Remote IT Support: Tools To Make It Easier!

In the old days of Remote IT Support, when a teleworker called into the help desk, I remember walking them through every step of how to uninstall & reinstall TCP/IP from memory on Windows 95.  Thankfully, I don’t work on the help desk any longer, and even more thankfully — there are tools available to make the Remote IT Support job a lot easier these days.

No matter what type if virtualization solution you may have, you are still going to have to deal with some users.  Client issues are often forget in the world of virtualization, and unless you are running Citrix Xendesktop — you’re still going to have to plan for doing some remote IT support when the users call the help desk.

One of the leading tools for remote IT support these days is definitely Citrix GoToAssist (Try GoToAssist free for 30 days) — GoToAssist combined ease of use with end user friendliness for a seamless look and feel.  Citrix pioneered the remote IT support market over 10 years ago, and is the dominant leader of the remote IT support market today.  Check out their Synergy presentation from this year:

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Citrix EMR: Electronic Medical Records over Citrix – Best Practices for Citrix EMR

Citrix EMR implementations are becoming more and more popular. Probably over half of current Citrix environments are built to vend some sort of EMR application.  There are a number of considerations to be made before deploying a Citrix EMR solution, and we’ll attempt to cover some of those in this document.

Some of the most common EMR applications you will see in the Consulting Land are:

- Allscripts
- Cerner
- Epic
- GE Centricity

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Citrix Xenapp Logon Process Through Web Interface

This can be sort of confusing when logging in through a web interface that is configured to “Authenticate at the Web Interface”. First of all, that’s not what that setting means — When it’s clicked, it actually means that you’ll be authenticated at the XML broker. Whether you are troubleshooting slow logins, or just trying to configure the optimal architecture for faster logins — Knowing the Citrix logon process can be helpful. Here is the process flow as we see it, and how it works:

1). Enter credentials at the Web Interface
2). Web interface reaches out to the XML broker, and passes the credentials
3). XML broker reaches out to AD Domain Controller, and authenticated credentials.
4). After being authenticated, user can request an ICA file for application launch
5). The best server will be selected based on load evaluators
6). Best server will respond back to the web interface with ICA file
7). ICA file is passed from Web Interface to client machine
8). Client machine is connected over ICA to given Xenapp server
9). Xenapp server confirms the RDS/TS License is in order
10). AD is queried for roaming profile information
11). Roaming profile is downloaded to the Xenapp server
12). Xenapp server checks with Citrix license server to make sure licensing is in order
13). Microsoft GPO’s get applied
14). Citrix policies get applied
15). User’s “Startup” folder gets executed, launching logon scripts, etc
13). Application / Desktop launches.

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Citrix – Project Avalon is coming! Are you ready?

Project Avalon refers to the convergence of the Citrix Xenapp and Xendesktop products into a single unit.  Many have predicted this for a long time, and now it appears to be set to become reality in 2013.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend Synergy this year, or if you haven’t stayed on the cutting edge regarding this new version — You’ll enjoy the following video briefing.

 

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Help! My Citrix Access Management Console Won’t Launch! Fails discovery…

Environment: Citrix Presentation Server 4.5, 5.0 – Windows Server 2003

Description: Access Management Console won’t launch, or launches but will not discover. This can happen a lot after a hot fix has been installed, or a roll-up pack.

Process used to resolve:

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Copying Citrix PVS’d Vdisks while running can cause WMI to break

In consulting land we’ve noticed a few cases recently where a 24/7 shop decided to snapshot a running Citrix PVS’d VDisk so they could make updates with the minimal amount of downtime possible. This is becoming more and more common in healthcare situations where clients are unable to stand any amount of downtime for a change window, etc. On at least two separate occasions, we’ve noticed that doing this seems to break WMI on the image. This isn’t necessarily a Citrix problem, but more a problem that you might expect to get when copying a running image that may have active hooks into lots of data and running dll’s, etc.

The resolution in both cases we observed was to re-register WMI, and then re-register the Citrix namespace. For instructions on how to do that, see the below command line steps:

First, obviously switch the Vdisk from Standard mode to Private.

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Best Practices Deploying and Upgrading Citrix PVS Targets

People ask me often what the latest best practices are for deploying targets in a Citrix Provisioned environment.  While there are some documents out there, this video is the best thing I’ve found to share recently.  It’s from the exclusive Citrix Tech Support training seminar that occurred before Synergy this year called Tech Edge.  Tech Edge is typically invite only, but Citrix was nice enough to make this video available to everyone this year.


 

 

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Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 – Dual monitors not working

Environment: Citrix Presentation Server 4.5, Windows Server 2003, thin clients with dual monitors

Description:  Found that multiple monitor configurations were not working as designed.  Only monitor on the left side was showing up and nothing more.

Resolution:  Utilized Citrix article referenced below to troubleshoot issue by modifying video memory configuration for ICA Session.  Had to play with the setting a few times to get it to work right.  Observed the monitor on the right show half a screen at one point, and a screen that did not line up properly, etc — until we got the right configuration in place.  Clients with limited server memory may want to consider whether they want to allow many dual monitor configurations on, since it appears that it can use a large amount of server memory for video in these scenarios.

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Citrix PVS 6.1 – Could not resolve NETBIOS DNS names from provisioned VM’s, only FQDN

Software: PVS 6.1, Win2k8

Description: Client found that he could not resolve NETBIOS (Short DNS) names from provisioned VM’s via Citrix Provisioning Server 6.1 — Only FQDN’s.

Resolution: Found that the binding order of the NICs on the PVS Target did not have the streaming network as the top network. Moved it up to top position, and it resolved the issue immediately. Found out from talking with network gurus that this is common TCP/IP best practice, although I could not find a CTX Article documenting this.

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Making a cheap home lab for Citrix Xenserver?

I’m often asked what a good cheap route is to make a home lab environment for Citrix Xenserver.  One way that I’ve done it is to combine Xenserver with VMWare Workstation.  You can install VMWare workstation on your desktop PC (Make sure to build the box with as much CPU and memory as you can afford), and deploy XenServer over the top.  Once Xenserver is deployed, you have a good portable environment to test Xenserver GUI commands, practice creating VM’s, play with Xenserver VLAN and network functionality, and much more.

Here is a great video I found of someone building their XenServer lab over VMWare workstation as described above — enjoy!


 

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