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  • Citrix DaaS – MCS Catalog Creation in Azure


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    Uddave Jajoo by Uddave Jajoo, CTA & Indianapolis CUGC Leader

    Recently there is a huge uptake in deployments in the public cloud environment, as every enterprise is taking their first step forward to the cloud journey. In similar way, there is also change of mindset within the business organization to adopt for these cloud technologies and migrate their apps and servers to cloud.

    Whenever it comes to migration of any app or infrastructure to cloud, always consider the 6 R's of migration:

    The "6 R" Requirements

    1. Azure Subscription to host workloads in any region.
    2. Service Principal in Azure (granted contributor access on subscription)
    3. Shared Image Gallery in Azure.
    4. Allow Policy exemption for subscription in case there is any policy restrictions applied from the management group level.
    5. Citrix Cloud Connector servers configured within the Azure Subscription.
    6. Allowed communication from Azure vNet to the Citrix Cloud Services.

     

    Considering Refactoring as one of the strategies of migration, I started working on a project to integrate Citrix Cloud with Azure and enable to provision MCS persistent desktops in cloud. In this blog, I am going to highlight some options available within the MCS catalog creation wizard, which lets admins provision catalogs in two different ways.

    Environment details are below for reference:

    1. 2 Cloud connector servers pointing to Central US based resource location
    2. Hosting connection created in Citrix DAAS console pointing to Central US region
    3. Created image version from the Win10 22H2 Image in dedicated resource group using Image definition within the shared image gallery
    4. Dedicated Persistent machine catalog with 5 desktops in the pool, dedicated delivery group with AutoScale enable

    Note - Before I share the steps on deploying a catalog using SIGs or snapshots, I would like to highlight one specific issue observed in Azure while creating catalogs with higher number of VMs. I did create a case with #Citrix and #Microsoft for this issue and currently they are working on increasing the throttling value from the Azure end. I was running with errors every time while deploying more than 40+ VDIs in a machine catalog. So, if you are targeting to deploy more than 40 machines at once in Azure with MCS provisioning, please select the option to Place image in Shared Gallery while deploying the catalog.

    Create MCS Persistent Catalog Using the Shared Image Gallery Option

    This setting is documented within the Citrix Article - create-machine-catalog-citrix-azure.

    James Kindon also created a very good article on this: Shared Image Gallery - citrix-mcs-and-azure-shared-image-gallery/

     

    Azure Shared Image Gallery (SIG) is a repository for managing and sharing images. It lets you make your images available throughout your organization. It's recommended to store an image in SIG when creating large non-persistent machine catalogs because that enables faster resets of VDA OS disks. After you select Place image in Azure Shared Image Gallery, the Azure Shared Image Gallery settings section appears, letting you specify more SIG settings:

     

    Ratio of virtual machines to image replicas lets you specify the ratio of virtual machines to image replicas that you want Azure to keep. By default, Azure keeps a single image replica for every 40 non-persistent machines. For persistent machines, that number defaults to 1,000.

    Maximum replica count lets you specify the maximum number of image replicas that you want Azure to keep. The default is 10.

     

    image.png.8fdc29fc1bc4801ec5775827e83d57f1.png

    Follow through the steps outlined in the below section:

    Create MCS Catalog Pointing to the Image Snapshot (with the exception of step 8 when utilizing the Shared Image Gallery):

    image-1.png.e7b6d7bc9bfde3daf1d29f4798491e77.png

    In the Storage and License Types tab, select the default options for Premium SSD or Standard HDD (for better cost savings select the Standard HDD) & Use My Windows Client Licenses.

    Check the option for Place Image in Azure Shared Gallery and set the Ratio to 40 to 10.

    Note: It refers to the image replica being created for N number of VMs to be created within the catalog. Based on the setting above, it would utilize 1 replica to provision 4 VDIs at a time.

    Click Next.

    Create MCS Persistent Catalog Using Image Snapshot

    image-2.png.4d093995bd8c18a07126be990875f4cb.png
    1. Login to Citrix cloud console and navigate to Machine Catalogs tab.

      Select Create Machine Catalog, click Next.

    image-3.png.b85796cb8a20606d56bf244c793c867a.png
    1. In the Machine Type select Single Session OS.

      Click Next.

    image-4.png.aeba2c6c75703e9e2f109f75a534ee61.png
    1. In the Machine Management tab, select the required hosting connection pointing to Azure subscription.

      Select Option: This machine catalog will use machines that are power managed.

      Select Option: Deploy machines using Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS).

      Click Next.

      Select the correct resource for the machine catalog.

    image-5.png.ad570275482fc401c2986b1608a9c29e.png
    1. In Desktop Experience Tab Select below options:

      Static Desktop Pool Provisioning: I want users to connect to the same (static) desktop each time they log on

      Yes, create a dedicated virtual machine and save changes on the local disk

      Random Desktop Pool Provisioning: I want users to connect to a new (random) desktop each time they log on.

      No, discard all changes and clear virtual desktops when the user logs off.

      Click Next

    image-6.png.02183e27c5f130c7ece65697d0725aa6.png
    1. In the Master Image tab, select a managed disk, snapshot of VHD that you want to use as master image for all the machines in this catalog.
    image-7.png.345bad37c3f38fa6565650787412af74.pngimage-8.png.c358ee9844f6a316cb4dc31a9e3b64ea.png
    1. Click on Select an Image

      In Select an Image tab, expand the required Azure resource group to point to the respective Image snapshot. It will display the list of OS disks, snapshot and any image versions created within your shared image gallery.

      Example:

      Resource group name: udjajoo-ctx-cs-win10

      Shared Image gallery: udjajooctxsharedimagegallery

      Image Definition name: udwin1022h2

      Version: 3.23.2023

       

      Select the respective Snapshot within the resource group and click Done

       

      Note: If vTPM is enabled on the master image, it would prompt to select the Machine profile as well.(Highly recommended to secure the OS with the trusted platform module.)

       

      Select the image profile pointing to the master image.

    image-9.png.8384274489eb7725831d9dd29c00f125.png
    1. In the Master Image tab, select the Minimum functional level for this catalog as 2206 (or later), this would be dependent on VDA version installed on the image.
    image-10.png.2afc3b81cf27d3466e47e7b8faca246d.png
    1. In Storage and License Types tab, select the default options for Premium SSD (For better cost savings please select the Standard HDD) & Use My Windows Client Licenses.

      Leave the option unchecked for Place Image in Azure Shared Gallery.

      Click Next.

    image-11.png.0dfc1e0c1f54cb99cf57edc0954d6a6c.png
    1. In the Virtual Machines tab, select the below:

      Number of Virtual Machines: 5 (For my testing)

      Machine Size: Select Standard D2s v5 (2 vcpus, 8 GiB memory)

      Click Save.

      In the availability zone, depending on the availability, we could select all three or just one or two.

      Click Next.

    image-12.png.ca259ea0a6abf35de54315fa19b111c9.png
    1. In the NICs tab, select the required VNET with free IPs.

      In the Disk Settings, check the box for Enable Storage Cost Savings.

      This helps in downgrading storage type for VMs during shutdown deallocation process and change it back to regular during power on. Thus, more cost saving.

    image-13.png.1b9e56b2e6a0e0a5d2076b8866ab69cf.png
    1. In the Resource Group tab, select the option to Use an existing resource group to provision machines.

      Click Next.

    2. In Machine Identities Tab, select the below:

      Identity Type: On Premises Active Directory

      Select an Active Directory account option: Create New Active Directory Accounts

      Specify the name for the machine accounts you want to be created- udjajooctxw10-##

      =====================

      In Domain Credentials tab, enter the required credentials to authenticate to Active Directory. Click Enter Credentials.

      In the next window, use the required account with privileges to create the AD computer account.

      Click Done.

      Click Next.

      =====================

      In Scopes tab, leave with Default All.

      Click Next.

    image-14.png.e3297b9a4bf645dd9aa84a21b4d83dc4.pngimage-15.png.3264d08715eb08bd24eb7d4ca3963a09.png
    1. In the WEM (Optional) tab, select the required configuration set for the machine catalog.

      Or, leave it default without selecting any configuration set and select later post Machine Catalog creation in the Citrix Cloud Console.

      Click Next.

       

      In VDA Upgrade (Optional) tab, select the options to enable automatic VDA upgrade depending on the CR or LTSR VDA version.

      Click Next.

    image-16.png.bcb80c161a8141729f474c87bc70942c.png
    1. In Summary tab, review all the configurations and enter the Machine Catalog Name: UD-CTX-W10-22H2-Test and Description: Test Pool.

      Click Finish.

    References:

    create-machine-catalog-citrix-azure

    citrix-mcs-and-azure-shared-image-gallery/

    See more posts about MCS creation on the CUGC blogs.

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    User Feedback

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    Any possibility to share an Azure subscription with multiple Citrix cloud sites, We are planning to migrate the service from one Citrix cloud site to another Citrix cloud site due to organisation merger, the migration will be in a phased manner so for some time both Citrix cloud site should access the same azure subscription . any thoughts
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    @Prakash

    So you want to add azure subscription to two different cloud sites?? If I understood your question correctly, I think you could do it easily just by adding those respective subscriptions as hosting connection to your Citrix cloud sites. You just need to make sure that whatever service principal you are going to use should have access to manage resources in both cloud sites. Reach out to me on LinkedIn in case you need to discuss this in detail.

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