Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.11 Proof of Concept Installation and Configuration using Windows Server 2016 and NVIDIA GRID K2 GPU Cards!

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During Microsoft Ignite this week in Atlanta, Georgia, Microsoft announced the launch of Windows Server 2016 with volume licensing versions being available for download mid-October. This was a bit disappointing, as I was hoping to have final Windows Server 2016 ISOs available this week in the Volume License Service Center and MSDN libraries. Oh well, looks like we’ll have to wait another couple weeks…While the full licensed products are not quite available, Microsoft did release Windows Server 2016 Evaluation. You’ll note, this build is no longer considered Tech Preview, so it should be fairly close to the GA which will be released to VLSC and MSDN. In the following blog post, I’ll outline how to use this latest build of Windows Server 2016 and Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.11 with NVIDIA GRID K2 GPU cards to deliver Windows 10 Hosted Shared desktops.

What are Hosted Shared desktops? Simply put, a Hosted Shared desktop is a session based desktop from a Windows Remote Desktop Session Host. In Citrix terminology this is typically called a XenApp server delivering a Published Desktop vs. Published Applications alone. The difference being, Hosted Shared leverages a multi-user Server OS (2008 R2, 2012 R2, 2016) vs. a Client OS (Windows 7, 10, etc.). Simply put, it’s a published desktop delivered from XenApp, or a collection of XenApp servers. With Windows Server 2016, users get a desktop interface, which has a Windows 10 Look and Feel. The desktop, applications, and system overhead are being shared by every user on the physical or virtual server. As a result of this shared approach, we can typically achieve higher density levels when comparing a Session-Based Computing (SBC) approach vs. a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) approach, given the same hardware specifications. This ultimately results in lower costs for servers, storage, networking, and hypervisor costs to deliver similar desktop experiences. In the case of this POC deployment, the NVIDIA GRID K2 card is being presented in pass-through mode to the XenApp server, and is therefore being shared by every active user or session on the server. Let’s get started!

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