Posted by: Joe Foran
Welcome to my first blog on the new site… but not my last on SSV (hmm… I’ll be in both places at the same time… maybe I can get that prize money from Uri Gellar and Chris Angel). This may be part of a long series of posts, as soon I am destined to begin a Citrix implementation project without a hardware budget. Yes, that’s right… no hardware. We’re going to be using our existing VMware infrastructure. For those who follow my blogs, you probably have inferred that the mid-size organization I work for is making the jump from ESX 2.5 to VI3 next month. Truthfully, I’m not so positive about how this is going to turn out – there are far too many reported issues with the scheduler, storage controllers, and virtual SMP to make me entirely comfortable. We’re going to limit our Citrix servers to 1 vCPU each to circumvent a lot of the problems that occur with Citrix on ESX deployments, and try it out on NFS NAS to circumvent the storage controller problems that are frequently reported (though our iSCSI SAN would be more of an ideal solution and will most likely end up the final storage medium).
Mind you, we’ve tried other things in our VMware Server lab… 2X Application server came the closest to making the grade, but it’s not quite there yet. The same with Graphon. We looked at SSL-Explorer as a way to utilize Terminal Services directly over an SSL VPN, but it’s not quite what we were looking for (more the Terminal Services, less the SSL-Explorer… that’s a great product). In the end, it was time for Citrix, we knew it, and we’re going forward with it for a few users in a small environment first, hoping to build steam and justify a non-virtualized farm sometime next year, or perhaps an expansion of our VMware farm if performance on VMware works out.
We did some discovery, because there’s been so much negativity around Citrix performance in a VMware environment under 2.x and VI3. The first thing we found when we went to start testing was that Citrix offers a downloadable demo as a virtual appliance for Microsoft Virtual Server, but they don’t have one for VMware. This means going an extra step for conversion, and not really being certain whether any problems in performance are conversion-related or virtualization related. That really fried my bacon past crispy and into blackened-charcoal bits. To offset that gritty taste, we found a great post by Brian Madden, Citrix guru of long-standing grand repute, that helps explain some of the steps to take in order to improve performance. I highly recommend it as a great read.
As the demo progresses and (maybe) goes live, I’ll be posting more on the topic of Citrix and VMware playing in each other’s sandboxes. Since we’re going to be running some fairly deep applications (financial, mainly) applications as well as Office and other cross-departmental apps, I expect to be getting a lot of good feedback on the subject from my user base. I find their new head-to-head competition with Citrix XenServer interesting too…