Nutanix InstantON For Citrix Cloud

Nutanix and Citrix have partnered to create a tightly integrated hybrid cloud solution that simplifies and accelerates VDI deployments for companies of any size. With Nutanix InstantON for Citrix Cloud, the entire Citrix software stack is delivered as a 1-click service from the Citrix Cloud, attaching with zero effort to the on-prem Nutanix clusters powered by Citrix XenServer or AHV, the Nutanix native hypervisor.

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The latest release of Nutanix AOS 5.5 supports out-of-the-box integration with Citrix Cloud and allows businesses to spin up a fully functional hybrid Citrix Cloud solution for XenApp and XenDesktop service environment within a couple of hours.

With Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop service, businesses no longer have to manage the desktop images, applications and security. All the desktop management services are part of the subscription. On the other hand the VDI and RDSH workloads, including all the sensitive data remain safe and close to the end users in the corporate data center. This hybrid solution approach takes out a lot of complexity of todays implementation of a traditional VDI infrastructure and internal IT can focus on stuff that really matters for the endusers.

Nutanix and Citrix have partnered to create a tightly integrated hybrid cloud solution that simplifies and accelerates VDI deployments for companies of any size. With Nutanix InstantON for Citrix Cloud, the entire Citrix software stack is delivered as a 1-click service from the Citrix Cloud, attaching with zero effort to the on-prem Nutanix clusters powered by Citrix XenServer or AHV, the Nutanix native hypervisor.

A simple Citrix Cloud Connector acts as a proxy and an agent for communication between Nutanix and Citrix Cloud services. The setup typically requires registration of the Cloud Connector and once that is complete, it will be displayed in the Citrix Cloud account as resource location. Nutanix Prism automates the installation and registration of Cloud Connector within the on-prem appliance accelerating the integration with the XenApp and XenDesktop service on Citrix Cloud. This enables the deployment of the entire Citrix software stack in a few easy clicks.

Thanks to Rick Dehlinger (@rickd4real) and Joel Stocker (@joelinthecloud) from Citrix I was lucky enough to test the solution and see how easy the setup works. So let’s start and see how this goes…

To build the solution we need

  • Citrix Cloud account
  • XenApp and XenDesktop Service entitlement
  • Nutanix on-prem Cluster running on AHV or XenServer

That’s it. In a first step I had to prepare a sysprepped Windows Server OS template that can be used by the 1-click wizard from Nutanix Prism to spin up one or two Citrix Cloud Connector VMs.

The Connect to Citrix Cloud feature leverages the automated installer functionality of the Citrix Cloud connector to establish a secure communication channel between Nutanix and Citrix Cloud. This feature provides single-click integration of the on-premise Nutanix clusters as a resource location with the Citrix Cloud environment.

The 1-click deployment wizard to connect to Citrix Cloud can be reached in the Nutanix Prism settings menu (gear icon).

prism_connect_to_citrix_cloud
Connect to Citrix Cloud

This feature helps you configure the Citrix Cloud integration settings in the following way:

  1. Establishes the connection to the Citrix Cloud workspace.
  2. Configures Nutanix cluster as resource location in the Citrix cloud.
  3. Configures the Citrix Cloud connector VM.
  4. Registers the Citrix Cloud connector VM to the Active Directory (AD) domain on the Citrix cloud.
Configure the Citrix cloud integration settings using the Connect to Citrix Cloud feature

Authenticate your connection to the Citrix cloud by entering the credentials manually or by uploading a credential key file.

vm-citrix-connection
Upload Credential Key
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Enter Manually

You can find the Customer ID, Client ID, and Secret Key from the API Access page in the Citrix Cloud console, that’s also where you can download the credential key.

After successfully authenticating to Citrix Cloud we can configure the Resource Location and Connector VM(s) details. In this step we also need to select the sysprepped VM master image that should be used to create the Cloud Connector VMs.

vm-configuring-connector-VM
Resource Location and Connector VM(s) details

Once the integration is complete (this takes some time) and the VMs start, install the Nutanix AHV MCS plug-in to start the application deployment, VDIs can be created using the Nutanix AHV MCS Plug-in for Citrix Cloud Connector. The AHV MCS Plug-in is designed to create and manage VDIs in a Nutanix Acropolis infrastructure environment. At the time of my testing the Nutanix AHV MCS plug-in for Citrix Cloud Connector was not yet publicly released but I had access to a fully functional white-glove build.

That’s all and we are ready to start manage our new Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service deployment in the Cloud management portal.

citrix_cloud_ressource_location
Citrix Cloud Connectors

When we go to the Citrix Cloud management portal, we find our – in my case two – Citrix Cloud Connector VMs in the corresponding Resource Location.

The XenApp and XenDesktop Service is fully configured and ready for use. As you can see in the management section under service delivery there is a cloud hosted Storefront already set up as well as cloud hosted NetScaler Gateway Service.

citrix_cloud_service_delivery
Service Delivery Settings

You can start with the creation of Machine Catalogs and Delivery Groups right now. For this you have access to a hosted Citrix Studio instance inside of Citrix Cloud, where you can execute all those task in pretty the same way you know it from an on-premises deployment.

citrix_cloud_full_management
Full Configuration in a hosted Citrix Studio Session

Last but not least there is also a Cloud version of the Citrix Director monitoring tool available with your Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Service.

citrix_cloud_monitor
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Service Monitoring

From a technical standpoint I love this new hybrid solution and really think it might be interesting for lot of customers not yet ready or willing to go for a full cloud deployment. For them this hybrid cloud approach in its simplicity is awesome! Nearly as simple as the Citrix VDI-in-a-Box solution in the good old times 🙂

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