Friday, June 28, 2013

HDX mobile - XenDesktop 7

The curiously named XenDesktop 7 was released this week, the fact that XenDesktop 6 does not exist was an interesting twist.  This was named project Avalon and now includes XenApp as part of the same stack rather than a separate architecture.  The latest release of XenApp was 6.5 and maybe Citrix decided to bring this in-line.

Any way!  Citrix showed a demo of a flash offloading mechanism for iPad with XenDesktop 7 at Synergy and Citrix Mobility London.  This recognised that an iPad was being used and instead of just sending screenshots to the client it translates the video to H.264 and sends it to the iPad for local rendering. 

The results in the demo were amazing and I couldn't wait to get my mitts on the code to test.  Unfortunately this feature didn't exist in the Tech Preview so I had to wait patiently for the full release to come out.

Below is a comparison of XenApp 6.0 (2008 R2) and XenDesktop 7.0 (windows 8) watching a flash video of the Wimbledon coverage on the BBC sport website.  The result was pretty amazing.

XenApp 6.0


XenDesktop 7.0




As you can see the video performance in XenDesktop 7 to the iPad is far superior to previous version.  Apologies for the poor focus, maybe I will get AirServer working to get a better video at some point.  This rendering does use a fair amount of CPU on the backend side (in this environment Windows 8).  The iexplore.exe process takes around 25% of CPU and a new process called "Citrix Graphics" takes another 25%.  As this is the first release, hopefully Citrix can improve this performance overhead further down the line.

My thoughts immediately turn to other platforms, will Citrix use this mechanism to deliver rich Flash animation and videos to platforms which cannot use their native Flash redirection (Wyse ThinOS and other SoC platforms)?  Will they abandon native flash redirection altogether. 

Lets wait and see!

Cheers
Sam


Friday, June 21, 2013

Citrix Mobility London 2013

Citrix announced at the start of the year that Synergy Europe would be held in London this year.  This was great news for Citrix enthusiasts who couldn't convince their respective bosses that expenses for flights and hotels to Barcelona would represent a good ROI.

Unfortunately Citrix cancelled this London event.  The reason is that Citrix wanted to host more events around Europe rather than having one flagship event.


I attended Citrix Mobility London 2013 yesterday at the Old Billingsgate Market.  The venue was pretty nice and just the right size for the amount of people who attended.  The overall theme was "Work is not a place".  This makes sense as their technologies are allowing people to be very mobile and complete their work in most environments.

The first session was run by Gordon Payne and demo god Brad Peterson.  They talked about Project Avalon and Merlin (XenDesktop 7 and desktop & Apps as a service).  This session was fantastic, having seen Brad in demo videos online before it was great to see him in action live.   

The most impressive demo was regarding HDX mobile.  Brad connected his iPad mini to his Windows 8 virtual machine using XD7 and starting watching a Flash video.  Normally this would be choppy as the server would need to render the content and pass the screenshots to the iPad screen.

Not now!  XD7 recognises that the iPad doesn't have a local flash player so it cannot use HDX flash acceleration.  It does have a local H.264 decoder locally, so Citrix converts the content to H.264 and fires down the raw commands to be rendered locally.  The result is amazing!!

Also Brad showed the ability of using a CAD/CAM type application on the iPad mini.  He opened photoshop and played with a lot of filters and the performance was phenomenal.  This news is not new, but seeing it for yourself is pretty nice.


This session also covered (as expected!) the mobility innovations that Citrix have been working hard on.  These include the purchase of zenprise (MDM) and introduction of Worx applications.  These work in the same way as Good or Divide to separate a work container for mail, contacts, calendar etc. from the users own data.  This is great for the BYOD explosion which I am assured will occur soon enough (/sarcasm).

Sharefile integration to on-premise network drives and sharepoint installations was demoed along with native file editing.  This is awesome, Good has these abilities but not without switching between 3 different applications.

There were other sessions throughout the day discussing connecting cloud platforms, general case studies and how to provision desktops and apps as a service.  These sessions were good but nothing in comparison to the first session.

Overall I had a great day, I met up with some old customers from my days at Citrix, had a lovely lunch (mini sausages and mash with a red onion chutney and lemon posset!)

The only criticisms I have of the day were the lack of technical deep dive, the uncomfortable seats and the annoying purple/pink lights which beamed into your eyes!!

I will leave you with a comment which was reiterated by Gordon Payne throughout the day is that IT is a team sport.  This was backed up by the announcement that Citrix and Cisco are working collaboratively and Cisco will be provided Netscaler in their Nexus series.


I hope Citrix continue the theme of holding more smaller events on different parts of their suite of products and hope they include more technical sessions also.

Sam

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Configuring Blackberry Enterprise Server 5 with Exchange 2013

This is an overview on the pre-requisites, considerations and changes required in migrate from BES from working with Exchange 2010 over to Exchange 2013 with CU1.  The following was tested on a Windows 2003 mixed mode domain and forest functional level where BES Express had already been installed and configured.

Update....when I wrote this article originally it was aimed at updating a current Blackberry server to work with Exchange 2013.   If you want to migrate your mailboxes over a period of time rather than moving them all at once, you should look to setting a separate BES server which points to the Exchange 2013 server whilst leaving your current BES server pointing to Exchange 2010.  In order to migrate the users from one independent database to another to you can the Blackberry Transporter Tool.  I found this tool to be excellent as it didn't require any interaction on the BB phones themselves;  As far as the end user was concerned, business as usual.  Check out this link with regard to the BB Transport Tool - http://docs.blackberry.com/en/admin/deliverables/7534/BB_ET_overview_554166_11.jsp .


System Requirements


Considerations
  • The migration is very much all or nothing for BB mailboxes.  The BES service account will only allow BES to serve devices where the user’s mailbox resides on the same mailbox server.  You cannot serve BB mailboxes on Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 at the same time.
  • If you wish to get BES Express serving two Exchange environments, such as 2010 and 2013, you could look to migrate users from one BES server to another using the BlackBerry Enterprise Transporter Tool.  This tool is excellent, allows you move user/BB devices from one BES server to another with no interaction required by the end user.
  • Timing your mailbox moves with the BES server changes and BESADMIN mailbox move is crucial. Out of hours will cause the least disruption and allow the most time for the mailbox moves to complete.


Migration Steps
  • Log onto the server as the BES service account, this typically BESADMIN.
  • If MAPI and CDO is not version 6.5.8309.0, uninstall from Add/Remove Programs, restart the server, Install the new version and restart the server once again.
  • Stop all the Blackberry services on your BES server.
  • Backup the current BlackberryAgent.exe, CalHelper.exe, CalHelperWS.exe and EWS.dll from \Program Files\Research In Motion\BlackBerry Enterprise Server\ and place to one side.
  • Update and overwrite BlackberryAgent.exe, CalHelper.exe, CalHelperWS.exe and EWS.dll from the BESUPDATE.zip from \\isls06\support\Server\Blackberry\Blackberry Enterprise Server Express 5.0.4 Update for Exchange 2013\BESUPDATE\
  • Open up regedit and navigate to key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\.  Right click on Windows Messaging Subsystem and select New String Value.  Set the name as RPCHTTPProxyMap_BES and the string value as *=https:// .
  • Open up a CMD window as administrator.  Change your current directory to \Program Files\Research In Motion\BlackBerry Enterprise Server.  Type the below following command "C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\regasm" /tlb ews.dll and press enter.  Next type CalHelperWS /regserver and press enter.
  • Go to https:///ecp, click on recipients>migration and move the BESADMIN mailbox over to a database on the Exchange 2013 server.
  • Once the mailbox move has completed, log into the mailbox in OWA to initialise the mailbox.
  • Run Blackberry Server Configuration, click on Blackberry Server tab and then select Edit Mapi Profile. Update the server name to point towards your new Exchange 2013 server.
  • From the BES installation media, navigate to the Tools directory in a CMD window and run the following command TraitTool.exe -global -trait EWSEnable -set true
  • Move over the mailboxes which have Blackberry devices associated from Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2013.
  • Restart the BES server.


Troubleshooting

Your BES user devices should then be able to sync and send/receive email.  In order to help troubleshoot problems you should reference the Application log on the BES server which should let you know about Blackberry Messaging Agent issues.  You can also use a program called IEMSTEST.exe which can be found in the \Program Files\Research In Motion\BlackBerry Enterprise Server\Utility\ directory.  You can use this program to report whether Blackberry can successfully access a mailbox using the MAPI configuration you have in place.


Drop a post in you have any questions.


Ben Owens