Deep Dive: VDI with Citrix Cloud on Microsoft Azure


Jeff Mitchell, Cloud Solution Architect, One Commercial Partner

Citrix builds on their long-standing partnership with Microsoft to offer multiple Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployment options for Citrix solutions on Microsoft Azure—including virtual apps, desktops, data and networking. Microsoft Cloud Solution Architect Jeff Mitchell shares how you can help customers provision and deliver workloads on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, reducing overall IT costs and increasing efficiency.

Join the Applications and Infrastructure Community call on Friday, January 19th for an overview of Citrix Cloud on Azure.

Citrix Cloud

Citrix Cloud was introduced in August of 2015 amid much fanfare, as the titan of industry reassured us of their focus on delivering value to customers by decreasing management tasks and update cycles involved with the control layer of a Citrix deployment. Often, we speak about cloud being a model that delivers resiliency, scalability, and self-service, allowing organizations to deliver technology as a service to drive business value. Citrix Cloud is no different. By delivering Citrix Workspaces in the cloud model, IT organizations can deliver Citrix Workspaces to end users with the benefits that cloud offers.

Virtual applications and desktops are delivered using the Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service. Look under the hood of this service and you will see it is the same control layer you love with Studio, Director, StoreFront, and Delivery Controllers. In addition, SQL Server management and license management are built into the service and no longer require granular operations. So, you have a control plane that is maintained by Citrix, giving you the ability to centrally manage a user’s app and desktop resources running securely in your Azure subscription!

Citrix and Azure Design

Azure is a resource location on the Citrix Cloud Platform—a place to deploy XenApp and XenDesktop. We know that to have a successful Azure cloud adoption you need to consider five primary areas: Operations, Identity, Governance, Security, and Connectivity.

With Citrix, the same principles apply. Typical resource requirements in an Azure resource location will include Active Directory domains, NetScaler, Virtual Desktop Agents, and the Citrix Cloud Connector. Azure is fantastic as a resource location due to factors like proximity to end user, with 36 Azure regions around the world; as well as scale and security requirements, which are ideal on Azure thanks to deep integration with Azure Active Directory and Office 365.

The two most common scenarios I’ve seen are based on hybrid cloud models. First, adding Azure as a resource location to an existing on-premises deployment. In this scenario the customer has a current on-premises control layer and would like to add Azure as a resource location for new deployments or migration. The second is a greenfield deployment with Citrix Cloud delivering resource locations in Azure or multi-cloud. The customers in this scenario are often adopting Citrix for the first time or looking for multitenancy solution.

Deploying Citrix to Azure

I will cover a high-level process of getting started with Citrix on Azure. If I get some comments below or feedback on social posts, we can dive deeper.

First, set up your Citrix Cloud account, then add a resource location on the left-hand side of the screen. This will prompt you to download Cloud Connector. The Cloud Connector is used for securely managing resources in the resource location. This typically does not have to be large VM’s depending on the deployment size, but it is recommended to host two or more in the resource location for high availability (for details, see this Scalability White Paper).

It is recommended at this point to think about your Azure subscription as a resource location that needs the resource requirements discussed above. With Azure subscription resource requirements out of the way, you can now finish registrating the resource location in the Citrix Cloud portal. Confirm through Citrix Studio that the Cloud connector is listed under Zones. This ensures it is online and reporting in, and prevents deployment failures. Now right-click on the Azure Zone and create a new host connection. During this process a service principle is provisioned for you. If you run into issues you can configure this manually.

With the steps above complete, it’s time to set up a VDA. Create a VM Desktop OS or Server OS, depending on the catalog you want in Citrix Cloud. Install the Citrix VDA software on the VM and shut down the VM, making sure it is in a Stopped (deallocated) state. You can now run the Machine Catalog Setup.

Considerations and Tools

I normally start with a D2_V2 VDA setup. You can right-size through testing there. Based on Citrix testing, D2v2 is the optimal VM instance in terms of $/user/hour (assuming full utilization of the VDA).

  • Task workers: 19 ($0.015 user/hr)
  • Knowledge workers: 15 ($0.019 user/hr)

The XenApp/XenDesktop cost calculator for Azure, located here, will help you scope the appropriate VM size based on defining typical Citrix worker roles and bandwidth considerations.

Citrix is all in on Citrix Cloud. At Citrix Summit 2018, Craig Stilwell VP of worldwide Partner Sales Citrix announced refreshed and simplified large Cloud incentives available from Citrix.

Community call

If you'd like to hear more on this topic, register for the Applications and Infrastructure Community call on Friday, January 19th. The call will provide insight into what is most important in the Microsoft partner ecosystem. We'll have a conversational dialogue between two technology professionals that is designed to appeal to technical, sales, and business professionals. One presenter will discuss Citrix on Azure from an infrastructure perspective, the other from an application development perspective.

 For those of you looking for additional deep dive, join myself and Citrix Enterprise Architect Kevin Nardone on Thursday, February 1st to hear the top lessons learned when deploying Citrix on Azure. Webinar registration will open next Friday; however, you can visit bit.ly/CitrixTIPs now to subscribe to the series and receive notification once it goes live. At the conclusion of the event, Kevin and I will open the line for Q&A to answer your cloud questions, live!

Register for the Citrix TIPs webinar and Q&A

Applications and Infrastructure Technical Community

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