For all of the geeks that want more hands-on time with Citrix technologies but don’t want to spend a lot of money purchasing a server, Microsoft Azure can be your key to “renting” compute time rather than buying it. The beauty of creating an environment this way is that you can test as much as you’d like (or even blow it up!) for 30 days for only the cost of Azure. Using the options selected below, your cost will be about $2/hour when turned on.
The key to saving money with Azure is to turn off your servers when you’re not using them!
In this article, we’ll walk through the steps to create a Citrix environment based on a pre-defined template in Azure. For anyone in the Tampa area that will be attending the CUGC meeting on August 18th, I’ll be demo’ing this as part of the meeting. It only takes a few minutes to initiate the Citrix environment and then the provisioning process itself takes about two hours. After that, voila!
First, go to https://portal.azure.com. You’ll need to create an account (called Pay as you Go wherein Azure gives you a $150 initial credit for your first month of service) or use credits from a Visual Studio (MSDN) subscription.
After your account is created, access the Azure portal. Select the +New button and enter XenApp Trial in the search box. At the bottom of the next screen, select Create.
The Basics screen will appear, asking you which Subscription, Resource group, and Location you wish to use. Make your selections here. In my case, I selected my Visual Studio Professional subscription, a Resource group named RGTest2, and the East US data center. Then click OK at the bottom of the screen.
The second step is Deployment settings. Here, you will select your admin credentials and email address. The email address is the one where notifications should be sent, such as deployment confirmation. The Size item is directly related to pricing. For a lab or test environment, choose the smallest size presented. Then click OK at the bottom of the screen.
The Summary screen will confirm your settings, so just click OK at the bottom of the screen.
The configuration of your deployment is now complete. In about two hours, you will receive an email from Azure informing you that your environment is ready, including details regarding access to your specific environment. Within that email, the Login to StoreFront link enables you to access your specific environment with the admin credentials you entered during setup.
A few notable items:
- Login. Be sure to capture that URL of the StoreFront login because that is how you and any other users will access your environment.
- Domain. If you attempt to log into the domain controller, know that your domain name is xenapp.local.
- Eval licenses are allocated. The Citrix license is good for 30 days, and the Remote Desktop license for 120 days. Some pesky reminders are shown for each.
- Time zone. The servers are based on Coordinated Universal Time, which in my case, did not equate to my local time zone, but it didn’t matter because this was just a test environment.
- Wallet drain. You will be charged for compute time based on when your servers are turned on, which includes during and after deployment. As soon as you receive the email that your environment is ready, start using it or turn it off.
Stopping your servers will take a few minutes because you need to individually turn off each one. You should verify that each is stopped before you exit the Azure portal to be sure that you don’t incur unexpected fees. To stop your servers, expand the Resource Group and select each invididual VM. Click Stop and confirm each one. Then wait a minute or two and verify that Stop is no longer an option for each VM.
… One last time: don’t forget to turn off your servers when you’re not using them!