Posted on December 9, 2014 by admin_stur
Custom Citrix StoreFront 3.8
Custom Citrix StoreFront 3.5
Custom Citrix Web Interface 5.4
Custom Microsoft RD Web 2012 R2
Custom VMware Horizon View HTML Access
Custom Citrix StoreFront 3.8
Custom Citrix StoreFront 3.5
Custom Citrix Web Interface 5.4
Custom Microsoft RD Web 2012 R2
Custom VMware Horizon View HTML Access
Citrix StoreFront 3.*
Citrix NetScaler Gateway
Citrix Web Interface
Microsoft RD Web 2008 R2
Microsoft Outlook Web App 2010
Microsoft RD Web 2012 & 2012 R2
Microsoft Outlook Web App 2013
VMware View Portal
Posted on December 9, 2014 by admin_stur
I get contacted almost daily for requests about Interface Customization Services for Citrix NetScaler. I think the most common question I ask, besides what build number they are running, is how are you using the NetScaler? (This is an extra fun question when someone that is non-technical reaches out to Techstur.com.)
So we receive a request for a Custom Branded Citrix NetScaler Access Gateway. It is now my job to determine what the client needs. Are users authenticating at the Citrix NetScaler Login Page and then being sent to Web Interface for NetScaler? Are the users being authenticated at the Citrix NetScaler Login Page and then being sent to the full version of Citrix Web Interface hosted on a Windows Server? Are they using RSA Two Factor Authentication or some other Multi-Factor Auth solution?
Are they using the Citrix NetScaler Portal? (This always leads to more questions, as in my experience hardly anybody I talk to is.) But the Portal or 3 Pane View for the NetScaler Access Gateway is a component of NetScaler and I need to make sure the client doesn’t need that branded as well.
So I spend a lot of time trying to deduce, based on questions that I have crafted over the years, exactly what the client or future client requires. This information is vital in determining the cost of the project and creating the Quote.
It used to be easier, as there were just a few options, but now with the addition of Citrix StoreFront (or Citrix CloudGateway or Citrix Receiver for Web or whatever you call it) and this product replacing Citrix Web Interface, I have even more questions I need to ask.
Sometimes I feel like Sherlock Holmes trying to figure out exactly what a client needs a quote for and have to obtain the information that I need. It is funny in a way, as you would think companies would know this information.
But more times than not, I am dealing with a marketing team member who has gotten a directive from a higher up requiring that all interfaces in a company that users, vendors and customers use match the company branding. Because these days, keeping the Company Branding consistent at all levels has become a major priority for companies, organizations and institutions.
So when I get contacted, this starts a request for information. The more information I can collect, the easier it is for me to come up with an accurate Quote.
It is not even uncommon for customers to use Citrix NetScaler just for its High Availability functionality and load balancing, having no authentication taking place on the actual NetScaler at all. It is a confusing road to travel sometimes. But luckily, the Citrix company has empowered me with both the information and the knowledge to ask the right questions so I can give my prospective customers the right solution for them.
“How do you use NetScaler?” Well, it is a short question, which can have a very long answer. But rest assured, we have worked with Citrix NetScaler in pretty much every possible way. So Techstur.com has got you covered – and don’t forget that we are Citrix Ready for all our Custom Citrix Interface offerings.
Posted on February 20, 2015 by admin_stur
A lot of my clients know me as Jesse Boehm the Custom Interface guy. That is the hat I wear when I talk to them about Interface Customizations, when we have phone calls and email via Techstur.com. We talk heavily about the Frontend Technology used for the Backend Technology.
So, I thought it would be interesting to share some behind the scenes information about myself, the Citrix Consultant and behind the scenes at the Techstur.com Development Environment.
I have been working with Citrix since 1999/2000 it started with Metaframe 1.8 on Windows NT4, that is where I cut my teeth on Citrix. My true learning began with Metaframe XP and I never stopped. I worked in the hospitality industry, on a private island in the Florida Keys, pretty much cutoff from the main land. We were the largest technology infrastructure besides the local government agency in that 120 mile stretch of highway and ocean. It was 24/7 and it never stopped. The entire island was run by Citrix Metaframe and then Citrix XenApp when the name changed. I spent years building out systems and tweaking group policies and user profiles and perfecting and automating new user creation and everything exactly the way I wanted. During this time I worked with a number of clients on Citrix Projects in and outside of the Florida Keys but I mainly stayed Florida Keys based. After 6 years I left the Keys and moved to Tampa and that is when I took my Citrix career to next level. I started working and consulting on larger installations with 1000’s if not 10,000’s of users. I always found once you got to certain level of users as long as you had the resources to scale and the powers that be understood the budget needs the amount of end users really didn’t matter. That is my personal opinion, but when you have 10,000 users globally or 40,000 users the only difference is resources.
I always enjoyed Citrix and all of the challenges that came with it from a high level and from an end user level. I always felt they went hand in hand. Though I was never a fan of user support, I did that for the first few years of my IT Career and I didn’t miss leaving it behind. But truth be told, starting in end user support gives you a solid foundation on how to think about how the end user is going to use a system. Which I feel at the end of the day is extremely important because ultimately these complex systems that we are building and architecting for businesses are for the end user to perform their work functions and do their jobs. Their ability to do their jobs without issues is the number one goal. That is my top priority and always has a place in the front of my mind when I am working on a solution. So user support and being on call 24/7 is no fun but it teaches you what users need. If you can take that with you as you grow in your career and always consider what would the end user need? I think that is priceless in any solution.
I still feel this way and I apply this to Custom Interfaces as well as when I am doing Citrix Consulting. With Interfaces you have to really think about the end user. The fact is that an interface is simply a page a user accesses to login and launch there Apps or Desktops or Email. It should be lightweight, load fast and perform as fast as the default interface. So it is my responsibility to tell a client “No” when they want to hear a “Yes”. I love being a Yes Man but I have found being a No Man sets better expectations. Case in point, a customer wants to call some web font from Google instead of a standard font. This is an instant Red Flag for me, all I think about is external calls, load times, which cause delays and this causes the end users to call support and complain that it is taking longer than usual to login. This may seem like a small item, but you get 10,000 users on an interface and it can become a big issue. Years ago clients wanted to use Flash on Web Interface, which caused major issues on Thin Clients, then clients still using Web Interface once iPhone and iPads were introduced had new problems, no flash support. Red Flag. We never touched Flash again.
Today we have millions of users daily logging into our Custom Interfaces. How often does my phone ring with emergencies? Almost never. I built a business that is not a support business. We don’t have after hours support or weekend support hours, simply because they are not needed. Does that mean you can’t email me 24/7 and I won’t respond as soon as I get your email? Of course I will. My entire business is email, internet and computers and my iPhone. I will always respond, just because we don’t have after hours or weekend support doesn’t mean I won’t help you if you need it. I understand emergencies.
With Techstur.com I focus on Custom Interfaces for Citrix NetScaler, Citrix StoreFront, Citrix Web Interface, Citrix CloudPortal, Microsoft OWA 2013, Microsoft RD Web 2012 R2 and VMware Horizon View.
With Jesse Boehm Consulting www.jesseboehmconsulting.com I am a full-time Citrix Consultant with more than 15 years of Citrix experience and I specialize in Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix NetScaler and Citrix CloudPortal Services Manager. I am an Architect, Advisor, Consultant, I do Deployments and Support everything I do on an ongoing basis. This is my passion work.
So I work on both the Frontend and the Backend of Technology.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I was going to talk about the Techstur.com Development Environment. At Techstur.com we run VMware VSphere 5.5, we have multiple hosted hypervisors. With every project we create a dedicated virtual machine or virtual NetScaler VPX for a client. We do all of our Development work on systems that we’ve built out to match a client’s environment as close as possible. I always ask questions about build numbers, versions numbers to collect as much information as possible before we start a project.
Every project starts with me setting up a NetScaler VPX, StoreFront Server hooking that to our XenApp 6.5, or XenApp 7.6 or XenDesktop 7.6 Farm depending on the client. I have to run all of these technologies and maintain these Citrix Environments in our Development Environment for everything to work as it should for clients to really review their projects. I have setup 500+ NetScaler’ s, 1000’s of Web Interfaces, 100’s of StoreFront Sites, I couldn’t even say how many Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop Farms Production/Development I have setup both for Clients and Techstur.com. I lost count. I love to do it. I love when a new version is released and I have to setup the next version.
So when you hire Techstur.com to create a NetScaler Login Page and StoreFront 2.6 Interface for you, you are getting that finished product. But on the backend you are getting a NetScaler VPX and a Dedicated Development Server. The reason that this is important is that when we are done with your project that VPX and Server will be archived off to storage and taken offline and then in the future your servers or appliance can be taken out of storage and brought back online for upgrades or additional work. We basically keep a copy of every Appliance, Server as well as Project Files that we ever work on so that they can then be deployed back into VSphere and taken back live into development within a few hours.
I found this system to be the best way to handle a customer’s project and security of their data. I can look at my project system, match a server name, pull a backup, upload it, extract it and add it to VSphere and bring it online for further development or upgrades.
This is how we do it at Techstur.com. It is a bit meticulous, but after 10+ years it is the system I found that works best for me and my clients. I keep redundant 4 TB hard drives full of backups of archived appliances and servers offline ready to be redeployed at a moment’s notice.
Thanks for reading
Jesse Boehm Consulting
Posted on February 18, 2015 by admin_stur
I talk to a lot of people about Branding Custom Interfaces. I exchange hundreds of emails a week. I do many quotes. I am very proud of the work we do with Custom Branding and Interface Customization of all our Citrix Ready Interfaces. I am proud that Citrix has bestowed on my company the classification of Citrix Ready.
In the last two weeks we were just recertified for all of our Custom Branded Citrix NetScaler Interfaces, Citrix StoreFront Interfaces and Citrix Web Interface products for Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp 7.6 and all backwards compatibility versions. We were also certified Citrix Ready for Citrix CloudPortal Services Manager 11.5 and all backwards compatibility versions.
To me this is the highest honor in the business that I am in. We are the only company in the world to hold this classification. I have spent the last 15+ years working with Citrix on the backend with many of the Citrix products and I have spent the last 10 years also working on the frontend of these Citrix products. I consider myself and Techstur.com to be at the forefront in this field of Interface Customization Services.
When I started this business I had no idea if anyone would want these products. Now millions of users a day use our custom interfaces branded to match their company’s identities to access their applications and desktops. Techstur.com quietly sits in the background nobody know we exists. Our product does not interfere with business operations, it just lends that final touch of quality to a product that already brings the highest possible level of quality to IT performance. And this is what I wanted when I started this business. I never wanted to be in the support business. I wanted to create a product that I can hand off to my clients where they didn’t need to rely on us for support. For the most part that is what we have done. There are exceptions to this, complex interface customizations that may need some assistance from time to time. But for the majority we hand over a finished fully supported product that is supported by Techstur.com and is Citrix Ready.
Back to my original point, I talk to a lot of people, via phone, email and I do quotes. I constantly never hear from anyone again after I do a quote. I get told by companies I did quotes for that our prices are far beyond what they expected. Not sure what they expected? Maybe they Googled customizing StoreFront and found some articles on how to change background images and make simple CSS changes. That is great and that can totally be done. I get told that I charge too much to do something that is easy.
But we are not changing background images or making simple CSS changes. That is not what we do at Techstur.com. And it is hard to explain that to potential customers. Techstur.com offers a unique service. We take a clients Brand Identity and we intergrate that Branding into NetScaler, StoreFront, Web Interface or CloudPortal seamlessly matching a clients interface to a clients website or whatever branding they want to emulate. That can be an internal intranet website or employee portal. We work with marketing departments, advertising agencies, we get handed branding guidelines. It is not unusual for me to work with someone in the Technology Department, Marketing Department, the Design Agency that a client uses and carry on multiple conversations at once to create the best possible product. That is just the design phase of the project. This can be a week to two weeks or even longer depending on the size of the company and the established brand identity.
All of these are factors in our work. So when we get told what we do is simple and easy and we charge too much, I have to admit I can get a little frustrated because I know how much time and effort goes into a project. We are not swapping out a Green Bubble background image and changing some CSS and Images. If you wanted to do that I would point you to some great articles on how to do that. That is not what we do.
We offer a Product and a Service. We offer you a level of Quality that Citrix themselves deems Citrix Ready. We are the only company in the world to be Citrix Ready for Custom Interfaces. Go to http://www.citrix.com/ready and type “Interface” in the search box and see who comes up first. Or type StoreFront and see what Citrix Ready Search shows as the suggested option. You will see Techstur.com. That is something we have earned.
Nowadays we see other custom interface companies popup in Google search results that offer the same exact products that we do. Even their content and interface demos all look like our demos. But if you go to their portfolios they can’t show any real customer history. If you go to our Portfolio Section http://www.techstur.com/portfolio/ you can see hundreds. The volume speaks for itself. They sure will not be supported by Citrix.
I take pride in what we do, because we have been doing this for 10+ years. We have earned our reputation and classification. I work with, understand and consult on all of the Citrix Products we provide Custom Interfaces for. I can get on the phone and discuss the frontend interfaces and flow right into a conversation about the backend technology. I am Citrix Certified. I am Citrix Consultant, I have my own Consulting business, Jesse Boehm Consulting www.jesseboehmconsulting.com. Citrix has been in my blood for a very long time.
I stand behind everything we do, my client’s happiness is number one. When I quote on a project it is based on many factors including, design, development, quality assurances, install, support for go live and other factors.
If you want to change background images or swap out logos shoot me an email I can give you some excellent links on customizing StoreFront to do those things. If you need more than that I can help you with that too.
Thanks for reading!
Owner of Techstur.com
Jesse Boehm Consulting
Posted on January 7, 2015 by admin_stur
When I first started working in Technology, I have to admit that I had never heard of Citrix before. Then I got a job on a 60-acre private island resort in the Florida Keys, and working with Citrix was about to become a major life-changing experience for me.
My first mentor was really into Citrix. He had it running on Microsoft Windows NT 4 Terminal Servers that served all the applications throughout the resort. I came in, new to this enterprise technology, and not knowing anything about Citrix or Published Applications or Terminal Services.
For the next two years I would soak up as much information about technology, Microsoft and Citrix as I could – and that would basically be the groundwork for my entire career. Of course I had no idea this would be the case back when I started in technology as an assistant to the director of IT.
My mentor was a great guy who talked a lot. I had to tune about 90% of what he said out or my brain would explode, but the other 10% I devoured and filed in my brain – and to this day I can go back to the archives of my mind and pull up the information that he taught me.
During those first 2 years Windows 2000 was released, and with that, Citrix MetaFrame XP was released – and I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty. I learned Terminal Services, Citrix, Roaming Profiles, AD Policies and how to use all of these things to create amazing Citrix Environments.
It was an incredible time for me in technology. Everything was so new to me, and everything I did was trial and error. That was the great thing about my mentor: He put me to work. He let me fail, and research and try again until I learned how to do things. He was always there to give advice and point out the direction I should take to find my solution – but he never gave me the exact answer. I had to figure it out for myself; I had to learn, and most importantly, learn how to learn.
After 2 years my mentor left the resort and vacated the Director of IT position. I had been there for 2 years. I knew every aspect of that resort: The technology, the users and how everything worked. I went to the powers that be and told them I wanted the job, that I could do it and that I knew how to do it. It took a lot of major conversations, but I finally convinced everyone to give me a shot. They did, and for the next 8 years I would be the head of technology for the resort.
Ultimately I replaced and redid everything that my mentor created, until the property was completely transformed into my vision, my way. The backbone of that vision was completely enmeshed with Citrix Technologies.
I started taking on Citrix projects and consulting on the build of Citrix Farms. That led me down a road that would be an amazing journey. I left my job at the resort, kept my Citrix consulting gigs and took a job as a Senior Windows System Engineer specializing in Citrix for a large healthcare company based out of Tampa. The structured environment was not really my thing: I preferred working for myself and being a freelance consultant and my own boss. Commuting and sitting at a desk 8 hours a day was not for me.
I am more of a free spirit in life and in technology. I learn by doing, I retain everything I learn. I have a unique ability to remember issues I worked on years and years ago and what the solutions were. I have sort of a technical photographic memory, and I use this in every day of my life. It is something that I never knew I had until I started working in technology and troubleshooting system and network issues.
After spending years and years working in Citrix (specifically back then Citrix MetaFrame, Citrix Presentation Server and then Citrix XenApp), I setup so many web interfaces that I ran into a situation where the default web interface was no longer working for me or giving me the tools I needed as a Citrix Admin to do my job.
So I started a cloud technology company before it was ever named “the cloud.” Through this venture I wanted to create a Custom Citrix Web Interface that seamlessly integrated into my website, and with my website integrated into my customized Citrix web interface. After some time, it was evident that the business venture I started was not going to work out. What I was left with was a bunch of servers in my garage, Techstur.com’s website many, many versions ago, and a custom branded Citrix web interface.
I decided then that if I needed a custom Citrix web interface, then other people would need them too. So I put up a page on Techstur.com for Custom Citrix Web Interfaces, and ten years later this is the business I still work in.
Thousands of custom interfaces later, now we do Citrix Web Interface, Citrix NetScaler, Citrix CloudPortal, Citrix StoreFront, Citrix CloudGateway, Citrix Access Gateway, Microsoft Outlook Web App, Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Microsoft Remote Desktop Web Access and VMware View Portals. What started out as a good idea has blossomed, and we have expanded into a full-fledged Interface Customization company.
I still spend a lot of time working on Citrix Technologies, though. I specialize in Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix NetScaler, Citrix StoreFront, Citrix CloudGateway and Citrix CloudPortal. I build and scope out environments, and I support Citrix systems. I work with all Citrix products – both on the frontend and the backend.
When I am doing Interface Installs or Support Sessions, I use GoToMeeting from Citrix. I basically use Citrix in every aspect of my professional career. I have five Citrix certifications, but I really stopped working on certifications and now I focus more on the technology and using it, building it, architecting it and supporting it on both the frontend and backend. Millions of users a day work on systems customized and built by myself and Techstur.com.
It has been a long strange trip! Where I ended up is not where I started, and even the state I live in has changed multiple times. But my love for Citrix has always been present, from when my first mentor introduced me to the product right up until today.
I live and breathe Citrix Technologies on a daily basis. It is amazing to see how I have grown up around the technology, and amazing to see how the technology has changed and grown up in front of me.