A Beginner’s Guide to XenApp and XenDesktop on Azure

This article was first published on the RDS Gurus blog, by Benny Tritsch and Kristin Griffin.

Deploying Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop in Microsoft Azure is an interesting solution for everybody who wants to deliver Windows desktops or applications from the public cloud. Citrix and Microsoft are working closely together to develop this modern application delivery platform based on Azure Resource Manager (ARM). This article introduces the multiple variants of hosting XenApp and XenDesktop on Azure, allowing potential customers to make the right choices for their particular use cases and business models. Read more..

My Professional Year 2016 in Review (Part 2)

In part 1 of my 2016 review I put the emphasis on my engagement with Lakeside Software which consumed a substantial amount of my work time. This part 2 is about all my other activities, like short projects, workshops, presentations and community work. Let’s start with the short projects and the customer workshops. Primarily they were around pure Microsoft Remote Desktop Services infrastructures and end user experience benchmarking. It is interesting to note that there are only a few independent experts (including myself) that have some solid field experience with pure Microsoft RDS environments, both on premises and in the Azure cloud. Kristin Griffin from the US and Freek Berson are two of them, and in 2016 we joined forces. Together we deliver our consulting services under the label RDS Gurus. I think the name is self-explanatory. Over the last months we have learned that pure RDS – without add-on products from Citrix or VMware – is a growing market. This is particularly true for price-sensitive hosted environments supporting multiple internal or external tenants and with highly specialized system admins. The release of Windows Server 2016 gave this market segment an extra boost, due to its remote desktop user interface that is identical to Windows 10 and the improved remoting protocol capabilities. In 2017 I expect to see a lot more pure RDS environments including some third-party point solutions for system management and resource control. Read more..

My Professional Year 2016 in Review (Part 1)

2016 was an exciting year for me. It was my first full year working as an independent consultant, with Lakeside Software as my biggest customer. In addition to my part-time engagement with Lakeside, I’ve completed a number of successful smaller Microsoft, Citrix and VMware end user computing projects and workshops. Some of the projects were together with my community friends Kristin Griffin and Freek Berson. Under the label “RDS Gurus” our focus was on customers with pure Microsoft Remote Desktop Services environments. To our own surprise this is a rapidly growing market, both on prem and in Azure. But there’s more. Since many years, I have a “hobby” called remote end user experience (REX) benchmarking. It’s all about comparing Microsoft RDS, Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop, VMware Horizon View and other Windows remoting technologies from an end user’s standpoint. In 2016 things became a lot more serious. Kristin Griffin, Freek Berson and I joined forces and founded our new software company REX Analytics, headquartered in Seattle and focusing on creating the tools and frameworks needed for remote end user experience benchmarking. But there is still more. My community friend Ruben Spruijt and I are very interested in the latest and greatest advances in GPU-accelerated remoting. Under the label “Team Remoting Graphics Experts” (TeamRGE) we are benchmarking NVIDIA, AMD and Intel GPUs. We use our findings and results in technical whitepapers and presentations at industry events, such as Microsoft Ignite, BriForum or E2EVC. The following paragraphs include some more details of my 2016 activities for Lakeside Software. Part 2 of this article will highlight RDS Gurus, REX Analytics, TeamRGE and community programs. Read more..

Joint Webinar with FSLogix and deviceTRUST

On November 16, I had the great pleasure to moderate a joint webinar with FSLogix and deviceTRUST. I like both companies and their products very much as you can see from previous articles (FSLogix, deviceTRUST). But combining the two is even better! In this webinar Kevin Goodman and Sascha Goeckel demonstrated how deviceTRUST provides monitoring of endpoints through context awareness and uses policy/admin defined triggers that provide FSLogix Apps the ability to control application access on those endpoint devices in virtual sessions. This can be used for license compliance and to secure VDI gold images. If you want to watch the recording of this webinar, view it here (registration required).

Tools I’ve used in my Ignite session

A bit more than two weeks ago I’ve presented a breakout session titled “Get an independent insider’s view of desktop virtualization and session remoting” at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta. Here is the video of my session on Channel 9 for those who want to watch it. As part of my session I demonstrated some great tools and add-on products provided by community fellows. I actually felt like the anchor of a news show walking people through some real-world use cases. After my session, I received emails asking me for more details regarding the tools. Here we go… Read more..

Things I Learned at VMworld in Las Vegas

I had the opportunity to attend VMworld in Las Vegas the last couple of days. Here’s a summary of what I have learned. In the Day 1 keynote, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger used “Digital Transformation” as the #1 buzzword. He also said that all business is digital business today and 80% of compute is virtualized by now. But 50% of all enterprise applications are still traditional client/server applications – in other words, there is still a majority of conventional Windows applications out there. Neither mobile apps nor native web apps are dominating, yet. According to a VMware survey, there is an average of 188 internally created (Windows) applications in enterprises which may need to be maintained for quite a while. This means that remoting into Windows applications hosted in on-premises datacenters, private clouds and public clouds will continue to be an important aspect of VMware’s strategy. This is great news for End-User Computing (EUC). I still wonder if this also applies to Pat’s announcement to extend their hybrid cloud approach not only to VMware-based clouds (now including IBM/Softlayer), but also to non-VMware-based clouds like Amazon, Azure and Google. Read more..

My Take on Microsoft’s Announcement to Retire Azure RemoteApp

On Friday, August 12, 2016, Microsoft made the announcement that they are planning to retire Azure RemoteApp (ARA). According to the article, Microsoft and Citrix are jointly developing a new cloud-based solution for delivering Windows apps. This Azure RemoteApp 2.0 service was referred to as XenApp “express”. Only minutes after the Microsoft announcement, Citrix posted a related article on their blog. Now, after the dust has slowly settled, I wanted to share my thoughts on the announcement. Read more..

deviceTRUST – Dynamic Device Context Awareness

Only recently I became aware of a new player offering an interesting product that gives you real-time access to the system properties of the endpoint from which a user is currently connected to a remote Windows session. The company’s name is deviceTRUST (www.devicetrust.de/en) and they refer to their solution as “dynamic device context awareness”. In a nutshell, their product constantly monitors a range of settings and properties on the device that is connected to a remote Windows session. The result of the device assessment gets redirected to the associated user session environment on the host, allowing to respond dynamically to changing client device settings or conditions. A change in a monitored device property creates an event in the hosted session that can be displayed or that can be used to trigger a pre-defined action. As of today, the supported remoting protocols are RDP/RemoteFX and ICA/HDX. I personally started using deviceTRUST for collecting client-specific telemetry and configuration data before or while running remote end-user experience benchmarking tests. But then I figured that there are more use cases in security, compliance and user experience, which inspired me to dig a little deeper into how deviceTRUST works under the covers. Read more..

NVIDIA GRID Hardware Chart

When Ruben Spruijt and I presented our session “Graphics for Virtual Desktops and Apps – 2016 Edition” at BriForum in London last week, one of our PowerPoint slides showed a chart comparing the different GRID cards. The chart includes lots of information, such as number of GPUs per card, GPU type, clock speed, number of GPU cores, performance (TFLOPS), memory size, maximum number of vGPU concurrent users, form factor, maximum power consumption and more. It’s the kind of charts you can talk about for hours – or just use it as an overview without looking at the details. Ruben and I updated the chart last minute after NVIDIA’s official announcement of the Tesla M10 card only 24 hours prior to our session. As a response to a picture of the chart uploaded to Twitter, we learned that some details were not accurate. Today I ran into Milan Diebel and Erik Bohnhorst from the NVIDIA GRID product team and together we corrected the chart. Well, and now I want to share the updated version with you. Read more..

Microsoft Using Citrix XenDesktop to Deliver Remote Windows 10 Desktops from Azure

During his Synergy opening keynote on Tuesday, Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov made a spectacular announcement: As part of the refreshed Citrix and Microsoft partnership, XenDesktop VDI hosted on Azure will deliver remote Windows 10 desktops from the cloud. To be very clear, Kirill was not speaking about a Windows Server desktop that pretends to be Windows 10. He was talking about the “real thing”. The days of #FixVDA (= broken virtual desktop access licensing) will be gone as soon as this service is available. This is an event the entire RDS and VDI industry has been waiting for. And here are some more details. Read more..