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Provisioning a Citrix XenApp Environment with Citrix PVS and Login AM

Provisioning a Citrix XenApp Environment with Citrix PVS and Login AM

Within my last project, Login AM 2015 and Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) were involved together to provision a Citrix XenApp 7.5 environment to approximately 1,500 users. Although Login AM can easily build all the components by itself (i.e. StoreFront, Delivery Controllers, Database server etc.) my job was to create the vDisk for the XenApp 7.5 environment.

With PVS, all XenApp servers within a catalog are exactly the same because they are streamed from a single vDisk image, which is great for consistency and troubleshooting. The vDisk has to be created first and if you want to recreate the vDisk or even create different vDisks, you need to deploy all software and configuration packages exactly the same way so vDisk behavior is also predictable and consistent. This last part can easily be done by Login AM 2015.

First, the customer has created a VM, installed the OS (Windows 2012 R2) and applied Windows updates on top. Now we have a running Windows VM so we can deploy the Provisioning Services Target Device Software and create a vDisk in PVS. Then, the vDisk is copied in order to create a new vDisk we configure as XenApp server. The original vDisk is stored as “Template vDisk”. We import the new vDisk in the corresponding PVS disk store and assign an updated VM to the disk so we can use PVS versioning. Now we have the updated VM for this disk, we can add a new version to the disk and start the machine. When the machine is started we “Initialize” the VM so Login AM can automatically apply all software and configuration packages.

login am initialize button start deployment on a new vm

Login AM Initialize button - Start deployment on a new VM

To enable the automatic image creation we created a Collection named “XenApp-Standard” with the Image plugin enabled. Within this collection, the following layers are assigned:

  • Windows 2012R2 - Defaults (Used for all software and configuration needed on every server, regardless of the role)
  • Windows 2012R2 - Standard Applications ( All default applications used by the company)
  • Windows 2012R2 – Prepimage (Used for specific actions that must run at the end of the enrollment)
  • Windows 2012R2 – User environment (All user related configurations)

To easily find packages within the Login AM GUI we created Packages categories:

  • Applications (for all default company applications)
  • Infrastructure ( for all packaged related to infrastructure components)
  • Templates (Application templates to easily create new applications)
  • User Environment Settings (contains all user specific settings)

provisioning a citrix xenapp environment with citrix pvs and login am gui in the test environment

Login AM GUI in the test environment

With the XenApp 7.5 VDA agent it is very easy to create images, just install the agent in image mode (select “Create a Master Image” in the wizard). We already initialized the VM (-CTX000) which we are using for updating the vDisk so after some time the deployment is done and the status in the Login AM GUI is “Finished sealing image”. The image is also automatically shut down so all there is left is to promote the vDisk to “Test” or “Production”.

After promoting the vDisk to production and assigning the vDisk to several PVS target devices they will be automatically added to the Dashboard within the GUI so they can be managed (i.e. enable Maintenance).

provisioning a citrix xenapp environment with citrix pvs and login am gui in production

Login AM GUI in in production showing the VM's. The –CTX000 is the Update VM, all others are PVS Targets

 Within every image there are often changes to the image needed like new software or updates etc. We already initialized the previous vDisk version, so updating this vDisk is just as easy as creating a new version and start the “Master” VM used for updating the versions.

About the author

Tags: Microsoft, Citrix, XenApp, Login AM

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Paul Bray - Computacenter

"We needed a robust method of evaluating multiple different platforms in a systematic and consistent manner. We chose Login VSI as it is the best of breed and met all of our requirements. Login VSI helps us to address one key aim - How can we exploit new technologies to deliver the best Virtual Desktop user experience possible?"

Paul Bray, Chief Technologist – Workplace & Mobile at Computacenter


Sajad Shah - Cancer Research

"Login VSI has empowered us to make more informed decisions on releasing a new vDisk which we now do on a monthly basis. We have found that Login VSI tests can also flag other issues in our environment that may not be picked up by our standard User Testing which allows us to either make the appropriate changes to the vDisk or workload script adjustments to run successful tests. This has given us peace of mind and allows us to release VDI’s with confidence."

Sajad Shah, Senior Technical Analyst at Cancer Research UK


Michael Bernas - Workers' Compensation Board Alberta

“We've used Login VSI for the past 3 years as part of our Disaster Recovery Exercise. It's not only helped us in validating the functionality of our Citrix XenApp farm, but it's also been an invaluable tool in proving the number of concurrent connections into the environments. It’s allowed us to take our theoretical numbers and put actual real life data behind them.”

Michael Bernas, Workers' Compensation Board of Alberta

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