Businesses are looking to VDI leaders like Citrix to help them improve their virtualization environment by moving more workloads to the cloud to better serve the growing user base of remote workers. IT teams are also evaluating how to possibly combine Citrix and Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) to leverage the combined benefits of multimedia, security analytics and endpoint device support (from Citrix) with the scalability, flexibility and compliance benefits (offered by WVD) running on Azure.
Whether or not a business decides to combine WVD with Citrix, the first step in migrating more VDI workloads to the cloud is moving Citrix workloads to Azure. Establishing Azure as the Citrix cloud of choice provides flexibility for the future – integrating WVD at some point or adding other Citrix applications. Hosting a Citrix environment in Azure – either workloads, the management layer, or both – removes the need for expensive on-premises server hardware and storage. Azure offers a rapid deployment platform, with a consumption-based pay-as-you-go model, perfect for addressing the current challenges in a remote-centric work environment.
The combination of Citrix Cloud and Microsoft Azure makes it possible to spin up new Citrix virtual resources with greater agility and elasticity, adjusting usage as requirements change. Virtual Machines on Azure support all the control and workload components required for a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service deployment. Citrix Cloud and Microsoft Azure have common control plane integrations that establish identity, governance, and security for global operations.
Before moving an on-prem Citrix implementation to the cloud, start with this checklist to assess your Citrix-on-Azure readiness:
- Define the user workspace: Start with an overview of how your employees are currently accessing applications. Estimate how many users are expected within the environment. Determine what types of applications will be consumed and what the VDI requirements are for the applications. Assess Citrix Virtual Apps versus Virtual Desktops as the best system for delivering the applications.
- Gauge workflow performance requirements. Analyze when users will be accessing the environment and what are peak hours. What is the expected consumption throughout the day? The consumption of users during specific hours helps identify workspace requirements for scale automation and Azure reserved Instance purchasing.
- Determine geographical reach needs. Obtain a clear, current picture of where end users are located. Will workspaces need to be deployed across multiple regions or only in a single region? Multiple Azure regions are typically considered for the following high-level reasons: – Proximity to application data or end users – Geographic Redundancy for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery – Azure Feature or Service availability.
- Evaluate current applications running on Azure, if any. Will they be migrated to Citrix on Azure? Have they been vetted recently for business value to justify cloud storage costs? Are they also hosted on-prem? This is an opportunity to do some application cleanup based on ROI and storage fees.
- Establish identity management. How to achieve identity integration is a decision the IT teams need to make early on. One of the cornerstones of the entire picture of Azure is the identity of a person and their role-based access (RBAC). Azure identity is managed through Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Azure AD Domain Services. IT must decide which way to go for its identity integration.
- Assess application security requirements. Azure provides a wide array of configurable security options and the ability to control them so that customers can customize security to meet the unique requirements of their organization’s deployments. Among best practices, Citrix recommends keeping VMs current and ensuring at deployment that the images built include the most recent round of Windows and security updates. It also recommends periodically redeploying VMs to force a fresh version of the OS.
- Estimate needed environment resiliency. VDI, whether in the cloud or on-prem, needs to be reliable and resilient. IT can perform a load and stress-test on VDI before putting workloads into production and/or moving them to the cloud. Business critical applications cannot fail. This test can determine the resilience level of the system to handle usage peaks, for example.
Pre-production testing is essential to ensuring business continuity as VDI workloads go into production. Look for an expert that can stand up a demo of your environment. Many can be live in just a matter of days. This will enable you to test applications before executing any switchover from on-prem to the cloud and give you the confidence you need to realize a rapid time to value.
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