XenDesktop 7 Series – PoC setup

In case you missed the announcement or my blog post last week, Citrix XenDesktop 7 finally hit the streets. It is a very major release of the product, merging XenDesktop and XenApp into a single management system. Gone are the days of a dozen or more different consoles to manage everything. XenApp has now taken on the XenDesktop model of provisioning and management. It now fully supports Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and SQL 2012.

I wanted to walk through a PoC setup of XenDesktop 7, so you get a feel of the major changes in this release and the new streamlined installation and configuration process. Prior versions of XenDesktop were not terrible to install, but had different installers for different pieces (such as StoreFront) and didn’t have a unified feel. For the most part, that is now history.

For this PoC I’ll install all of the components on a single Windows Server 2012 with a SQL 2012 express database. In a production environment you’d want redundant Desktop Controllers (brokers) and StoreFront servers (web interfaces), with a clustered database. Both roles can easily be load balanced by a Citrix NetScaler, for high availability. The Citrix NetScaler can also be configured for secure remote access via an ICA/HDX proxy, or full SSL VPN.

XenDesktop 7 Series

Part 1: Role Installation 
Part 2: Configure Desktop Studio Site
Part 3: Install VDA 
Part 4: Create Machine Catalog
Part 5: Configure StoreFront 
Part 6: Create Delivery Group
Part 7: Receiver Configuration
Part 8: Install Server VDA
Part 9: Create Server Machine Catalog
Part 10: Create Application Delivery Group

XenDesktop 7 Role Installation

The XenDesktop 7 download is a single ISO, with the optional Provisioning services which is a separate ISO. I’m opting to use MCS (Machine Creation Services) with my vSphere 5.1 hosts, so I don’t need the provisioning services ISO. I prepared a Windows Server 2012 VM and mounted the XenDesktop 7 ISO.

1. Launch the installer and you will see a unified installer. Since this will be a simple all-in-one server, I clicked in the leftmost box. If you are doing a distributed production install you can use the boxes on the right to install individual components as needed.

XenDesktop 7

2. Next up I was presented a list of all the roles which I could chose from. Again, I wanted all roles since everything will be on one server.

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3. Since I didn’t want to use an external database (SQL Server 2012 with AlwaysOn is a supported configuration) I opted for the built-in SQL Express.

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4. Next up the wizard showed me a nice list of ports that each role needs to communicate over. I’m using the Windows firewall, so I let it automatically configure all of the required rules.

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5. That’s it! A nice summary page is shown and then I kicked off the installer. It estimated the installation to take 26 minutes. That was quite wrong, and in fact only took 13 minutes on my home QNAP!

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At this point you are now ready to launch the Desktop Studio MMC and start doing the configuration. You will also need to configure StoreFront, and a little SSL work. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we start the basic configuration tasks to bring XenDesktop 7 to life.

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