Web Interface, moving forward to Receiver Strorefront ?

This is a new step in application and desktop delivery access point process but Citrix again made it very messy to understand (at least for me…) This is very important to know and understand every component of this new products, but between, Receiver Storefront, CloudGateway Express, CloudGateway Enterprise, AppController and all the past names, some of us can be lost, and our customer are even more lost… (nFuse, Web Interface  2 3 4 5 etc… and Receiver Storefront)

If I remember well, at Synergy in Barcelona last October, CloudGateway had been introduce by Citrix CEO with this slide :

Now when I read documentation about CloudGateway Express and Enterprise release, I think we lost something :

The data “square” (ShareFile & RingCube (?)) is gone for now… Anyway, with the previous picture you can have a clear view about each component present in Citrix CloudGateway.

First let’s check what is the difference between CloudGateway Express and CloudGateway Enterprise :

The difference is mostly around features, but what’s not shown in Citrix edition and features matrix is a row with the price. CloudGateway Express is free because this product is here to replace the actual Web Interface and Program Neighborhood to give access to Windows App and Desktops. The enterprise edition is here to centralize access between Desktops, Windows Apps, SaaS and web applications.

The upgrade from Express edition to Enterprise edition should be simple and painless, just need to try it out to check how simple it is 🙂

Regarding the architecture, the big picture is simple, we had Web Interface, now we have Receiver Storefront and it should be it… But that’s not 🙂 To simplify user’s life and give a centralized access to apps, again we need to build an architecture more complex than our good old Web Interface.

In the previous image above, there is not that much difference if we consider Storefront is here to replace Web Interface and AppController as a new component to build a bridge between Desktops / Windows Apps and SaaS / Web Apps. The external access is still secured using an Access Gateway, I mean NetScaler Access Gateway (same product, new name), but if we look further, it more complicated than that :

  • Same as Web Interface, high availability is possible with an external load balancing mechanism (ie NetScaler or MS NLB)
  • Now an external database is required to host users application subscription (Resource subscription database) a Microsoft SQL database
  • One database is needed per store, which mean if you want to give access only to a XenDesktop farm for one set of user and XenDesktop + SaaS and Web Apps, you need to create at least 2 stores (two separate databases)

By simplifying access for users, we are getting a more complex solution to architecture and event more when it comes about high availability. As we were use to do with Web Interface deployment and configuration (Web Sites and Services Sites) we need to think and plan things very well to get things messed up here. (Good idea for an upcoming blog)

First thing first, we need to set it up first, installing CloudGateway Express is very easy :

The installation has been done in less than 5 minutes, now let’s start configuring CloudGateway Express :

As I’m using an external SQL database, I cannot chose the first menu and install a single server. You need to install a local database on the same server if you want to proceed with the first option.

Now let’s start the authentication setup, you can use the same authentication point for several store.

Now let’s proceed to store creation, store is where you choose what resources you want to deliver (XenApp, XenDesktop, both, etc…)

During the first time setup, you can use only one server, don’t worry you can go to add some later on.

This is it.

Then you can have fun with the new green interface, Citrix released last week a new Access Gateway version, 5.0.4 which include the possibility to customize the template and give you the ability to have the same look and feel at the Access Gateway logon point (green template). Customizing the Store Receiver is not that easy, I needed to put my hand in the code to begin to work on it. (another good blog idea for an upcoming blog)

Here is my Citrix Access Gateway logon point :

When I logon with sso etc, i arrive on the Store Receiver web site :

There is still some work to be done but it will look good very soon 🙂

Back to the blog title, is moving from Web Interface to Receiver Storefront a good idea ? I would say yes and no :

  • Yes if you plan to migrate your PNAgent, ICA Client to Receiver, that would make one big change for users but one time change.
  • Yes if you are using only Citrix client as “PNAgent like”
  • Yes if you need to build a POC to show off your customer
  • No if you’re using the Web Interface or if you didn’t plan to migrate your Citrix client yet, because the product is very new and you don’t want to take care of the Receiver part and in a second time the web part.

The final version of Receiver Storefront has been released this week, this is a part of the Citrix CloudGateway Express package which contain Receiver Storefront (Storefront Services 1.0) and Merchandising Server 2.2. You can download everything here : CloudGateway Express and CloudGateway Enterprise download

Links and resources :

Citrix CloudGateway download : link
Citrix CloudGateway editions : link
Citrix Access Gateway 5.0.4 (archy.net) : link

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