..And We’re Back!

Hey folks!  I know it has been awhile.  A lot of things have happened all at once, so I thought I would fill in the blanks here:

  1. New Web Server.  Thanks to my friends at TechSmart Solutions Group, we have been working to move stuff from a server we’d set up over 6 years ago to a new one… and I think we finally got it all moved!  If you have a small to medium sized business in Fort Collins, CO and haven’t contacted them as your source for computer help, service and supply… you have chosen poorly!
  2. New Focus Areas!   After much deliberation my wife and I have decided to re-launch Eshelman Enterprises, Inc with focus areas of technology, learning and coaching.   This means that I have left GTRI as a full time employee (but will continue consulting with them on an as-needed basis).
    1. Technology.  This will continue being the primary focus for what I do.  Very soon I will launch a new consulting sub-company called B.O.T. Consulting. BOT stands for Belt of Truth – a concept that has guided my consulting efforts for years:  I speak the truth, even when it hurts feelings or potential sales.  I have always believed that if you lead with truth good things will happen.  So- it is with that in mind that I will be focusing my efforts on providing Expert level services to Partners and Customers directly.  I’ll initially be focused primarily on continuing providing Citrix expertise in the areas of Assessment, Design and leading delivery efforts.  I am in talks with a few other vendors as well but right now- we’re going to keep it simple.  I do not intend to compete with other partners for sales, in the hopes that if I can hand them opportunities they will do the same for me!  Again- leading with Truth will in the end work out best for us all!
      This will often be confusing for people used to a traditional employment role as this will mean I will be representing a wide variety of other Partners and Vendors- but in all of it I will remain owner and employee of Eshelman Enterprises doing business as BOT.
      Services for B.O.T. Consulting will continue to operate across the USA but we are also talking about offering worldwide services in the near future.
    2. Learning.  One of the most common recommendations I have been making in my assessments over the past four years is to have staff attend training to reduce risks in their IT deployments.  As I have been engaged in more public speaking and teaching lately, it was pointed out to me by one of my trusted mentors that I have the “Heart of a Teacher.”  As I thought about it, I realized that he was right and it is something I’m passionate about.  So, two things will be coming soon as I have the time to develop it:
      1. Technical Training.  I am currently beginning the process to gain the needed certifications to become a Certified Technical Trainer.  I intend to join the ranks of certified trainers for Citrix initially, though others may follow.  This means I will in the coming year or so begin giving classes both on-site and online.  We feel this will be a good way to ‘fill in the gaps’ of time between consulting engagements but I look at it as a way to give back some of the skills I have learned over the past 20 or so years.
      2. Better Blogs and Tech Articles.  I will admit- I have shied away from this more than I really should.  Typically I have always felt there were other or better articles on most topics and that writing them down was a bad use of my time.  However, in the past year I have come to realize that the community as a whole needs more perspectives and expertise.  What good is having all of this experience I’m the only one who has it?  So as part of the ‘giving back’ I intend to do much more with my writing and hope it finds it’s way to those who need it!
    3. Coaching.  Sometimes it takes more than passive media like this blog to really get things done.  So along with the above, my wife and I intend focus on several areas of direct contact.
      1. Health Coaching.  My wife and I have both transformed our lives and continue to do so with the program Take Shape for Life.  As someone who once weighed over 250 lbs and managed to shed the excess on the road, I have a very personal and intense love for the program. We have made the decision to become Health Coaches in the program.  My wife is now a COPE certified Health Coach and with me assisting, we can now be YOUR health coaches in the program!  Find out more by visiting http://deej-n-evey.tsfl.com/ .  The fun thing is that we’re still ‘in the program’ meaning this is a journey we can take together.
      2. Personal and Financial Coaching.  This is a way off yet but at some point down the road the intention is to share some of the strategies we have used in a more personal way.  Once the other pillars are in place- look for us to start sharing some of the way the “Baby Steps” approach has worked for us in everything from our marriage to finances and even to our personal lives in general.
      3. Professional Coaching/Life Coaching.  It is often easy to look at others and think that they are more successful and that they should be the ones to speak to others about how to ‘get there’.  But I have come to realize that the notion of imparting success strategies is something for seminars and YouTube videos.  For real life- you need someone to keep you accountable, share your journey and help you form a road map.  In the next few years, I intend to begin doing more of this kind of work.  I enjoy working with people to see positive change and development – so I intend to continue doing that more formally.  It’s exciting, but I look at this as a ‘coming later’ goal and not a ‘coming soon’ goal.
  3. More Travel!  One of the reasons it has taken some time for me to get this update out in general is that I have been back on the road since late June.  It is my hope to use some of this time to do more articles… even some updated advice for travelers…. watch this space!
  4. _______________________.  I’m open to what the future holds, and I’m looking forward to this new chapter.  While the above will be the focus, change is the new norm and I’m sure there will be more filling in the blanks to come!  Enjoy!

How to rename your OneDrive accounts in Office 2013!

If you are like me- you have a LOT of OneDrive accounts connected.  It is the nature of consulting, I suppose- but also just of being in business.  I was finding it frustrating to share OneNote notebooks with other consultants, and recently even figured out that I had been storing a LOT of notebooks in the wrong OneDrive account because… well, they all look the same in the “File” menu!  In other words, they all say “OneDrive – Personal” even if they are connected to your corporate accounts!

This solution allows you to customize the names of these OneDrive accounts sort of like this:

The solution is simple enough, and I won’t take credit for this- that goes to my new best friend Bart Scheltinga who found a solution and shared it with the world just as I am doing today!

Open regedit.exe… click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER and right mouse click > find (or F3) “Onedrive – Personal”.  Raname the ConnectionDisplayName REG_SZ key as you see fit!

Source: How to rename an OneDrive account in Office 2013 – bartsp34ks

Thanks Bart!

XenServer v6.5 SP1 – Proof that XenServer far from Dead!

I hear it a lot these days:  “We are getting off of XenServer – XenServer is dead.”
So…. is it?  I will be writing more about this soon, but I wanted to point out two Citrix Blog articles that I find incredibly exciting.
Spoiler Alert:  XenServer is not dead.  The move back to OpenSource has apparently made the product more viable than ever.  First- the features:

XenServer v6.5 SP1 is out, featuring enhanced graphics support (Intel GVT-d GPU pass-through & nVIDIA GPU pass-through) and Docker container support!

Source: XenServer v6.5 SP1: Double Density, Docker & Enhanced Graphics | Citrix Blogs

The thought of having 96 GPU-enabled VMs on a single host is very appealing.  As you probably know, the modern operating system just works better with graphics- and nVidia GRID has been leading the charge.

Next- one of the most single impressive results from a LoginVSI test I have ever seen…  500 VMs on a machine that used to only hold 220.  And most impressively- the testing showed that the Hypervisor was not done yet; they had to stop at 500 due to the current per-host constraint!

Citrix Blog: 500+ VMs in XenServer 6.5- TESTED!

Not bad for “free” eh?

So… which do you choose for your environment?

Well, that is a topic for the next article.  Stay tuned!

New Musician-Friendly Carry-On Baggage Rules and the Frequent Traveler

I haven’t offered travel advise for some time, but after reading this article [New Musician-Friendly Carry-On Baggage Rule | The HUB] from Musician’s Friend I was thinking:  If you are a musician (like myself) who often travels (like I … well, used to) this is a real challenge at times.  I remember watching a woman cram her bags as hard as she could against the neck of my Takamine thinking “That’s the end of my Black Beauty!”

So- I have some additional advice to offer here.

  1. Right Tool for the Job.  If you are a guitarist and aren’t performing- invest in a travel guitar.  I have both an Acoustic Martin Traveler and the fantastic Traveler Guitar Speedster Hot Rod.  I’ve actually done some demo recording from a hotel room using the Speedster and the Line 6 UX1 interface.
  2. Get with the Program.  If you travel frequently enough- I highly advise standardizing on a single airline.  The new rules from the TSA really only get you anywhere if you are one of the first on the plane.  United has a credit card that will boost your boarding priority, and Southwest lets you purchase advanced boarding that has the added benefit of boosting your mileage balance.  Little things add up.
  3. Don’t Be a Jerk.  I found a lot of the time that people (and… musicians are often the worst about this) will put their things in the overhead in such a way that nothing else will fit.  But worse than that are the people that put their under-seat carry on in the overhead bin as well.  People like that are a big part of why flights don’t leave on time, and if your guitar is broken by a stewardess who’s frustrated by yet another bin barely packed well…  I have no sympathy.  My advice is to get a carry-on bag that has enough room in the bin to have your guitar in front or behind it.  My smaller Victorinox bag fits this bill perfectly, and I’m not taking more than my fair share even when I technically have three carry ons.  Just think of others before yourself and you’ll stay on my good side.
  4. Don’t Fly with Something You Aren’t Afraid To Lose.  Hey, life happens outside the terminal- but life REALLY happens inside of it.  Trust me.  The unexpected happens all the time.  Fly as if what you have with you may or may not make it and you’ll be fine.  If it is that important to have with you where you are going and you can’t afford to have it broken in transit; invest in the appropriate SKB flight case or it’s equivalent…  but better yet consider overnighting it instead of flying with it.  FedEx has my business for life for going out of their way to make sure important things get there.  Sure it may cost a little bit more, but if it HAS to be there, go that way.  Don’t assume you’ll be able to get it there yourself safely.
  5. Keep it Hidden.  Keep it Safe.  Don’t be that person that takes it upon themselves to entertain the waiting throngs of travelers.  The worst audience you can have is a captive one… as in one that didn’t come pay to see you and can’t really leave either.  I once told an up and coming country artist heading for Nashville the same thing…  I don’t care how talented or cute you are.  A good lot of us are trying to make phone calls or do work while we await our flight.  If we wanted live entertainment, we’d ask.  If you were that famous or well-known, you probably wouldn’t be on our flight nor would you want that kind of attention if you were.  Bottle up the performance urge, and always remember that practice is for the hotel, not the terminal.  Because let’s be honest here… you’re setting yourself up for the wrong kind of attention.  You would not believe how many carry-on musical instruments are targeted and stolen each year (this is another reason to have a travel guitar- the bag is very inconspicuous)

So there you go, be safe out there!

-DJ

Alert: IE11 update 3008923 may break Citrix Web Interface

Microsoft released the following update on December 17th, 2014

Some web application modal dialog boxes don’t work correctly in Internet Explorer 11 after you install update 3008923.

It is being reported that this fix actually has the unwanted side effect of causing either Citrix Web Interface or  Citrix Receiver for Web to stop functioning.  I am still in the process of collecting all the affected systems and processes at this time.

I would advise two things:

  1. Corporate IT:  If your organization deploys updates using a testing methodology first (as they SHOULD!), include Receiver for Web as part of the testing methodology prior to updates being released.  Is it a pain?  Yes.  Does it cost money?  Yes.  But the thing is that when issues like this occur… IT COSTS YOU A LOT MORE MONEY THAN TESTING!  Sorry to shout, but this is one of my pet peeves in modern IT to be certain.  Companies that have tested and noted the problem are business as usual today.  Those that haven’t are likely in a panic and spending thousands of dollars in increased support calls.  To make things worse- this is when most IT people are taking vacations.  Choose who you want to be!  (Obviously, those smart companies who have an update freeze during the winter months are also doing just fine… except for the below)
  2. Personal Computing and BYOD:  Get Google Chrome 😉  But because BYOD is becoming so prevalent, I’m guessing this issue will be causing increased calls to helpdesks.  My advice is the same; have a backup plan in instances like this.  “Does it work in Internet Explorer?  No?  Does it work in Chrome?  Yes?”  End of call, send an email advisory as a next step.  The prepared helpdesk is perhaps slightly more busy today, but with the right scripts and enablement can rise above.

Odds are good that by the time you are reading this the issue may be resolved so I’m not going to specifically say avoid this one hotfix (though I am advising my team of this this morning)…

What I will advise is…  ALWAYS TEST before deploying updates, and have a distribution list for your BYOD folks.  That way, when an issue like this occurs you can minimize the damage and be able to sound an all-clear.

Good luck out there!

Looking at App-V 5.0? Count the Cost!

For the past 3-4 years I have been one of those that recommend caution on just deploying out of the box App-V in a VDI scenario, due to an observed overhead of roughly 30% for App-V 4.x.  Well, features of App-V 5.x have made great strides, right?

Well…  Not out of the box.  In fact, a new whitepaper released from ProjectVRC indicates that without properly tuning DotNet and other components, you could be in for a massive letdown of well over 84% performance loss!

App-V Performance
Un-Optimized App-V performance is 84% under traditionally installed performance!

 

The optimizations generally mentioned can be found at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dotnet/archive/2013/08/06/wondering-why-mscorsvw-exe-has-high-cpu-usage-you-can-speed-it-up.aspx, the most important of which is that it will trigger an optimization that should be done before ‘sealing’ your image.  I’m in the process of investigating it further to see if there are other impacts, especially given how the new Citrix Delivery components will require DotNet 4+. The script also apparently takes care of the single-threaded issue with .net (have you ever noticed when running Windows Update sometimes it takes FOR-EV-ER?  That’s why.  Since I always recommend multiple vCPUs, this makes sense, and becomes yet another solid reason why!  I would recommend going forward that if your image update includes Windows/Microsoft update, once it completes and you reboot, run this script before you seal/publish the image update!

LoginVSI has a summary blog post about the impact here:  http://www.loginvsi.com/blog/310-app-v-performance-best-practices-new-project-vrc-white-paper?_cldee=ZGVzaGVsbWFuQGd0cmkuY29t&urlid=6

Now, it is important to note here that though I feel that App-V 5 is still very awesome… there is STILL A COST!  You will still need to have at least 15% more hardware (NOT more VMs- more hardware!) if you intend to run App-V.  Your results may vary, obviously, but I’ll take 15 over 80+ as a performance tax for the operational cost savings offered by using App-V!

What does this look like?  The simplest way to describe this is that if you have 1000 users today using, say, 10 blades – you would need to buy 2 additional blades to support the same number of users utilizing App-V.

Now I still get the question a lot – bake the apps into your image or stream?  That answer is still ‘it depends’ because it still does.  If you update apps more frequently than you update your golden image, App-V makes sense.  If you use the same applications for the majority of the users, App-V doesn’t make sense.  It’s important to count the cost!  Using App-V increases your flexibility and decreases cost for publishing (OpEx) but will require additional hardware to do so (CapEx).  Using Citrix Provisioning Services, for example, can severely reduce your overall impact to the network and storage for delivering applications, especially to Server VDA (XenApp) endpoints.  You can also take the smart approach with App-V delivery and use XenApp on dedicated hardware resources to isolate your overall hardware expenditure and balance both Op and Cap Ex.  You’re probably seeing by now why an Architect’s job isn’t always cut and dry.  Let me know if you need me to help your organization with this!

By the way- The ProjectVRC whitepapers are available for free, though registration is required.  http://www.projectvrc.com/white-papers

Video Demonstration of Improved VDI IOPS with Citrix Provisioning Services Write Cache in RAM option

Well, Not to say I told you so but… I told you so!

Here is a look at a side by side comparison of systems with and without the option to use PVS with Write Cache in RAM with Disk Overflow.  This really is a gamechanger, folks!

So far, my clients are having great success with it, I’m happy to report!  First reports are logins nearly 80% faster in some cases, but as you’ll see in this video- overall performance is improved at scale as the system is able to complete workloads and move to the next more rapidly.  The impact of this cannot be overstated, especially in high-scale environments where user productivity is key such as Call Centers and other Knowledge Worker territories.  If you measure user performance in clicks per hour, etc- this is something you need to look into!

New Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp Storage Optimizations Does Improve the User Experience – YouTube.

 

If you would like to learn how to engage me or my team for help in deploying this exciting technology- try the contact form below!

Set Your Sights on Remote Productivity with Citrix and GTRI

Check out my latest Blog post at GTRI-

Set Your Sights on Remote Productivity | GTRI.

We’re talking about the new Citrix Workspace Suite and I walk you thru a day in my life working with these products and why I’m just like your users!  I just want to work where I want!

If you are in Northern Colorado and would like to join me, Citrix and GTRI to learn more- we have a perfect opportunity coming up November 13th December 4th, 2014 where we will be shooting target clays!  Shotguns and Citrix..  sounds like a perfect morning to me!

To get signed up for the event – go to http://www.gtri.com/e/skeet/

(note- this event was rescheduled do to weather)

 

Here’s the original text of the GTRI article:

 

Your employees are probably like me.  In the morning before heading into work, I may want to check my email on my phone.  That will include my work email, of course, to find out if there’s anything I need to know about before I go in.  There are things I’m not thinking about.  I am not thinking about how if my phone were lost or compromised, the information on it would not be exposed.  I’m not thinking about how if a mistake were made and my account tagged for removal that my entire phone could be wiped remotely due to corporate policy.  I’m thinking that one of my team has asked for help with an issue and I know it will be my first priority of the day.

mobile-worker-laptopIf your employees are like me, they expect to be able to start a document on their PC at the office and be able to finish it at a coffee shop.  I’m not thinking about how I used to have to store the document on a USB drive (or… remember floppy disks?) and worry about what happens if it fails.  I am thinking about the results of my last assessment and how I need to put some polish on a few items before this meeting.

If your employees are like me, they may need to have information from customers or others outside of the organization delivered to them securely, but the files are too large for an email attachment.  I don’t want to have to drive over with a USB stick or figure out some holes to poke in our corporate security to allow them to send the document.  I am thinking that on my way out of the office an email arrived informing me that the files I requested by email have been uploaded securely to our datacenter and I now have access to them for my review this afternoon.  I am thinking one less awkward call has to be made today, and I immediately send a thank you response.

If your employees are like me, they may be walking into a building and find they need to access a note from a team member to figure out which floor the office was on (yes, this happened to me a few weeks ago).  I am not thinking about if this is secured information that needs to be protected and wiped from my phone once I’m done looking at it.  I’m thinking I am already running late and am feeling silly for not having thought of this before I got there.

traffic jam (Source: DenverPost.com)If your employees are like me, they may want to leave a little early to avoid the pitfalls of Denver traffic.  I’m not thinking about how the program I am accessing at the office is not available to me on my home PC or my Mac.  I’m thinking about my commute home being 45 minutes shorter so I have more time to spend with my wife tonight.

The reality is that your employees ARE like me. They don’t want to think about any of these things — they just want it all to work together to fit the way they want to work.  They want less workarounds, less restrictions and more capability.  They want their Workspace to be everywhere.  In other words, it’s time to go beyond just “XenApp” or “XenDesktop” and on to the Citrix Workspace Suite!

Citrix has been a leader in accomplishing these very goals for the last 25 years, and GTRI invites you to join us to find out more how a single product suite can meet all of these goals and more.  Secured email and mobile applications that use a micro VPN connection (single application connection to the corporate network).  Secure “Dropbox” like capability that follows you from device to device seamlessly with the data stored in the cloud or your datacenter (or both).  Desktops and applications delivered securely thru remote connections with full support for peripherals and printing and delivered to any device consistently.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Citrix has technologies that manage all of this together, reducing overhead and Operating Expenditures year after year, providing industry-leading performance.

Whether you’ve been using Citrix products for years or are completely new to the concepts of your employees desiring to work in more places than just the office, I encourage you to join us November 13 to learn more about Citrix Workspace Suite. To make things really fun, we’ll be holding this event at the Kiowa Creek Sporting Club in Bennett, CO, where you’ll have the chance to shoot some clay targets before a lunchtime presentation about Workspace Suite.

Shotguns, ammo, targets, earplugs and lunch will all be provided (or bring your own if you like!).  Register today and come set your sights high with GTRI and Citrix!

Boost Your Knowledge. Boost Your Career. Attend the Citrix Project Accelerator Workshops in DC this October!

If you are like me, you’re absolutely DONE with webinars, sales pitches and hearing from people that have never set foot in a datacenter about how great a product is. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, honestly… it’s just that I’ve been in this industry a long time and just want to know the HOW, not the WOW. I’m a Consulting Architect at GTRI, and I have good news if you’re like me… We have the workshop for you!

I could talk your ear off about the technical bits and pieces of deploying Citrix- but that won’t add value. What I’m excited about is that I get to share CAREER BUILDING KNOWLEDGE of not only what it looks like, but how to get the process really started.

Working with Citrix and leveraging my experiences with Citrix Consulting Services over the last few years, we’ve developed a workshop that we believe will leave attendees with a much deeper knowledge of the HOW of running a “Desktop Transformation” project:

  1. Understanding Citrix FlexCast Models and what they REALLY are. No flashy discussions about how ‘cool’ VDI is. We’re going to talk about what it really means and how it looks in the real world. I’ll help you translate the need to the tech. We’re going to talk about how to identify what things to look for in making decisions about what delivery method works for each use case. We’ll even talk a bit about some of the emerging technologies in Mobile, Secure File Sharing, and how they really fit in.
  2. Understanding how to run a successful project from Envisioning the solution, Assessing use cases, Designing the solution, and finally Deploying.
  3. Learning how to talk the talk with Project Managers!
  4. Learning how to use the FREE Citrix Project Accelerator tool to do all of these things… did I mention it’s free? ’cause it’s FREE!
  5. Learning how to talk to your management about the project from end to end for better understanding, support and buy-in… in other words, go from BOM to BOOM!
  6. Understanding more about properly maintaining, monitoring and scaling your new solution.

This is a workshop, not just a seminar. I’ll be asking you to actually run thru what we’re talking about – so bring a laptop! We’ll bring the lunch (and being that we are in DC, don’t worry- we will let you pay for your lunch if you are required to do so!) and be available after to answer your questions.

I really hope you’ll attend – it’s a great chance for me to pour some of my knowledge out to my peers. Citrix, GTRI and our sponsors are allowing me to do this… wait for it… for free. That’s right, it’s a free value-add workshop! I had only one caveat… I get full rights to kick out the sales people. And to my shock, they agreed!

DJ CPAW

This is a rare opportunity for you to ask real questions, and get real answers. I’ve been deploying Citrix solutions for over 12 years now, from small little farms to large 100,000 seat environments. More importantly, I’ve never been in sales- I’ve always been the “Citrix Guy” and not the “Citrix Rep.” That means I’ve got an “It Depends” rate that is pretty high, but an “I’ll get back to you” rate that is really low. In other words- I’ve been on your side of this technology and have learned most of the pitfalls! I won’t give you the sales answers – I’ll give you what I’ve actually seen out there!  Naturally, this is exciting for me because I don’t always get to do that!

So click the link to register for one of our sessions in October, and if you can’t attend this time, let us know you’re interested in another date and we can see if we have another workshop in your area in 2015.

October 21st, 2014 at Citrix- Bethesda, MD

October 22nd, 2014 at NetApp – Vienna, VA

For addresses, maps and other information, visit http://www.gtri.com/company/roadmap-desktop-transformation-workshop/

-DJ Eshelman