Updates on my XenDesktop 4 on ESXi environment.

I think I owe you, readers, an update on what is going on with my XenDesktop 4 environment and where we stand at.

First of all, after reading the article Bridget Botelho wrote today, I do have a couple comments. I did have (and still have some) issues with my XenDesktop 4 deployment on VMWare ESXi. After discussing the issues with Citrix, note this is not a supported solution so now I do have a formal answer from them and again it is: ESXi is NOT supported. This does not mean it does not work. It just means they have not tested it or gave the same level of attention as for the full blown ESX or Microsoft’s Hyper-V.

My feedback on ESXi is, it does work and I do think this would be an awesome solution for small companies and a great way for Citrix to introduce XenDesktop to these small VMWare customers (for the small shops, I said many times memory overcommitment is indeed a great feature to have and as of today XenServer does not support it – I am all for testing XenServer once that is supported and recommending it to the small guys).

The issues I pointed out on my previous post, I have discussed with Citrix this week and they have been very helpful on determining the culprit. The first one, the video driver issue, is documented on CTX123952 as Calvin Hsu from Citrix pointed out and that was exactly what shanekleinert sent my way. That fixed it. My suggestion to Citrix is let’s leverage the power of Twitter and Blogging tools and make sure something this big that has the potential to affect tons of users gets posted everywhere ASAP, especially considering it has a very simple fix.

In terms of complexity to get a XenDesktop 4 environment going I must disagree with the feedback given on Bridget’s article. If you are used to Citrix products, it is very straight forward and actually extremely simple to get it up and running. If you are not familiar well then it is like any other unfamiliar technology/product: there is a learning curve for sure. Big or small I cannot comment as again, I am very versed on Citrix. But honestly, for a newcomer, I cannot see XenDesktop 4 as rocket science. It is WAY simpler than Microsoft’s VDI offering.

Back to the issues and where we stand at:
– The video one is fixed as per my comments above.
– There was some weird ‘hanging’ issue (the VM would seem locked up) and another one where I had to click multiple times on the ‘connect’ button to get to the VM. Once I upgraded the Mac OS X client to 11.1 (I was on 11.0) these issues are gone. So make sure you are on the latest client (tested with Windows 7 PCs as well and it is working good).
– The only one remaining is the major one and again, Citrix is on top of that trying to find the culprit. The problem, in case you are not aware, is the connection to the VM fails once I login to the Web Interface. If I then go to the vSphere client and launch the VM console and move the mouse around to somehow ‘wake up’ the VM, the connection then works just fine from the Web Interface. If I use it and logoff and try to login again, it works. But if I logoff and do not touch the VM for a while, it goes into this ‘standby’ mode. The vSphere console shows the VM barely using any resources when that happens. I played a little bit with the Power options on Windows 7 (as that could be the issue) but so far it seems the same. The one test I need to do is to try RDP first to see if it connects. If it does there is probably something going on between the VM and the DDC. To be determined.

So after using it for a couple weeks now, testing all sorts of apps and streaming video, on a heavily used ESXi host, this is what I have to say about XenDesktop 4: yes, I do have now one single issue that I am sure will be solved (I do appreciate Citrix’s help considering I am using an unsupported platform) and that issue aside, it works extremely well on both LAN and WAN and as Shawn Bass mentioned in one of his tweets, WAN is king for sure and to me that is the main reason why I think XenDesktop, as of today, is ahead of VMWare View.

Once my final issue is solved I will be a happy camper and for sure will be posting here the final chapter of this soap opera.

Stay tuned.


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