Industry news

Keep Your Sanity: 5 Ways to Slow Down

Theresa Miller - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:37

We are going through yet another time of intense change in the IT industry. Since it is the end of the year, the pundits will start pontificating their view of how the world will look once we get through this transition period. The data center is dead! If you’re not on the public cloud your […]

The post Keep Your Sanity: 5 Ways to Slow Down appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Application Analytics in Citrix Director

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 19:00
Citrix Director displays information related to the published applications in the XenApp and XenDesktop environment in several contexts. Administrators can view Application Instances in Filters view, Application Usage, and Application Failures in Capacity Management under Trends view.

Application Analytics released …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

XenMobile — Working through REST API Part 3: Enrollment

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 17:00
It has been a while since my two first blog posts in this series, as I have been kept very busy lately. The plan for my third post, is to show how you can customize enrollment into XenMobile to fit …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix Optimizer

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:00
What does it do?

I’ve always found the way operating systems evolve and adapt to be fascinating. They have more functionality with every release, their inner workings are more intelligent, they can automatically adapt to different situations, and are generally …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Why is Everyone Talking about Citrix and Kubernetes?

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:00

Faster application development and deployment are the new mantras for IT, Digital, and DevOps teams. Microservices are the emerging application architecture. As customers make this migration, they will do so in steps —beginning with a static architecture in which containers …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Bestands-IT und die Cloud: Brücken statt Mauern!

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 07:00

Ein mittelständisches deutsches Unternehmen hat heute nicht einfach eine IT-Abteilung – es hat mehrere. Neben der IT-Organisation, die sich um alles vom SAP-Betrieb über IT-Sicherheit bis zum Client-Management kümmert, haben sich weitere, informelle IT-Teams gebildet: Der Vertrieb hat ein schlankes …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

A New Option to Protect Your Workspace: In-session Watermark

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 22:00
We enforce security from the enterprise boundaries to every individual end point device. We design layered secure zones to prevent information leakage. We are armed to the teeth, protecting every bit of our information. But is that enough?

Even a …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

XenApp Essentials: Part 2

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 19:00
“XenApp Essentials, The Revenge: Return of the Kireeti.”

It’s not all that uncommon that a sequel turns out better than the original. For example, “The God Father II”, “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Introducing New OData API for XenApp & XenDesktop’s Monitor Service

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 17:31

Ever wondered how to get answers for queries like…

How many Users are active in each location?

How many users are experiencing slow logins to their XenApp applications?

If you answered “yes,” Citrix has some good news for you!

With …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Pass the Bitcoins and Gravy, Please

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 15:00

Last week, at Thanksgiving dinners across the US, there were heated debates – about politics, the economy, and my favorite topic – Bitcoin! Is it a pyramid scheme? Is it a Ponzi? Is it a Bubble? Well – I don’t …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Browser Video: Codecs, Formats & Hardware Acceleration

Helge Klein - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 14:13
Contents

Web video is ubiquitous. We take it for granted that browsers play video in high resolution, over any connection, on any device. Behind the scenes, a complex machinery of video formats, codecs, and GPU acceleration techniques is at work to make it all happen. This post explains what is what.

Video Container Formats

Video containers store audio and video tracks, which may be encoded in a variety of codecs. Two video container formats are being used on the web today: MP4 and WebM.

MP4

MP4 contains audio encoded in AAC or MP3 and video encoded in H.264 (AVC) or H.265 (HEVC). The MP4 format is not royalty-free.

MP4 containers with H.264 video are supported in basically any browser:

MP4 containers with H.265 video (HEVC), on the other hand, are only supported in Edge and Internet Explorer, and only on devices that can decode H.265 in hardware. The reason is simple: Edge and IE do not decode H.265 by themselves, so Microsoft does not have to pay licensing fees. Edge/IE pass the video stream for decoding to the OS which in turn sends it to the GPU. Licensing costs are paid by the GPU vendor.

WebM

WebM contains audio encoded in Ogg Vorbis and video encoded in VP8 or VP9. The WebM format is royalty-free.

WebM containers are supported in Chrome and newer versions of Edge and Firefox only. Internet Explorer does not support WebM.

Hardware-Accelerated Video Decoding

GPUs have dedicated units that are much more efficient at decoding video than general-purpose CPUs which lack similar capabilities. However, for hardware decoding to work, all the components involved need to work hand-in-hand:

  • The GPU’s decoder needs to support the video properties (codec, 4K resolution, HDR)
  • The graphics driver needs to make the GPU’s capabilities available to the OS
  • The operating system needs an abstraction layer so that applications do not have to deal with individual vendor driver APIs
  • The application (the browser) needs to make use of the OS’ decoding API
DirectX Video Acceleration API 2.0

The Windows API of choice for accessing the machine’s hardware video decoding units is called DirectX Video Acceleration 2.0. DXVA is a little-known API; not many tools exist for exploring it. One of the few is DXVA Checker. It shows the video capabilities reported by the graphics drivers.

The screenshot below depicts the capabilities of the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, built into the Kaby Lake i7-7500 CPU. Video decoding is supported for H.264, H.265 (HEVC) and VP9 (all at least up to 4K).

H.264 Hardware Acceleration

Hardware-accelerated decoding of H.264 (AVC) video is available on all CPUs/GPUs sold in the past 4+ years. 4K resolution, however, is only supported by newer hardware sold in the past 2+ years, approximately.

H.265 Hardware Acceleration

Hardware-accelerated decoding of H.265 (HEVC) video is available only on newer CPUs/GPUs. More specifically, at least the following are required:

  • Intel Skylake
  • Nvidia Maxwell (later models) or Pascal
  • AMD Fiji or Polaris
VP9 Hardware Acceleration

Hardware-accelerated decoding of VP9 video is available only on the newest generations of CPUs/GPUs. At least:

  • Intel Kaby Lake
  • Nvidia Maxwell (later models) or Pascal
  • AMD Polaris
Checking the Browser’s Acceleration Status

Chrome reveals which video codecs are hardware-accelerated on the current platform at the special URL chrome://gpu.

The screenshot above was taken on a device with the Intel Kaby Lake CPU i7-7500U. Hardware decode support for VP9 is available (shown as VPx).

Firefox provides some information at about:support, but does not show which codecs are accelerated. There is no known way to determine the acceleration status for Edge or IE.

Codecs Used by Video Sites

Almost all video websites use the H.264 codec, and for a very simple reason: H.264 ist most broadly supported in browsers and on mobile devices.

There is just one exception: YouTube, when accessed from Chrome or Firefox, serves VP9 encoded video.

That brings us to an important caveat: YouTube videos in Chrome or Firefox are inefficiently decoded in software unless the playback device is equipped with one of the newer GPU models.

The post Browser Video: Codecs, Formats & Hardware Acceleration appeared first on Helge Klein.

ICYMI: Recapping a Quarter of Citrix Cloud Enhancements

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 13:00

Although we typically write blog posts about major enhancements to our products and solutions, it’s easy to forget about the smaller changes we make on an ongoing basis to improve our products and to make them more user-friendly. This post …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

XenApp and XenDesktop における Azure Role Based Access Control の利用

Citrix employee blogs - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:00

このブログは、2016年11月に Citrix 米国本社マイクロソフトソリューションエンジニアリング部門 Ole Larsen が執筆したブログ「Azure Role Based Access Control in XenApp and XenDesktop」を日本語訳し、一部修正/加筆したものです。

Azure Role Based Access Control in XenApp & XenDesktop

■サマリー

XenApp および XenDesktop の Azure Resource Manager のサポートにより、Azure クラウドの仮想マシンのカタログを作成および管理できます。このブログ記事では、Azure サービスプリンシパルへロール権限やスコープを定義する方法、およびカスタムロールを定義したサービスプリンシパルを利用して XenAppおよびXenDesktop からAzure への接続を許可する方法について用例を交えながらお伝えしていきます。

■以下本文

Azure サービスプリンシパル

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Improving Ivanti Application Control Message Boxes

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Sat, 12/02/2017 - 12:37

Ivanti Application Control (previously AppSense Application Manager) is an application whitelisting and privilege management solution; however, I think you’re likely aware of that since you’re reading this article. Application Control has a number of customisable message boxes that are displayed to the end-user for Windows application whitelisting or privilege elevation scenarios. In this article, I’ll discuss improving the end-user experience with some visual flair and text.

Default Message Boxes

Let’s take a look at a typical message box. Below is the default Access Denied message displayed to users on Windows 10 when attempting to start an application that hasn’t been white-listed.

Ivanti Application Control default access denied message box

With apologies to Guy Leech (the original developer of AppSense Application Manager), this message box doesn’t fit with Microsoft’s recommended Windows 7 or Windows 10 desktop UI guidelines nor display anything useful to the end user that is useful or actionable. Side note – on Windows 10, I’d love to see this particular message as a notification instead because there’s no immediate action the user can take.

Here’s another message box – this one is shown for privilege escalation. Similar in a sense to a UAC dialogue box, but this forces the user to complete the action for elevating an application with a reason for taking that action that can be audited.

Ivanti Application Control default self-elevation message box

There are several scenarios where Application Control may display a message to the end user:

  • Access Denied – execution of an application is denied
  • Application Limits Exceeded – the end-user is prevented from running multiple instances of an application
  • Self-Elevation – an end-user can elevate an application via Application Control instead of being granted administrative rights
  • System Controls – the user can be prevented from uninstalling an application, clearing specific event logs or stopping services
  • Time Limits – time limits can be put on application execution
  • Self-Authorization – end-user can be given the ability to whitelist an application themselves
  • Network Connections – controls can be placed on network destinations, paths or ports

So, potentially a reasonable level of interaction with the end-user and thus Application Control can have some impact on the perception of a user’s everyday experience. Fortunately, each of these message boxes is almost fully customisable – Ivanti provides the administrator with the ability to control both the appearance and text in the message to something that may suit a specific requirement or the environment into which it is deployed.

Creating “Good” Message Boxes

Dialog boxes suck (or at least a good chunk of them do). To understand why here’s an excellent article I recommend reading – The Magic of Flow and Why Dialogs Frustrate People. The dialogs interrupt user workflow and it’s safe to assume a user is typically seeing multiple messages in a single session (not just our Application Control messages).

Application Control supports customising the messages as well as the UI with HTML and CSS. With customisable notifications, the Application Control administrator effectively becomes a UX designer; therefore to provide users with the best experience possible and balance security needs of the organisation, we should consider carefully that experience both visually and narratively in the text displayed to the user.

When customising these I recommend paying careful attention to the language and tone of the text. Empowering a user to take the right, or no, action without generating unnecessary service desk calls is important. Here are my 3 recommendations for customising these messages boxes for an environment:

  • Ensure the message boxes fit with Microsoft UX guidelines for Windows – apart from not visually assaulting the senses, fitting in with the standard Windows visual style will provide users with a sense that these messages are a part of the normal Windows desktop workflow
  • Don’t overwhelm the user with explanatory text that they aren’t going to read anyway – avoid dialogue box fatigue. If you can, provide a link to more information, so that the user can choose to read up on why the system has been implemented
  • Don’t assume the user is doing the wrong thing. Taking a default hostile stance via the language or wording used in the messages won’t foster a sense of trust. Yes, insider threats are often the main cause of security breaches, but IT can do its part in building team trust

I believe these to be reasonable principles to consider, but of course, some environments may have specific requirements.

Microsoft has published user interface guidelines for Windows for many years, with what I would call “mixed results” from the developer community. While good design isn’t easy, Microsoft has guidelines on FontsStyle and Tone, and User Interface Principles that are applicable to the Application Control administrator.

Looking for Inspiration

Microsoft has specific message boxes in User Account Control that I’ve used as the basis for improving the messages boxes from Application Control; both visually and in the language/text. Here’s a typical UAC message box on Windows 10 – it provides some immediate visual feedback with colour and simple language for the user to act upon:

Windows User Account Control message box

UAC (and SmartScreen) displays various message boxes depending on the action taken that have different colours to better provide the user with an immediate visual feedback. 

From top to bottom: blocked app, app with unknown publisher, app with a known/trusted publisher

Sticking with an established visual style, we can use these colours in our Application Control message boxes. I haven’t found documentation on the colours from Microsoft, so the hex values below might not be 100% accurate.

Blue (#85b8e8 ) background is from the message box used to identify Windows components or software that is signed and trusted Yellow (#f8d470) background is from the message box that identifies components or applications that are untrusted or not signed Red (#8e000b) background denotes an application that has been blocked by Windows SmartScreen I’ve used a softer red (#bf3235) background from the Ivanti Application Control console instead of UAC

In addition to the visual style, we can use these as examples of the language to use in our customised Application Control message boxes. 

Updating Ivanti Application Control Message Boxes

These message boxes are customisable via HTML and CSS, so we have the ability to exert a certain level of control on the look and feel. To enable the full level of customisation, you’ll need to be running Application Control 10.1 FR3, as the limit on the number of characters in some of the messages has been removed.

Here are the default Message Settings properties:

Ivanti Application Control message settings

Under that advanced button, is the CSS used to customise the visuals. So the first thing we’re going to do is customise that CSS to align the visuals with Windows 10. I am maintaining an updated CSS file to completely replace the default CSS on GitHub, which means that anyone can fork the file, improve it and contribute.

There are a few things that the CSS does and provides customisation for:

  1. Changes the default font to Segoe UI, the default Windows font (instead of Microsoft San Serif). The font used in the user input box in self-elevation message boxes is changed to Consolas instead of Courier New
  2. Hides the red and white X graphic. By default, this image is shown on all message boxes and doesn’t actually fit in with the intention of all messages boxes
  3. Enables a header in the 3 colours shown above
  4. Gives buttons a Windows 10 look
  5. Prevents scrollbars from showing inside the message boxes – because the messages can only be set to a fixed height and width, some scrolling occurs even in the default messages shown in the images at the beginning of this article

At the moment, this CSS isn’t perfect and requires updates to fix the cutting off text on the right-hand side of the dialog box, but I think it’s a huge improvement over what’s provided by default. 

Access Denied

Let’s look again at the default Access Denied message box. This doesn’t fit into the Windows UI, doesn’t necessarily tell the user what’s occurred or tell them whether any further action is required.

Ivanti Application Control default access denied dialog box

With our new CSS in place, we can modify the HTML behind this message to reflect what’s going on, as well as provide the user with a link to a page with more information. Note that because my CSS isn’t currently perfect, I’m cheating a bit by putting a carriage return after “Running this app might put”, so that the text isn’t cut off on the righ-hand side of the message box.

<div class="header red">An app has been prevented from running to protect this PC.</div> <div class="description">An unrecognised or unauthorised app was prevented from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk. Blocked app: %ExecutableName% Location: %DirectoryName% Description: %AC_FileDescription% Publisher: %AC_CompanyName% Please view the <a href="https://servicedesk.stealthpuppy.com">Information Security Corner</a> for details on why this app was blocked. To install an app, you may need to raise a service request. </div>

Because we have a fixed height and width for the box, I’ve set the height to 690 pixels and the width to 440. Our new Access Denied message box now looks like this:

Ivanti Application Control access denied message box with improved styling

In this example, we are now providing the user with some immediate visual feedback, some reason as to why the application was blocked, some details on what was blocked and finally a link to more information (i.e. the action that the user can take). An external page can provide the user with a framework for understanding what’s going on and whether they should pick up the phone for the service desk (or not), with better detail and interaction than a message box could provide.

Self-Elevation

Now let’s do the same with the Self-Elevation action. Here’s the HTML:

<div class="header yellow">Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?</div> <div class="description">App name: %ExecutableName% <br/>This action will run this app with elevated privileges. Please provide the reason for taking this action. This information will be logged and audited. Improper use of elevated applications are in violation of the <a href="https://servicedesk.stealthpuppy.com">Acceptable Use Policy</a>.</div>

I’ve set the height to 770 pixels and the width to 460. Here’s the result:

Ivanti Application Control self-elevation message box with improved styling

In this example, we aren’t bombarding the end-user with text nor assuming what they’re doing is a hostile action. If you’re an IT Pro or a developer, there’s a good chance you’ll need to elevate an application several times during a single session, so this could be something you see multiple times a day.

System Controls

For a simple example, let’s update the System Controls message.

<div class="header blue">Uninstall of %ApplicationName% is not permitted.</div> <div class="description">Removal of this application has been denied to protect the integrity of this PC.</div>

Which then looks like this:

Ivanti Application Control system controls message box with improved styling

Here we’ve used blue to differentiate this from the previous two messages.

Be aware of High DPI Displays

Note that today Application Control doesn’t support high DPI displays or scaling above 100% very well. Because those dialog boxes are a fixed size and the contents don’t scale, you get something like this:

Ivanti Application Control Access Denied Dialog at 200% scaling

Ivanti is, of course, aware of the issue and I assume there’ll be a fix in a future update. Until then, at least on Windows 10, you can override the high DPI scaling behaviour. The Application Control Agent folder has a number of executables that run each of the messages. For example, to fix the scaling on the Access Denied message box, set compatibility of AMMessage.exe that the high DPI scaling behaviour is set to System (Enhanced).

Setting Application Control High DPI Scaling Compatibility

Once set, the message box will be set to its correct size and scaled up on high DPI displays, thus the box may look fuzzy depending on resolution and scaling. To avoid setting this on each executable individually on each end-point, use Group Policy or the Application Compatibility Toolkit to set these properties.

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve discussed how to improve the Ivanti Application Control message boxes for both visuals and text. With some effort, we’ve updated the style to better fit in with Windows 10, but these look right at home on Windows 7 as well. Additionally, the text has been improved to provide users with (hopefully) just the right amount of explanation, enabling them to take effective action if needed.

The custom CSS streamlines the visuals and better aligns the message boxes with UI guidelines from Microsoft. While I’ve made the CSS available on GitHub, it could do with some improvement. Opening this up to the community will enable feedback and updates.

This article by Aaron Parker, Improving Ivanti Application Control Message Boxes appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

Citrix Director 7.16 Can Now Shadow Linux App & Desktop

Citrix employee blogs - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 21:00
Citrix Director is the go-to console for all XenDesktop & XenApp administrators to troubleshoot issues in real time. One of the primary troubleshooting requirements is to help users who are facing issues while using a HDX session (both applications and …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix Director Supports Domain local groups in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.16!

Citrix employee blogs - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 19:00
Finally, the much awaited support of Citrix Director for multi-forest infrastructures with a one way trust that uses domain local groups to hold users and user-groups is out. This facilitates CSP administrators to troubleshoot users belonging to a tenant forest …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix Service Provider Partner Enablement

Citrix employee blogs - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 17:00
CSP PARTNER ENABLEMENT!

Back in January, we introduced a series of enablement webinars for CSPs, including Distributor Enablement, Partner Business Track, and Partner Technical Track Webinars. We’ve achieved record-breaking attendance, but continue to receive feedback requesting more on-demand trainings for …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

The Anatomy of Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.10

Citrix employee blogs - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 14:30

The new Receiver for Windows v4.10 houses a lot of new features. Improved DPI support, support for .H265 video encoder mode, improved protocol driver error messages, improvements to advanced preferences, enhanced adaptive transport, improved self-service plugin performance, support for workspace …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Scripting Citrix XenServer with PowerShell and Command Line

Citrix employee blogs - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 11:00
In this blog post, it’s my aim to show you the most popular commands for Citrix XenServer in PowerShell and Command line, so you can use them in your automation workflow.

Because, as always, AUTOMATE EVERYTHING! Citrix XenServer is Linux-based, …

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