I’m a big fan of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. For me, it is still the premier product of its kind. There are certainly formidable competitors in the space these days and while years ago you could point to the ICA protocol and confidently declare it the best on the market, there isn’t a huge difference in protocol performance these days. The initial migration from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x was difficult for many early adopters as feature parity was still far off BUT Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop today is an awesome product. When architected and setup the right way, it can be transformative for any EUC team.
With an impressive longevity, Citrix is likely the most mature published application product in the world. How Citrix Engineers get their applications onto their VDAs and ultimately to their users via published applications and virtual desktops differs and frankly in my opinion, this is an area of weakness for Citrix and actually for most vendors in the market.
Dynamic App Delivery
Cloudpaging provides a relatively simple way to repackage your applications with an unprecedented high rate of compatibility. If you have tried delivering your applications to your VDAs with other solutions like App-V or ThinApp in the past but found the juice was not worth the squeeze due to how many of your applications could NOT be delivered with those products, you are in for a welcome surprise when you try Cloudpaging.
I get into my journey with Cloudpaging and the high rate of compatibility in my previous blog post: Life After App-V.
Consecutive community surveys by the excellent VDI Like a Pro have shown the majority of those working in End User Computing with VDI and SBC are still installing their applications directly into their server and desktop images. This is inefficient, rife with problems and ultimately a costly approach to application management for your Citrix sites.
Many years ago, I covered the topic of getting to a single Gold Image and if you are one of those people today who still installs apps directly onto your VDAs, the questions I would put to you are: What if you didn’t have to update your PVS vDisk or MCS snapshot and reboot your servers and desktops every time you have to update an application? This is a blog post Citrix focused but could easily apply to other products like VMware Horizon, what if you didn’t need to update your image and re-compose desktops? What if you could deliver all your applications dynamically outside of your image maintenance cycles, all at run-time rather than as part of a reboot?…Your work life would be a lot easier, wouldn’t it? This goal is much more realistic with Cloudpaging!
Best of all, it’s really simple. You just ensure the Cloudpaging Player and App Launcher are installed in your image and configured per the Cloudpaging instructions. This is a straight forward install and the Player is lightweight.
You can then create your application packages with Cloudpaging Studio (I have a very outdated demo of doing this in the video above. Studio has changed since that recording but the idea is still the same), add it to your Cloudpaging Server, create your license policy for the application (this allows you extra controls on the applications, like the ability to set an expiration) and then just publish the application in Citrix Studio.
When publishing Cloudpaging apps, you will see in Numecent’s documentation there are a few different options for executing the app launches with their CLI. For published applications, I opt to use a GPO to pass my Cloudpaging Server URL prefix into the registry, this way I just need to publish apps using the App Launcher as the executable file and the application’s license GUID and my Cloudpaging Web Service GUID as arguments.
In the above video, I briefly show an example of a published application in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops hosted on Citrix Cloud and me launching it from my Citrix Workspace.
If you don’t want your users to have to browse to Citrix Workspace or Storefront, you can of course publish your applications to your users via the Citrix Workspace App. Alternatively, you could provide the Cloudpaging Player on the desktops and permit users to launch via the Cloudpaging Portal too, which can be very useful for those applications like Camtasia and Snagit that only work when run directly on the desktop. There is another really interesting option too, you could leverage Workspace Environment Management as I have for my published desktops.
As alluded to there are multiple options with the CLI. For my published desktop users in WEM I opted to try one of the other options available.
Just as I did for the VDAs used for hosting my published application sessions, on my published desktops I configured the VDAs with the Cloudpaging Player and dropped the the CloudpagingAppLauncher.exe into my image.
When publishing a new application from a Cloudpaging Server, I also create the shortcuts for those apps by navigating to the Applications option within the Actions section of WEM. I set the Command Line to the CloudpagingAppLauncher.exe and set the parameter to a URL with the relevant app license policy GUID and Cloudpaging Web Service GUID and under Assignments in WEM, just add whatever AD group I want to publish the app to.
If you do not currently manage your application shortcuts with WEM and you are wondering why anyone might do this, I like using WEM to manage the Start Menu to ensure there is consistency across various different desktop types and also to have more granular control of what users can see. I also use WEM to set our Profile Management settings, Mapped Network Drive settings, System Variables, Printers and environment configurations, so managing the apps here makes WEM a one stop shop for complete desktop configuration.
In this post, I wrote about publishing applications from Citrix Studio and also went through integrating WEM for delivering to my published desktops. If you would like to deliver natively from Cloudpaging to your Windows 10 virtual desktops, you can certainly do so and for those familiar with App-V’s Shared Content Store Mode, Cloudpaging has a similar feature that makes it a good fit for working directly on non-persistent desktops too.
If you follow me on Twitter or read any of my other blogs you are probably sick of me telling you how much I like Cloudpaging and how I can get all of my apps to work when delivered with the product. I am pretty passionate about the ease of use and high success rate due to spending most of my career working in Application Packaging. Cloudpaging is a breathe of fresh air to me. If you are a Citrix customer, the great thing is that you have so many different integration options with the product and you can select what works best for you.
I have a lot more content around Cloudpaging on the way so watch this space.