Product Documentation

Plan your deployment

This section outlines things to consider when planning your Citrix App Layering deployment.

App Layering appliance

You need to install one App Layering appliance in a hypervisor environment. The appliance is designed to automatically notify you if a new upgrade is available. The appliance hosts a web-based management console where you can manage the system, including the layers and image templates you create.

  • Management console: The appliance hosts a management console that you can use to create layers for your operating system, platform software, and applications. Using the console you can also create image templates that specify what layers to include in the layered images that you publish to your provisioning service or hypervisor, and then use to provision systems.

  • Backups: You should back up each appliance so you don’t lose the layers you spend time creatring. You need a full backup of each appliance to guarantee that you can recover all information from it. Although you can export and import layers, this feature is not designed for failure recovery.

Layers

The Citrix App Layering architecture makes it possible for you to manage just one copy of your Windows OS and applications, regardless of your hypervisor or cloud environment. You can maintain just one set of applications for two environments, for example, one on premise and one in the cloud, and the same layers can run on each.

You can create layers for your operating system, your platform tools, and your applications. To preserve user’s settings and data, you can enable User layers in the image template you use to publish layered images.

OS layer

The OS layer includes your operating system, hypervisor tools, and domain join. The operating system image you import should be created from a fresh ISO in your hypervisor environment. An OS layer is required to create each of your Platform and App layers. However, you only need one OS layer for all versions of an operating system. For example, you only need one Windows 10 OS layer, and one Windows Server 2016 OS layer. Each can be updated with new versions, and the Platform and App layers tied to it continue to run on the updated version.

Platform layer

The Platform layer, which you create using the OS layer, includes the provisioning service and connection broker tools. If you are publishing to an environment based on a hypervisor other than the one where your appliance is installed, you also include the tools for that hypervisor.

The Platform layer ensures that your OS and App layers run flawlessly in a specific environment. You use a Platform layer specifically created for each environment that you support. This allows you to deliver the same OS and App layers to users in different environments, for example, on-premise and cloud environments.

App layers

App layers include the software for each of your applications. If you maintain more than one OS, you need a set of App layers for each one.

You can deploy applications as part of layered images, or as elastic layers. Layered images are used to provision users’ systems, while Elastic layers are delivered when the user logs in.

Image of app layers

Elastic layers

To use Elastic layers you need a layered image on which you have enabled Elastic layering. A typical strategy is to:

  • Deploy layered images: Include the OS and Platform layers, and applications that are for all users. MS Office and Visual Studio must be included in the layered image and cannot be deployed as an Elastic layer.
  • Elastic layers: Enable Elastic layers in the image template, and then assign App layers to groups of users and groups of machines. When users log into a desktop or session host where Elastic layering is enabled, they receive any App layers assigned either to them or to the machine they are logging into.

User layers

You can choose to save users’ data and settings by enabling User layers in your image template(s). Once enabled, a User layer is created for each user who has access to the machine(s) published using the template. We do not use the User layers for session host.

There are two types of User layers that you can enable on an image template: Full User layers and Office 365 User layers.

  • Full User layers: When Full User layers are enabled, the settings and data for all layers assigned to the machine arepreserved for each user who accesses the machine.
  • Office 365 User layers: Office 365 User layers are optimized for MS Outlook. When Office 365 User layers are enabled, the settings and data for Office 365, including Outlook are preserved.

Connectors

Connectors are the means for the appliance to communicate with individual hypervisors or provisioning software. Typically, you need two types of connector configurations:

  • Connector configuration for creating layers: Allows the appliance to access the location in your hypervisor where you will install the software for each of your layers.
  • Connector configuration(s) for publishing layered images: Gives the applince the credentials required to create layered images to your provisioning service or hypervisor.

What to create in your environment

This section lays out the connector configurations you need, and the software to install on the OS and Platform layers based on your target platform.

Citrix XenServer

If the App Layering appliance is installed in XenServer, you can use connector configurations to automate the layering and publishing processes. If the appliance is installed in a different hypervisor, you can use the appliance’s Network File Share for transferring images to and from your target platform.

If the appliance is installed in XenServer

When your appliance is installed in XenServer, and you are creating layers in XenServer, or publishing layered images to that hypervisor or to a provisioning service running on it, use the connector configurations and layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer in XenServer: Include XenServer tools

Task Use connector configuration For appliance to access location of Include in Platform layer
Import OS Citrix XenServer OS image -—
Package layers Citrix XenServer Packaging machine -—
Publish layered images Citrix MCS for XenServer, Citrix PVS, or Citrix XenServer System provisioning If Citrix MCS for XenServer or Citrix PVS, include the respective tools, and connection broker tools

If the appliance is installed on another hypervisor

If your appliance is installed on a hypervisor other than XenServer, and you are creating layers in XenServer or publishing layered images to XenServer or to a provisioning service running on it, use the appliance’s Network File Share and the layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: Different hypervisor tools are installed on the OS layer, but if you set the Hypervisor Type in the Platform layer to XenServer, the tools in the OS layer will be removed from and the tools you add to the Platform layer will be included in the layered images you publish.

Task Connector configuration For appliance to access location of: Platform layer
Import OS Network File Share OS image XenServer tools
Package layers Network File Share Packaging machine XenServer tools
Publish layered images Network File Share System provisioning XenServer tools, either Citrix MCS or Citrix PVS tools, if applicable, and connection broker tools

MS Azure

If the App Layering appliance is installed in Azure, you can use connector configurations to automate the layering and publishing processes. Otherwise, you use the appliance’s Network File Share for transferring images to and from your target platform.

If the appliance is installed in Azure

When your appliance is installed in Azure, and you are creating layers in Azure, or publishing layered images to that hypervisor or to a provisioning service running on it, use the connector configurations and layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: No hypervisor tools required for Azure

Task Use connector configuration For appliance to access location of Include in Platform layer
Import OS MS Azure OS image -—
Package layers MS Azure Packaging machine -—
Publish layered images Citrix MCS for Azure, MS Azure Near systems to provision If Citrix MCS in Azure, include MCS tools

If the appliance is installed on another hypervisor

If your appliance is installed in a hypervisor other than Azure and you are creating layers in Azure, or publishing layered images to Azure or to MCS running in Azure, use the appliance’s Network File Share and the layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: Tools for a different hypervisor are installed on the OS layer, but if you set the Hypervisor Type in the Platform layer to Azure, the tools in the OS layer will be removed from the layered images you publish.

Task Connector configuration For appliance to access location of Platform layer
Import OS Network File Share OS image Not required
Package layers Network File Share Packaging machine Not required
Publish layered images Network File Share System provisioning MCS tools, if applicable

MS Hyper-V

If the App Layering appliance is installed in Hyper-V, you can use connector configurations to automate the layering and publishing processes. Otherwise, you use the appliance’s FIle Share for transferring images to and from your target platform.

If the appliance is installed in Hyper-V

When your appliance is installed in Hyper-V and you are creating layers in Hyper-V, or publishing layered images to Hyper-V or to a provisioning service running on it, use the connector configurations and layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: Include Hyper-V settings, if the OS did not originate in Hyper-V

Task Use connector configuration For appliance to access location of Include in Platform layer
Import OS —- OS image —-
Package layers MS Hyper-V Packaging machine —-
Publish layered images Citrix PVS, or MS Hyper-V System provisioning If Citrix PVS, include PVS tools and connection broker tools

If the appliance is installed in another hypervisor

If your appliance is installed in a hypervisor other than Hyper-V, and you are creating layers in Hyper-V, or publishing layered images to Hyper-V or to a provisioning service running on it, use the appliance’s Network File Share and the layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: Tools for a different hypervisor are installed on the OS layer, but if you set the Hypervisor Type in the Platform layer to Hyper-V, the tools in the OS layer will be removed from and the Hyper-V settings you add to the Platform layer will be included in the layered images you publish.

Task Connector configuration For appliance to access location of Platform layer
Import OS Network File Share OS image MS Hyper-V settings
Package layers Network File Share Packaging machine MS Hyper-V settings
Publish layered images Network File Share System provisioning Hyper-V settings, connection broker tools, and PVS tools, if applicable

Nutanix AHV

If the App Layering appliance is installed in Nutanix, you can use connector configurations to automate the layering and publishing processes. Otherwise, you use the appliance’s File Share for transferring images to and from your target platform.

If the appliance is installed in Nutanix

When your appliance is installed in Nutanix and you are creating layers in Nutanix, or publishing layered images in Nutanix or to a provisioning service running on it, use the connector configurations and layers outlined in the table below.

OS layer: Include Nutanix tools

Task Use connector configuration For appliance to access location of Include in Platform layer
Import OS Nutanix AHV OS image -—
Package layers Nutanix AHV Packaging machine -—
Publish layered images Citrix MCS for Nutanix, or Nutanix AHV System provisioning If Citrix MCS for Nutanix, include MCS tools

If the appliance is installed in another hypervisor

If your appliance is installed in a hypervisor other than Nutanix and you are creating layers in Nutanix, or publishing layered images to Nutanix or to a provisioning service running on it, use the Network File Share and layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: Tools for a different hypervisor are installed on the OS layer, but if you set the Hypervisor Type in the Platform layer to Nutanix, the tools in the OS layer will be removed from and the Nutanix tools you add to the Platform layer will be included in the layered images you publish.

Task Connector configuration… For appliance to access location of: Platform layer
Import OS Network File Share OS image Nutanix tools
Package layers Nutanix File Share Packaging machine Nutanix tools
Publish layered images Nutanix File Share System provisioning Nutanix tools, connection broker tools, and MCS tools, if applicable

VMware vSphere

If the App Layering appliance is installed in vSphere, you can use connector configurations to automate the layering and publishing processes. Otherwise, you use the appliance’s Network FIle Share for transferring images to and from your target platform.

If the appliance is installed in vSphere

When your appliance is installed in vSphere, and you are creating layers in vSphere, or publishing layered images to that hypervisor or to a provisioning service running on it, use the connector configurations and layers outlined in the table below.

OS layer: Include VMware tools

Task Use connector configuration For appliance to access location of Include in Platform layer
Import OS VMware vSphere OS image —-
Package layers VMware vSphere Packaging machine —-
Publish layered images Citrix MCS for vSphere, Citrix PVS, VMware Horizon View, or VMware vSphere System provisioning If Citrix MCS for vSphere, Citrix PVS, or VMware Horizon View, include the respective tools and your connection broker tools.

If the appliance is installed on another hypervisor

If your appliance is installed on a different hypervisor than vSphere and you are creating layers in vSphere, or publishing layered images to vSphere or to a provisioning service running on it, use the Network File Share and the layers outlined in the table below.

OS Layer: Tools for a different hypervisor are installed on the OS layer, but if you set the Hypervisor Type in the Platform layer to vSphere, the tools in the OS layer will be removed from and the VMware tools you add to the Platform layer will be included in the layered images you publish.

Task Connector configuration For appliance to access location of Platform layer
Import OS Network File Share OS image VMware tools
Package layers Network File Share Packaging machine VMware tools
Publish layered images Network File Share System provisioning VMware tools, connection broker tools, and MCS, PVS, or Horizon View tools, if applicable

Advanced options for deploying the appliance

You need just one App Layering appliance, but you can install more than one, and use each a standalone appliance. Here are some considerations when deciding how many appliances to use in your environment.

  • Maintaining a single appliance results in less management complexity, but there may be good reasons to have more than one.
  • You can use multiple appliances to maintain a test environment and a production environment.
  • If you use an appliance for each OS and the layers created using the OS, you can easily have different administrators for the layers created using each operating system.
  • Keep in mind that even if you create more than one appliance, each is standalone and does not act as a backup for the other.
  • You should back up each appliance or design it for high availability so you don’t lose the layers you spend time creating. You need a full backup of each appliance to guarantee that you can recover all information from it. Although you can export and import layers, this feature is not designed for failure recovery.