20 years practical experience

I'm celebrating my 20 years work anniversary with Citrix products as an administrator, consultant, and for the last 14 years as an independent freelancer. I started with MetraFrame 1.1 on Windows server NT 4.0, and back then, it was not easy to keep servers running. Every day I had several BSOD, and it was expected, I could only stabilize the environment by getting rid of third-party printer drivers. Back then, the drivers were executed within the kernel space and quickly crashed servers. The next battle was the Token-Ring Thin Clients with a Citrix Client running on Microsoft MS-DOS! Always a topic, the hardware memory was never enough and expensive....

18 years ago, I had written several pages about the Windows logon and how to speed up and optimize the logon. Today the logon is still a problem, and just some days ago, I helped a customer solve his slow logon issue.

Memory Compression

While I was researching performance issues with server 2016, I found an interesting article by Microsoft talking about a new optimization. Already built into Windows 7 release, it was further developed and finally activated by default with Windows 10 Clients. With server versions the same feature is disabled but can be activated by a simple PowerShell command. I couldn't find anything on using the feature with multi-user systems. I was wondering, if this feature would give instant more performance or better user experience on session hosts running server 2016 or 2019. Customers of mine are testing it right now, and I'm interested in the results. Do you want to join them?

UPM and Microsoft Office 365

With Microsoft Office 365, more specific Outlook in a multiuser environment is problematic, if pure Microsoft Remote Desktop Services or with Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop. The Exchange servers are in the Cloud, and therefore the Outlook Cache mode is required. With activating the cache mode together with roaming profiles, the OST file is stored under AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and can grow up to 100GB.

This results in the following issues:

  • Profiles grow and therefore the login time increases.
  • The OST file needs to be collected from AppData\Local.
  • Redirecting the OST file to a network share isn't really supported by Microsoft.
  • Redirection in general works but reading the file through SMB can be an issue.

Next to the cache mode there is also the SearchIndex for Outlook and comes with the same issues. What are the solutions offered by Microsoft and Citrix for multiuser environments? Since the release of Citrix User Profile Manager (UPM) version 7.18, Outlook cache mode and SearchIndex can be used.

Optimize user sessions

Quite often customer tells me that they want to optimize the Windows server performance by running some scripts found on the Internet and they are also setting a bunch of registry keys. In my opinion, this is not just dangerous but can also cause issues later and then everybody is analyzing while spending a lot of time. On the other hand, the same customers do nothing to optimize the user session and waste sometimes a lot of resources and again getting more likely issues.

Let me explain why you should NOT care about the server and focus on the user session.  

FAS explained

Recently a customer of mine had a task for me to solve. "Can we authenticate against Netscaler Gateway with just username and a security token from a nondomain joined client and get access to a full Citrix ICA session?" The customer wants the employees to work password free and the reason they use SmartCards in-house with all domain-joined clients. The company clients have no problem connecting externally to the corporate network but what about the private clients? For that reason, only users get a security token and that's it. In the past, users had to use at least one time a password against Webinterface and save it.

Here comes Citrix Federated Authentication Service to rescue!

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