XenDesktop and Provisioning Services on vSphere 5

Scott Cochran wrote a good blog post on the Citrix blogs which this is the beginning.

I want to preface this post by saying if you are not interested in any backstory just skip down to the summary section for a wrap up…

Coming from a consulting background I learned the hard way that you always have to check the compatibility of all components in a project.  Since VMware released vSphere 5 many people found out the hard way that Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) was not supported on VMware’s latest hypervisor platform.  People without in-depth knowledge of the Citrix solution stack may have read XenDesktop 5 was supported on vSphere 5, but in reality that only meant when using Machine Creation Services (MCS).  This forced companies to have to make some hard decisions.  You could either go down the route of using MCS with vSphere 5, or go with Provisioning Services on vSphere 4.x.  Hopefully most customers consulted with their trusted Citrix advisor prior to making this

decision.  Even as recently as a few weeks ago the lines were blurred when it came to using PVS with vSphere 5.  One of my clients has been having issues with PVS on vSphere 5 for close to two months.  Two months ago Citrix flat out did not support this configuration.  Citrix technical support will typically give a best effort to help in these situations, but in the end the recommendation is made to revert to vSphere 4.x.  Unfortunately, reverting to vSphere 4.x was not an option for my particular client because there were many man hours put in to building their vSphere 5 infrastructure and they had a deadline closing in fast to launch their desktop virtualization pilot.  I just began working with the client a few weeks ago and was unaware of all the pain they had been having with Provisioning Services on vSphere 5.  In a last ditch effort the PM for the project reached out to my ERM (Enterprise Resource Manager) and asked if there was anything they could do to get PVS to work before the end of the week, and if not they would have to scrap the pilot.  In theory they could have used MCS for XenDesktop and manually provisioned the XenApp servers for the pilot.  The problem is this is a government client, and the approved architecture and all pre-implementation documentation was built on the premise of PVS.  In essence they would have to start over, and that was not an option.  When my ERM sent me the client’s request for help I was concerned the pilot would fail because of PVS not being supported on vSphere 5, but wanted to do everything I could to help.  The issue the client saw was when booting multiple target devices to a vDisk in Standard Mode they would just hang at a blank black screen.  I had seen this issue at a previous project I worked on prior to coming to work for Citrix, and in the end we had to resort to using MCS.  I started digging around to try and find any updates on the issues related to PVS on vSphere 5, and I quickly learned we may have hit the jack pot!

You can read the entire article here.

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