Deploying and managing a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environment can be time-consuming and complicated, especially for on-premises customers. IT admins must properly configure the VDI product, and then, once it's running, they must optimize its performance to ensure that end users can be productive.
IT admins should educate themselves on Citrix VDI best practices to experience a smooth deployment process and ensure that IT management tasks never become too overwhelming.
Choose a support model
One of the first hurdles that IT admins must overcome in a Virtual Apps and Desktops deployment is to choose between the two support models that Citrix offers. Citrix's Long Term Service Release support model provides a more stable environment with less frequent feature releases. The Current Release (CR) model offers IT more frequent updates and, therefore, more new features in Virtual Apps and Desktops.
Citrix encourages organizations to use the CR support model because of its ability to showcase new features and functionality. As many applications and platforms move toward a subscription-based model with frequent updates, it's likely that more customers will embrace CR. Other customers are hesitant, however, due to the risk of updating the platform every six months, as well as the need for the updated service to be compatible with other components, such as GPU software and third-party products.
When it comes to Citrix VDI best practices, IT admins that are deciding between the two support models should consider a few factors. First, IT should evaluate the demand for new features, from both an IT and end-user perspective. Then, IT pros should determine whether they have the manpower to properly update the platform on a regular basis, which includes maintenance windows and planning. Then, IT admins should evaluate their existing ecosystem to ensure that their applications will support current versions of the Citrix platform.
Run a test
One of the most important Citrix VDI best practices is to run a test before fully deploying Virtual Apps and Desktops. Otherwise, IT admins could run into application compatibility problems, underprovisioned resources and performance issues that could make IT management difficult.
End users' storage and memory requirements and desktop logon time are two essential facets of a VDI test. Users that run video editing software, for example, have different requirements than knowledge workers that use Microsoft Word. IT should estimate these requirements as accurately as possible to avoid performance issues.
IT admins can use a native Citrix tool, such as Citrix Quick Launch, for testing. IT admins can also test custom Citrix virtual applications with third-party tools, such as Automai AppLoader and AppBuilder.
Admins can find value in obtaining a Citrix certification. It looks good on a resume, and becoming more knowledgeable about the products helps with IT management tasks. There are different levels of Citrix certifications that IT admins can earn. An Associate certification, for example, addresses basic tools such as Citrix Director, and an Expert certification covers the ins and outs of an entire Citrix-based deployment.
Watch out for performance issues
Even if IT admins have fully tested Virtual Apps and Desktops, it's possible to run into performance issues when faced with actual users and workloads. IT should comply with Citrix VDI best practices to identify and eliminate these performance issues. There are two major steps that IT can take: optimize the OS and properly configure Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS).
OSes such as Windows 10 come bloated with features and services that make it difficult for them to run as a virtual desktop OS. OS optimization can help to pare down the OS and give the image a significant performance boost. Citrix offers a native tool called Citrix Optimizer, which comes with built-in templates for specific Windows builds.
IT admins running nonpersistent Citrix deployments may deal with a misconfigured PVS environment. To follow Citrix VDI best practices, IT admins should properly size the RAM of the PVS server. They should also ensure that they don't have too many versions of PVS on top of the vDisk. One way to do this is to automate the vDisk creation process.