Citrix Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services 2014 revision

Two years ago I started writing the Citrix Provisioning Services versus Machine Creation Services decision trees. A year and 12k visitors later it’s time for an updated version. The Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services decision tree has gotten a lot of attention over the last year. It’s used on Citrix blogs and more recently in one of the Citrix webinars by Atlantis Computing. This makes me proud and definitely works as an energizer to continue working on projects like this.

I’m writing this in such a way you won’t need to read the earlier articles but of course you are free to do so anyway.

The first article by Daniel Feller can be found here.
My article called Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.
The 2013 revision of Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.

After Daniel posted his decision tree over three years ago a lot has changed.

  • New Citrix features like XenServer Intellicache, MCS for “XenApp on XenDesktop 7″ and Citrix Provisioning Services in memory caching (with spill-over to disk)
  • In memory caching and deduplication by vendors like Atlantis Computing
  • Hardware vendors like FusionIO who are delivering local flash based storage with IO figures with over 200k IOPS
  • Local SSD storage prices have dropped massively and predictions are prices will continue to drop this year
  • The introduction of a new industry called Web-Scale technology with leading vendors like Nutanix. Bas van Kaam wrote an excellent article on WebScale technology.

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Citrix NetScaler sizing guide

NetScaler Sizing Guide intro

About a year ago Citrix started with the NetScaler Tri-Scale method to scale up, in or out the Citrix NetScaler platform. Although this sounds great and gives you an option to pay-as-you-grow we all understand that we should take proper care for initial sizing. Doing so makes sure your users won’t be disappointed and plain simply pay less $$$.

Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway MPX

Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway MPX

My focus for this article is small to midrange sized Citrix NetScaler platforms up to the MPX 8600 6 Mbit/s. My experience is based on projects within the Netherlands and unfortunately for me this is as big as it gets. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the information when sizing larger platforms. This is also the reason why you will not find any information about clustering in this article.

This article is a follow up on two earlier articles mainly focused on the performance and sizing of a virtual (VPX) Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway, now called NetScaler Gateway.

How to maximize your virtual Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway performance

Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway VPX user scalability numbers explained

This leads to questions about why there is a difference in theoretical and practical numbers. I’m not Google and therefore can’t answer them all but I will try to answer some of them.

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Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services 2013 revision

This article has been update with a 2014 revision. Click here to go to the PVS vs MCS 2014 revision.

Over one and a half year ago I wrote a follow up on an article by Citrix architect Daniel Feller. The original article by Daniel Feller needed an update and now mine is getting pretty outdated as well.

I’m writing this in such a way you won’t be needing to read the earlier articles but of course you are free to do so anyway.

The first article by Daniel Feller can be found here.
My article called Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.

After Daniel posted his decision tree over two years ago a lot has happened. New Citrix features like XenServer Intellicache and MCS for “XenApp on XenDesktop 7” have been released and are changing the whole decision making process.
On top of that vendors started to work on solving the whole storage IO issue.

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Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway VPX user scalability numbers explained

The Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway VPX  and MPX are great platforms for secure remote access to your company network.

When working with Access Gateway there are two methods of setting up your connection.

  1. An integrated connection to Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, which we call ICA proxy.
  2. A full SSL VPN connection for access to company servers, which we call SSL-VPN. Both Access methods can be used combined or separate on a Access Gateway node. Both have their own use cases and based on the customer needs you will use either one of them.

Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway is available as a virtual platform (VPX) and as a hardware platform (MPX).

Citrix_Netscaler_MPX_7500_Enterprise_EditionAGVPX

Figure 1. NetScaler Access Gateway MPX

Figure 2. NetScaler Access Gateway VPX

 

A very important question to ask when choosing between a VPX and MPX model is the amount of users you need to facilitate on the Access Gateway solution. The amount of users is divided between the amount of ICA Proxy users and the amount of SSL-VPN users. A single SSL-VPN user load consumes a lot more resources then a single ICA Proxy user and the resource load of a single SSL-VPN session is impossible to predict because it changes all the time.

So what does Citrix have to say about this?

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