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Citrix metaframe experience

Hi all, wanna ask JOSers  who has experience with Citrix metaframe - is it useful? how about the performance, application deployment (especially when you have more than 3 apps), stability, maintainability, scability?


Tuesday, June 03, 2003

It is useful if you have no control over the desktop.

You want servers with plenty of RAM and fast HDD's.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Only bad experiences, I'd stay away from metaframe or terminal server, todays hardware prices are low enough to buy decent workstations.
My firm is developing a C/S database app, wich runs fine on normal network, but has all kinds of strange errors on metaframe, many times the database is corrupted to a level of no repair.

Szász Attila
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

We use it exclusively.  We've got about 500 users in ten separate locations and an IT department of 5 people (2 hardware guys, one network guy, a trainer, and me doing development and db admin).  I'd call that useful.

Basically, we don't have to futz around driving out to one of the sites to troubleshoot, or install, or any of the million other things that you would normally need access to the machine for.  You can also look over their shoulder virtually, which is nice when you suspect they are doing something dumb or they are simply having trouble describing whatever issue they are having.

As far as applications, for 90% of stuff, it works just like a regular desktop.  The only real issues we've had is stuff that attempts to rely on the machine name or the IP address for something important, since we may have up to 30 people on one machine.

Another benefit, is that since all the Citrix servers are on the same core network, we can (and have) upgrade the core network and see major improvement enterprise wide.

The other reason we use it is the bandwidth savings.  A couple of our outlying sites are on rather small pipes, and the compression that Citrix uses makes much more efficient use of the bandwidth than having a PC sitting at the end of the link.

The biggest headaches are generally with vertical apps (we do healthcare).  Some of them are not written in a way that works well with Citrix.  Only thing you can do there is ask your vendors, and see what lies they tell you.

But as the previous poster said, buy machines with lots of RAM.  We've never had an issue with HDD speed, but basically you want the best machines you can afford, since you will keep them around an awful long time.  Rather than migrate everyone when we buy a new server, we move the folks that have the biggest impact on the old server first.  Than we keep the old machine, as it gets bogged down, we move more people to faster,newer servers.  We've still got a couple of dual Pentium Pros that see daily use though.

You will also see a difference in performane depending on what client is used to access the Citrix servers.  We use Wyse Windows terminals, which are not any cheaper than a stand alone desktop, but there is less to go wrong with them.  Some of the older ones perform noticably worse than the newer ones do mostly because of the faster processors.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.

Steve Barbour
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

In my experience it's pretty good, we use with a classic client server database app. However:
a) Make sure your database server is on a different machine
b) Make sure the DB vendor confirms it will all work. Remember since all the connections will appear to be from one workstation (from the DB point of view) you may find that the locking on the client end to serialise requests screws up in an interesting fashion. i.e. the database client software only expects one copy of itself to be running on machine, this may not be the case on Citrix (Certainly this is true for COM stuff written in the style of the coffee server example in VB)
c) If you use IP addresses to count users (or identify them) and the like you'll need to call the citrix DLLs to get the details.
d) Some of the clustering and fall over stuff doesn't work too well if you map lots of printers around depending on the user, the whole thing seems to get out of sync. (We solved this by getting our client to stop mapping 40 odd printers everytime a user logged in)

For remote office type things where each office has maybe 5 or so users it works great. Support however can be problem find yourself a friendly Citrix reseller and buy through them and pay some consultancy money to get them to install it along with a VPN if you're leaving your building.

Peter Ibbotson
Thursday, June 05, 2003

Thank you all for your inputs.


Thursday, June 05, 2003

There is a variant of Citrix that acts as an X11 protocol accelerator.

In some respects the product is awesome.  I can pull a PDF over a VPN WAN link and it's almost as fast as doing it locally.

However, X11 performance is also a measure of latency, which can be reduced by careful handling of the event stream.  The Citrix product decides to do this by using some form of lossy compression.

That's right: the software "loses" mouse clicks and other events.

Depending on the apps you run, the net effect can range from mildly annoying (xterm window management) to unusable (java AWT/Swing apps).

Perhaps the original question was Windows-only, but if you are considering Citrix for X11 acceleration then evaluate carefully with the apps you intend to use.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

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