Sydney AWS Consulting : Citrix MCS Provisioning in AWS

At Peninsula IT, we’re seeing a mass migration of traditional on-premise IT applications and services to AWS and Azure.  The type and scale of these applications varies wildly, but we are consistently helping customers to migrate their traditional Citrix virtualised applications and desktops to public cloud.  These migrations can be “lift and shift” type transfers, to vendor managed services such as Citrix Cloud.

AWS Citrix Migrations

While many of the customers of our Citrix Consulting and Cloud Migration Practice in Sydney are evaluating Citrix Cloud for hosting and management of their XenApp infrastructure components, some customers still prefer to migrate their back-end Citrix services such as Delivery Controllers and Storefront servers to the cloud alongside their XenApp workload hosting servers.  The most common landing points for these hosted services in Sydney are AWS and Azure.  Public Cloud provides scale and flexibility – if a project is really successful, our consultants help customers to automate and scale up.  If a project does not “hit the mark” with customer adoption, the Cloud service can be scaled down or even terminated with minimal overhead.  By contrast, customers that procure hardware for their own datacentre feel compelled to keep going, even if failure appears certain, mainly due to the large upfront capital expenditure that needs to be justified.

Leveraging AWS Elasticity with XenApp

Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) has been a key component of the XenDesktop platform since 2010, and more recently it has become a key component of the XenApp platform.  At Peninsula IT, our staff have been using MCS with customers since early beta testing of the technology.  In simplified terms, MCS provides automated replication of virtual machines, based on a Windows “Golden Image” with key software pre-installed.  Cloud services such as AWS and Azure are perfect for using with MCS, whereby multiple virtual machines can be spawned from a master image in order to reach the desired capacity, all using tools inbuilt within the XenApp platform.

Citrix MCS Configuration for AWS

From here we assume that you have some knowledge of the components needed to install and run XenApp 7.x .  In addition, we’re assuming that you’ve imported or created an instance within AWS to use as the “Golden Image” and converted that instance to an AMI within the same AWS region that you intend to use for XenApp hosting servers.

  • From within Citrix Studio, expand the Configuration > Hosting node.
  • Select “Add Connection and Resources”.  Select Amazon EC2, provide the API Key, the Secret Key and name the connection.  TIP:  When creating the user account with the AWS IAM console needed for the API and Secret Keys, select “Programmatic Access” only, and configure user permissions in line with the Citrix document CTX140429

AWS Xenapp Add MCS Connection - Peninsula IT

  • Select the AWS Region, VPC and Availability zone.  Note that after selecting the AWS region, it can take a few minutes for the console to become responsive again while XenApp queries AWS region and VPC settings.

AWS Select Region VPC and AZ for Citrix MCS | Peninsula ITz

  • On the next tab, select the appropriate network within the VPC for the XenApp machines that MCS will create and give the network a name.
  • Check the summary screen and click Finish.
  • Now within Citrix Studio, navigate to the Catalogs node.  Select Create new catalog, and start moving through the Wizard.
  • On the Machine Management tab, select Power Managed Machines, and Deploy Machines using Machine Creation Services.  From the Resources dropdown box, select the Network created earlier and select next.

AWS Xenapp MCS Select AMI | Peninsula IT

  • Select the appropriate security group and also select “Shared Hardware”
  • On the next screen, select the EC2 Instance size.  The screenshot below shows M1.medium for testing purposes only.

AWS Xenapp MCS Select Instance | Peninsula IT

  • From here you can finish the MCS wizard selecting AD machine account location and naming, network cards and Catalog description as needed.  Select Finish, and the catalog and AWS instances will be created, ready for adding to a Delivery group and testing with your users.

AWS Xenapp MCS Catalog Creation | Peninsula IT


Final Note:  Check our other blog entry “Fixing VPC Issues with Citrix XenApp” to avoid some of the pitfalls you may come across.