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Citrix & Business Continuity – Tips from the field

Citrix has long been the market leaders for enabling remote working, but this has traditionally been approached from an angle of delivering enhancements, either through increasing productivity through agile working, or improving employee experience. However today, around the world businesses are faced with the challenge of remote working being a necessity rather than an optional benefit.Many Citrix customers who may provide Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops based access to a portion of their workforce are seeking to understand how to scale up their environments to deliver services to a greater portion of the workforce. The concept of this blog is to highlight some areas that can allow you to offer remote working capabilities to a larger number of employees than may be required day-to-day.

Licensing

In order to extend Citrix Services to more users you need to ensure that you have appropriate licenses in place to ensure you remain compliant. For Customers with on-premises deployments, Citrix have announced a Business Continuity Assurance Program to allow customers with Virtual Apps and Desktops Advanced or Platinum licenses with current support to purchase additional licenses at a discount for a 1-year term. If you anticipate needing additional remote working capacity through Virtual Apps and Desktops this could be a cost-efficient way of ensuring you remain compliant.

On-Premises customers have a built-in license overdraft facility available of 10% of the purchased license count, which can be leveraged for a short time, however customers should ensure that they have the correct licensing in place to meet their needs.

Don’t forget RDS CAL’s for those using Session Based applications or desktops, these are needed in addition to Citrix Licenses.

For customers with Citrix ADC appliances, if you have virtual appliances (VPX appliances) make sure you have sufficient bandwidth licensing in place – if you’re not sure what bandwidth licensing you have it will be displayed at the top of the screen when you log onto your Citrix ADC management console in brackets – for example: (200) would indicate that the appliance has a 200Mbps license. Virtual ADC appliances can be upgraded to higher capacity licenses if you feel that your traffic volume will exceed this.

For customers using Citrix ADC to provide VPN access to users (if you are not already this could be a viable option to enable remote access to non-Citrix resources) remember that there are built-in Citrix Gateway Universal Licenses which enable VPN access and SmartAccess to Citrix Resources.

The built-in license entitlements are:

Citrix ADC License Edition

Built-In Entitlement

Standard

500 Users

Advanced (formerly Enterprise)

1,000 Users

Premium (formerly Platinum)

Unlimited users

Additional Citrix Gateway Universal Licenses can be added to the built-in entitlement if required.

Workload Capacity

Generally, one of the greater constraints is the ability to scale up Citrix Workloads to support significantly higher usage of the environment. Adding additional compute and/or storage may simply not be a short-term option.

Options that may allow for increased capacity without the need for more resources include:

Ultima_Chevron_Red-All-Small Bursting to the cloud: Using Cloud hosted workloads would allow for the environment to be rapidly scaled to support additional compute requirements. The viability of this will be dictated by the ability to deploy the required builds into the cloud provider of your choosing. Once this capability is in place you will be able to scale as required to provide the needed capacity. If you already have a presence in a public cloud provider with existing infrastructure and connectivity in place, then this will lower the barrier to entry. In this model consider the performance of your applications when the application back-end and/or data will now be remote from the application. In a business continuity scenario is degraded performance acceptable?

Ultima_Chevron_Red-All-Small Remote PC: This is a popular option for a lot of businesses as it enables the use of existing Desktop PC hardware to provide the capacity for remote working. In this model, leveraging your existing Citrix Infrastructure (on-premises or cloud), you deploy the Citrix VDA (core package) to desktop PC’s in your organisation. These PC’s then become “Citrix Enabled” – they can either be manually assigned to a user, or can automatically register with the Citrix infrastructure to make them available to users who have logged on to them. This way a user working remotely can access their Office PC via Citrix and access the exact same application set and capabilities that they can in the office.

Ultima_Chevron_Red-All-Small VPN: If you have Citrix ADC appliances, chances are you have a number of licenses built-in to enable VPN Access which you may not be using. If RemotePC or bursting to the Cloud are not going to meet requirements, or if all of your users have corporate laptops and just need connectivity to business data to operate normally, then VPN may be your answer. Citrix ADC can provide ad-hoc or always-on VPN capabilities to users as required, however it should be considered that VPN access would only be recommended for corporate owned and secured devices. Citrix ADC and the Gateway functionality are able to perform posture checking using Endpoint Analysis Scans to ensure that only compliant devices are able to connect.

Infrastructure

Even the most basic of Citrix Infrastructures (on-premises) are typically capable of supporting many thousands of user connections when following the recommended specifications. If you are using Citrix Cloud then the behind-the-scenes infrastructure is capable of supporting tens-of-thousands of users and VDA’s.

As you increase load in the environment beyond the norms, it is essential to monitor the performance of all components in the environment to ensure you do not hit any unexpected bottlenecks which may affect availability. We recommend using ControlUp as an easy to deploy solution for monitoring Citrix Infrastructure and Workloads, however even using Citrix Director will provide a basic level of performance monitoring for Workloads.

If you are using the Citrix Gateway Service as part of the Citrix Cloud Virtual Apps and Desktops service, bear in mind that user connections will go via the Cloud Connectors. Each Cloud Connector will support up to 500 user sessions so ensure you have enough Cloud Connectors in place to support your requirement and scale out if needed.

Summary

If you have Citrix in your environment already then you have a head-start on providing a great user experience while providing business continuity. Consider the alternative ways that you can provide workloads and remote working to your users using the infrastructure you have already invested in. If you need any assistance or guidance, please do get in touch with your account manager who will be able to assist with any licensing requirements or technical issues.

These tips are fairly generic, but if you have any specific requirements you need to deliver then our technical team can help you put in place a solution to provide highly scalable business continuity capabilities specific to your environment.

If you would like to learn more, download our datasheet here

 

- By Andy McCullough (Solutions Architect)

Andrew McCullough-4

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