December 10, 2015

Lewan Achieves Citrix Specialist in Virtualization

Lewan Technology is proud to announce that in August it achieved the Citrix Specialist in Virtualization distinction.  The Virtualization Specialist requires a proven track record of delivering and managing Windows apps and workloads via Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.  This achievement furthers Lewan Technology's commitment to Citrix in-depth technical expertise.  Lewan Technology has been a Citrix Solution Advisor (CSA) and Services Provider since 1996 and continues to expand its partnership with Citrix.


What does it take to become a Citrix Solution Advisor?

There are three Citrix Solution Advisor program levels.  Citrix defines them as:
  • Platinum Solution Advisor - Partners who demonstrate the highest level of expertise and commitment to the entire Citrix portfolio of products as a core part of their business, have a well-established Citrix practice, and work closely with Citrix on sales, implementation and consulting engagements. 
  • Gold Solution Advisor - Partners who have built a core business offering on virtualization, networking, and/or cloud and have demonstrated expertise on Citrix products to deliver a set of solutions to customers. 
  • Silver Solution Advisor - Partners who supplement their business offerings by adding Citrix products to their portfolio of solutions.
Lewan Technology currently holds a Solution Advisor Gold level.


Annoucing the Citrix Specialist

In January 2015 at Citrix Summit, the annual partner conference held in Las Vegas, NV, Citrix announced the Specialist program.  They explained that, "partners who achieve a Specialist distinction have been rigorously vetted to join an elite group of best-of-breed partners with demonstrated success in real-world customer projects. While other Partners often participate in only part of an engagement, Specialists will be experts at providing end-to-end planning, designing, implementing, managing and supporting of your project needs."

Specialist designations are available for:
  • Virtualization
  • Mobility Management 
  • Networking for Datacenter 
  • Networking for Apps & Mobile Security

What is required to become a Citrix Specialist?



Lewan Technology already held all of the required certifications at the time of the Specialist announcement.  Among the dozens of Citrix certifications held, many employees have achieved the highest levels across several disciplines:
  • Citrix Certified Expert - Virtualization (5)
  • Citrix Certified Professional - Mobility (3)
  • Citrix Certified Professional - Networking (4) 
The Lewan Technology Citrix professionals spent several months acquiring customer validations and passing the practicum on top of a typical project load.  Unlike other exams, the practicum involves building out a tailored solution then having the solution graded by Citrix. The designation of Citrix Specialist in Virtualization shows that Lewan Technology has been recognized by Citrix as operating at the highest level with regard to end-to-end services.

Feel free to reach out to Lewan Technology for your next Citrix project.


Brian @sagelikebrian


July 19, 2015

Kenneth is Speaking at BriForum Denver

I sat down with one of my coworkers, Kenneth Fingerlos, to discuss his upcoming speaking engagement at the BriForum conference in Denver, Colorado on July 20th.  Our brief conversation covered the details of his session, "vSGA, vDGA, vGPU, and Software - When and Why", his background in the industry, and what gets him excited in the technology space right now.




"BriForum excites me because it is everybody" - Kenneth


Me: Kenneth, can you tell me a little bit about your industry experience?

Kenneth: So, after college I took a left turn in my career path and went into corporate IT for ten years.  Various positions: desktop management, server management, data center.  Various kinds of things.  After ten years of that I decided I didn't care for IT management and tried to correct the course change and landed in consulting.  I've been doing IT consulting for about the last ten years around storage, data management, virtualization of various types, and building up my skill sets trying to help customers solve problems.

Me: Great, great.  So have you been to BriForum before? 

Kenneth: I have not been to BriForum.  This will be my first year.

Me: What attracted you to BriForum? 

Kenneth: I'm excited.  The whole idea of a conference that has some size to it and is established that is not tied to a specific vendor is just exciting, right?  You go to a Cisco conference and it is all about what is the latest widget from Cisco.  Cisco can do no wrong.  You find the same thing if you go to, you know, Dell World.  Dell is perfect.  Whatever Dell has got going is awesome and whatever everyone else has is garbage.  BriForum excites me because it is everybody. It is a marketing company--a media company that puts on the conference as opposed to a product manufacturer. insert kennth photo here

Me: So what will you be discussing at BriForum? 

Kenneth: I'm discussing a topic that is near and dear to my heart which is the idea of virtualized graphics.  Taking things we do everyday in the physical world with physical PCs and trying to bring this into this virtualized environment.  Things like disaster recovery, security, flexibility.  You know, the physical world is pretty restricted.  Graphics have always been one of these things that is hard and is difficult.  Technology is evolving and has advanced dramatically over the last couple of years in terms of what we can do.  But there is also a lot of complexity and a lot of information and I find my customers have a lot of confusion about what they can and can't do.  What works, what doesn't work.  My session is all about trying to bring some clarity to that area.



Me: Ok, so I am going to open this up a little bit and say maybe don't limit this to just the enterprise world but what is the technology you are most excited about right now? 

Kenneth: The technology I am most excited about right now....I think the stuff that is most exciting is really this idea of graphics virtualization.  I mean, so many things go into a user experience, right?  And all of the traditional things that you think about: servers, storage, memory, CPUs--graphics is part of that.  Remoting protocols, right?  What's going on with actually getting that content delivered to a user.  Networking, right? 3G, 4G networks and starting to think about what's next, what's beyond 4G.  These are huge enablers to let people consume and develop content in ways that have never been envisioned before.  Letting you take that stuff to the cloud, to the remote data center, and access it from anywhere.  I've been sitting on top of a mountain in my 4x4 holding a virtual desktop, just because I'm a geek and into this stuff, but yes--I can access that app, whatever it is, from a mountain top in the middle of nowhere.  That's cool stuff. And it's all about enabling people to work and function in ways they've never been able to before.  That excites me.

Me: Very cool.  Well, looking forward to seeing your session at BriForum!  Until next time.

As I wrote about earlier, BriForum Comes to Denver, and I am excited to have such a great event in my backyard.  If you are going to be at BriForum or just have general questions about Denver, reach out to either @kfingerlos or myself (@sagelikebrian) and let's catch up.


Brian @sagelikebrian

July 14, 2015

Citrix Default Printer Won't Retain

The Windows default printer is a magical thing. This is the printer that is selected by default when you print in an application. Depending on your particular printing workflow this may be the only printer you ever use. Some applications have a quick print functionality that sends a print job to the default printer using default settings and no prompts (for example, portrait orientation and a single copy). To make a printer your default, simply right-click it and select default printer.




When you use Citrix, a Windows default printer is still a Windows default printer. The difference is that Citrix has administrative policies to help you decide what will be the default.

I recently ran into an issue with a new XenDesktop v7.6 environment where users could select a new default printer using the method above but the next day when they logged on to their desktop it was set back to Microsoft XPS Document Writer. A quick note on Microsoft XPS Document Writer, as you may have noticed it installed on your computer, it is really a print-to-file driver Microsoft created to allow you to save print output in the Microsoft XML Paper Specification.  If you have never used it, do not feel bad, it is more likely you have used the immensely popular PDF format made popular by Adobe before becoming an open standard in 2008.

By default, the user's current printer is used as the default printer for the session. For example, my laptop's default printer is HP Deskjet 3520 series (Network).  When I logon to my Citrix desktop it will redirect the laptop printers into the session including my default printer.  That is ideal for a laptop user.




For my next example, I am using a thin client that does not have a default printer because it does not have an OS. It can only connect to a Citrix desktop. When I logon from the thin client it will not see a default printer so it will make the first printer on the Citrix desktop the default. Often times this ends up being the Microsoft XPS Document Writer instead of the HP Deskjet 3520 series (Network). At first, the issue seemed related to a Windows user profile issue since everyone lost their setting from one logon to the next.  After verifying that other Windows user settings were being retained (i.e. wallpaper, Office settings, and the printer mappings themselves), I moved on to Citrix print policies.

There is a specific policy I found interesting:

Default printer




Looking closer at the policy it defaults to "Set default printer to the client's main printer".  Most of the time this will result in using the default printer on the user's endpoint (e.g. laptop or desktop).  If that endpoint is a thin client or even an iPad it will not have a default printer to redirect so you will end up with the first printer in the session.

I made a new policy and set it to "Do not adjust the user's default printer" and gave it a higher priority then the others and assigned it to my test user account.




I then ran a gpupdate on each test worker to verify it had the new policy.  To test, I logged on with the test user, changed my default printer to a network printer.  I then logged out and put that test server in maintenance mode ensuring my next logon would go to the other test server.  Success, my new default printer was retained.  To be extra sure there was not anything cached locally, I rebooted both non-persistent workers and logged in again.  Success.  The final steps were to make the policy apply to more users and have them test before rolling it out to everyone on both the test and production workers.

Printing is rarely thought of as complicated but it always is.  If you are running into a similar issue then this policy change could be your answer.

Brian Olsen @sagelikebrian


SageLike Post ID: SL0010

Applies to:
Citrix XenApp
Citrix XenDesktop
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
Maybe others

July 7, 2015

BriForum Comes to Denver

IT conferences are a great way to catch up on what is new, take classes, and network with peers in the industry. I have been lucky enough to attend great shows like Citrix Summit and Synergy as well as VMware VMworld over the years. The conference for me that always fell just out of reach was BriForum. This year it is all going to change. I am more than a little excited that one of the world's premier IT conferences has chosen Denver, Colorado for this year's US location. BriForum is an independent conference that provides vendor-neutral perspective on current and emerging technologies and services.


 
Check out this year's list of sessions: http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/gabeknuth/archive/2015/03/09/check-out-the-list-of-sessions-for-briforum-denver-2015-july-20-22.aspx

If you have a keen eye, you may have noticed a third of the way down the list a special session, "vSGA, vDGA, vGPU, and Software - When and Why", being presented by our very own expert speaker Kenneth Fingerlos (@kfingerlos).


Kenneth will be talking about the new graphics intensive workloads that are possible in VDI thanks to highend GPUs from NVIDIA. He will specifically be digging into the different methods you can use to virtualize the GPU and when and why you would want to choose each method. I promise you this will be a deep technical dive preparing you for your next graphics intensive virtual desktop project.  Come join us at BriForum 2015 if you would like to learn more about solutions from Citrix, VMware, Microsoft and much more.

Brian Olsen (@sagelikebrian)

June 18, 2015

Marlins Score Big with Citrix

It seems like every other week there is an IT security breach that makes the news.  Many of these hacks score credit card information that can immediately be used or sold.  Recently there have been allegations that members of the St. Louis Cardinals hacked into the Houston Astros' system to gather information on players.

New York Times - Cardinals Investigated for Hacking Into Astros’ Database
Kansas City Star - Astros GM Luhnow disputes details related to Cardinals hacking probe

At face value, it seems shocking to hear about hacking in Major League Baseball.  There was a time when America's favorite pastime was not considered high tech.  It was the boys of summer playing a great game and the best team won.  In this Moneyball era of baseball statistics, numbers and data win big.


You don't have to believe me, just ask Brad Pitt.

As soon as I heard the news it made me think of what the Marlins are doing with technology from Citrix.





The Marlins are scoring two big wins with Citrix.  First, they are doing things that have never before been possible and making a better experience for their customers.  Second, they have a focus on security that has kept their IT department out of national headlines while protecting their team and intellectual property.  It is hard to put a price on the total package.

We should not give all the credit to the Marlins' IT foresight.  After all, the Simpsons predicted this way back in 1999.



 Brian Olsen @sagelikebrian

May 25, 2015

March 31, 2015

Citrix Access via Chrome is Broken

Purpose:
This post explains Google Chrome functionality that can negatively impact the access to any Citrix environment.

Symptom:
After clicking on a published application or desktop icon in StoreFront using Chrome--nothing happens.

or

After logging on to StoreFront using Chrome, it never thinks Citrix Receiver is installed and offers it to me to download before I get to see my icons.

or

You have a warning to, "Unblock the Citrix plug-in".



Resolution:
1) Re-enable the plugin using CTX137141.  This workaround will end in November 2015 when Google permanently disables NPAPI.
2) Customize StoreFront to remove the prompt to download Receiver with customized code.
3) Customize StoreFront with a link to download Receiver with customized code.
4) Enable a user setting to always open .ica files using CTX136578.
5) Use another browser not affected by the Chrome changes


Cause:
Back in November 2014, Google announced it will remove NPAPI support from Chrome.  They are making this change to, "improve security, speed, and stability" of the browser.   In April 2105, they will changing Chrome's default settings to disable NPAPI before removing it entirely in September of 2015.

What does this mean for my Citrix users who use Chrome?

Receiver detection.  The NPAPI plugin that Receiver (Windows and Mac) installs allows Receiver for Web (aka StoreFront) to detect if Citrix Receiver is or is not installed. Without this plugin, it assumes you do not have Receiver and will offer it for you to download and install. As an aside, you may have noticed that Internet Explorer has an ActiveX control that does the same thing. If your user does not have Receiver then they can not launch their Citrix application or desktop, so this is a good thing. If your user is already running Receiver but gets offered the Receiver download this will be confusing and could potentially be a bad thing.

Launching applications and desktops.  Let me explain what should happen when you click on the icon for, say, Outlook 2010 in StoreFront (aka Receiver for Web). StoreFront will talk to a delivery controller to figure out what machine is hosting Outlook 2010 and has the lowest load. StoreFront will then offer you a .ica file to download. If you have the plugin, Windows will know that this is a configuration file that should be opened by Receiver. Receiver will then connect you to your application. This all happens quickly and seamless making it seem like Outlook 2010 launches immediately.

Without the plugin, you will download an .ica file but Outlook 2010 will not open until you click it. Chrome does have the option (the arrow on the downloaded file) to “Always open files of this type” as shown in CTX136578.


SageLike Post ID: SL0009

Applies to:
Google Chrome
StoreFront (aka Receiver for Web)
Receiver
XenApp
XenDesktop
Maybe others

References:
http://blogs.citrix.com/2015/03/09/preparing-for-npapi-being-disabled-by-google-chrome/
http://blog.chromium.org/2014/11/the-final-countdown-for-npapi.html
http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX141137
http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX136578

January 18, 2015

Citrix Summit 2015

Citrix Summit 

is an annual conference where partners gather to hear the latest technical and sales information.  This year it was held in exciting Las Vegas at the sprawling Venetian conference center.  Coverage of Summit is always tricky because, while it is a partner only event and mostly covered by NDA, there are aspects that are already public.  This article will strive to keep the balance and leave what happened in Vegas--well, safely behind in Vegas.

This year Lewan sent four engineers to take part in the festivities. We came back with our heads full of announcements, product updates, and experience with what is coming next.  It is going to be an exciting year for Citrix customers.


The Announcements

Mark Templeton is back at the helm as CEO.  This is excellent news as the 20 year veteran of Citrix is beloved by both employees and the industry.

Citrix acquires Sanbolic.  Sanbolic allows customer deployments to be geo-distributed across multiple locations and to scale in a linear and predictable manner.  We will have to wait and see what this means for Citrix's product portfolio.

WorkspacePod Powered by HP is announced.  The solution is integrated Citrix infrastructure software with HP's Moonshot platform.  HP considers this integrated compute, storage, networking, plus GPU to be the next step beyond hyper-converged infrastructure and they have labeled it ultra-converged.  Time will tell if this moniker will be adopted by the industry.  A tech preview is expected to be available Q1 of this year.



Product Updates

Workspace Cloud is announced.  Formerly Workspace Services, Workspace Cloud is a revolutionary new way to deliver Windows and mobile apps, data, and desktops.  I say revolutionary because it is clearly a new way of thinking.  I had several discussions over the week with some people hesitant on how this would incorporate in their environment and others who cannot wait for it to be released.  This is by no means a desktop as a service (DaaS) play.  Citrix is very specific with the choice of the word workspace.  To quote Mark T, "the desktop is to the PC-era as Workspace is to the Cloud-era".

XenMobile 10 is announced.  XenMobile 10 represents a big step forward for the product in areas like security (FIPS 140.2) and flexibility.  Our hands-on experience makes us believe the people most excited about this release should be the administrators as significant steps have been made to make this product easier to deploy and use.  Users get updated Worx apps and a new self service portal for tracking, locking, and wiping lost or stolen devices.

XenServer 6.5 is announced.  Major improvements have been made to the hypervisor in the areas of performance.  The new 64-bit kernel architecture has resulted in dramatic improvements in networking and storage performance.  I do not have the numbers in front of me but I remember my jaw dropping in the keynote because some of them had triple digit percentage improvements.  The timing could not be better with the uptick in XenServer deployments in 2014 due to industry leading support of NVIDIA GRID vGPU technology.

Improvements to XenApp and XenDesktop are coming.  Citrix is hard at work improving their flagship products.  Enhancements are coming to Microsoft Lync optimization and session recording will be added to Director.  If the last one sounds a lot like SmartAuditor, it is because I believe it will be replacing that functionality.

XenApp and XenDesktop technology previews are coming.  DesktopPlayer for Windows will be a welcome addition for offline virtual desktop and BYO Windows users.  Linux fans rejoice, a virtual desktop agent is coming.  The most exciting thing I witnessed (at the conference ;) ) was the integration of Framehawk into Citrix's already amazing HDX protocol.  Framehawk is the special sauce that overcomes very challenging network conditions like high latency (often seen in cellular) or packet loss (often seen in poor Wi-Fi).  Check out the pre-Citrix acquisition video from a few years ago below to see why I am excited.




The demo lab is already being prepared to make room for all of this awesome tech.  All of these updates are bound to set the stage for an exciting week in Orlando at Citrix Synergy in May.  For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

January 6, 2015

LoginVSI VSISetup has stopped working

Purpose:
This article explains how to resolve the error, "VSISetup has stopped working" while setting up LoginVSI.

Symptom:
During the install process of the LoginVSI management console the setup program crashes shortly after starting it.



Resolution:
Add the .NET Framework 3.5.1 using the Add Features wizard.  Before continuing on with the LoginVSI install, run Windows Update and patch .NET.  This can be time consuming as there are lots of updates available and may require a reboot or two.



Cause:
While it is documented in the excellent install guide, it is easy to forget that the default install of Windows Server 2008 R2 does not have .NET 3.5.1 installed and it is required.

SageLike Post ID: SL0008

Applies to:
Windows Server 2008 R2

Maybe others

References: