Best practices for setting up Citrix Cloud services
Citrix Cloud enables organizations to host XenDesktop, XenApp and more in the cloud, but IT should first set up administration and Cloud Connectors and ensure high availability.
Anaheim, Calif. -- Although some organizations want to stick to on premises, others are turning their attention to hosting and managing their Citrix end-user resources in the cloud.
As Citrix continues to push its vision of customers moving XenDesktop, XenApp and other workloads to the cloud, attendees at the annual Synergy user conference learned some tips for the initial design and setup of a deployment on different cloud offerings. With Citrix Cloud services, organizations can host XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile and ShareFile as a service in private clouds, or in public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and AWS.
There are several requirements and considerations IT must take into account before moving to Citrix Cloud services, particularly related to setting up connectivity and ensuring availability.
Setting up administration
Administrators can use the Director console in Citrix Cloud services to configure and manage the hosted services. The user interface is the same as the on-premises version of Director that IT uses to manage on-premises XenDesktop, for instance.
Citrix has plans to move the Director console to the web in the future, according to Citrix engineer George Kuruvilla speaking in a session at the conference. Admins can use Director for capacity and logon monitoring to ensure a strong user experience.
Citrix supports two identity providers -- Azure Active Directory (AD) and My Citrix credentials -- that IT can work with to enable admin access to Citrix Cloud management and end-user access to Cloud workloads. Azure AD enables IT to easily delegate administrator credentials to IT staff, and it provides multifactor authentication for users.
Managing Cloud Connectors
The main component of a Citrix Cloud services deployment that IT must first set up is what Citrix calls Cloud Connectors, which link the Citrix workloads with whichever private or public cloud service the organization chooses.
For the best availability of services, IT departments should deploy a minimum of two Cloud Connectors per resource location, said Christiaan Brinkhoff, a senior workspace consultant at Detron, an IT services provider in the Netherlands. He added that if organizations use Azure, they should deploy the Connectors on Azure Managed Disks. With Azure, organizations must configure Availability Sets to ensure high availability for the Citrix services.
IT must also install Virtual Delivery Agents and configure them to communicate with the Cloud Connectors for brokering. Admins should make sure to uninstall any Cloud Connectors before deleting a VM. Otherwise, the Connector will still exist on the Citrix Cloud even if IT removes a VM from the system.
Ensuring uptime, security
Citrix recommends using Availability Zones to provide better availability on Azure. Microsoft now has multiple data centers in the same general area within a given region, so customers can place virtual machines in different zones within that region. If there is a disaster in one data center in the region, the environment can fail over to another data center in that region for continuous uptime.
"They provide a better level of data center continuity," Brinkhoff said. "Microsoft is dominating now on services. Azure is the way to go."
Customers can also assign their Cloud Connectors to different parts of a single data center, so if there is a power outage in one rack, it can fail over to another Citrix Cloud Connector in an unaffected rack. IT can configure all of this from the Citrix Cloud console.
To stay up to date on Citrix Cloud services uptime, IT can keep tabs on information at status.cloud.com.