Proof of Concept guide for Remote PC Access with Citrix Virtual Desktops service

Contributors

Author: Mayank Singh

Overview

Citrix announced the addition of Remote PC Access within Citrix Virtual Desktops service on April 30, 2020. This Proof of Concept guide is designed to help you quickly configure Citrix Virtual Desktops service to include Remote PC Access in your environment. At the end of this Proof of Concept guide you will be able to give users who are working from home access to the on-premises physical desktops using Citrix Virtual Desktops service. You will be able to let your users access their on-premises workstations on any device of their choice without having to connect over a VPN.

Conceptual Architecture

Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Add Remote PC Access

Scope

In this Proof of Concept guide, you will experience the role of a Citrix administrator and you will create a connection between your organization’s on-premises deployment of physical desktops and the Citrix Virtual Desktops service. You will provide access to those on-premises workstations to an end user with Citrix Virtual Desktops service using Citrix Workspace.

This guide will showcase how to perform the following actions:

  1. Create a Citrix Cloud account (if you don’t have one already)
  2. Obtain a Citrix Virtual Desktops service account
  3. Create a new Resource Location (your office) and install the Citrix Cloud Connectors in it
  4. Install Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent on the Remote PC Access hosts
  5. Create a Machine Catalog in Citrix Virtual Desktops service
  6. Create a Delivery Group
  7. Launch a session from Citrix Workspace

Prerequisites

Host machine requirements

The in-office workstations that your users must connect to are Windows single-session operating system machines, and are joined to a Windows Active Directory (AD) domain.

Citrix Cloud Connector

To install the Citrix Cloud Connectors in your environment, you require (at least two) Windows Server 2012 R2 or later server machines/VMs. You require static IPs for these two machines. Windows installation and domain join of these machines must have been done in advance. The system requirements for the Cloud Connectors are here. Review the guidance on the cloud connector installation here. The machine the Citrix Cloud Connector runs on must have network access to all the physical machines that are to be made available on the internet via the Citrix Workspace.

Some requirements Citrix Cloud Connector installation (installer performs checks for these) are:

The Citrix Cloud Connector machine must have outbound Internet access on port 443, and port 80 to only *.digicert.com. The port 80 requirement is for X.509 certificate validation. See more info here

Microsoft .NET Framework 4.7.2 or later must be pre-installed on the machine

Time on the machine must be synced with UTC

This guide provides detailed instructions on how to configure your environment including office workstations, connecting your on-premises setup up to Citrix Cloud. As a Citrix Cloud administrator, you enable your users to connect to their office workstations remote with Citrix Virtual Desktops service

Create a Citrix Cloud Account

  1. RDP to the Cloud Connector machine / VM and login as the local admin.

  2. Go to the Citrix Cloud URL. If you are an existing Citrix Cloud customer skip to the next section: Subscribe to the Citrix Virtual Desktops service. Ensure that you have an active Citrix Cloud account. If your account has expired you must contact sales to enable it.

  3. If you are new to Citrix Cloud, click Sign up and try it free in the bottom left

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Create Citrix Cloud account

  4. Enter your business details and check the “I’ve read, understand and agree to the Terms of Service” check box, if you agree. Click Continue

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Enter company details and agree to TOS

  5. Select an appropriate region to host your Citrix Cloud deployment. Click Continue

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select home region

  6. If you chose the wrong region, then you can click Change to go back to the previous page and select the right region. Confirm that you have chosen the correct home region, Check the “I acknowledge that my home region is set to Region you chose check box. Click Continue.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Confirm home region

  7. Provide the name of your company in the Company Name text box. If you agree then check the “I’ve read, understand and agree to the Terms of Service” check box and click Sign Up

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Enter company name and agree to TOS

  8. Click Sign In

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Sign In

  9. Verify your email id, by clicking Sign in to Get Started in the email you received from Citrix Cloud.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Verify Email

  10. Once the account is confirmed, Enter and Confirm the password. Click Create Account

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Create account finish

Subscribe to the Citrix Virtual Desktops service

  1. Enter username and password. Click Sign In. (If your account manages more than one customer select the appropriate one)

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Sign In

  2. Search for the Citrix Virtual Desktops service tile. Click Request Demo

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Request Demo

  3. Click Request a call

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Request a call

  4. Enter your details and in comments specify “Citrix Virtual Desktops service trial”. Click Submit. Citrix Sales will contact you to give you access to the service.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Request CVD service trial

Create a new Resource Location

  1. While the service is being provisioned, we can keep going. Return to the Citrix Cloud administration page. Scroll up, under Resource Locations Click Edit or Add New

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - New Resource Location

  2. Click Add a Resource Location or + Resource Location (if there is already a resource location)

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Add Resource Location

  3. Click the ellipses on the top right of the new resource location. Click Manage Resource Location.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Manage Resource Location

  4. Enter a new name of the New Resource Location. Click Confirm.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Name the Resource Location

  5. Under the newly created resource location click + Cloud Connectors

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Add Citrix Cloud Connector

  6. Click Download. Click Run once the download completes.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Download and run Citrix Cloud Connector installer

  7. Citrix Cloud connectivity test successful message is displayed. Click Close. Note: If the test fails, check the following link to resolve the issue

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Citrix Cloud connectivity check

  8. Click Sign In and sign in to Citrix Cloud to authenticate the Citrix Cloud Connector.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Authenticate to Citrix Cloud

  9. From the drop-down lists select the appropriate Customer and Resource Location (Resource location drop-down list is not displayed if there is only one resource location). Click Install

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select customer and resource location

  10. Once the installation completes, a service connectivity test runs. Let it complete and you will again see a successful result. Click Close

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Cloud Connector installed

  11. Click Refresh all to refresh the Resource Location page in Citrix Cloud

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Refresh resource locations

  12. Click Cloud Connectors

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Refresh resource locations

  13. The newly added Cloud Connector is listed. Repeat the last 8 steps to install another Cloud Connector in the Resource Location on the second Windows server machine that you had prepared.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Refresh resource locations

Install Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent on the Remote PC Access hosts

We now install the Citrix Virtual Desktops, Virtual Delivery Agent on the physical machines that we are going to give users access to. If you want to install the Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent using scripts or a deployment tool like SCCM follow the appropriate links. Ensure to use the install command line parameters as shown in the following instructions.

  1. Connect to the physical machine via RDP as the a local admin.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - RDP to physical host

  2. Open Citrix.com in Internet Explorer. Hover over Sign In and click My Account

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Open Citrix.com

  3. Sign in with your username and password. Click Downloads in the top menu

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Log in to Citrix.com

  4. From the Select a product… drop-down list, select Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select CVAD from drop-down list

  5. In the page that opens, select the latest version of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 (without the .x at the end)

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select latest version

  6. Scroll down to Components that are on the product ISO but also packaged separately. Click chevron to expand the section. Click Download File under the Single-session OS Virtual Delivery Agent version

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select Single-session OS VDA

  7. Check “I have read and certify that I comply with the above Export Control Laws” check box, if you agree. Click Accept. The download begins.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Accept terms and download

  8. Save the file. When the download completes, Click Open Folder

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Save and open download folder

  9. Search for PowerShell from the Start menu search bar and Click Run as administrator

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Run PowerShell as administrator

  10. Traverse to the directory you downloaded the installer in.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Change directory to download folder

  11. Run the following command. (Replace the name of the executable with the one you downloaded and the cloud connector FQDN). VDAWorkstationSetup_version.exe /quiet /remotepc /includeadditional “Citrix User Profile Manager”,“Citrix User Profile Manager WMI Plugin” /controllers “cloudconnecotrFQDN” /enable_hdx_ports /noresume /noreboot

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Run installer

  12. Wait for the installation to complete. Reboot the physical machine.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Wait for install and reboot

Repeat the procedure for all the physical hosts that you want to make available remotely.

Create a machine catalog in Citrix Virtual Desktops service

Use Citrix Virtual Desktops service to create a catalog of the physical machines

  1. Once the trial is approved, Log in to Citrix Cloud from your local machine. Scroll to My Services, and locate Virtual Apps and Desktops service tile, click Manage

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Log in to Citrix Cloud

  2. The service overview page is displayed. Scroll further down and find the Workspace Experience URL. Bookmark it.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Book mark Workspace URL

  3. Click the chevron next to Manage on the top left. Click Web Studio (Preview)

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Open Web Studio

  4. In the left menu under Citrix Studio. Click Machine Catalogs

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Open Web Studio

  5. In the Actions menu(right side). Click Create Machine Catalog.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Click Create Machine Catalog

  6. In the Machine Catalog Setup dialog, click Next

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Intro page

  7. Select Remote PC Access. Click Next

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select Remote PC Access

  8. Click Add Machine Accounts or click Add OUs based on whether you want to add machines or OUs (all the physical machines in the OU). In our example we are adding a machine.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Add machines accounts or OU

  9. In the Select Computers pop up, enter the first few characters of the machine hostname you want to add. Click Check Names

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Search for machine host name

  10. If the search returns more than one machine names, choose the ones you want to add (hold down the CTRL key to choose more than one). Once you have selected all the machines. Click OK

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select machine host names

  11. Repeat the last 2 steps to add all the machines you want to add to the catalog. Then click OK in the Select Computers dialog

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Repeat steps for other machines

  12. From the Select the minimum functional level for this catalog drop-down list, select 1811 (or newer). Click Next

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Choose minimum functional level

  13. Enter a name for the machine catalog. Click Finish. You will be returned to the Machine Catalogs page.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Complete catalog creation

Create a Delivery group

  1. From the left side menu click Delivery Groups to start creating your delivery group.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Open Delivery Groups

  2. From the Actions menu(right side), click Create Delivery Group.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Click Create Delivery Group

  3. In the Create Delivery Group dialog, click Next

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Intro Page

  4. Select the catalog you created earlier. Click Next

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select Remote PC Access catalog

  5. Specify which users can access these desktops. For our example we assign the desktops to a group of users, that have a 1:1 mapping for each of the machines in the delivery group for enhanced security. Click the Restrict use to this Delivery Group to the following users’ radio button. Click Add

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Restrict Delivery group to specific users

  6. Add domain users / groups that you want to have access to the delivery group. You can check their names by clicking Check Names. Once you are done click OK

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select users or groups to be added

  7. If the search returns more than one user name, choose the ones you want to add (hold down the CTRL key to choose more than one). Once you have selected all the users you want to add. Click OK

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Choose the users

  8. Repeat the last 2 steps for all the users you want to add to the delivery group. Then click OK in the Select Users or Groups dialog. Click Next in the Create Delivery group dialog

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Finish user selection

  9. Click Add

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Add Desktop Assignment Rule

  10. In the Add Desktops Assignment Rule dialog. Enter Display Name for the delivery group. Click Add and add the same or a subset of the users you chose earlier again. Ensure Enable desktop assignment rule check box is checked. Click OK

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Enter display name of Delivery Group and click Add

  11. Click Next

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Click Next

  12. Enter a Delivery Group name. Click Finish

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Enter Delivery Group name and start creation

  13. Once the delivery group is created, the Manage Tab looks like this. Click the Desktops tab in the Details section. Click x machine(s) is/are not assigned to a user.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Choose Desktops Tab and click list of unassigned machines

  14. Select the machine you want to assign to a user. Click Change User from the Action menu

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select machine and click Change User

  15. Click Add

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Click Add

  16. Search for the user you want to assign to the machine using the Check Names button. Once found, click OK. Click Ok again.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Select user and click OK

Repeat the steps for the rest of the machines to assign each user to their physical machine.

Note: The last 4 steps are needed, if you want to assign specific users to specific desktops, else the users will be auto assigned to next available desktop in the delivery group or you can use PowerShell scripts to perform the assignment.

Launch the session from Citrix Workspace

  1. Open the Workspace URL you had saved earlier (from Citrix Cloud) to gain access to the Citrix Workspace. Log in as a domain user you have assigned the remote desktop to.

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Log in to Citrix Workspace

  2. If this is the first time you are launching a session from the browser, you may get the following pop up. Ensure Citrix Workspace App is installed and click Detect Workspace

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Detect Citrix Workspace app

  3. Click View All Desktops. Click the Remote PC Access delivery group

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - View All Desktops and launch session

  4. The session will launch giving the user access to the remote physical PC

    Citrix Virtual Desktops service - Session launches

Summary

The guide walked you through connecting your physical desktops in your office to the Citrix Virtual Desktops service, so users access them remotely. You learned how use Citrix Virtual Desktops service to allow users to access their desktops on any device from any location. The process included how to install a Citrix Cloud connector in your on-premises office location, installing Citrix Virtual Delivery agents on the desktop machines. Creating a machine catalog from those machines and then a delivery group. Assigning users to their machines and then allowing them to connect to those desktops using Citrix Workspace app.

To learn more about Citrix solutions for Business Continuity, read the Tech Brief