This is a follow-up to the previous two posts for migrating to XenApp 7.6 from a XenApp 5.0 farm.
Installation and configuration of a new XenApp 7.6 site can go smoothly if we prepare for it. The following XenApp 7.6 free training courses and videos are a good place to start; for those with prior Citrix experience, it may be enough for a successful deployment.
CXA-105 XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 Foundations
CXD-300eCW Deploying App and Desktop Solutions with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6
XenDesktop Master Class: Live Install of XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6
As with any other deployment, I find it useful to first make a diagram of the existing network/ server infrastructure to visualize what the current farm looks like. I then conceptualize the server infrastructure for the new XenApp 7.6 Site by listing the various servers and how they will interact with other XenApp 7.6 servers/ components. It is not something that you will be presenting at the next board meeting so don’t cringe your teeth just yet. It’s merely an exercise to identify the various components and plan which servers will be allocated for which services in the new 7.6 site.
Using the same scenario from the previous two posts, our migration is well underway after the License Server component installation as discussed in Part 2. Assuming the Domain Controller/s, File Server/s, and Print Server/s are already in production, we start by understanding what other infrastructure must be in place for a simple Xenapp 7.6 deployment.
The 7.6 Site will be composed of the following:
- Delivery Controller
For those coming from XenApp 5.0, the Delivery Controller in XenApp 7.6 is sort of like the Data Store in a XenApp 5.0 Farm. Citrix Director and Citrix Studio are installed along with the Delivery Controller. Citrix Studio is where you can create, configure and manage your new site. Citrix Director is a great tool for viewing all sorts of information and statistics regarding your XenApp 7.6 site and includes administrative tools such as shadowing users, logging off sessions, and placing VDA servers in Maintenance Mode to disable user logons. It is recommended that the Delivery Controller be installed on a separate server; for high availability, it is also recommended to have more than one Delivery Controller.
- SQL Express
SQL Express is the database that contains all the site’s data; it is created during the Delivery Controller installation. If you already have an existing SQL database, you can point to that instead for backup and maintenance purposes. In our scenario, the SQL Express database is created during the DC installation and resides on the same server.
- License Server
The License Server component handles product licensing for XenApp 7.6. Note that XenApp 7.6 no longer uses Terminal Server licensing; instead it uses Remote Desktop Services. An important thing to keep in mind is that every VDA machine in the XenApp 7.6 site needs to point to the License Server. You can achieve this through the VDA server’s Local Group Policy as explained here.
To set the correct license server and the mode it is operating in, we need to use a (local) group policy or change it directly in the registry.
The group policy setting the Remote Desktop licensing mode is located in:
Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Licensing
The Citrix StoreFront, for those coming from XenApp 5.0, is sort of like the Secure Access Gateway. It is what the user connects to in order to access site resources such as applications and shared desktops. It is recommended that you install two or more StoreFront servers for high availability.
- XenApp Worker/s (Virtual Deliver Agent)
The Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) is the XenApp 7.6 component installed on all servers that will be hosting applications and/or shared desktops.
Note that in order to run the XenApp 7.6 installer all servers on which the above listed components will be installed must already be added to the domain. Prerequisite Windows Server Roles are installed automatically during the XenApp 7.6 installation with the exception of the License Server. Prior to installing the License Server component, you must add the Remote Desktop Services Role – Remote Desktop Licensing.
The first XenApp component to be installed in our scenario is the License Server. A not so robust server has been allocated for this purpose. That same server will also house Citrix StoreFront as these are not generally resource intensive services for a small 300+ user organization.
Next up is installation of the Delivery Controller for which we allocate another server. While a separate SQL server is recommended for larger deployments and to support mirrored backups, our small XYZ company wants to keep it simple. Thus, SQL Express will be installed along with the Delivery Controller.
Lastly, XenApp 7.6 Virtual Delivery Agent is installed on each of the servers that will host shared desktops. I find it helpful to have an application list I can use to make sure that all servers have the same applications installed.
XenApp 7.6 overall step by step installation instructions are included in the video above. I found the video in Part 2 more useful when installing the License Server Component.
Once all required XenApp 7.6 services are installed we can move on to creating a new site. As mentioned prior, we do this through Citrix Studio. I like using the Full Operational Site option. Since our deployment is quite simple and we are using physical servers, we select the No Machine Management option.
Next, we create our StoreFront. The following video details installation instructions for Citrix StoreFront.
In order to deliver applications and Server OS shared desktops to our users we will need to create a Machine Catalog and Delivery Group. The Machine Catalog includes the VDA servers that will be hosting apps and desktops. The Delivery Group is sort of like a group object where you add Active Directory users. VDA servers are allocated to a Delivery Group from a Machine Catalog.
Lastly, we create Citrix policies for things such as Twain Redirection for scanner support and to add session printers. Citrix User Profile Management is included in the VDA installation. In our scenario, that was already in place through Group Policy. Our XYZ company users are able to launch their shared desktops by using Citrix Receiver 4.3, 4.1 and also using the legacy PN Agent.
As always, it is useful to note the steps and options selected while creating and configuring your XenApp 7.6 site to easily back track or to use as a checklist for future installations and/or modifications.