In this post, I want to provide an overview of Citrix’s enhancements to their Virtual Apps and Desktops Cloud service (CVADS) through 2020 that I feel is significant.
Citrix introduced vertical load balancing in January, meaning that each Virtual Apps VM will be filled to max load before the next VM is used. This ensures that the cost customers might have in a public cloud can be reduced since fewer machines should be turned on. This feature, of course, is only for starting up. Shutting down VMs is still depending on users logging off, so the entire VM is empty. Another small feature from January was the restart delay timer. This feature is only useful if Citrix has an outage since the functionality is to retry restarting in a period if the control plane is down for some reason.
PVS target device matrics were added in March, and this made information like Network, boot, and cache use available in Citrix Monitor. Also, in March, secure transfer on Azure storage account was supported by MCS, and more security is (almost) always good. Another great addition in March was the support for Azure SSD managed disks. This bumped up the performance and was something a lot of customers had been waiting for.
For April, the most significant enhancement was the MTU discovery. This allowed for a better user experience.
The May update allowed for machines in maintenance mode to be included in the reboot schedule. This is an excellent enhancement since many customers thought that all machines in a delivery group would restart in the reboot schedule, so if a VM had an issue, they would put it into maintenance mode and then hope the reboot would solve any problems.
The ability to use Windows Client licenses (Windows 10) was added to the service in July 2020. This still requires customers to ensure they are compliant with Microsoft licensing. July also offered new RBAC features for Citrix Monitor so helpdesk roles could be more granular.
August provided more new features among those new Citrix Cloud editions named “Citrix Virtual Apps Advanced Service” and “Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Advanced service”. These are lower versions of the premium version already present in the cloud services. August also provided enhancements on the Google Cloud by adding support for shared VPN and Zone selection support. On Azure, the august update provided faster boot times on MCS VM’s.
Support for Azure NV4 and DA_v4 series VM was added in September, and a new Citrix monitor role called “Session administrator”. The session administrator was a good addition since it gave you the option of delegating support of, for instance, finance software to super users in that department without providing these users too many permissions inside of Citrix.
Removal of the external IP used for preparing images on Google Cloud was introduced in October, this might seem like a small thing, but it reduces the attack surface on the infrastructure when not having an open IP to the internet. The October update also introduced the ability to use none domain-joined virtual machines into MCS. This was only possible using the Citrix Managed Desktop service before this update. Also, multiple restrictions on Azure resource groups have been removed.
The last update in 2020 was in December where “Web studio” came into public preview. This is a very nice enhancement that I had used for most of 2020, and customers can really look forward to this replacement for the full studio experience. On Azure, the support for standard SSD was added, and now it was also possible to use persistent write-back cache disks on Azure. For faster boot times, a new option to retain the system disk was added to the services.
This concludes my list of important updates to the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops services for 2020. If you want to look more into each of the updates, have a look here https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops-service/whats-new.html This is where I found all the information and listed the items I found most valuable.