This article discusses considerations when designing and implementing Citrix XenDesktop 7 Director in an Enterprise environment.
Note: This article is not a step-by-step guide for deploying the Director architecture, but for identifying best practices for providing the best performing, most stable, and scalable implementation of Director.
This article has been developed for information technology (IT) infrastructure specialists who are responsible for using Director as a troubleshooting tool to monitor and troubleshoot XenDesktop 7. These specialists include Helpdesk administrators, consultants, system architects, and others who are concerned with design decisions related to virtualization, specifically the virtualization of application and desktop systems.
Citrix XenDesktop Director Overview
Citrix XenDesktop Director provides different techniques for troubleshooting XenDesktop deployments. It also provides different views of the interface tailored to the various administrator roles and responsibilities. The main components that Director uses for the data delivery are:
Delivery Controller: Provides user session data and infrastructure data such as host alerts or database connectivity.
Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA): Provides data on machine such as profiles, application/processes, HDX channel status, and policies.
Monitoring services: Provides real-time and historical data of the XenDesktop site. This data is used to provide Director the ability to monitor the site, providing the visibility into site failures, health, and performance.
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Proxy: Director routes its WMI communication through the broker using WMI Proxy plug-in to retrieve information from the VDAs to display information about user sessions. For example, available CPU, memory, running applications from XenDesktop 7 VDAs onwards.
Windows Remote Management (WinRM): The information provided by WMI Proxy for XenDesktop 7 VDAs onwards is received from pre XenDesktop 7 VDAs through WinRM (WMI over Http) connections.
HDX Insight: NetScaler Insight Center’s HDX Insight provides the network statistics of the deployments.
Note: This article contains recommendations that require editing Internet Information Services (IIS) settings. Configuring incorrect IIS settings can cause issues while using Director. After changing IIS settings, ensure to restart IIS Server.
Director should be installed using the XenDesktop installer. This will ensure that all prerequisites are installed and configured properly.
Hardware Expectations for Better Performance
In addition to system expectations mentioned in Citrix Documentation – System requirements, the following are the minimum hardware requirements:
A dedicated machine with 4 CPU cores.
Minimum 4GB RAM for every 100 Director Help Desk Users.
Director can also be installed using the DesktopDirector.msi. When performing a MSI install, there are extra configuration steps that must be completed manually. For MSI based install, the administrator should run DirectorConfig.exe to configure the Delivery Controller address.
For enabling Policies to be displayed on the User Details View, run the msi CitrixGroupPolicyManagement_x(86/64).msi from the install folder x(86/64)/ Citrix Policy.
Note: Director Installation on a non-default location is not supported in this release.
Optimal Screen Resolution for Viewing Director
The recommended optimal screen resolution for viewing Director is 1366 × 1024. The 1366 minimum width setting will give the user a better display in localization and charts.
Director can be upgraded using XenDesktop installer. Director can be upgraded from version 2.x to XenDesktop 7 Director. If Director is installed on standalone server, it must be the same version as the Desktop Delivery Controller. For example, Director 2.1 will not interoperate with a XenDesktop 7 Desktop Delivery Controller.
Multi-site and Multi-Controller Configuration
Multi-Site: Director supports multiple XenDesktop sites. Multiple sites can be configured in the IIS manager on the Director server. To add multiple sites, go to Application Setting, Service.AutoDiscoveryAddress to configure.
For example, multi-site addresses can be specified as site1.domain.com, site2.domain.com, site3.domain.com.
Administrator should specify either Fully Qualified Domain Name(FQDN) or IP Address.
This can also be achieved using Director Configuration tool.
Note: In certain instances, the administrator might face performance or page loading issues after logging into Director. In such cases, ensure all the sites that are configured are reachable, and remove any invalid sites to improve logon performance.
A delay in logon time is generally seen when trying to access geographically distant sites that result in latent responses. Citrix suggests that a Director instance be available for each geographic area / Data center for best performance.
Multiple Controllers: Director supports multiple controllers for configured for high availability. Director automatically identifies all the controllers within the site and will fail over if a Desktop Delivery Controller is unreachable. Refer to the following link for additional details: Citrix Documentation – Advanced configuration.
Configuring and Viewing Hypervisor Alerts
Director displays hypervisor alerts under Infrastructure panel on the Dashboard such as CPU, memory, or network usage. On XenServer, configure alerts at the properties of each Host server. On ESX, the administrator must configure alarms separately to be identified as alerts in Director.
Note: Hyper-V alerts and Nutanix hypervisors are not supported in this release.
Configuring EdgeSight Network Analysis
EdgeSight network analysis is a Platinum license feature that allows administrators to see the network statistics of the deployments they have running by utilizing NetScaler Insight Center’s HDX Insight. In order to provide visibility of the HDX Insight data, HDX Insight must be configured. Refer to the following link for instructions: Citrix Documentation – Configure HDX Insight.
If the Trends Network tab is not available, ensure that the NetScaler Insight configuration has been validated.
Director Supportability for Legacy VDAs
With XenDesktop 7.0, Director uses a WMI Proxy to display the data on Helpdesk and user details page. But for Legacy VDAs Director needs WinRM based configuration to display data for Helpdesk details, refer to the following link on how to configure WinRM for Legacy VDAs: Citrix Documentation – Configure permissions for VDAs earlier than XenDesktop 7.
Note: Administrator must manually configure WinRM on legacy VDAs to view the data.
IIS Authentication Settings
Because Director supports Forms Authentication only, ensure the Forms Authentication and Anonymous settings on the IIS server are enabled. If the authentication settings are set incorrectly, Director Login issues can result.
Search Functionality in Multi-forest Environment
Director Search functionality displays a list of different users that exist in multiple Active Directory (AD) domains/forests. Sometimes administrators might notice slow performance in displaying search results. In such cases, Administrator should ensure that the ADs are configured correctly while configuring in Director Settings and the configured AD servers and their sub-domains are up. For verifying the correctness of the AD settings, see the following link: Citrix Documentation – Advanced configuration.
Director Delegated Administration Support
Director supports most of the Delegated Administration Roles that are available by default in XenDesktop. (Catalog administrator and Host administrators are not supported in this release). These administrator roles can be combined with specific scopes and can be used to effectively segregate access to data and actions that are available to particular users.
To cite a couple of examples, Helpdesk administrator roles are not given permissions to view Historical data of the sites that they are administering. Read-only administrators (as the name indicates) have access to all data but would not be able to perform any actions, combining the same with scope resolution makes for highly customizable and controlled privileges being granted to any administrator.
Director Trend Data Time Zones that are Half an Hour Offset from GMT Time Zone
Trend data displayed in Director is collected using UTC timestamps. This data is aggregated at one-hour intervals. If Director is accessed from a time zone that is offset by a half an hour from the GMT time, for example India (+5.30), then the data for the last half hour is not available until another hour has passed and the data has been aggregated. Therefore, it is recommended that if an administrator in a time zone offset by half an hour from GMT is trouble shooting desktops in a time zone that is not offset by half an hour from GMT (for example Pacific Standard Time -8:00), then the administrator should do one of the following to alleviate the preceding explained delay in getting the information:
Set the time zone on the machine running Director to the nearest hour (+5).
Change the time zone on the machine to the user time zone.