Roberto Alves

Scripting and server based computing

Is Citrix FastLaunch a good option to improve logon time of Citrix XenApp sessions?

In this month Citrix released a new utility called FastLaunch. This is not a official supported utility or even a tech preview. It is just a very small utility made by IT guys in Citrix to “hold” Citrix sessions, providing to users reconnect their sessions every time, instead to logon again.

This tool was created some time ago and Citrix didn’t made available because they faces a interesting problem caused by the community involvement. Someone shows the utility in a Citrix event, then other one put a video in internet talking about the utility, and a lot of people become to ask for downloads or to Citrix include the utility in XenApp.

But, the “magic” utility is not a dream for almost Citrix administrators pissed off by users complaining about slow logons. In almost cases, this utility can be a major problem, witch means that you need to be very careful before publish to production users.

This tool can be a good benefit if well managed and applied only in some cases, but probably will cause the loss of one or more benefits that makes XenApp the best product in the server based computing market.

Basically, the FastLaunch utility is a simple executable that can be published in your XenApp environment or called by login scripts or in start up folders. This executable creates a icon in the user’s task bar and holds users sessions on the server, even after users log out. When users needs to open again an application, they don’t need login again, they just reconnect to theirs sessions already opened in the servers, witch gives to users the impression that they logged very fast in the environment, because generally they don’t know the difference between a full logon and a session reconnection.

Before put this tool in production, you need be aware that you will probably affect:

* XenApp load balancing, witch can cause a major headache in large environments, then is recommendable implement only to a small groups of users or keep your load balancing rules in Default mode, keeping users equal divided between servers, forgetting processor, memory, etc utilization. It means that you will need take additional careful in your monitor to see if you don’t have equal servers, but one with 80 users and other with just 5.

* Printer creation if you are using auto-create printers solution. Every time that the user reconnects, printers needs to be recreated due user mobility or new printers added.

* Anything included in the Citrix login script. Commands in login script will run less times, like drive mappings, application configurations, etc.

* Maintenance interruptions that will include someone forcing the logoff of all disconnected sessions.

* After maintenance interruptions that include servers reboot, users will need logon again. Considering that a lot of SBC environment requires periodically reboots, due Windows problems to manage memory and page file utilization. It means that your users will be not totally free of their logon screens.

* License utilization can increase, because you can have users with opening new sessions in case of no reconnection. And you will keep all licenses allocated, even if you don’t have active users. Witch means that if your license numbers were designed considering just your concurrent users number, you will be unable to use this tool, that needs a license policy by nominated users, not concurrent.

Well, if after consider all problems that this tool can cause you discover that you can install in your environment, I think that privileged users will be very grateful to you. And don’t forget to implement other “logon improvements” like the new Citrix User Manager Profiles and perform constant maintenance in user.

Citrix Fast Launch Download
http://community.citrix.com/display/xa/Citrix+Fast+Launch+Tool

Gus Pinto blog showing a video with the tool working
http://community.citrix.com/blogs/citrite/gusp/2008/04/28/Citrix+Fast+Launch+Preview

Other video
http://community.citrix.com/blogs/citrite/gusp/2008/08/18/Citrix+Fast+Launch,+Take+2

Category: Citrix

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