Fast Provisioning Citrix Xenapp 6 with Worker Groups and Policies 1/3

Worker Groups and Policies are some of the feaures included in Citrix XenApp 6. I know this version isn’t deployed wildly and tehre are many reasons I won’t speak about here; you can still read a blog and very interresting comments about that here : http://www.archy.net/2010/09/21/citrix-xenapp-6-why-it-doesnt-spread/

I work with Citrix Education to build exams for XenApp 6 Basic Administration and Advanced Administation and in order to do it, I needed to know every XenApp 6 new features. I tried everything with the Technical Preview release when XenApp 6 was still XenApp for Windows 2008 R2. Now I want to share and blog about two major features, Worker Groups and Policies because I think it can dramatically improve your productivity and accelerate your deployments.

What are Worker Groups ?

Worker groups are collections of XenApp servers, residing in the same farm, that are managed as a single unit. Using worker groups, you can:
  • Streamline application publishing to multiple farm servers
  • Load balance access to published resources
  • Filter policies so that settings are applied only to sessions hosted on a specific set of farm servers
When using worker groups, consider the following:
  • A farm server can belong to multiple worker groups
  • A worker group can include any number of XenApp servers or none at all
  • Only servers that belong to the same XenApp farm are included in a worker group

Above writting is the Citrix definition, I made a shorter version bellow :

  • Manage XenApp servers collectively as “worker groups”
  • Assign published applications and policies to worker groups
  • Worker groups contain farm servers or domain OUs
  • Servers added to a worker groups inherit settings, policies, applications  and Load Balancing Policies

Using Worker Group to publish applications

The “old” way to publish application is : adding a new XenApp server then opening each published application properties to add the new server.

The new server is on the right and multiple actions need to be taken before making the server available to users with the same published application as the other XenApp serveurs.

You can still publish your applications this way with XenApp 6.

The “new” way using Worker Groups is much more simple. Instead of publishing your application to XenApp servers, you choose a Worker Group.

The Worker Group I created is based on Active Directory OU, so every time a XenApp server is move in to the correct OU, as published applications are based on the Worker Group, the new XenApp 6 server will be able to publish application automatically.

Moving out a XenApp server from this OU, will stop the server to publish applications.

Small bugs are remaining…

If you plan to use and test Worker Groups, you should be aware of these little “bugs” I noticed.

When you are using Worker Groups to publish an application, and you want to obtain a list of XenApp servers by checking information pane on the published application, you won’t find the information directly.

I mean you need to double click on the Worker Group and then you’ll have the server list. This is not a bug but I think this view should be change to somethink like this :

Worker Group Name
>>ServerName 1
>>ServerName 2
>>…
>>ServerName 40

The next one is a “bug” or a feature the XenApp Dev guys forgot. When you want to check from a server properties informations which applications are published, if you chose to use only Worker Groups, you won’t be able to see any applications. The only way to know what are the published application available on a XenApp 6 server is by installating XenApp 6 SDK (link is at the end of this blog) and using the following powershell line :

Get-XAWorkerGroup -ServerName myserver | Get-XAApplication

Then you should have an outpout lokking like that :

This is really less friendly than in the Citrix Delivery Services Console but you can still have the information this way.

Finaly, here is a small video to quickly show how to use Worker Groups with published applications. And a quick view about the “bug” I writte above.

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OYogyWopIo&hd=1]

The second part will cover Worker Groups and Policies, IMA Policies and Global Policies.

Ressources :

Citrix Edocs XenApp 6 Worker Groups

XenApp 6 SDK

Second part of this entry can be found here : Fast Provisioning Citrix XenApp 6 with Worker Groups and Policies 2/3

Third part of this entry can be found here : Fest Provisioning Citrix XenApp 6 with Worker Groups and Policies 3/3

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