS but have separate private desktop instances and applications (the server doesn’t even have to be virtual but you’d be daft not to). With RDS you can display a full desktop but can also display just an application seamlessly without all the desktop stuff around it. You don’t need as many OS instances which means better resource utilisation as well as fewer Microsoft licenses.

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Categories: Citrix, View, VMware, XenDesktop Tags: , , ,

Optimise your VDI image with a new OS optimisation tool

July 31st, 2013 No comments

VMware has released a new Fling called the VMware OS Optimization Tool for Windows 7.

One of my bugbears with the whole VDI industry is the I in “VDI”, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Many people often focus too much time and effort designing the infrastructure part of delivering virtual desktops: hypervisors, clusters, brokers, security, storage, networks, streaming, provisioning etc. and don’t pay enough attention to the actual OS build.

The OS build is absolutely critical for the success of any VDI project. If you don’t optimise your OS image you will use more CPU, memory and critically storage IOPS than you actually need which can ramp up your costs or cause your whole project to fail.


VMware has released the VMware OS Optimization Tool to assist with just this for Windows 7 desktops and VMware Horizon View. There are customisable templates to enable or Windows services and features to ensure you have optimum performance.

There is also a Remote OS Optimization Tool which allows you to connect to a remote Horizon View broker to optimise images.

Although this tool is specifically written for VMware View and uses VMware’s recommendations and best practices, the OS settings are as applicable when using Citrix XenDesktop or other brokers or in fact when running any Windows 7 workstation even without a broker when your users connect using just RDC.

If you are wanting to get more information on your current Windows desktop (not only limited to VDI) performance, I would also suggest looking at Helge Klein’s fantastic UberAgent for Splunk which gives you all sorts of information to help find out what’s taking too long.

To really ensure you cover all bases I would suggest using this new VMware tool in conjunction with other scripts and tools:

VDI Optimizer

VMware Horizon View Optimization Guide for Windows 7 and Windows 8

IT Blood Pressure’s EUC Tips

Quest vWorkspace Desktop Optimizer

Citrix Windows 7 Optimization Guide for Desktop Virtualization

Project VRC White Papers (free registration required)

How to Optimize XenDesktop Machines

Best Practice: Group Policy for Virtual Desktops Infrastructure (VDI)

VDI Group Policy Optimisation Template and Script

NetApp releases Virtual Storage Console for Citrix XenServer

August 17th, 2012 No comments

NetApp has now released a version of its Virtual Storage Console for Citrix XenServer as a plug-in to XenCenter. The VSC allows you to provision, resize and destroy storage repositories, manage deduplication and provision VMs using FlexClone and then import them into XenDesktop.

One of the nice things about XenServer and XenCenter is you create storage at the pool level and it is automatically mounted to all hosts in the pool rather than having to provision the storage for each host individually like you need to do in vSphere clusters. This VSC now makes it even simpler by being able to create the volumes and exports on the array as well.

You can read all about the release from the DataSheet.

XenDesktop 5: Using Active Directory-Based Controller Discovery

December 14th, 2011 1 comment

VDI desktops in a XenDesktop environment need to be able to register with a controller or multiple controllers so they can be managed by the broker and allow connections by clients.

In XenDesktop 4 the default was having the controller information held in an Active Directory OU. During installation you specified an AD OU and the controller installation added the AD objects to the OU so the Citrix Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) that is installed within the guest OS could find the correct delivery controllers.

This has changed in XenDesktop 5 where the controller information isn’t by default added to AD and the client VDA is configured with the DNS names of the controllers (best to have at least two for redundancy) in the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Citrix\VirtualDesktopAgent\ListOfDDCs (REG_SZ)

In this example my controllers are and


I think storing the controller information in AD which was the default in XenDesktop 4 was a great way of doing things as it gave you one less client VDA configuration setting to manage. If the controller information is stored in the registry and you need to add or remove a controller you have to reconfigure every client which can be a lot of work. If the controller information is stored in AD you can amend the setting in AD and all clients will be able to find the new controller without any VDA configuration change.

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Categories: Citrix, XenDesktop Tags: ,

Citrix XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 is not supported with XenDesktop 4 & 5

April 6th, 2011 No comments

Citrix XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 is the latest release of XenServer but it is not supported as a hypervisor with either XenDesktop 4 or XenDesktop 5.

Have a look at the Citrix eDocs for Host Requirements / Hosting Infrastructure.

XenDesktop 4

XenDesktop 5

XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 has been out since 15 December 2010 and the release notes specifically mention enhancements to Provisioning Services and XenDesktop (only coming in a future release)

Provisioning Services improvements to Windows volume license (MAK and KMS) support.

XenDesktop platform enhancements. Provides local host caching of VM images to reduce storage TCO for XenDesktop VDI deployments. (Note: these platform enhancements will be enabled by a future version of XenDesktop).

XenDesktop 5 was released on 3 December 2010. OK, that’s only 12 days before XenServer FP1 but surely Citrix would have made the enhancements to XenDesktop 5 to support XenServer 5.6 FP 1…obviously not.

I’ve heard from Citrix that XenServer 5.6 Service Pack 2 is due for release soonish and will be supported by both XenDesktop 4 and 5. This does contradict somewhat with the release notes which state support will be in a newer version of XenDesktop rather than a newer version of XenServer.

If you are running XenDesktop 4 or 5 with XenServer 5.6 as the hypervisor, don’t upgrade to Feature Release 1, rather wait for Service Pack 2.

How slim is your OS build? VDI’s biggest loser!

December 1st, 2010 3 comments

Going virtual is all about sharing resources. You are no longer constrained by one server or workstation running on one physical piece of hardware. The benefit is less physical kit to look after and better utilisation of resources but the detriment is when you share, you need to share nicely. In a shared environment one VM can be greedy and take more than its fair share and your other VMs suffer.

It’s not just sharing nicely that you need to consider but also building your VMs so they need less so there’s more to go around.

VDI is all about maximising the use of your physical hardware. To be cost effective (if you can with VDI!), you want to run as many workstations on a physical host as you can without sacrificing individual VM performance.

So, if your VMs are greedy with what they need you are going to be paying more for hardware. Wasting resources on physical workstations may not cost that much more but move your workstation into your datacenter and then see how much money you will be wasting.

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