How to install Citrix Excalibur Tech Preview (part 1)

Citrix has released the Tech Preview of Excalibur recently (beginning of November). This new version is a melt between XenDesktop and XenApp as we know it now. So for all of the XenApp fans I must disappoint you…. No more XenApp!!!

My idea is to cut it up in a couple of blog posts to keep it from being one big long, and not fun to read, post. So I split it up in a couple of posts which I will be spreading over a few days.

  1. What is Excalibur, prerequisites and overview of test lab setup <Current page >>
  2. Installation of Excalibur
  3. Configuring Excalibur (Studio)
  4. Configuration StoreFront
  5. Install Agent software on Windows 2012 machine
  6. Configure Application
  7. Test published application and desktop (old XenApp)

So to begin with the first part of the series straight away is a brief overview of what Excalibur is, the prerequisites and how my little test lab is setup.

What is Excalibur

One of the major changes you will find in this release is Excalibur, the unification of hosted applications and desktops (XenApp) with personalized desktops (XenDesktop) within a single architecture and management experience. The capabilities previously available within XenApp are now delivered within the XenDesktop infrastructure and components.

Differences and new features

Excalibur differs from the current XenApp in the following ways:

  • No more Delivery Service Console (or App Center)
  • No more IMA. IMA has been repleaced with FMA (FlexCast Management Architecture). For more info on FMA look here.
  • No IMA datastore
  • No more support for MS Access or Oracle databases (Only SQL databases are supported)
  • No more Zone Data Collector (ZDC or Zone Master). This task falls now evenly over all the controllers configured in the site.
  • Database can be clustered or mirrored for HA/Fail over purposes.
  • Servers running the controller mode don’t require the RDS role to be installed
  • No more shadow Taskbar. This has been taken over by the Director console
  • Delegated Administration. In XenApp, you can create custom administrators and assign them permissions based on folders and objects. In this release, you can create custom administrators whose permissions are based on role and scope pairs.
  • Farms are now rebranded to “sites”. The old XenApp farms are now known as “Sites” in Excalibur.

Architecture overview

 

Under the Excalibur architecture, management and delivery components are shared between XenDesktop and XenApp to give administrators a unified management experience.

Receiver. Receiver provides access to published resources such as applications and shared (pooled, like Server or Client OS) or private desktops (Client OS).

StoreFront. StoreFront authenticates users to sites hosting “XenApp” and/or  “XenDesktop” resources, and manages stores of desktops and applications that users access.

Studio. Studio is the management console that enables you to configure and manage your  Excalibur deployment, eliminating the need for multiple separate management consoles for managing delivery of applications and desktops.

Delivery Controller. The Delivery Controller distributes applications and desktops, manages user access, and optimizes connections to applications. Each site has one or more delivery controllers.

Server OS Machines. VMs or physical machines based on Windows Server OS (2008 (R2), 2012) used for delivering applications or hosted shared desktops to users.

Desktop OS Machines. VMs or physical machines based on Windows Client (Win7/Win8) operating system used for delivering personalized desktops to users (pooled or private), or applications from desktop operating systems.

Prerequisites

Delivery Controller

Supported operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2012.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2, Standard or Enterprise Edition.

Requirements:

  • Disk space: 100 MB.
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. See the note above if you are installing the controller on Windows Server 2012.
  • Microsoft .NET 4.0.
  • Windows PowerShell 2.0 (included with Windows Server 2008 R2) or 3.0 (included with Windows Server 2012).
  • ASP.NET 2.0 and Internet Information Services (IIS). IIS is required only if you are installing Director or StoreFront. If you do not have these prerequisites on your server, you might be prompted for the Windows Server installation media, then they are installed for you.
  • Visual C++ 2008 SP1 Redistributable Package. The installer deploys this automatically. It is also available on the Technology Preview installation media in the Supportvcredist20082008_SP1 folder.

Site database

Supported Microsoft SQL Server versions:

  • SQL Server 2012.
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1; Express, Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter Editions.

This Technology Preview includes SQL Server 2008 R2 Express Edition. If you use that version when installing the Delivery Controller on a Windows Server 2012 machine, apply Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2008 R2 after installing the controller.

Databases are supported in standalone, clustered, and mirrored mode (except for the Express Edition, which is supported in standalone mode only). Use Windows authentication when connecting from this Technology Preview to a SQL database.

Studio

Supported operating systems:

  • Windows 8.
  • Windows 7.
  • Windows Server 2012.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2.

Requirements:

  • Disk space: 75 MB.
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. See the note above if you are installing Studio on Windows Server 2012.
  • Microsoft Management Console 3.0 (included with all supported operating systems).
  • Windows PowerShell 2.0 (included with Windows Server 2008 R2) or 3.0 (included with Windows Server 2012).

Director

Supported operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2012.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Standard or Enterprise Edition.

Requirements:

  • Disk space: 50 MB.
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0. The installer deploys this automatically. It is also available on the Technology Preview installation media in the SupportDotNet4 folder.
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) and ASP.NET 2.0. If these are not already installed, you are prompted for the Windows Server installation media, then they are installed for you.
  • Microsoft Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). This is required only if you store Citrix policy information in Active Directory rather than the site database. For more information, see the Microsoft documentation.

Supported browsers for viewing Director:

  • Internet Explorer 8 and 9.
  • Firefox 14 and 15.

Delivery Agent (DA)

Supported operating systems for the DA for Windows Desktop Machines:

  • Windows 8.
  • Windows 7, Enterprise and Professional Editions.

Supported operating systems for the DA for Windows Server Machines (the installer

automatically enables the Remote Desktop Services role):

  • Windows Server 2012.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP 1; Datacenter, Enterprise, and Standard Editions.

The installer automatically deploys support components such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and the Visual C++ Runtime Library. See the note above about .NET 3.5 if you are installing a DA on Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012. The Visual C++ components are also available on the Technology Preview installation media in the Support folders.

Host

Supported hosts:

  • XenServer 6.0.2. Check the Project Avalon Excalibur Technology Preview download page for the latest information about compatibility with XenServer 6.1, including details of any XenServer hotfixes.
  • VMware vSphere 5.0 (ESXi 5.0 and vCenter 5.0) and VMware vSphere 4.1 Update 1. No support is provided for vSphere vCenter Linked Mode operation.
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Rollup 1.

Lab setup

My lab consists of a Dell Optiplex 990 with the following specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 2600 3,4 GHz quad-core
  • Memory:      16 GB DDR3 PC3-10600
  • HDD:      SEAGATE 1TB ST3100033AS SATA300 7200RPM 32MB
  • NIC      Intel® 82579LM gigabit
  • Switch:      Netgear 8 port gigabit switch
  • OS: Citrix XenServer 6.0.2.1
  • NAS: Synology DS412+

I have configured the following VM’s for this demo (all hosted by the server mentioned above on XenServer 6.0.2.1):

  • 1 Windows 2012 Server for all Excalibur roles
  • 1 Windows 2012 Server for Server Desktop with 2 NIC’s (1 PVS LAN and 1 Front LAN), used for image prep
  • 1 Windows 2008 R2 with PVS 6.1 (with DHCP for separate PVS lan)
  • 1 Windows 2008 R2 as Domain Controller

The other posts will be online soon.

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