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How to Make Citrix Logons Faster?

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Slow logon is one of the most common user complaints faced by Citrix admins. When logon is slow, it affects the end-user experience and business productivity.

Because XenApp and XenDesktop logon comprises many steps and depends on various parts of the infrastructure, it is often difficult to know what is causing logon slowness. The biggest question every Citrix admin has is “How do I make Citrix logons faster”?

Here are some best practices from George Spiers, CTP, based on his real-world experience to optimize your Citrix infrastructure to make logons up to 75% faster.
• Understand what factors are involved in Citrix login processing
• Learn optimization techniques to make logon faster including profile management and image optimization
• Learn how to improve logon times using new Citrix technologies such as App Layering and WEM
• Pick up tips, tricks and tools to proactively detect logon slowdowns

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How to Make Citrix Logons Faster?

  1. 1. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com How to Make Citrix Logons Faster? Best Practices for Citrix Logon Time Optimization
  2. 2. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Meet Your Moderator • Questions are welcome through the course of the webinar ─ Use the questions panel on the GoToWebinar chat client to type in your queries • This webinar is being recorded. You will receive a link to the recording in a few days. Webinar Logistics Product marketer for Citrix/VDI monitoring solutions. Contributing author to various technology publications. vinod.mohan@eginnovations.com | www.eginnovations.com Vinod Mohan Sr. Product Marketing Manager, eG Innovations
  3. 3. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Citrix Logon: The #1 Problem for Citrix Admins Source: 2018 Citrix Migration Survey www.eginnovations.com/Citrix-Migration-Trends Rule of 30 – If your logon times are: • Under 30 seconds  you’re doing well • Longer than 30 seconds  something is probably not quite right
  4. 4. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Citrix Logon Slowness: Business Impact • Slowness at every logon affects the productivity for the end user – Healthcare clinicians maybe logging into their terminals multiple times in a day when they go for patient rounds • When multiple users log in simultaneously, logon slowness will affect everyone – In a factory where a shift starts, hundreds of employees could be logging in at the same time, causing logon storms
  5. 5. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Meet Your Speaker George Spiers Citrix Technology Professional and EUC Architect Citrix Certified Expert and Microsoft Solutions Expert. One of the 50 CTPs in the world. george@jgspiers.com | www.jgspiers.com  Why are Citrix logons slow?  How can you make Citrix logons faster?  How to monitor and detect Citrix logon problems? Key Questions Answered in this Webinar
  6. 6. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Understanding the Citrix Logon Process and Implications of Logon Slowness
  7. 7. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com What Happens When There is Citrix Logon Slowness? Users start to complain that their Citrix logons have suddenly become very slow Helpdesk starts getting user complaints Helpdesk alerts the Citrix administration team • Are all users affected or only some? • Are affected users from a particular area/office? • Do affected users use particular profiles, applications, or desktops? • Are there any consistencies or patterns? Citrix admins begin investigating the cause for logon slowness
  8. 8. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com What Happens When There is Citrix Logon Slowness? User experience is affected Pressure is on IT to resolve the problem Depending on severity root cause analysis may take place Measures will be drafted to help prevent reoccurrence The Consequence
  9. 9. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com What Causes Citrix Logon Times to Increase? • Large user profiles • Many applications are loaded on to Citrix desktops through App Layering or versioning • High user density on hypervisors, contending for the same resources 1 2 3 Before: 30-second logon times, 5000 logons per week = 41.6 hours After: 45-second logon times, 5000 logons per week = 62.5 hours
  10. 10. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com How Do I Know When Logons are Slow? • Your users will generally inform you, but it is always better to be proactive. Don’t let the user be your alert! • Citrix Director provides – Average logon duration over the past hour – Logon duration reports – Alerts if logons breach defined thresholds (subject to licensing)
  11. 11. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com How Do I Know When Logons are Slow? (contd.) • Third-party Citrix monitoring solutions can enhance your ability to be proactive by: – Testing logons to your applications and desktops – Alerting when infrastructure is down or under stress, which could impact logon times – Providing deeper visibility than Director – Identifying the root cause of logon slowness
  12. 12. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Different Interpretations of Citrix Logon Times • In XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x, Citrix logon processing is split between the XenApp Server / virtual desktop, the Delivery Controller, and the Windows OS – Looking only at logon metrics from the Windows OS will not be sufficient – Citrix Director provides visibility from Brokering to Interactive Session – Logon time has to be measured every step of the way across the Citrix stack and Windows OS Browser access  StoreFront/NetScaler Gateway connection  Authentication  Enumeration on StoreFront  Application/Desktop Launch  Session Brokering  HDX Authentication to VDA  Profile Loading  GPO Processing  Logon Script Execution  Desktop Appears Synthetic simulation techniques can track logon processing from end to end
  13. 13. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Logon Differences Between XenApp and XenDesktop Launch Desktop Server OS DDC brokers connection to list of online and registered pooled desktop (best available) GPOs Profile load, etc. Finish/desktop landing screen Desktop OS Persistent User DDC brokers connection to desktop Is desktop online and registered? No Desktop is powered on GPOs Profile load etc. Finish/desktop landing screen Yes GPOs Profile load etc. Finish/desktop landing screen Non-persistent User DDC brokers connection to non-persistent online and registered desktop (best available) GPOs Profile load etc. Finish/desktop landing screen Logons between VDI Desktop OS & Server OS VDAs generally take the same routes
  14. 14. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Best Practices to Improve Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Logon Times Windows Optimization Infrastructure Optimization Citrix Optimization
  15. 15. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Consider Using Auto-Logon Accounts • This will allow the second real user who logs on to benefit from quicker logon times • Sysinternals can be used to configure auto-logon https://docs.microsoft.com/en- us/sysinternals/downloads/autologon • Have an account auto-logon after VDA reboots – Most useful for Server OS VDAs
  16. 16. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Image Optimizations • Optimizing an image can shave 20 to 30 seconds off your logon times straight away Before After • Image optimization is the practice of tweaking the Windows OS by turning off unneeded services, scheduled tasks and performing other tweaks to the OS to improve performance and reduce logon times for the end-user
  17. 17. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Image Optimizations (contd.) • Optimizing is not a one-off procedure, you have to constantly optimize your images • New software can install Scheduled Tasks, Services or registry keys that enable automatic updates or collect data. Prepare, plan, install! • After installing new software, check these areas: ─ Search the internet, there may be installation guides or general guidance specific to Citrix environments for the application that you are installing
  18. 18. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Image Optimizations (contd.) • Helpful scripts and tools for optimizing your operating system: These scripts disable services and scheduled tasks and modify the registry to optimize system performance on Windows Server 2016 and 2012 R2 running in a Citrix SBC environment  Windows Server 2016 Optimization Script www.jgspiers.com/windows-server-2016-optimisation-script/  Windows Server 2012 R2 Optimization Script www.jgspiers.com/windows-server-2012-r2-optimisation-script/  Citrix Optimizer https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX224676 A PowerShell-based Windows tool to help Citrix admins optimize the Windows operating system with VDAs
  19. 19. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Avoid Logon Scripts • Logon scripts have a detrimental effect on logon times • What is the script doing? Can it be moved to a Scheduled Task? Use the “Configure Logon Script Delay” Group Policy setting to delay scripts from running until X amount of minutes after a user has logged on: Computer Configuration  Policies  Administrative Templates  System  Group Policy  Configure Logon Script Delay
  20. 20. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Keep Group Policy at a Minimum • Can you justify each policy setting? • Regularly review Group Policy settings to confirm they still need to apply • Merge Group Policy settings under a minimum number of objects as possible
  21. 21. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Avoid Mapping Too Many Network Drives • Network drive sprawl is common in enterprise environments • Networks paths that do not exist will affect logon times. House keeping is important! • Can you provide top level drives that serve sub-folders controlled by permissions and access-based enumeration? • Use Citrix WEM
  22. 22. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Avoid Mapping Too Many Printers • Print queues can get into 1000’s in enterprise environments • Printer queues pointing to an invisible print server will affect logon time. Housekeeping is important! • When passing through printers, Citrix Universal Printer helps • Use Citrix WEM
  23. 23. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Reduce the Number of Applications that Run at Logon • Autoruns by Sysinternals can be used to check what will run during logon https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/autoruns
  24. 24. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Best Practices to Improve Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Logon Times Windows Optimization Infrastructure Optimization Citrix Optimization
  25. 25. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Hypervisor and Storage Recommendations • Tune the performance of your hypervisors to improve logon time Hypervisor Useful Links Power Settings in Citrix XenServer: C-states, Turbo and CPU frequency https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX200390 Performance best practices for VMware vSphere 6.5 https://www.vmware.com/techpapers/2017/Perf_Best_Practices_vS phere65.html Performance tuning Microsoft Hyper-V servers https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows- server/administration/performance-tuning/role/hyper-v-server/index • Use flash storage for your Citrix desktops – You do not want storage to be a constraining factor during peak load such as logons during the morning – Hyperconverged storage (Nutanix) is a good way to go
  26. 26. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Active Directory Recommendations • Active Directory Sites and Services, if incorrectly configured, could impact logon times. – For example, you have a UK office subnet associated with your New York Site/Domain Controllers • Make sure, as subnets are added, they are correctly assigned to the closest Domain Controllers/Site in your organization
  27. 27. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Antivirus Recommendations • Review the best practices around antivirus exclusions, as they could have a positive impact on logons Product Exclusion Provisioning Services Server • ARDBP32.BIN • StreamService.exe • StreamProcess.exe Provisioning Services Target Device • Vdiskdif.vhdx • PvsVmAgent.exe Client/Server OS VDA • UserProfileManager.exe • Winlogon.exe *Always consult with your security team before excluding. More thorough list: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/12/02/citrix-recommended- antivirus-exclusions/
  28. 28. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Best Practices to Improve Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Logon Times Windows Optimization Infrastructure Optimization Citrix Optimization
  29. 29. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Session Prelaunch (7.6+) • Session is pre-prepared when user logs on to StoreFront • When user clicks to launch application, the majority―if not entire―logon process would have already completed in background Delivery Controller & Brokering • Not always will a user launch a XenApp application straight away, they may check emails. In the meantime, let XenApp prepare the session in the background. • Prelaunch is enabled by Delivery Group to all users or subset • If user does not launch application, session can be ended after ‘x’ mins/hrs/days • Receiver for Windows must be installed (SSON recommended) with EnablePreLaunch=True Points to note:
  30. 30. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Keep an Eye Out for Unregistered Desktops Problem Effect Best Practice Unregistered Server VDAs Reduces the pool of available desktops. Leads to resource contention amongst users. Set up alerting and automated actions for unregistered desktops Unregistered Non-Persistent Desktop VDAs Unregistered Persistent Desktop VDAs Reduces the pool of available desktops. May cause denial or service for users.  Director can alert when desktops are unregistered (Platinum feature)  Third-party tools can take automated action when desktops are unregistered Delivery Controller & Brokering
  31. 31. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Implement Brokering Improvements (7.11+) • Improvements to Latency and SQL Blocking Query Before XA/XD 7.11 (90ms latency) XA/XD 7.11+ (90ms latency) Brokering requests per sec 3.7 12.6 Time to launch 10k users 44m 55s 13m 10s • Zones (7.7+) allow you to group Delivery Controllers and VDAs together  Quicker brokering = quicker logons! Delivery Controller & Brokering
  32. 32. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Leverage Caching Optimizations in PVS and MCS For PVS, use “Cache in device RAM with overflow on hard disk” For MCS, use “RAM Cache” (XenDesktop 7.9+) PVS & MCS  Reduces amount of Write IOPS from reaching disk  Instead IOPS write to RAM on each Target Device  This will have a positive effect on logons
  33. 33. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Take Care of Elastic Layers – Citrix App Layering • You don’t want to add a 2GB layer as an Elastic Layer – The likes of Google Chrome, DYMO print label software and scanning software typically have minimal affect on user logon times Elastic Layers are mapped to a users session at logon. The larger the layer, the longer it may take a user to log on! App Layering • Make sure the Elastic Layer file share runs off a file server with a 10GB network to the VDA, and uses SMB3 • Make sure the share is highly available ─ Unreachable file shares impact logon time
  34. 34. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Citrix Profile Management: Excluding Files & Folders Exclude files and directories from synchronizing to the Citrix profile store. Smaller profile size = quicker logon You don’t necessarily need to roam everything under the profile! • Exclusion List – files (CPM v2.0+) • Enable Default Exclusion List – directories (CPM v5.5+) • Exclusion List – directories (CPM v2.0+) Policy settings: Citrix Profile Management
  35. 35. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Citrix Profile Management (3.0+): Profile Streaming • Streaming filter driver is used to stream files and folders when needed, rather than cache the entire profile at once • Registry hive is cached fully Note: This cannot be used with App-V if using “User Publishing Refresh On Logon”! Citrix Profile Management
  36. 36. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Use Citrix Profile Management (5.7.+): Logon Exclusion Check • You can only predict to a degree which files and folders to exclude from the beginning • Use Logon Exclusion Check to exclude files and folders from ever reaching the VDA again • CPM 5.7 allows you to exclude file/folder from synchronization • CPM 5.8 allows you to do the same or else delete files/folder from Store Points to Note: Citrix Profile Management
  37. 37. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Using Citrix Workspace Environment Management • WEM is Citrix’s Performance Management and User Environment Management tool for all XA/XD Enterprise and Platinum Customers • Reduces logon duration by up to 20-40% – User logon is enabled first – After that, other processing steps (such as profile loading) are executed • Uses intelligent resource and profile management to deliver the best possible user experience and application response time • Analyzes user and application behavior in real time, and intelligently adjusts RAM, CPU, and I/O in the user workspace environmentWEM agents are installed on server and desktop VDAs Workspace Environment Management
  38. 38. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com How Citrix WEM Works With WEM Without WEM All the processing is done after logon Logon speed is improved All the processing steps happen before logon Workspace Environment Management
  39. 39. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Using WEM Actions to Reduce Logon Time • Actions are objects such as Printers, Network Drives and Registry Entries – That can be applied to user sessions AFTER they have logged on – Rules and conditions make assignments flexible Workspace Environment Management
  40. 40. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Using WEM Actions to Reduce Logon Time ─ Example 1 Create registry objects which will be stored in HKCU Workspace Environment Management
  41. 41. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Using WEM Actions to Reduce Logon Time ─ Example 2 Create printer objects which will map to each session Workspace Environment Management
  42. 42. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Using WEM CPU Management: Spikes Protection • WEM makes it easier to protect your CPUs and users • One bad process running on a shared desktop could affect the next users logging on • Use CPU Spikes Protection to place a cap on how much CPU % a process can consume Workspace Environment Management
  43. 43. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Using WEM I/O Management • WEM has the ability to weed out and tame bad processes • Intelligent Optimization monitors how often a process triggers Spike Protection and can lower the priority next time that process is launched Workspace Environment Management
  44. 44. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com From Logon Optimization to Logon Monitoring • Best practices help optimize your infrastructure and make Citrix logons faster • When some settings change and new variables are introduced in the environment, Citrix logon time is bound to be affected Monitor Detect Resolve Report Optimize  Citrix admins need an effective monitoring strategy to proactively identify logon time slowness before end users start complaining Citrix Logon
  45. 45. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com In-Depth Citrix Logon Monitoring with eG Enterprise
  46. 46. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Synthetic Logon Simulation for Proactive Monitoring Track logon availability and performance 24x7 and identify slowness Identify the cause of logon slowness
  47. 47. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Monitoring Real User Logon Performance • View logon metrics from XenApp server and Delivery Controller side by side • Diagnose which step is causing slowness: brokering, interactive session processing, user profile loading, logon script execution, etc. • Easily identify if logon processing slowness is in the client side or server side • Track down the Group Policy Client-Side Extension that is taking high processing time
  48. 48. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Monitoring Logon Processing by Citrix WEM Citrix Director only shows interactive session time. This does not include WEM agent processing time. eG Enterprise monitors initial processing and WEM agent processing Monitor WEM’s external task processing messages and identify which task took more time to execute
  49. 49. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Monitoring Large User Profiles Get alerted to logon slowness due to large user profiles Drill down to see which of the profiles is large
  50. 50. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com For more information On Citrix logon monitoring, contact eG Innovations: www.eginnovations.com info@eginnovations.com On Citrix logon optimization, contact George Spiers: www.jgspiers.com george@jgspiers.com
  51. 51. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com
  52. 52. © eG Innovations, Inc. | www.eginnovations.com Thank You! https://citrixready.citrix.com/program/webinar/ eg-innovations1.html?pcode=eG June 26, 2018

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