Citrix lets my users work in the Dark! (with the help of Cisco, HP, and Eaton)

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I live and work in an area that is prone to storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning and general power failure. There have been many nights where I have been called into work at 2am to reboot the company’s servers due to a small power outage. Imagine a corporate network running with little to no backup power! It was a nightmare!!!

The biggest problem that plagued me was that a simple power glitch would cause our network to become unusable until the DC (domain controller) was rebooted, then all subsequent servers would have to be restarted. One 10-20 second glitch and I was getting called into work. IT SUCKED!

I was able to alleviate this headache with a bonus perk…my task users could now work in the DARK!

working in teh dark

The Software…

logo_citrix

I use Citrix Xenapp 6.5 to deliver applications to our remote users in the field. With Citrix you can also give “virtual desktops” to your users. Citrix calls this feature “My Desktop”. Careful though, you will need to create Security Groups and Rules within Active Directory to lock your users down to only the applications that you want them to have. I removed access to all of the servers hard drives, all menus, control panel, explorer, etc. The only access they have is to their shared personal folders. I’ve locked their desktops down to the point that they can do absolutely nothing to harm the servers. If you are going to go this route, you will need to do the same. By default with “My Desktop” your users will have access to menus, control panel (heaven forbid) and other places that you really do not want them to have access. If it can be messed up, your users can and will mess it up!

The hardware…

After a year of fighting power glitches I was able to convince my employers to purchase an Eaton 9E UPS, Eaton branded Automatic Transfer Switch, and Eaton branded (Generac) 80kw generator. I wanted all of the equipment to come from the same vendor, to avoid the he said-she said support that I have dealt with in the past. The generator company blames the UPS company , the UPS company blames the generator company and so on.

I had the electricians mount the UPS in our server room, wire a panel to the wall, and install every duplex outlet on to its own circuit. The reason for this was redundancy. I could separate power and redundant power supplies on my servers to run on separate circuits, in case one circuit blows my servers will stay on. I cannot express this point any clearer…Leave the installation to the professionals! If you purchase this type of equipment, the best practice is to purchase the “Test & Turn On” services that your provider offers. You will need to have all of these devices professionally installed and tested before you put any of your devices on them.

Simply put, the Generator is wired to the Automatic Transfer Switch, the ATS is wired to the UPS and the building’s main power, the UPS wired to the panel with circuits and the outlets mounted to the wall on their own separate circuits.

Installed, tested, and now we were ready for redundant power…

After the install and testing was completed, I spent a night and moved all of our servers, switches, and our pbx onto the UPS. This was fairly straight forward…Turn your servers and pbx off, unplug them and plug into your new outlets! (I did take the extra time to do some cable clean up.)

Now that I have reliable power I came up with the idea, why not give my task users a way to work over PoE (Power over Ethernet)?

We were already using Cisco SPA525G2 IP phones that will run on PoE, so if I could find a device that would connect to Citrix over PoE, my users could work in the dark!

That is when I discovered that HP had a new product coming out… The HP t410 All in One Zero Client… A device that connects to Citrix, VMware View, and RDP using only 13 watts of power over PoE! I called one of our vendors and had HP send me a demo unit.

The HP t410 AIO Zero Clients are easy to work with. All you need is a USB stick and a computer with the HP Profile Editor Software. The software is very easy to use, simply set your parameters, save to USB stick, insert said USB stick into the HP t410 and power it on… Your settings are transferred and your HP t410 is ready to go!

Now since this device will run on power or PoE, I added several HP Procurve PoE switches to the network, had my cable guys run cat6 to all of the works areas for the IP phones and the HP t410’s, and viola I have users whose IP Phones and Workstations now work whether or not the building has power!

Simple formula…

workindarkmath

The Benefits…

1. I’ve saved our company millions and millions of dollars in lost revenue due to power outages.
2. The Generator, UPS, and ATS pay for themselves the 1st time the power is lost (and you are still running).
3. The HP t410’s are relatively inexpensive, they are cheaper to purchase than a desktop PC with a monitor.
4. You will cut on your energy costs by using these devices
(a PC alone uses 350-450 watts of power, these units use 13 watts)
5. You will have zero downtime if your building looses power (your servers and stations will remain on).
6. Less hardware to maintain,replace & troubleshoot.
7. You can monitor everything your user does with Citrix 🙂
8. YOUR USERS CAN WORK IN THE DARK! Instead of sitting in the dark mooching the clock.
9. You’ll have more time to do serious stuff like those TPS reports!

Comments
  1. I used your blog to get approval for funding for a similar project. I showed upper management your post, as it is in simple terms that the “powers that be” could understand.

    Great job, keep up the good work!

  2. Gia Gratis says:

    Great writeup, we’re looking into implementing a similar setup.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. brooklyn says:

    Great weblog right here! Additionally your website loads rather fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink for your host?

    I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  4. Panos Gr says:

    Great Post, although I have a question. You will save your server and your thinclient but this does not mean that the user will still work in case of power fail. What are going to do with the monitor? this one cannot feed all power from PoE, so you have to connect it to UPS station. Any idea?

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