Introduction

Let’s face it, installing distributed, enterprise-class virtual desktop and server based computing infrastructure is time consuming and complex.  The infrastructure consists of many components that are installed on individual servers and then configured to work together.  Traditionally this has largely been a manual, error prone process.

The Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template for System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) leverages the rich automation capabilities available in Microsoft’s private cloud offering to significantly streamline and simplify the installation experience.  The XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template enables rapid deployment of virtual app and desktop infrastructure on Microsoft System Center 2012 private clouds.  This Tech Preview is available now and includes the latest 7.1 version of XenDesktop that supports Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.

Key Benefits:

  • Rapid Deployment – A fully configured XenDesktop 7.1 deployment that adheres to Citrix best practices is automatically installed in about an hour; a manual installation can take a day or more.
  • Reduction of human errors and the unwanted consequences – IT administrators answer 9 questions about the XenDesktop deployment, including the VM Network to use, the domain to join, the SQL server used to host the database, the SCVMM server to host the desktops, and the administrative service accounts to connect to each of these resources.  Once this information is entered, the Service Template automation installs the XenDesktop infrastructure the same way, every time, ensuring consistency and correctness.
  • Reduction in cost of IT Operations – XenDesktop infrastructure consistently configured with automation is less costly to support because the configuration adheres to best practice standards.
  • Free highly skilled and knowledgeable staff from repeatable and mundane tasks – A Citrix administrator’s time is better spent focused on ensuring that users get access to the applications they need, rather than lengthy production installation tasks.
  • Simplified Eval to Retail Conversion – Windows Server 2012 and later, as well as XenDesktop 7.1, support conversion of evaluation product keys to retail keys.  This means that a successful POC deployment of the XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template is easily converted to a fully supported and properly configured production deployment.
  • Easy Scale-Out for greater capacity – SCVMM Service Templates support a scale-out model to increase user capacity.  For example, as user demand increases additional XenDesktop Controllers and StoreFront servers are easily added with a few clicks and are automatically joined to the XenDesktop site.

The XenDesktop Service Templates were developed and tested with the support of our friends and partners at Dell, who, in support of the release of XenDesktop 7.1 and the Service Template technical preview, are expected to launch new and innovative solutions that include these and other automation capabilities this quarter.  These solutions are based on the Dell DVS Enterprise for Citrix XenDesktop solutions.

Simplification of Distributed Deployments

The XenDesktop 7.1 in-box installation wizard is a fantastic user experience that automatically installs all the required prerequisites and XenDesktop components in under 30 minutes.  The result is a fully installed XenDesktop deployment, all on a single server, that is excellent for POCs and product evaluations.  The installation and configuration challenges occur when you want to install XenDesktop in production, with enterprise-class scalability, distributed across multiple servers.

Manual Installation Steps

 

XenDesktop 7 manual installation steps

Figure 1

 

You must manually complete the following steps to deploy XenDesktop in a distributed deployment:

  1. Obtain the XenDesktop 7.1 media
  2. Create the XenDesktop infrastructure VMs using Hyper-V or SCVMM tools
  3. Run the XenDesktop installer for the License server
  4. Run the XenDesktop installer for the Controller
  5. Run the XenDesktop scripts to create the SQL databases
  6. Run the XenDesktop installer for the Studio console
  7. Run the XenDesktop installer for the Director operations console
  8. Run the XenDesktop installer for the StoreFront web server
  9. Use the Studio console to configure the site
  10. Create the Windows Desktop master image
  11. Secure the XenDesktop site with the NetScaler Gateway

Each time a manual step is introduced into the installation process, the deployment time increases as does the likelihood of making mistakes.

 

XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template Installation

Using the same XenDesktop distributed deployment reference architecture (figure 2), let’s compare the error prone manual installation experience to the XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template installation experience.

XenDesktop 7 Service Template installation steps

Figure 2

You must complete the following manual steps to deploy the XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template for a distributed deployment:

  1. Download the XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template from Citrix.com
  2. Import the XenDesktop Service Template into the SCVMM Library
  3. Deploy the XenDesktop Service Template using the SCVMM Console
  4. Automation within the XenDesktop Service Template completes the following steps:
    1. Creates VMs required to host the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
    2. Installs the XenDesktop database, Controller, License server, Studio console, Director operations console, StoreFront web servers, SCVMM console libraries
    3. Configures the XenDesktop site by registering the License Server and StoreFront servers as well as creating a host connection to the SCVMM Server
  5. Create the Windows Desktop master image
  6. Secure the XenDesktop site with the NetScaler Gateway

Note that there are fewer manual steps involved in the deployment, and as a result it is significantly less error prone.

More Information

This project is another great example of Dell and Citrix partnering together to innovate, and reduce the complexity of our joint solutions while increasing the value and ROI for our joint customers.

For more information about how the Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 Service Template works, visit http://now.citrix.com/techpreview/XenDesktopSystemCenterServiceTemplate.