App-V Scheduler 2.5 released

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Intro

If you are reading about App-V Scheduler for the first time: App-V Scheduler is a purpose build deployment tool for App-V 5 and provides features that allow you to perform all actions that are crucial in every application life cycle management process. The power of App-V Scheduler is the amount of fine grained control, instant package delivery and real-time visibility over your App-V 5 deployment.

What’s new in App-V Scheduler version 2.5

  • Full support for the embedded App-V client*
  • Performance improvements in the Central View console
  • New search and filtering options in the Central View console
  • New machine group funtionality for even better management and control over your deployment
  • Enhanced deployment method for large scale VDI environments
  • New publishing tasks features (adding packages on the fly and publish packages globally when no user publishing task exists feature)
  • Import package options directly from the content share

* Since Windows 10 anniversary update and Windows Server 2016 the App-V Client is embedded in the Operating System, this makes your application deployment even easier and more reliable as ever before! And to make it even more a no-brainer to leverage this application deployment method, App-V is now also free to use!

For more information about the above new features, please visit the App-V Scheduler website and read the latest release blogpost.
Thanks for reading.

Remote Display Analyzer for RDP

rdp-icon

Remote Display Analyzer for RDP \ RemoteFX

If you are reading about Remote Display Analyzer (RDA) for the first time, RDA is a real-time monitoring tool which helps you:

  • Better understand remote display protocol behaviour
  • Troubleshoot remote display issues
  • Analyze and compare workloads across different display modes
  • Decide which settings works best in your environment

Remote Display Analyzer runs as single executable (no installation required) and docks on the buttom right corner of your session. The first release of Remote Display Analyzer was targeted for Citrix HDX, you can read more about this release here.

Today I’m happy to announce the availability of Remote Display Analyzer for RDP. Below you will find a screenshot of RDA for RDP in action:

printscreenTo give a short introduction I will shortly describe the available information in Remote Display Analyzer (RDA) for RDP:

Display Mode
RDA will detect the active display mode (RemoteFX or legacy RDP) and which transport protocol is used for the connection. RDA will also show you the available bandwidth, this is the measured available bandwidth between the client and the RDS session host.

Real-Time Statistics
The real-time statistics gives you visibility in the real-time bandwidth consumption for both UDP and TCP, also the round trip latency for the active protocol is shown here. 

Package flow statistics
This statistics are primarily used for UDP based connections and will show you the Forward Error Correction (FEC) rate (recover from losses without retransmissions) and the package loss and retransmission rate.

Frame statistics
Frame statistics will show you the number of frames currently being sent to the client, also the frame quality is shown here. You will get a better understanding how RemoteFX is adjusting the frame quality when playing video content for example. Also in case of any skipped frames, you will see how many frames are skipped and the reason why they where skipped.

Total Statistics
The total statistics section will show you the total analytics during the runtime of RDA. For example here you can find the total number of frames that where send to the client and the total amount of bandwidth consumed for each protocol. Also the average bandwidth consumption is shown here. Just run your workload and see in real-time and in totals how the active display mode behaves in your environment. The total statistics can be reset with the little button just below the total section.

Comparision between RemoteFX in 2012R2 and 2016

Just to show you an example, I compared the difference between RemoteFX in 2012R2 and 2016. The following information is part of this comparision:

  • Same workload (play 30 seconds of the same video)
  • Same datacenter
  • Same hardware
  • Same available bandwidth
  • Same client (connected to a 50Mbit internet connection)
  • Latest RDP client (Windows 10)

Below you will find a screenshot of the results after running the test on 2012R2 :

2012r2

And below you will find the screenshot after running exact the same test on 2016:

2016

Conclusion and findings

  • As you can see in the RDA output from above screenshots the total frames send to the client are more or less the same
  • You can also see that the consumed bandwidth is much lower on the 2016 session host
  • Average bandwidth usage is also much lower on the 2016 session host
  • Frame quality is more adjusted on the 2016 session host while playing video, but this has no noticeable impact on the user experience
  • Much more pleasant to watch the video on the 2016 session host

Please keep in mind this results are tight to this given scenario, results may vary depending on the workload and available resources.

Availability
Remote Display Analyzer for RDP is now available on the Remote Display Analyzer website, where you can also find more information about the project.

Currently the roadmap for the next version of Remote Display Analyzer is to add support for VMware (so all major platforms are supported) and to add GPU related information. Also Remote Display Analyzer will be consolidated into a single version so you can run it cross platform by just using one executable.

Thanks for reading!

Remote Display Analyzer for HDX 1.4 released

Hi all,rda

I want to begin with a big thank you for all the positive feedback about Remote Display Analyzer (RDA) and also a very big thanks to the members in the sponsor program, this really helps to drive RDA forward and to help balance the amount of time spend in this project by giving something back to the family. So thank you very much for becoming a sponsor!

If you read about Remote Display Analyzer for HDX for the first time, this tool will help you decide which display settings are the best for your Citrix environment. RDA will help you:

  • Visualize Citrix HDX display modes, this will give you a better understanding of all the settings and what their effects are in real-time
  • Only show you settings that are applicable for the active display mode
  • Live switch between display modes and settings
  • Give insight in consumed resources (CPU, Memory, Bandwidth) and compare them to other display modes while running the same workload
  • Troubleshoot display issues

If you want to read more about previous released versions, please click here.

What’s new in Remote Display Analyzer for HDX 1.4

Below you will find a print screen of version 1.4:

1.4 printscreen

As you can see there is a new section added called Total Analytics. This will give you insight in the consumed resources after running a specific workload. For example you can run your graphic intense application, your business applications or play a video and measure the total consumed bandwidth and the total frames that are send to the client. The average bandwidth counter will give you an indication what the average bandwidth consumption (per second) was while running your workload.

RDA will now also show you the detected (available) bandwidth between the remote environment and your client, there is a reset button which you can use to reset the total analytics back to zero so you can start analysing just before running your workload.

The HDX policies are updated to reflect the changes made in XenApp\XenDesktop 7.9 and version 1.4 also contains numerous fixes and improvements.

Remote Display Analyzer for HDX 1.4 is now available on the website. All existing sponsors will receive a mail automatically containing their new sponsor unlock password. If you are a sponsor and didn’t receive this mail, please send a mail to info@rdanalyzer.com and we will take care of this as soon as possible. New sponsors will receive a personal unlock password automatically by filling in the sponsor form on the website, thanks for your support and feedback!

App-V Scheduler 2.4 released

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If you are reading about App-V Scheduler for the first time: App-V Scheduler is a purpose build App-V 5 deployment tool specially designed for virtual workloads like RDS\XenApp and VDI environments. The power of App-V Scheduler is the amount of fine grained control, instant package delivery and real-time visibility over your App-V 5 deployment. To name some advantages of App-V Scheduler :

  • Support for both persistent and non-persistent environments (Citrix PVS\MCS integration)
  • Advanced cache management (Cleanup, auto balance cache with source and selectively pre-cache packages)
  • Improve application launch time with virtual registry pre-staging and application pre-launch feature
  • Packages and Connection groups available at machine startup and ongoing through deploy cycle
  • Complete application life cycle management; from instantly deploying packages to draining and retire applications
  • Update packages while they are in use without rebooting the machine and while users are logged on
  • Real-Time (portable) remote management console (inventory, manage and central configuration)
  • No App-V full infra components needed (dramatically simplify your deployment)

For more information about the 2.4 release and about previous released versions, please visit the App-V Scheduler website and read the latest release blogpost.

Citrix Display modes: How to configure, what to configure, when to configure

graphics

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blogpost, so I thought it was about time to write a follow up regarding Citrix graphics!

Lets get back in time first, my previous 2 blog posts about Citrix display modes are still very relevant and will give you a good overview about :

A while ago I started to write part 3 : How to configure, what to configure, when to configure. The main goal for this blog post was to give an understanding about all the display modes and related settings.  Lets start with summarizing the available Citrix display modes we know today :

  • Legacy Graphics mode (this includes the first Adaptive Display generation and the older progressive display technology)
  • Thinwire Graphics mode (this includes the new H.264 video codecs (Pure H.264 and H.264 Optimized for text) and Thinwire plus, the latter is also known as Compatibility mode)
  • Desktop Composition Redirection (combination of Thinwire graphics and Aero\DWM remoting to offload DirectX commands to the client)
  • Framehawk (new graphics mode which is based on predicting technologies to optimize graphics for high latency connections (UDP based))

So the initial goal of this blogpost was to help understanding all of the policies and settings related to above display modes. When a specific setting applies and when not, etc.
In the meantime my colleague Barry Schiffer was also busy with this subject and had the idea to give a presentation  together at E2EVC about the various display modes. Our goal was to give insight in the consumed resources of every display mode and help you decide which configuration would be the best fit for your environment. This is where the idea was born to develop  a tool to show valuable information about the current display mode while running your remote workload in the background. This tool would be targeted to admins and not users.

When it comes down to configuring display settings one size doesn’t fit all, so I decided to stop writing the part 3 blog post and instead build out the tool so you can experience every display mode and settings for yourself. I think this tool will make you understand the display modes and its behavior even better then only reading about it!

Remote Display Analyzer

So this is how the Remote Display Analyzer project has started. The main goal of Remote Display Analyzer is to make the display modes understandable by showing only applicable information for the detected display mode. It helps you decide which configuration fits best in your environment and will help you detect miss configured settings and resource bottlenecks.

Imagine to take place behind your old thin client (which for example can’t be replaced because of tight budgets) and detect at which display configuration the user experience is optimal and in balance with the resource allocation. Or to check at which settings your branch office performance best, or just to get a better understanding about the behavior of a given display mode. Sounds great right?

Over time the project evolved in much more then only showing you real-time information that matters, Remote Display Analyzer is also able to show you which settings you can change and change them on the fly!
This makes it possible to run your remote workload in the background and flip settings to get a deeper understanding of what is happening in real-time without having to logoff and configure different policies by yourself etc. Because the naming of the settings are the same as you find in the policies it’s easy to replicate the optimal settings in your production environment.

Change display settings on the fly

Besides live switching through settings, Remote Display Analyzer is also able to switch between display modes. For example you can live switch between Thinwire and Framehawk and from Thinwire to Desktop Composition Redirection(DCR) and vice versa when your client and VDA supports it.

Change display mode on the fly

Enough talking try it for yourself, hopefully you like it!

Availability

Remote Display Analyzer is available in 2 editions :

  • Lite edition, which gives you the ability to view display settings and real-time analytics
  • Sponsored edition, which provides all the functionality of Remote Display Analyzer like changing settings on the fly and advanced settings

Of course I hope to welcome you as sponsor of the project to even add more functionality in the future and to keep Remote Display Analyzer up to date. For more information about sponsoring and downloading Remote Display Analyzer please visit the website : www.rdanalyzer.com.

Thanks for reading!

What’s new in App-V Scheduler 2.3

Introduction
It’s exactly a year ago that App-V Scheduler 2.0 was released in its current form and today we are very excited to announce the latest release of App-V Scheduler, version 2.3.
If you are reading about App-V Scheduler for the first time: App-V Scheduler is a purpose build App-V 5 deployment tool specially designed for virtual workloads like RDS\XenApp and VDI environments. The power of App-V Scheduler is the amount of fine grained control, instant package delivery and real-time visibility over your App-V 5 deployment. To name some advantages of App-V Scheduler :

  • Support for both persistent and non-persistent environments (Citrix PVS\MCS integration)
  • Advanced cache management (Cleanup, auto balance cache with source and selectively pre-cache packages)
  • Improve application launch time with virtual registry pre-staging and application pre-launch feature
  • Packages and Connection groups available at machine startup and ongoing through deploy cycle
  • Complete application life cycle management; from instantly deploying packages to draining and retire applications without touching your image
  • Real-Time (portable) remote management console (inventory, manage and central configuration)
  • No App-V full infra components needed (dramatically simplify your deployment)

In this blog post we will walk through the most important new features in App-V Scheduler 2.3, to read more about existing features click here.

What’s new in the App-V Scheduler agent
Let’s start with the new managed publishing mode which can be configured in the App-V Scheduler agent configuration window :

Publishing mode

When managed mode is enabled you can use App-V Scheduler Central View to create publishing tasks (see screenshots later on in this post). Both global and user publishing tasks are supported. Global publishing tasks are executed when the deploy cycle runs and user publishing tasks are executed when a user logs in to the machine, this is done directly by the App-V Scheduler agent service so no need to execute anything in the user context. Optionally user publishing tasks can also be refreshed when the deploy cycle runs allowing you to publish new applications while users are logged on to the machine. Multi domain environments are supported and there is also an option to enable nested group support.

In unmanaged mode, App-V Scheduler will publish all packages globally by default so you can use User Environment Management (UEM) tools for example to control access to the applications.

A new feature called pre-stage virtual registry is now added to the deploy cycle :

Pre-stage virtual registry

This option can invoke the staging of the virtual registry right after the package is added, normally this is done when the application is launched by the user for the first time causing launch delays and unnecessary CPU utilization. App-V Scheduler already logs the amount of time it took to add and publish a package and this is now also done for the registry pre-stage feature:

Pre-stage log

What’s new in App-V Scheduler Central View
Packages and connection groups are now displayed in the same overview making it easier to navigate and manage them. The per machine options are now all displayed in the group view :

Central View console

The Central View console is now multi-threaded, this means if you inventory multiple machines at the same time or remove packages on multiple machines at the same time this will go much quicker. All tasks and their status is shown in the background tasks window :

Background tasks

The package options window is now extended with the new publishing task options (used when App-V Scheduler agent is running in managed mode). You can create new or show existing publishing tasks of the selected package directly from here :

Package Options

When you create a new publishing task you can select the publishing type :

Publishing Type

User groups can easily be selected with the active directory object picker :

Object Picker

You can also show and manage all publishing tasks at once when clicking on the Show Publishing Tasks button in the Central View main window :

Show Publishing tasks

The create new connection group option is extended with the latest App-V 5 SP3 enhancements like the any version wildcard and possibility to set a package as optional :

SP3 Connection Group

Availability
App-V Scheduler 2.3 is now available on the App-V Scheduler website.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Extended App-V 5 integration in RES Workspace Manager 2014 SR2, how does it work?

Intro
With the release of Workspace Manager 2014 SR2 (WM from now on), RES has extended the App-V 5 integration making it possible to automatically Add and Publish a package inside the user context. WM does this with evaluated permissions since the user doesn’t have the permissions to add App-V 5 package itself, the add and publish is executed when the user clicks on the application for the first time making it a Just in Time (JIT) deployment method. I have been involved in the pre-stage of this feature and would like to discuss how it works and how it differentiates from App-V Scheduler.

How does it work?
The concept is pretty simple, there are a few options added in the console after you select the .appv file :

  • Package delivery mode
  • Always use the latest version of the package

Package delivery mode allows you to select 3 available options : None, Minimal and Full (both user publishing and global publishing can be selected).
Below you will find a screenshot of how the package delivery option looks like :

Package Delivery Mode Small

When you select None, WM will not add and publish the package and you can use another delivery method like App-V Scheduler or the App-V native infrastructure for example to take care of the deployment. This option still makes use of the App-V 5 integration options in WM like the version variable (to detect the latest package version) and inject\capture user settings.

When you select Minimal, WM will add and publish the App-V package when the user clicks on the application for the first time and will show the following message to the user  :

Prepared Message

WM will add the package without using the mount option, so the package will be streamed just like how it’s configured during sequencing.
After the package is added and published the following message is displayed :

Finished Message

After the user clicks yes the application is launched, depending on the streaming settings of the package you may see the App-V progress bar notifying the application is getting streamed :

Loading2
When you select Full, the exact same process happens as with the minimal option, but the difference is the package gets 100% loaded (mounted in the background) when the application is launched.

The Always use the latest version of the package option will instruct WM to scan the .appv files in the folder of the package (and up to 2 subfolders below in the package folder), if WM finds a newer version of the package it will try to deploy it and will show the following message to the user :

Update Message

This update process also happens in the user context when the user clicks on the application.

In my opinion global publishing makes more sense in combination with UEM tools, because then you can manage the application the same way as they where installed natively (access and control etc) and you don’t have to publish the package for every user making it faster and less entries in the user registry.

Conclusion
I don’t know any UEM products that has such deep integration with App-V 5 as RES Workspace Manager, RES was one of the first to integrate with App-V 5 and with the extended integration in SR2 there is now also a very easy way to (optionally) add and publish a package. But one can ask itself if the user context is the right level to deploy the packages for their environment as it can take a while for the application to become available and it can cause numerous messages to your users that just want to launch the application as quickly as possible. Also it can be difficult to make use of new extension points in App-V 5 (like shell extensions and browser plugins) because the package isn’t deployed initially before it’s started for the first time.

How does this feature compare with App-V Scheduler
Because WM uses a just in time deploy method that runs in the user context and App-V Scheduler deploys directly when the machine boots and based on a configurable timer or centrally controlled by App-V Scheduler Central View they cannot be really compared with each other. Also the WM App-V 5 deployment option is only available in the silver\gold editions of Workspace Manager where App-V Scheduler is available in a free community edition and can also be used with other UEM tools or even without UEM tools as well. App-V Scheduler also addresses the following challenges which are out of the scope of the RES WM deployment option :

  • Cache management for non-persistent use cases (PVS\MCS)
  • Cache management for persistent use cases (automatic clean-up of older package versions to control cache size and remedation of applications)
  • Instant application access by adding and selectively mounting packages at machine start-up (to append to non-persistent images for example)
  • Support for connection groups
  • Support for deployment configuration files
  • Real-time central management of App-V 5 packages, connection groups and virtual processes on multiple machines
  • And more… Click here to read more about the App-V Scheduler features

Just like App-V Scheduler, this new WM feature reduces complexity (less scripting etc) and more granular control compared to other deployment options, but depending on your scenario keep above points in mind when deploying and managing App-V 5 applications.