How to Ensure Citrix Users are using an Up-to-Date Version of Citrix Workspace App / Receiver

This is another customer blog highlighting common customer scenarios that we typically see while working with large enterprise customers. There are many use cases in regard to a typical Citrix Digital Workspace environment where the endpoint is managed by a different team, outsourced to an external organization, or even unmanaged when employees work from home on a non-corporate device. Yet, the Citrix client component called Citrix Workspace (or earlier on Citrix Receiver) has a massive impact on the perceived performance of an employee.

Over the past few years Citrix has delivered on massive improvements in regard to the Citrix HDX delivery protocol for its digital workspace solution, where for most of these improvements these require an update of the Citrix software on both the server-side components, as well as the Citrix Client-side component. From an endpoint perspective, the first and easiest step to provide the best possible user experience is to make sure that the latest and greatest version of Citrix Workspace App is being used. As of Citrix Workspace App version x.y.z, Citrix has provided an auto upgrade feature, which supports organizations in keeping the Citrix Client side components up to date; however, this does require you to get to that version first, which is where things get complicated.

The easiest and most comprehensive way to do this is to use the out-of-the-box report included in eG Enterprise, “Citrix Receiver Usage Report“. Without requiring you to deploy any agents on your client devices, eG Enterprise looks across your Citrix Site and automatically discovers the following:

  • Which users are connecting to the Citrix servers or desktops in the Site
  • Which client devices users are connecting from
  • What type and version of the Citrix Receiver are installed on each device

Then, eG Enterprise intelligently encapsulates this information in the comprehensive Citrix Receiver Usage report. This is a built-in report that is available at the click of a button and can also be scheduled for automated delivery based on custom periodicity. This report is also customizable, which allows you to select which XenApp server(s) or XenDesktop VMs you want to see the Receiver versions associated with it.

Customers often use this report in conjunction with other similar reports to routinely audit and document to demonstrate systematic by process maintenance is in place and is successfully occurring. Indeed, it’s common for customers to leverage our “booklets” feature to fully automate the documentation of pro-active routine maintenance.

You’ll find the Citrix Receiver Usage Report via the Reporter tab in eG Enterprise under Domain-specific Reports -> Virtual Applications / Desktops -> Sessions -> Citrix Receiver Usage. Note: When looking at Citrix Apps (XenApp), you need to select the XenApp Server as the component, but when examining full VDI desktops (XenDesktop), the component of interest with be the hypervisor host as this information is collected on the host via the inside view of desktops.

Citrix Receiver Usage Report

Figure 1: Citrix Receiver Usage Reports are available via the Reporter tab. On this system we found a user using 14.12.0.18020 – Receiver 4.12 which is out of support plus a range of Workspace App versions.

Now that we have easily found which employees are using a recent version of Citrix Workspace App, the organization is able to proactively reach out to employees and guide them through the upgrade process, after which Citrix Workspace app will keep itself up to date like any other modern application.

However, even when an employee uses a recent version of Citrix Workspace app, it could still be that not all features are utilized for a variety of reasons. One of the greatest enhancements, especially for remote workers, has been the Citrix Enlightened Display Protocol (or EDT). Compared to the native TCP protocol this is a massively improved network protocol that drastically improves user experience when working on a connection with a certain degree of latency or packet loss, which would typically be seen on Wi-Fi or mobile connections.

In this case, we need to be able to validate not only if a recent Citrix Workspace App version is used, but also that EDT is actually in use. This is where the eG extensive user session monitoring comes in.

Citrix Session Analysis

All the data in the usage reports is collected by process for every user and login within eG Monitor where it is available live alongside data from other key metrics, logs, and events. In the event of a support call or enquiry from an individual end user you may want to overview their digital employee experience (DEX) and check setting such as their receiver version. If you are navigating the layer model view in the eG Enterprise Monitor tab you will find the Receiver version available in several places:

  • On the user experience dashboards – “UX Dashboard”, this is available via the “Users” layer for Citrix App servers (XenApp) and via the “Desktop’s HDX Channel” within the “Inside View of Desktops” layer of the hypervisor host (the vSphere/ESXi or XenServer/Citrix Hypervisor host) for full VDI desktops (XenDesktop).

    Citrix Usage Report

    Figure 2: The smiley face icon – which is available in many parts of the eG Enterprise interface to provide a quick link to the UX Dashboards.

    Citrix User Experience Dashboard

    Figure 3: On the UX Dashboard you can see highlighted by the yellow box the summary session information for a user. In this case they were using a very old receiver – version 6.2!
  • For Citrix VDI (XenDesktop) there is also a detailed diagnostic test (the magnifying glass icon) associated with the User’s connection quality indicator metrics that summarizes key end-point metrics alongside settings. See Figure 4.

    Citrix Connection Quality Indicator diagnosis

    Figure 4: Click on detailed diagnosis of the “User’s connection quality indicator” tests to get a comprehensive summary of information associated with a particular user, their session, and endpoint, including Citrix Receiver version.

The detailed diagnosis will allow you to survey both historic and live information on timescales of your choice and the overview provided will contain details of the metrics that contribute to the overall rating associated with the User’s connection quality indicator”:

  • Bandwidth (Mbps), Bandwidth status, Latency (ms), Latency status, ICA RTT (ms), ICA RTT status, Client name, Client IP address, Client version (the Receiver version), Client ID, Client type, Client category, Session key, HDX display mode, HDX active encoder, HDX protocol, Encryption level, Assignment type, Site name, Delivery group name, Catalog name, Delivery controller name, DC Registered time, License server name, License server port, Licensing model, License product edition, License product name, Provisioning type, Persistent data location, Personal vdisk drive letter.

Many of our customers also use such reporting functionality within eG Enterprise to manage licenses of various products, as well as browser versions and types.

Monitoring and Diagnosis by Process

It should be noted that all the metrics mentioned are systematically collected for every user session without the need to install agents on the endpoint and without the need to manually run or schedule scripts within sessions. This means that all this information is available to you regardless of whether a user is still logged on, even when a session is no longer connected to enable retrospective debug of support calls, and to enable informed planning for upgrades and capacity growth.

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Information is Power! Proactively Improve your Citrix Deployments

Now you have the tools to hunt down and replace out-of-date clients you can proactively optimize and improve your Citrix deployment, improve performance, and avoid potential issues. Many of the optimizations for Microsoft Teams that can be applied for Citrix are dependent on having a recent and up-to-date version of Workspace app correctly configured – details of these dependencies are included in our recent comprehensive guide: Microsoft Teams Configuration on Citrix.

Final Thought – Should We Rename Our Reports?

Citrix Workspace app is the renamed replacement for Citrix Receiver and as such, there was an extended period of overlap when customers used both. Now that most versions of Receiver are out of support, we should probably think about renaming some of these reports. Keeping up with Citrix product name changes is a Sisyphean task for every monitoring vendor!

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