Tags: Testing

Citrix Workspace Environment Management – Process Management

After testing out the excellent CPU and Memory management features in Citrix Workspace Environment Management (WEM), I wanted to blog about how processes can be controlled using the software.

Prior to starting this test, I have a basic Citrix XenDesktop environment configured, a WEM environment configured, and the relevant group policies in place to support this.

To prevent processes from running, we browse to System Optimization, and then Process Management:

From here we can enable process management:

Next – we have two options, we can whitelist, or blacklist. If we whitelist – only those executables listed will be allowed to run, whereas a blacklist will block only those listed.

I’m going to test out a blacklist:

We can exclude local administrators, and also choose to exclude specified groups – for example perhaps a trusted subset of users or specific groups of users who need to run some of the applications we wish to block.

For this test I am going to add notepad.exe to the list:

Next I saved the WEM configuration, refreshed the cache, and then logged into a Desktop Session to test the blacklist. Upon firing up notepad I am greeted with the message:

Bingo – a simple and effective way to block processes from running. This would be very effective when combined with a list of known malicious executables for example, or known problematic software items.

In a future release I’d love to see more granularity in this feature – for example blacklists, with the ability to whitelist processes for certain groups, rather than as a whole. This would enable control of applications on a much more granular level – for example, blocking “process.exe” for Domain Users, but allowing it for a trusted group of users.


Testing out the Atlantis USX Community Edition

Recently I’ve been using the Atlantis USX Community Edition, which is a free edition of the Atlantis USX Software – specifically for the purposes of testing and learning how the USX can improve the performance of a virtual desktop. Atlantis provide a number of testing guides and videos on the USX Community Edition landing page  – and also a testing guide, which outlines how to benchmark the software.

For this post I wanted to demonstrate the results I’m getting in my lab – as they give an idea of the benefits a solution like this can bring. As part of this process I’ve been reading up on various testing methods and options, and I eventually settled on using the same configuration detailed in Jim Moyle‘s excellent article – available here. I should also note – the USX Community Edition also provides a pre-made IOMeter configuration file (in the Citrix Testing Guide), but I have opted to follow the baseline in Jim’s article.

My test configuration is as follows:

  • 1x HPE ML110 Gen9
  • 40GB RAM
  • 2x 700GB SSD in RAID 0
  • 1x 480GB SSD
  • 1x 1TB HDD

All storage is via an HPE Dynamic Smart Array B140i RAID Controller.

Base VM for testing using IOMeter is a Windows 2012R2 Standard VM with no tuning or modification applied:

My configuration for the USX Appliance is as follows:

Due to the RAM available on my host I went for the small appliance:

All other configuration was standard, and all infrastructure VMs were stored on storage not participating in this testing (so as not to affect the result). The USX CE also includes an excellent management interface, which allows you to monitor the health of the environment, and displays useful statistics:

After setting up the configuration, I decided to test 3 storage configurations, against the IOMeter baseline, and then post the results to give an idea of performance:

Test 1 – VM on 1x HPE 1TB HDD

Test2 – VM on 2x 700GB SSD RAID 0

Test 3 – VM on Atlantis USX CE Storage

As you can see, the USX CE wins in every storage metric displayed – there is no contest here:

  • In terms of storage throughput, the SSD array provides around 13x the speed of the HDD, but the USX provides around 60x the performance of the HDD, and 5x the performance of the SSDs in RAID 0.
  • The average read and write response times are also significantly different across the board – with the USX read being around 30x faster than the HDD, and the write being around 60x faster than the HDD. The USX also demonstrates performance around 4-5x faster than the SSDs in RAID 0 for average read and write response time.
  • Total IOPS is also a useful metric – again one that the USX appliance claims the prize for; IOPS are around 65x higher than the HDD, and around 5x higher than the SSDs in RAID 0.

Overall – the USX demonstrates around 60x the performance of the HDD, and around 5x the performance of the RAID 0 SSD array in my lab. If you haven’t already tried out the USX Community Edition I would definitely recommend it, not only as a demonstrator of how this technology can improve VDI (and other) workloads, it’s also great if (like me) your lab time is precious, and anything to speed up deployment and testing is a real bonus.