Industry news

Preview the New XenApp & XenDesktop Advanced Design Course!

Citrix employee blogs - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 15:00

Did you know that site design can impact many aspects of your Citrix solutions, including their day to day manageability? We’re excited to announce that Citrix Education will soon release a new advanced course CXD-410: XenApp and XenDesktop 7.1x Assessment,

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Hyper-V Backup – Products & Options

Helge Klein - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 14:14

It’s 2018, and backing up Hyper-V hosts is solved, right? I certainly expected it to be when I took on the task of finding a simple and reliable way to back up three hosts colocated in a large datacenter. This article summarizes my journey and the findings resulting from it.

Backup Products

It became immediately obvious that Windows Server 2016 does not come with any useful backup functionality for Hyper-V. Looking for commercial products, I found the following three candidates looking promising:

  • Altaro Backup 7.5
  • Nakivo Backup & Replication 7.3
  • Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 2

There are other products out there, of course, but looking at their websites none of them seemed enticing enough for me to include them in a trial.

My Requirements

My expectations for a Hyper-V backup product are moderate enough, I believe. I do not want to become a full-time backup administrator. I have precious little time as it is. The products we use for our IT need to “just work”. At least, that is the theory.

Requirement #1: Good UX

First of all, I need a backup product to be easy to install and use. The UI should ideally be self-documenting so it can be used without studying manuals, FAQs and KB articles.

Requirement #2: Reliability

Secondly, a backup software needs to do its job, reliably, every single day. Backups are fail-safes. It cannot have the fail-safes fail.

Requirement #3: Efficiency

This is more of a nice-to-have than a hard requirement, but it would sure be nice to have a product that does its job swiftly while efficiently deduplicating the backup storage. Also, a light agent and a small installation footprint are always a plus.

Where to Back Up To? Backup Target Option #1: SMB Share

I intended to store the backups on an SMB file share which the company that is hosting the servers is offering at low cost. I had used that type of SMB share for manual backup jobs for several years.

Backup Target Option #2: Dedicated Backup Server

Some products offer to host the backups on a dedicated backup server. That was never an option for me. Our environment is relatively small, and standing up and managing another physical server just to host backups was out of the question. I was looking for a simple, elegant solution, not additional complexity.

Backup Target Option #3: Cloud Storage

Once you think about it, this seems to be the obvious choice, at least for Hyper-V hosts located in a datacenter with high-speed internet connectivity (like ours). Storing (encrypted) backups in Amazon S3 or Azure Storage solves multiple problems at once: the backups are located in a physically different site, vastly improving disaster recoverability while at the same time reducing the dependency on one hosting provider. With backups stored in the cloud moving VMs between datacenters becomes so much easier.

The reason why I did not choose this option is as sad as it is simple: none of the products support cloud storage as primary backup targets. This may (and probably will) change in future versions, but today not even Microsoft’s Azure Backup Server has the capability to send backups directly to Azure. As the docs state:

In the current architecture of Azure Backup Server, the Azure Backup vault holds the second copy of the data while the local storage holds the first (and mandatory) backup copy.

Notes From My Product Evaluations

Following are the notes from my trial installations of the three products mentioned earlier, two of which I used for several weeks each before writing this.

Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 2 First Attempt

This was the first product I tried, simply because Veeam is the largest and most well-known brand out there. During my initial installation attempt, I was a little shocked about the huge 2 GB download. When I was finally presented with the product’s console, I could not find any way to add an SMB share as a backup target. As it turned out in my second attempt several weeks later, you have to locate a tiny little chevron-style button placed near the bottom of the screen:

Once you manage to find and click that, a dialog pops up that lets you enable the “backup infrastructure” tab. Why that is not enabled by default is beyond me. Veeam could probably double their sales by that simple change.

As it stands I failed to locate the magic button during my first attempt, so I uninstalled the product, which is a tedious procedure because Veeam litters the Programs and Features window with a good half dozen entries.

Second Attempt and Verdict

Only after I had tried Altaro and Nakivo and failed did I look at Veeam again. During this second run, I located and skimmed a manual which, if printed out, would dwarf any city’s phone book. My newfound knowledge enabled me to find the magic button and configure the product optimally for our needs.

Veeam Backup & Replication is certainly powerful, but unnecessarily complex. Related settings are spread across different wizards, dialogs and other parts of the UI. However, once configured, it seems to be a reliable workhorse.

Cloud storage as the primary backup target is not supported as of version 9.5. I found a note on a blog that support for object-based storage is to come with version 10, so, hopefully, that will give us direct cloud backup.

My Recommended Veeam Configuration for Hyper-V

For optimal backup consistency with a diverse set of Windows and Linux VMs, I recommend configuring Veeam so that application-consistency is attempted first, crash-consistency second.

Application-consistent backups require Veeam to trigger VSS in the VM, so admin rights in the guest are mandatory for this to work. Sometimes VSS gets confused and fails, or you do not have admin credentials for all VMs. That is when you need the crash-consistent variant as your second option, which basically backs up a VM as if it had suffered a sudden power loss. Unfortunately, this two-phased approach is not enabled by default. To configure it, you have to dig pretty deep:

Hyper-V crash-consistency needs to be specifically enabled in a different dialog. While you are there make sure to switch on changed block tracking (CBT):

Altaro Backup 7.5

With 273 MB is Altaro is a nice small download. Installation is similarly quick. The UI is so intuitive that a product manual is not required. Altaro employs the sensible backup strategy of trying application-consistent first, crash-consistent second, by default.

All in all, I was really happy with Altaro until it started failing every single time with the error The backup location contains too many bad data blocks. Error code DEDUP_064:

This happened with two different SMB shares, in the first case after two to three weeks, in the second case after only a few days. I suspect it is caused by an incompatibility with the Linux-based SMB shares our provider offers. Altaro’s support was not able to find a solution. It would be nice if they offered a tool or script to test a backup target for compatibility (which they do not). In any case, Veeam seems to be able to work with the SMB shares just fine.

With regards to cloud backup, Altaro can send secondary copies to Azure, but that capability is reserved for the most expensive Unlimited Plus edition.

Nakivo Backup & Replication 7.3

With just 192 MB Nakivo is an even smaller download than Altaro. That, unfortunately, is the most positive thing I have to say about it.

The installer leaves critical tasks to the admin which do not even seem to be documented:

  • WS-Man needs to be enabled over the network and firewall rules need to be added
  • The installer creates a self-signed certificate that browsers reject

Once you are past the mandatory manual WS-Man configuration and try to access the product’s console in IE (IE being preinstalled on Windows Server) you are greeted with a recommendation not to use IE.

When I tried to add the SMB backup target for which I had a username, a password, and a UNC path, specifying the username turned out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated:

  • Just the username did not work
  • “.\username” did not work either
  • “user\user” finally did the trick

Again, that does not seem to be documented. Altaro and Veeam did not have any issues authenticating to the share.

Connecting to a second share did not work at all, not even with the “user\user” hack. I verified the credentials were OK by mapping a drive on the command line, which was no problem, of course.

As for the UI, I found Nakivo’s console to be slow and badly designed.

Previous versions of Nakivo required SMB1, which the current 7.3 finally got rid of. Now SMB2 is used instead.

Conclusion

Altaro is a nice product, easy to use, yet very capable. Give it a try if you plan to store your backups on a Windows machine. Veeam is the workhorse whose power comes with quite a bit of complexity. Nakivo cannot be recommended at this point.

Direct backup to the cloud is a feature I would like to see in the future. Today, cloud storage can only be used as a secondary backup target.

The post Hyper-V Backup – Products & Options appeared first on Helge Klein.

Middle America Banks on Citrix with Citrix Workspace, NetScaler MAS & ShareFile

Citrix employee blogs - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 13:00
Two decades ago, I worked for a Fortune 50 technology company that applied spatial analysis to the challenge of bank branch placement. The results revealed that if drive time to a branch exceeded twenty minutes, a customer wouldn’t engage.

Today, …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Making Medics Mobile

Citrix employee blogs - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 07:00
In our last look at Citrix in the NHS and other healthcare organisations, we focused on the enormous value gained from simply fixing business-as-usual issues. Just improving the performance of desktop terminals means that busy clinicians spend more time …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix Summit 2018 Day 2: Giving Back, and Looking Ahead

Citrix employee blogs - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 01:38

The past two days have been a whirlwind of networking receptions, interactive sessions, breakouts and demos. I’ve had the chance to meet so many of you, and I hope all of this nonstop activity has been energizing—and that you’ve had …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Congratulations Citrix Summit 2018 Strategic Partner WINNERS!

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:00
Now in their second year, the Global Strategic Partner awards honor the high achieving members of our global partner ecosystem.

The Strategic Partner Awards highlight the real and ongoing innovation in workspace mobility, networking, security and cloud from our partner …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Making Sense of High-resolution Displays and DPI with Citrix Graphics Remoting

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 01/09/2018 - 16:45
Software runs behind next-generation displays

As usual in the technology world, hardware continues to advance at an incredible pace and software engineers play catch up to write code that can tap its full potential. The evolution of high resolution displays …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Long-Term Service Release of HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 01/09/2018 - 13:00

December’s 2.4 release of the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business is our first Long-Term Service Release (LTSR) of this popular Enterprise and Platinum edition feature, co-developed by Citrix and Microsoft. Over 400,000 workers are using the Optimization …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Is Technology Placing a Strain on UK Workplace Productivity?

Citrix employee blogs - Tue, 01/09/2018 - 07:00
New research published today—commissioned by Citrix and carried out by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation—reveals worrying tensions between productivity and the adoption of digital technologies within organisations.

The paper, ‘Productivity, technology & working anywhere’, shows that while there’s an …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Three Simple 2018 Information Security Resolutions

Theresa Miller - Tue, 01/09/2018 - 06:30

New Years Resolutions.  Some people love them, and some people hate them. Some stick to them throughout the year, and others have already ignored them at this point in January. That being said, I have put together three simple 2018 Information Security resolutions almost everyone can benefit from. There’s also a plethora of blog posts […]

The post Three Simple 2018 Information Security Resolutions appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Get latest Citrix Receiver version with PowerShell

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Tue, 01/09/2018 - 01:57

I’ve previously written about deploying Citrix Receiver to Windows 10 via Intune with PowerShell. I wrote a script that will detect an installed version of Receiver and update to the latest version if it is out of date. To start with, I’ve hard-coded the current Receiver for Windows version into the script; however, that’s not necessarily the best approach, because it will require updating whenever Receiver is updated.

The Citrix Receiver download page provides a source for querying Receiver versions for all platforms, so if we parse that page, we have a source for the latest Receiver versions for all platforms.

I’ve written a script that will parse the downloads page and return the current Receiver version for each platform unless a login for that platform is required. If you’re looking to find the Receiver version for Windows, Windows LTSR, Linux, Mac etc., the script can be used to return the version number for the desired platform.

Here’s the script:

To use the script, save as Get-CitrixReceiverVersion.ps1 and run from the command line. With no parameters, it will return the version number for Citrix Receiver for Windows:

.\Get-CitrixReceiverVersion.ps1

The script returns specific platforms with the -Platform parameter. This only accepts valid values, such as ‘Windows’, ‘Mac’ and ‘Linux’ and the script will validate those values and supports tab completion.

.\Get-CitrixReceiverVersion.ps1 -Platform Mac

Here’s the script in action:

Get-CitrixReceiverVersion.ps1 returning the latest version for various Receiver platforms

I’ve written this primarily for my purposes, but perhaps there are other purposes that I’ve not yet considered. Feedback, issues and improvements to the script are welcome.

This article by Aaron Parker, Get latest Citrix Receiver version with PowerShell appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

Accelerate to Win: Going Boldly Into the Future of Work at Summit 2018

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 23:34
Welcome to Anaheim! It is thrilling to see so many channel partners and Citrix Sales here at Citrix Summit 2018, enjoying what our team has been building for many months. The Anaheim Convention Center has been buzzing with conversation, and …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix VDA Commandline Helper Tool

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 19:00

Back in August 2017, after I released the Citrix Receiver commandline tool, first on the Citrix blogs and later as a KB article, I was immediately asked “Have you done a GUI to help configure the VDA installation options?” …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix Ultimate Rewards: Simple and Cloud-friendly

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 18:00
Today at Citrix Summit 2018, I announced a complete revamp of our partner incentive program. It’s called Citrix Ultimate Rewards, and it’s designed to make Citrix the first and best partner to our global ecosystem in a cloud-first era.…   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Citrix Ready Introduces Bundled Solution Program at Citrix Summit 2018

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 16:30

We are excited to launch the Bundled Solution Program today!

The Citrix Ready Bundled Solution Program features multiple Citrix Ready partners that have joined hands to address unique customer pain points and deliver fully integrated and secure digital workspace …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Optimizing Windows and Citrix App Layering

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 15:00

I have been working with individuals and teams implementing both VDI and SBC infrastructures for going on 20 years now. Over the last 8 years with Unidesk and now Citrix Consulting, it has been intense, working with many customers on …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

The Citrix Strategy for Windows 7 Virtual Desktop Users

Citrix employee blogs - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 13:00
With end-of-extended-support for Windows 7 still two years away, you may be wondering, “What is the Citrix strategy for users who will remain on Windows 7 virtual desktops until 2020? Will these users see any product improvements? Or …   Related Stories
Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

XenMobile 10.6/7 How To Configure a Custom Per-AppVPN XML for WIP-protected Win10 Endpoints

Citrix employee blogs - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 21:00

With the current variety of Windows 10 endpoints, such as laptops, hybrids, tablets, and smartphones, you see organizations moving to Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solutions to provide endpoint security to different types of devices that are not managed by traditional …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

A Practical Example of Using Cloud Storage with XenServer in the Citrix Demo Center

Citrix employee blogs - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 20:00

10-years ago, we were asking how to connect SAN/NAS devices to XenServer, and how to deal with high-availability with such devices. We talked about logical volumes, and how to make them look like local physical disks to the XenServer, and …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

Share Your Citrix Upgrade Insights—Take the Survey!

Citrix employee blogs - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:00

As Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop continue to be the predominant means for delivering virtualized applications and desktops to any user, anywhere and via any device, many organizations are grappling with the idea of whether and/or how to best upgrade to …

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Categories: Citrix, Virtualisation

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