Optimize connectivity to workspaces with Direct Workload Connection

With Direct Workload Connection in Citrix Cloud, you can optimize internal traffic to the apps and desktops in workspaces to make HDX sessions faster. Ordinarily, users on both internal and external networks connect to VDAs through an external gateway. Direct Workload Connection allows internal users to bypass the gateway and connect to the VDAs directly, reducing latency for internal network traffic.

To set up Direct Workload Connection, you need network locations that correspond to the VDAs in your environment with the Network Location Service (NLS). You have two options for configuring network locations:

  • Using the Network Locations menu option in Citrix Cloud.
  • Using a PowerShell module that Citrix provides.

Network locations correspond to the public IP ranges of the networks that your internal users connect from, such as your office or branch locations. Citrix Cloud uses public IP addresses to determine whether networks from which virtual apps or desktops are launched in Workspace are internal or external to the company network. If a subscriber connects from the internal network, Citrix Cloud routes the connection directly to the VDA, bypassing Citrix Gateway. If a subscriber connects externally, Citrix Cloud routes them through Citrix Gateway, then redirects the subscriber through the Citrix Cloud Connector to the VDA in the internal network.

Important:

If your environment includes Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure alongside on-premises VDAs, configuring Direct Workload Connection causes launches from the internal network to fail.

Secure Browser, Citrix Virtual Apps Essentials, and Citrix Virtual Desktops Essentials launches always route through the gateway. These launches don’t gain performance improvements from configuring Direct Workload Connection.

Requirements

Network requirements

  • Corporate network and guest Wi-Fi networks must have separate public IP addresses. If your corporate and guest networks share public IP addresses, users on the guest network can’t launch Virtual Apps and Desktops sessions.
  • Use the public IP address ranges of the networks that your internal users connect from. Internal users on these networks must have a direct connection to the VDAs. Otherwise, launches of virtual resources will fail as Workspace tries to route internal users directly to the VDA, which isn’t possible.

TLS requirements

TLS 1.2 must be enabled in PowerShell when configuring your network locations. To force PowerShell to use TLS 1.2, use the following command before using the PowerShell module:

[Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [Net.SecurityProtocolType]::Tls12

Workspace requirements

  • You have a workspace configured in Citrix Cloud.
  • The Virtual Apps and Desktops service is enabled in Workspace Configuration > Service Integrations.
  • You’re using on-premises VDAs to deliver virtual resources to workspace subscribers.

Enable TLS for Workspace app for HTML5 connections

If your subscribers use Citrix Workspace app for HTML5 to launch apps and desktops, Citrix recommends that you have TLS enabled on the VDAs in your internal network. TLS ensures direct connections to VDAs. If VDAs don’t have TLS enabled, app and desktop launches are routed through the Gateway when subscribers use Citrix Workspace app for HTML5. Launches using the Desktop Viewer aren’t affected. For more information about securing direct VDA connections with TLS, see CTX134123 in the Citrix Support Knowledge Center.

Citrix Cloud network location configuration

Direct Workload Connection configuration through Citrix Cloud involves creating network locations using the public IP address ranges of each branch location that your internal users connect from.

Create a network location

  1. In the Citrix Cloud console, navigate to Network Locations from the main menu. Network Locations menu item
  2. Select the Add network location button in the top right-hand corner. Network Locations page
  3. Enter a network location name, public IP address range for the location, and location tags. Add Network Location
  4. Repeat these steps for each new network location you want to add. Network Locations

Modify or remove network locations

  1. In the Citrix Cloud console, navigate to Network Locations from the main menu.
  2. Select the ellipses next to the network location that you want to modify or remove and then either:
    • Select Edit to modify a network location and then Save your changes to see them in the network locations page; or
    • Select Delete to remove a network location. You’re asked to confirm this decision before the network location is deleted. You can’t undo this action.

PowerShell network location configuration

Instead of Citrix Cloud, you can use PowerShell script to configure Direct Workload Connection. Direct Workload Connection configuration with PowerShell involves the following tasks:

  1. Determine the public IP address ranges of each branch location that your internal users connect from.
  2. Download the PowerShell module.
  3. Create a secure API client in Citrix Cloud and make a note of the Client ID and secret.
  4. Import the PowerShell module and connect to the Network Location Service (NLS) with your API client details.
  5. Create NLS sites for each of your branch locations with the public IP address ranges that you previously determined. Direct Workload Connection is automatically enabled for any launches that come from the internal network locations you’ve specified.
  6. Launch an app or desktop from a device on your internal network and verify that the connection goes directly to the VDA, bypassing the Gateway.

Download the PowerShell module

Before you set up your network locations, download the Citrix-provided PowerShell module (nls.psm1) from the Citrix Github repository. Using this module, you can set up as many network locations as needed for your VDAs.

  1. In a web browser, go to https://github.com/citrix/sample-scripts/blob/master/workspace/nls.psm1.
  2. Press ALT while clicking the Raw button. Github file view with Raw button highlighted
  3. Select a location on your computer and click Save.

Required configuration details

To set up your network locations, you need the following required information:

  • Citrix Cloud secure client customer ID, client ID, and client secret. To obtain these values, see Create a secure client in this article.
  • Public IP address ranges for the networks where your internal users will be connecting from. For more information about these public IP address ranges, see Requirements in this article.

Create a secure client

  1. Sign in to Citrix Cloud at https://citrix.cloud.com.
  2. From the Citrix Cloud menu, select Identity and Access Management and then select API Access.
  3. On the Secure Clients tab, note your customer ID. Secure Client console with Customer ID highlighted
  4. Enter a name for the client and then select Create Client.
  5. Copy the client ID and client secret. Secure Client ID and Secret dialog

Configure network locations

  1. Open a PowerShell command window and navigate to the same directory where you saved the PowerShell module.
  2. Import the module: Import-Module .\nls.psm1 -Force
  3. Set the required variables with your secure client information from Create a secure client:
    • $clientId = "YourSecureClientID"
    • $customer = "YourCustomerID"
    • $clientSecret = "YourSecureClientSecret"
  4. Connect to the Network Location Service with your secure client credentials:

    Connect-NLS -clientId $clientId -clientSecret $clientSecret -customer $customer
    
  5. Create a network location, replacing the parameter values with the values that correspond to the internal network where your internal users will be directly connecting from:

    New-NLSSite -name "YourSiteName" -tags @("YourTags") -ipv4Ranges @("PublicIpsOfYourNetworkSites") -longitude 12.3456 -latitude 12.3456
    

    To specify a single IP address instead of a range, add /32 to the end of the IP address. For example:

    New-NLSSite -name "YourSiteName" -tags @("YourTags") -ipv4Ranges @("PublicIpOfYourNetworkSite/32") -longitude 12.3456 -latitude 12.3456
    

    Important:

    When using the New-NLSSite command, include at least one value for each parameter. If you run this command without any command-line arguments, PowerShell prompts you to enter appropriate values for each parameter, one at a time. When entering values for the -tags parameter, press ENTER after entering each tag value. When you’re finished entering tags, press ENTER again to proceed to the next parameter.

    When the network location is created successfully, the command window displays the details of the network location.

  6. Repeat Step 5 for all your network locations where users will be connecting from.
  7. Run the command Get-NLSSite to return a list of all the sites you’ve configured with NLS and verify that their details are correct.

Verify that internal launches are routed correctly

To verify that internal launches are accessing VDAs directly, use one of the following methods:

  • View VDA connections through Virtual Apps and Desktops console.
  • Use ICA file logging to verify the correct addressing of the client connection.

Virtual Apps and Desktops service console

Select Manage > Monitor and then search for a user with an active session. In the Session Details section of the console, direct VDA connections display as UDP connections while gateway connections display as TCP connections.

ICA file logging

Enable ICA file logging on the client computer as described in To enable logging of the launch.ica file. After launching sessions, examine the Address and SSLProxyHost entries in the log file.

For direct VDA connections, the Address property contains the VDA’s IP address and port and the SSLProxyHost property contains the VDA’s FQDN and port.

For gateway connections, the Address property contains the STA ticket and the SSLProxyHost property contains the gateway’s FQDN and port.

Modify network locations

To change an existing network location:

  1. From a PowerShell command window, list all existing network locations: Get-NLSSite
  2. To modify the IP range for a specific network location, type

    (Get-NLSSite)[N] -ipv4Ranges @("1.2.3.4/32","4.3.2.1/32") | Set-NLSSite

    where [N] is the number corresponding to the location in the list (starting with zero) and "1.2.3.4/32","4.3.2.1/32" are the comma-separated IP ranges you want to use. For example, to modify the first listed location, you type the following command:

    (Get-NLSSite)[0] -ipv4Ranges @("98.0.0.1/32","141.43.0.0/24") | Set-NLSSite

Remove network locations

To remove network locations that you no longer want to use:

  1. From a PowerShell command window, list all existing network locations: Get-NLSSite
  2. To remove all network locations, type Get-NLSSite | Remove-NLSSite
  3. To remove specific network locations, type (Get-NLSSite)[N] | Remove-NLSSite, where [N] is the number corresponding to the location in the list. For example, to remove the first listed location, you type (Get-NLSSite)[0] | Remove-NLSSite.

Example script

The example script includes all commands that you might need to add, modify, and remove the public IP address ranges for your branch locations. However, you don’t need to run all commands to perform any single function. For the script to run, always include the first 10 lines, from Import-Module through Connect-NLS. Afterward, you can include only the commands for the functions you want to perform.

Import-Module .\nls.psm1 -Force

$clientId = "XXXX" #Replace with your clientId
$clientSecret = "YYY"    #Replace with your clientSecret
$customer = "CCCCCC"  #Replace with your customerid

# Connect to Network Location Service
Connect-NLS -clientId $clientId -clientSecret $clientSecret -customer $customer

# Create a new Network Location Service Site (Replace with details corresponding to your branch locations)
New-NLSSite -name "New York" -tags @("EastCoast") -ipv4Ranges @("1.2.3.0/24") -longitude 40.7128 -latitude -74.0060

# Get the existing Network Location Service Sites (optional)
Get-NLSSite

# Update the IP Address ranges of your first Network Location Service Site (optional)
$s = (Get-NLSSite)[0]
$s.ipv4Ranges = @("1.2.3.4/32","4.3.2.1/32")
$s | Set-NLSSite

# Remove all Network Location Service Sites (optional)
Get-NLSSite | Remove-NLSSite

# Remove your third site (optional)
(Get-NLSSite)[2] | Remove-NLSSite

Troubleshooting

VDA launch failures

If VDA sessions are failing to launch, verify you are using public IP address ranges from the correct network. When configuring your network locations, you must use the public IP address ranges of the network where your internal users are connecting from. For more information, see Requirements in this article.

To verify a VDA’s public IP address, log on to each VDA machine, visit https://google.com, and enter “what is my ip” in the search bar.

Internal VDA launches still routed through the gateway

If VDA sessions launched internally are still being routed through the gateway as if they were external sessions, verify you are using the correct IP address ranges for the networks where your internal users are connecting from. These are generally the public IP address ranges that correspond to the networks where your VDAs reside, although your users might access the VDAs through a VPN. Do not use the local IP addresses of the VDAs. For more information, see Requirements in this article.

To verify a VDA’s public IP address, log on to each VDA machine, visit https://google.com, and enter “what is my ip” in the search bar.

Errors when running PowerShell cmdlets on non-Windows platforms

If you experience errors when running cmdlets with the correct parameters on PowerShell Core, verify that the operation was carried out successfully. For example, if you experience errors when running the New-NLSSite cmdlet, run Get-NLSSite to verify that the site was created. Running these cmdlets on MacOS or Linux platforms using PowerShell Core can result in an error even though the operation ran successfully.

If you experience this issue when running cmdlets with the correct parameters on a Windows platform using PowerShell, ensure you’re using the latest version of the PowerShell module. With the latest version of the PowerShell module, this issue does not occur on Windows platforms.

Additional help and support

For troubleshooting help or questions, contact your Citrix sales representative or Citrix Support.

Optimize connectivity to workspaces with Direct Workload Connection