Citrix Session Recording is Great!!!

I love that Smart Auditor has come back…..  er… I mean Session Recording.  This is an amazing tool. The only issues I have with this product is if you want to not use SSL and retention and back to multiple consoles.

I could complain about the multiple consoles, but that would be kicking a dead horse again and again.  We will leave that alone and hope that Citrix will consolidate eventually.

Citrix has documented very thoroughly on how to install Session Recording with SSL.  But what if you are with a client that doesn’t have an internal PKI solution and doesn’t want to buy a 3rd party cert for this.

To Configure the Session Recording without SSL, don’t choose a certificate during the installation.  You would believe this to be enough, except when the website is installed, it is setup to require SSL.  To fix this setting, open IIS admin and navigate to the SessionRecordingBroker site.  Choose SSL Settings, and uncheck require SSL.

ScreenRecording

The main problem is there is no interactive way to setup archiving of the Recordings.  If Citrix could develop a utility that would make it easy to configure the managing of the recordings it would be much nicer.  As of now, the only way to manage the recordings is with the icldb utility. https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/xenapp-6-5/xenapp65-w2k8-wrapper/ps-sa-library-wrapper-v2/ps-sa-reference-wrapper-v2.html

 

Citrix has only listed the main commands in their document.  If you would like to learn more about the commands here is a full list of the options for each command

 

ARCHIVE:

 

ICLDB ARCHIVE /RETENTION:<days> [/LISTFILES] [/MOVETO:<dir>] [/NOTE:<note>]

[/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

 

Archive session recording files older than the retention period specified.

This will mark files in the database as archived. Physical files will not

be moved unless the /MOVETO option is specified. Archiving a large number

of files may take some time.

 

/RETENTION:<days>  The retention period for session recording files. Files

older than this will be marked as archived in the

database. Retention period must be greater than 2 days.

/LISTFILES         List the path of files as they are being marked as

archived.

/MOVETO:<dir>      Specify a destination directory to which files are to be

physically moved. If this option is omitted, files will

remain in their original location.

/NOTE:<note>       Attach a text note to the database record for each

file that is archived.

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

DORMANT:

 

ICLDB DORMANT [/DAYS:<days> | /HOURS:<hours> | /MINUTES:<minutes>]

[/LISTFILES] [/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

 

Display or count the session recording files that are deemed as dormant.

Dormant files are session recordings that never completed due to data loss.

The search for dormant files can be made across the whole database or only

recordings made within the specified last number of days, hours, or minutes.

 

/DAYS:<days>       Limit the range of the dormant file search to the last

number of days specified.

/HOURS:<hours>     Limit the range of the dormant file search to the last

number of hours specified.

/MINUTES:<minutes> Limit the range of the dormant file search to the last

number of minutes specified.

/LISTFILES         List the file identifier for each dormant file found.

If this is omitted, only the count of dormant files will

be displayed.

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

 

IMPORT:

 

ICLDB IMPORT [/LISTFILES] [/RECURSIVE] [/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

[<file> …] [<directory> …]

 

Import session recording files into the database. The metadata contained

within each file will be read and database records created. Once a file is

imported, the file must not be moved or deleted.

 

/LISTFILES         List the files before importing.

/RECURSIVE         For directories specified, recursively search for files

in all sub-directories.

<file>             Name of file to import (wildcards permitted).

<directory>        Name of directory to search for files to import. Files

must have an .ICL extension. Sub-directories will be

searched if the /RECURSIVE switch is specified.

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

 

LOCATE:

 

ICLDB LOCATE /FILEID:<id> [/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

 

Locate and display the full path to a session recording file given a file

identifier.

 

/FILEID:<id>   Session recording file identifier or file name to search

for. This may be specified in either of the following two

formats:

 

xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx

(example: 545e8304-cdf1-404d-8ca9-001797ab8090)

 

-or-

 

i_xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx.icl

(example: i_545e8304-cdf1-404d-8ca9-001797ab8090.icl)

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

REMOVE:

 

ICLDB REMOVE /RETENTION:<days> [/LISTFILES] [/DELETEFILES]

[/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

 

Remove references to session recording files older than the retention

period specified. This will only remove records from the database, unless

the /DELETEFILES option is specified.

 

/RETENTION:<days>  The retention period for session recording files.

Database records older than this will be removed.

Retention period must be greater than 2 days.

/LISTFILES         List the path of files as their database record is

being removed.

/DELETEFILES       Specify that the associated physical file is to be

deleted from disk.

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

REMOVEALL:

 

ICLDB REMOVEALL [/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

 

Removes all records from the Session Recording Database and returns the database

back to its original state. This command however, does not remove physical

session recording files from disk. On large databases this command may

take some time to complete.

 

Use this command with caution as removal of database records can only be

reversed by restoring from backup.

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

VERSION:

 

ICLDB VERSION [/L] [/F] [/S] [/?]

 

Display the Session Recording Database schema version in the format

<major>.<minor>.<build>.<patch>.

 

/L           Log results and errors to the Windows event logs.

/F           Force command to run without prompting.

/S           Suppress copyright message.

/?           Display command help.

 

Citrix messes with SQL Always On

XenDesktop 7.9 FMA has issues with SQL Always On….

Databases has been a source of controversy since Citrix released XenDesktop.  With the merger of XenApp and XenDesktop the main solution for database availability is SQL Always On.  With SQL Always On you have the benefit of a cluster for OS and SQL protection while still having the benefits of the standalone SQL Server.  I have deployed XD 7.x countless times using these technologies for many customers and have never had an issue with SQL Always On and Citrix technologies until 7.9

Using SQL Always On, I have been able to fail my SQL server, configure and manage my XD environment without issues.  I have recently discovered with 7.9 you are unable to extend the environment while utilizing SQL Always On.  The symptoms are simple:

  • Add a new Delivery Controller to an existing XD/XA 7.9 deployment utilizing SQL Always on
  • Receive an innocuous error, stating unable to connect to the SQL server
  • Datastore is now corrupt

The error received, with unable to connect to the SQL server, shows an error of unable to connect to a SQL Server…..  when you read the error, it is trying to connect to a SQL server directly in your Always On cluster.   The error details state it is unable to update the security in the database.  This is to be expected since the individual node it is trying to connect to is a secondary node in the Always On cluster.  Weird…..

Run the connect to a site wizard again, and it will give an error stating that the database cannot be updated again, this time showing the correct Always On name.

What has happened is the Datastore is now corrupt.  The tables housing the information regarding your Delivery Controllers is the only part effected.    The following screen shot is shows the Controller node of Citrix Studio:

screensql

Once this has occurred, all aspects of XD/XA continue to work, however you will be unable to get information regarding your delivery controllers.  To resolve this issue, you will need to clear out the database regarding any information of the new controller that was added.

Citrix has this handy article (https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX139505/) to remove Delivery Controllers manually.  The simple explanation is:

  • Open powershell and run Get-BrokerController
  • Make note of the SID of the offending Delivery Controller
  • Run the script provided in the article on a delivery controller.
    • Populate the $DBName with your Site Database name
    • Populate the $EvictedSID with the offending Deliver Controller SID
  • This script will create a SQL script the will need to be run against the Datastore

The way to avoid all this hassle is to simply remove your XD/XA DB’s from the SQL Always On group.  Leave the DB’s on the primary server and extend your delivery controllers.  After you have extended your site, put the DB’s back in the Always On Availability Group

I have submitted detailed information and logs to Citrix Technical Support and am working with them toward a permanent resolution- Stay Tuned!

The Data Center in a Post Virtualization World @ AZ Tech Summit Sept 17th in Phoenix, Arizona

How Fast Can This Go?

The speed of change is changing. It’s getting faster and faster and it sometimes feels that if you  blink you can miss an important development in technology. A prime example is the proliferation of Virtualization in the Data Center. Always wary of proclamations such as “this is the year of VDI” or “Everything is moving to the Cloud”, I do think that it is now valid to characterize the situation today as “Post Virtualization”. Virtual machines are now ubiquitous and there is widespread knowledge about how to configure and optimize the storage and network to support them- i.e., we know how to do this.

So what comes next? I suggest that the next phase is the Data Center Re-born: A dynamic pool of resources and productivity for the business to consume. We are moving out of the days where services and solutions are hard coded, built individually and not re-usable. Up until now, as new applications and resources come online, there is simply more to do, more to know and more to manage. People like to talk about “The Cloud” as the answer, and maybe in time it will be. What we need NOW are real ways to converge and streamline the datacenter and grant easy/secure access to Users and Data in support of the organizational mission. As a wise man I know once said, ” They just want to press the button and a get a Banana”. Up until now it’s all been way too complicated…..

The Data Center Re-born

OK, we are not yet just going to press a button and get everything we want out of a Datacenter just yet. But now there are many straightforward ways to get pretty close to that vision. I have been designing and deploying these solutions since the 1990’s and we are at the best point ever to balance the Triangle of Cost-Performance-Capacity. In short what this means is that for a very reasonable cost, organizations can now adopt strategies and technologies that get you much closer to the dream. It is now completely possible to configure your storage, network, operating systems, applications, data, and user access as fully Dynamic Services. Three major characteristics of these systems are:

Deploy By Assignment- Deploy users, devices and applications simply by assigning resources, not by the brute force of building machines, installing applications, locking down systems, maintaining hardware, etc, etc

Built once, Re-use infinitely- Yes, it’s real!

Dynamic Allocation of Resources: Storage, Compute, Applications, User Data, Remote Access are all available to be consumed as needed on top of a High Availability and Fluid platform. This platform is lower cost, its components can be used, re-used and re-purposed as needed (for example, no more new SAN every three years, reuse that storage in new ways). This is not magic, it follows from building the infrastructure and platform services using these new approaches. Once the foundation is properly established, it becomes easy to serve up the Applications, Tools, Data, and ability to Collaborate that your users need to serve the Mission of the Organization.

Data-Center-Pavillion

Join us, and a select group of core technology partners, on September 17th for the AZ Tech Summit in Phoenix to explore these concepts. We will be hosting an Innovative Data Center Pavilion at the entry to  the Main Event Hall.

Come speak with experts and learn how our clients are running these streamlined operations  and gaining the benefits 24×7. Informal discussions will be going on throughout the day as well a Main Conference session:

 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Tech Theater II
Lunch & Learn: The Data Center in a Post Virtualization World  Presented by: Steve Greenberg, Thin Client Computing

 

…and an Executive VIP Presentation/Discussion:

 

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm
VIP Executive Track
Executive Strategies for Mobility and Virtual Data CentersPresented by: Steve Greenberg, Thin Client Computing

 

REGISTER HERE and enter the code thin to receive a complimentary registration to this year’s conference. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Keeping it Real in Tech: Marketing vs MarkT-ing

Just got back from Citrix Synergy 2014 happy, inspired and exhausted! It was a great week of learning, collaboration,  conversations, and great times with friends and colleagues from around the world. It was an overload of ideas and input, but one things stands out above all else- The character and heart of Citrix President and CEO Mark Templeton.

After a short leave of absence, this was Mark’s highly anticipated return to deliver the keynote at Synergy 2104 before his announced retirement within this next year. It is hard to describe the effect that MarkT (this is what we all call him) has on people. At first I thought it was just me as my career has directly paralleled Citrix and Mark’s leadership and I am deeply grateful for that. However, I spoke with countless attendees after the keynote about this and absolutely everyone said the same thing- that they are moved and inspired by Mark in a very special way. I heard this same sentiment across the board, everyone from first time attendees to old timers, Geeks, sales people, partners, etc. Feeling  this very strongly myself, and hearing it echoed over and over again throughout the week I set my mind to figure out exactly what was going on here. After much deliberation, here is my conclusion:

Some people are very skilled at speaking, at presenting a message in a clear and impactful way. Some people have great skills at persuasion or inspiration- they can get you excited in what they say and how they say it. Some people understand the technology behind products, or the business value, the use case, etc. When you listen you can be impressed or motivated to act. Mark is not any of those, he is something so much more…

MarkT has a heart the size of an ocean liner. You can’t help but be genuinely brought in, not from the hypnotic sound of a practiced speaker, but from the genuineness of a person who loves that they do and means what they say. He wants to share the exciting developments at Citrix because of what they can bring to YOU, how they can help YOU- he cares about others and is happy and honored to be able to share it.

In the end, it is about integrity, honesty and heart-felt sincerity that excites people. It cuts away the hype, pretense, agendas and spin and replaces it with genuine beliefs. When you experience the real thing, you just know it, everyone feels it and this year’s Synergy Keynote was the prime example. Next to this, the standard marketing/spin/positioning looks like a thin veil of charlantism. The “secret” is a sincere desire to make the world a better place, and, to lift up those around us in the process.

The Tech World, the Business World, and, the Whole World for that matter, will be a much better place if we can learn from his example and actively reach out to replace all this superficial (i.e. self-serving) Marketing, to make it Real, to question our own values and re-align them so that they truly can help others.

I hereby pronounce the End of Marketing and usher in a new era of Sincerity and ‘Keeping it Real” called the Age of MarkT-ing

 

Thanks for everything Mark, now it is our turn to carry this forward….

steveg-markt

Announcing our Annual Event for 2012!

Join us for “Soar Beyond The Cloud”, Friday, February 24th 2012

For 15 years now it has been a tradition at Thin Client Computing to give back to our customers and the community through special events. Our concept is to eliminate the talking heads, sales pitches and self serving agendas and simply share real experience about what works best in practise (and what does not work so well!).

We are truly grateful that each year more people attend and tell us how valuable our events are to them. We have continued to seek out unusual and interesting venues and important/relevant topics to explore. We share real world feedback about technology implementation and best practises, and, introduce new and forward looking concepts/approaches. We also arrange the event so that the majority of time is spent in peer interactions, hands on demos and deep dive small group discussions.

This year we are pleased to take this to the next level based on an idea by our superb Technical/Business Analyst Brenda Tinius to occupy the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, Arizona.

 

Standing among these great machines, created in the Golden Age of American Innovation and Technology, we are honored to share our vision for the future. This is a future in which we are able to bring jobs back to the USA through well proven uses of Virtualization/Cloud Technologies. In 2012 we are at the point in which the technology, when properly implemented, simply works.

As a result Businesses, and organizations of all kinds, can cut costs dramatically while improving productivity, retention, lifestyle and job satisfaction and truly compete on a Global level in a whole new way.

Please come out and join us for “Soar Beyond The Cloud”, Friday, February 24th 2012 we believe you will find this an Inspiring and Educational day!