In the beginning of this year I was asked to look at a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (VAD) environment which wasn’t performing great. Customer’s users were constantly complaining about performance and stability. The environment was set up in a mix of outdated software versions, which weren’t always compatible with each other.

I was asked to look into this matter and create a working environment with the current Windows 10 version on their existing hardware. We also offered a temporary server with the latest Nvidia T4 graphics card, to let them experience the enhanced performance with this new kind of graphics card. A Nvidia T4 card is a graphics card that offers GPU’s, so the VDI’s (or RDS) can perform more powerful tasks than integrated graphics adaptors do.

The Proof of Concept (PoC)

I started of with a simple single non High Available (HA) “design”, where we combined as much components to one server as possible. This was done from both a cost and management perspective.

I prefer to work with software I have experience with, so I installed Citrix VAD 7.15 LTSR. Yes, this isn’t the best version to show every new 3D HDX improvement, but it is a very stable version and we were sure we could provide the customer a much better experience than they were having before. We installed all the required applications within their new golden image, without optimizing them or check for Win10 compatibility.

After a week the PoC users were able to test their brand new workspace and informed us constantly how they experienced the new PoC desktop. The results were great. Everyone was enthusiastic and could do their work from anywhere. You can imagine what the experience could be after best-practice deployment and some finetuning.

Covid-19

And then came Covid-19 ☹
Just a few weeks after the PoC the news came that Covid-19 didn’t stay in China and was spreading around the world. Many countries announced (complete) lockdowns and everybody was obliged to stay home. Traditional office workers were in need of a remote workplace. Our customer asked if it was possible to move and upscale the PoC setup (sized for 10 users max) to a production environment suitable for approximately 100 users. We were able to use existing hardware and expanded the PoC to 30 users at first. By doing so we bought some time for our customer to order new hardware for the rest of the users.

Because of the urgency we offered two separate hardware options. Based on the delivery times they decided to order the hardware that could be delivered as soon as possible. But by then, they weren’t the only company that needed extra hardware rapidly. So in the meantime we provided them with rental hardware instead and we were able to give them the extra resources they needed.

The hardware was delivered in batches because of the poor availability and so in just a couple of days we expanded the PoC with an extra 30 users on their own hardware in a production environment with 100 users, at that time on rental hardware.

Production

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, many customers requested changes and extra resources within their current deployments. Our PoC is still in production, the upside of this is that we now know a lot of design changes which we could do better when creating a complete new design and implementation for this customer. Currently we are planning the design and implementation for a new solid and HA Citrix VAD environment.