Monthly Archives: October 2010

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First Look at Citrix Access Gateway 5.0

At the recent Synergy Berlin conference, Citrix announced Access Gateway 5.0. We have confirmed that, as of now, 5.0 is available for download from the Citrix download site - both as an update for the CAG 2010 hardware appliance, and in Access Gateway VPX (virtual appliance) format. (Note: you will need a “mycitrix” account to download the software.)

One of the things I really like about 5.0 is that it now supports running two 2010 appliances in an active/passive HA configuration with automatic failover. This was a serious shortcoming of the original CAG appliance.

In earlier versions, if you were using the Access Gateway as a general-purpose SSL VPN, you could configure HA of a sort within the Access Gateway client plug-in, by defining primary and secondary Access Gateways for the client to connect to. However, if you were simply running the Access Gateway in “CSG replacement” mode to connect to a XenApp farm without requiring your users to first establish an SSL/VPN connection, you had no ability to provide automatic failover unless you had some kind of network load balancing device in front of multiple Access Gateway appliances. That meant, of course, that to avoid having the load balancing device become a single point of failure, you had to have some kind of HA functionality there as well. By the time you were done, the price tag had climbed to a level that just didn’t make sense for some smaller deployments.

NOTE: This specifically applies to the 2010 appliance. The CAG Enterprise models, because they are built on the NetScaler hardware platform, have always supported operation as HA pairs with automatic failover. Of course, a CAG MPX 5500 also carries a $9,000 list price, compared to $3,500 for a CAG 2010.

Now, with the release of 5.0, you can purchase two 2010 appliances (which will cost you less than a single MPX 5500), and run them as an active/passive HA pair. Thank you very much, Citrix CAG team!

Here are a couple of videos from Citrix TV. The first deals with how to upgrade an existing CAG 2010 to the 5.0 software using a USB flash drive, and then set up the basic system parameters:

The second video shows how to configure a pair of appliances for active/passive failover:

You can access several other “how-to” videos by going to, and searching on “Access Gateway 5.0.”

Interview With the Wyse Guys - Part 2 of 2

This is the conclusion of Steve Parlee’s interview with Josh Osborn and Dave Jolley of Wyse. In Part 1, they discussed the Xenith “zero-client” terminal and the new Windows Embedded Standard 7 thin client terminal. In this concluding segment, they talk in more detail about how the Xenith gets its configuration information, as well as the reliability and power savings of Wyse terminal devices compared with desktop PCs.

iPad First Impressions (Part 1)

This week I am getting up close and personal with a  new addition to our fleet of computers, the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Apple iPad.

I have several reasons for doing this:

  1. I love my iPhone 3GS with IOS4 and I am excited to see if I will fall in love with a larger HD version of it. More is better when it comes to screen size right?
  2. Many of our clients (large and small) are either interested in, or have already decided to support iPads in their IT environment. And many of those who haven’t already decided to support them are feeling huge pressure from their users to provide some level of support.
  3. Honestly, my biggest reason for taking this on is that I am a huge geek and love to tinker with new technology to see how it might enhance my life.  If it doesn’t make my life better in some way, then it will end up collecting dust on a shelf or sold on eBay.

Even though the iPad has been out for a while, I wanted to share my unbiased, honest opinion from an IT consumer who also happens to be a technician and consultant.  It might interest you to know that I am a PC and a MAC (and Linux and iPhone and…) - I look at all of these as wonderful tools, and I keep them all in my toolkit and consider which one to reach for depending on the the job at hand.

My first experience with the iPad involved buying one and I grade this experience as a D-.  I simply do not like to purchase a computer online. I want to go see one, touch it, feel it, buy it and take it home.  I visited the Apple store a half-dozen times, and, after not being able to do that (because they were perpetually out of stock), I decided not to buy one.  But after six months or so, I gave in and decided to take Apple up on their standard offer to place my order online. I purchased a 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model and an Apple iPad Case for $629 and $39, respectively, expecting to have an iPad in my hand in a couple of days. (And I would have, if FedEx hadn’t kept trying to deliver it to my office after hours when no one was there to accept it…but that’s another story.)

The case promises to protect your iPad and be a convenient stand.  My first observation is the case looks like its worth maybe $7 and while it does offer some amount of protection it is a terrible stand.  So my first impressions are not all that great regarding the purchase and the case.

How do I feel about the device itself?  I am going to save the juicy details for my next posting but I will say that after nearly 24 hours I am highly impressed with some features and functions and highly unimpressed with some others. Please stay tuned as I share my experience - I am going to be brutally honest and would invite you to share your thoughts and tips. I may miss some things that you think are important, and would appreciate your tips and observations, both pro and con. Hopefully we can learn from each other how to make this exciting device sing!

Interview With the Wyse Guys - Part 1 of 2

Recently, our own Steve Parlee sat down with Josh Osborn, the Wyse Regional Sales Manager for the Northwest, and Dave Jolley, our local Wyse Sales Engineer, to talk about what’s new in the Wyse product line. In this video, they talk about the Xenith “zero-client” device that was introduced last quarter, and the new Windows Embedded Standard 7 device.

Citrix Announces XenDesktop 5

Earlier today, at Citrix Synergy in Berlin, Citrix announced XenDesktop 5, which is scheduled for availability in December, 2010. Naturally, we went looking for the “what’s new” list. You can find that list on the Citrix Web site, but, just to save you a few clicks, here’s our take on it.

Most of the user-facing features are evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary. There have been incremental improvements in devices supported by the Citrix Receiver, the performance of Citrix HDX, user self-service provisioning, and single sign-on. There is also support for XenClient and XenVault, which were recently made available for download as part of XenDesktop 4, Feature Pack 2. But the truly revolutionary, knock-your-socks-off features are on the management side.

Installation and deployment of a large XenDesktop environment is now a snap using the new Desktop Studio tool. Since a video is worth a thousand words, check out the following video demo of Desktop Studio:

But wait! That’s not all! There’s something here for the help desk staff as well, and this may be the coolest part of all. Take a look at a demo of the new Desktop Director tool:

One of Citrix’s stated goals with XenDesktop 5 is to take VDI from “wow” to “how” - to show you how to easily install, scale, and manage a desktop virtualization deployment. Desktop Studio and Desktop Director are huge steps in that direction.