Citrix StoreFront for Virtual Apps and Desktops
Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provides virtualization solutions that give IT control of virtual machines, applications, and security while providing anywhere access for any device through Citrix StoreFront service. End-users can use applications and desktops independently of the client device's operating system and interface.
A key factor in delivering Virtual Apps and Desktops is ensuring the resilience, performance, and scalability of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with duplication of VDI servers and services. Load balancers are an essential component of this infrastructure as they provide a central connection point for remote users, can detect infrastructure outages, offload encryption overhead, and provide additional layers of security.
In contrast to Citrix ADC (NetScaler) load balancing that is often the default choice for StoreFront services, the LoadMaster is easy to configure, offers significant cost of ownership savings, and is supported by a world-class technical team.
LoadMaster is a drop-in load balancer replacement for Citrix ADC (NetScaler) that includes pre-defined templates for common Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environments to greatly simplify deployment and ensure optimal security and performance. LoadMaster offers significant Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings compared to Citrix ADC and is supported a technical team that regularly achieves 99% customer satisfaction ratings.
A Virtual Service template, PowerShell script, and this deployment guide was introduced with LoadMaster Operating System (LMOS) 7.2.51 to deploy a Virtual Service as a Citrix StoreFront Gateway for external publishing of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops deployments, so that internet clients can leverage Citrix's VDI. In previous releases, the LoadMaster only supported publishing to internal networks.
The Progress Kemp-approved and tested template supports authentication of clients to a Citrix StoreFront endpoint that provides access to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops resources. Clients can log in using Citrix Workspace App, Citrix Receiver, or a browser such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
Here is a summary of the Virtual Services:
- StoreFront Gateway: This Virtual Service is the main endpoint and will identify whether the client is connecting using Citrix Workspace/Receiver or using a browser. This Virtual Service IP address will be configured for your external DNS record, for example citrix.domain.com which will NAT to your Virtual IP address. Depending on the template selected, the StoreFront Gateway Virtual Service consists of several Sub Virtual Services:
- StoreFront Browser Auth ESP: Handles front-end authentication using the Edge Security Pack (ESP) for protocols such as RADIUS and LDAP.
- StoreFront Browser Launch HTML5 App: Handles the rewriting of the ICA file where a HTML5 WebSocket connection had been detected.
- StoreFront Workspace-Receiver Pass Through: Handles pre-requests for Workspace/Receiver ESP front-end authentication.
- StoreFront Workspace-Receiver Launch App: Handles the rewriting of the ICA file where the Citrix Workspace/Receiver application has been detected.
- StoreFront Workspace-Receiver Auth ESP: Handles front-end authentication for Workspace/Receiver.
- Secure Listeners: The Citrix StoreFront Gateway template also creates ten (10) individual Secure Listeners which will listen on a secure port such as port 4431 and forward the connection to your VDI server on port 2598. The Citrix StoreFront Gateway - HTML5 template also creates ten (10) Secure Listeners, five (5) Secure Listeners to handle native ICA 2598 traffic, and five (5) Secure Listeners to handle HTML5 web socket 8008 traffic. These listeners correspond to specific internal VDI servers. This is explained in the Secure Listeners section of this document.
- Content Rules: The template creates several content rules with the name starting Citrix_ to support the Virtual Services and Secure Listeners. No content rules are created by the Citrix StoreFront Internal template.
- Citrix StoreFront Internal: This Virtual Service is used to handle internal StoreFront connections. When a client launches an application through StoreFront the client connection is forwarded directly to the server.
In a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environment, the LoadMaster sits at the edge (behind a firewall) and accepts connections from remote clients, load balancing connections across the available StoreFront servers. The LoadMaster manages the authentication to the external authentication systems such as Active Directory or RADIUS. When StoreFront returns the ICA file to the client, LoadMaster intercepts and modifies the information with the appropriate load balanced VDI server information.
The high-level flow is as follows:
1. The client connects to StoreFront using the LoadMaster.
2. The LoadMaster authenticates the client against Active Directory (AD) and assigns an "LMData" authentication cookie.
3. The LoadMaster POSTs credentials to StoreFront where StoreFront authenticates against AD.
4. StoreFront forwards credentials to the Delivery Controller in an XML query.
5. The Delivery Controller enumerates the user's applications by querying Active Directory for the Users Security Groups and queries the database for a list of the client’s applications.
6. The client selects their application where StoreFront queries the Delivery Controller to find a suitable VDI server which contains the application.
7. The Delivery Controller returns the application information back to StoreFront in an XML file.
8. StoreFront creates an ICA file with the connection details such as the IP address of the VDI server and a launch reference.
9. The LoadMaster consumes the ICA file and rewrites the settings which enables the client to make a secure, publicly resolvable connection.
10. The LoadMaster forwards the ICA file to the client where the client automatically initiates a new connection over a secure port such as port 4431.
11. The LoadMaster receives the encrypted connection, decrypts, and forwards to the chosen VDI server.
The following requirements must be met:
- For ESP pre-authentication you will require an onsite authentication server such as a RADIUS, LDAP, or SAML IDP server.
- You must have a LoadMaster Enterprise/Enterprise Plus subscription (or a trial license).
- You must use the Progress Kemp PowerShell script (preferred) or Citrix StoreFront Virtual Apps and Desktops template to configure your LoadMaster.
- You must have a Certificate Authority (CA) certificate to decrypt the SSL traffic for external connections.
- You must have external firewall rules configured for ports 443 and 4431- 4440. This port range accommodates 10 VDA/VDI servers. For Virtual Desktop environments, a larger port range is required to be open.
- LoadMaster firmware version 7.2.53 or above is required.
- Adding a StoreFront account to Workspace/Receiver requires both the internal and external Store URL to be the same.
This solution can accommodate an organization with up to 500 VDA Servers.
In this implementation of Citrix StoreFront support, several features are currently unsupported:
- Front-end authentication (ESP) to StoreFront using Smart Cards (client certificates) is not supported.
- The LoadMaster currently supports TCP ICA/HDX with Session Reliability. UDP ICA/HDX with Session Reliability is not supported.
- ICA file signing – which is not enabled by default in StoreFront – is not supported.
Multitenancy is not supported.
To configure the settings on your LoadMaster, you can either use the Progress Kemp PowerShell script that is included in the Zip file, or the Progress Kemp template. We recommend using the PowerShell script because it removes the process of manually configuring your internal VDI server content rules, while also removing a lot of the repetitive steps relating to your Citrix StoreFront Store name. Refer to the relevant section below depending on whether you choose to use the PowerShell script or the template.
The template is only recommended when testing with no more than ten (10) VDA/VDI servers. When configuring the production Virtual Desktops environment, you must configure it using the easy-to-follow PowerShell script.
Ensure to take a LoadMaster backup before configuring so that you can restore if needed (for example, if the Citrix configuration is not successful). Restore the backup before attempting to configure for a second time using the template or PowerShell script.
When using either the PowerShell or template-based installations, you must determine if the ICA file returned by StoreFront contains an IP address or Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDNs). If you are unsure, open PowerShell on your Delivery Controller and run the GetBroker-Site command. You might have to first run the Add-PSSnapin (asnpCitrix.*) command and check the DnsResolutionEnabled setting, as shown in the below graphic.
The Progress Kemp Edge Security Pack (ESP) is the LoadMaster’s Frontend Authentication engine. The currently supported authentication methods for Citrix StoreFront are Form Based (if LDAP or RADIUS is configured) or SAML for Single Sign On. Various RADIUS MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) and SAML MFA solutions are supported.
For SAML authentication, you must configure using the PowerShell script and configure SAML on your StoreFront server.
To configure StoreFront servers for SAML, refer to this knowledge base from Citrix.
For more information on SAML for LoadMaster, refer to the SAML Feature Description.
Progress Kemp recommends configuring your Citrix Environment using PowerShell. The Progress Kemp PowerShell script is included in the zip file downloaded from the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (StoreFront) web page. The PowerShell script currently requires the use of IP addresses to identify the StoreFront and VDA/VDI servers. In most scenarios we will need the full DHCP scope allocated for your VDA/VDI servers because a specific Secure Listener will be created for each VDA/VDI IP or FQDN.
For further information on the PowerShell API, refer to the PowerShell Interface Description.
You can download the PowerShell wrapper from this page: LoadMaster PowerShell API Wrapper.
You can verify the Kemp.LoadBalancer.Powershell module has been properly installed using the Microsoft PowerShell command GET-Module. You should see a module named Kemp.LoadBalancer.Powershell in the list of modules returned when executing this command.
There are two Progress Kemp PowerShell scripts. One script will initially configure a LoadMaster for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. The second script adds additional VDI servers to an existing Citrix environment. Both scripts are intended to be edited before they are run. There is a section titled Configure Variables in the script that needs to be updated to match your environment.
When the PowerShell script has completed, scroll through the log file for any HTTP Error Return Codes such as, 401 or 422. The log file is located in the current working PowerShell directory.
Before running the script to create the Citrix service, edit the script and modify the variables using the comments in the script for instructions.
In addition to modifying the script, ensure the following files are in the working directory:
- Text file called vdiservers.txt containing all VDI server IP addresses or VDI FQDNs. It is recommended to include your full DHCP scope for your Citrix Machine Catalogue
Text file called storefront.txt containing the IP addresses of your StoreFront servers
- TLS certificate in “.pfx” or “.p12” format to use for the Citrix service
- If there are additional certificates in the validation chain, you must add these manually to the LoadMaster after running the script.
SAML configuration requires you to have your IDP Metadata XML file and your IDP token signing certificate
When you have finished the configuration, continue to the Citrix StoreFront Settings section.
Adding Virtual Services can be both repetitive and prone to error. Progress Kemp have developed a general template mechanism that provides consistency and ease-of-use when creating Virtual Services.
Using templates to set up and configure a Virtual Service is a two-stage process. Initially, you must import the template into the LoadMaster. When imported, you can use the templates when adding a new Virtual Service.
This document outlines the procedure to import the Progress Kemp Citrix Virtual Apps or Desktops template and configure it to control the flow of browser traffic and Citrix Workspace/Receiver traffic. The template creates Virtual Services, Secure Listeners, and content rules.
The downloaded template file contains the following templates:
- Citrix StoreFront Gateway - With HTML5: Handles Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops traffic including Citrix StoreFront Gateway, HTTP redirect, and Connection Server VDI Listeners. Listener decrypts and forwards to VDI on ICA port 2598 or HTML 5 on port 8008.
- Citrix StoreFront Gateway - Without HTML5: Handles Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops traffic including Citrix StoreFront Gateway, HTTP redirect, and Connection Server VDI Listeners. Listener decrypts and forwards to VDI on ICA on port 2598.
Citrix StoreFront Gateway - VDA-Encryption: Handles Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops traffic including Citrix StoreFront Gateway, HTTP redirect, and Connection Server VDI Listeners. Listener decrypts and re-encrypts to VDI on ICA port 443 or HTML 5 on port 443.
Citrix StoreFront Internal: This template handles internal StoreFront connections. No rewriting of the ICA file occurs. The majority of this document covers external configurations. For further details on internal configurations, refer to the Citrix StoreFront Internal Configuration section.
Progress Kemp has developed a template containing our recommended settings for this workload. You can install this template to help create Virtual Services (VSs) because it automatically populates the settings. You can use the template to easily create the required VSs with the recommended settings. For some workloads, additional manual steps may be required such as assigning a certificate or applying port following. These steps are covered in the document, if needed.
You can remove templates after use and this will not affect deployed services. If needed, you can make changes to any of the VS settings after using the template.
Download released templates from the following page: LoadMaster Templates.
For more information and steps on how to import and use templates, refer to the Virtual Services and Templates, Feature Description.
You must enable the global Share SubVS Persistence option. This change is necessary to prevent a double authentication prompt. By default, each SubVS of a Virtual Service has an independent persistence table. Enabling Share SubVS Persistence allows the SubVS to share this information.
To enable Share SubVS Persistence, follow the steps below:
In the LoadMaster User Interface (UI), navigate to System Configuration > Miscellaneous Options > L7 Configuration.
Select the Share SubVS Persistence check box.
Reboot the LoadMaster after enabling Share SubVS Persistence option to activate it (System Configuration > System Administration > System Reboot > Reboot).
You can import the Citrix StoreFront Gateway template on the LoadMaster through the Manage Templates screen located under Virtual Services in the main menu of the LoadMaster User Interface (UI).
To configure Citrix Virtual Apps internally, select the Citrix StoreFront Internal template from the Use Template drop-down list.
The template is configured for SSL offloading. You can disable this if needed (Virtual Services > View/Modify Services > Modify > SSL Properties > disable SSL Acceleration).
Add your StoreFront Severs to the Virtual Service under the Real Servers section of the Virtual Service Modify screen. No additional configuration is required.
When adding a new Virtual Service, you can select the template from the list of installed templates in the Use Template drop-down list. Selecting a template populates the Port and Protocol of the Virtual Service. When you click Add this Virtual Service, the Virtual Service is created, and the attributes of the Virtual Service are automatically configured by the template. Once loaded, you can modify the Virtual Service in the same way as a manually created one.
When a client connects to Citrix StoreFront using a browser, they must authenticate using Progress Kemp ESP front-end authentication. This is handled in the StoreFront Browser Auth ESP Virtual Service.
Begin by navigating to Certificates & Security > LDAP Configuration in the LoadMaster UI. Create a new LDAP endpoint by typing a valid name and clicking Add. No special characters or spaces are allowed. Ensure to note the name of the LDAP endpoint because this is required in the next step. Specify the parameters for the LDAP endpoint. For further details on how to configure an LDAP endpoint, refer to the following Knowledge Base article: How to configure an LDAP endpoint.
After configuring the LDAP endpoint, go to Virtual Services > Manage SSO and add a new client-side configuration with an appropriate name.
Then, select the LDAP Endpoint as configured previously and the Domain/Realm as per your Domain Controller settings.
Idle timeout only functions correctly on Virtual Apps & Desktops 7 StoreFront 1912 LTS or later. Idle timeout should be set to a value greater than your Citrix StoreFront where default is 20 minutes. For example, in the screenshot above the idle timeout is set to 1800 seconds (30 minutes). When the idle timeout expires on StoreFront, it sends a logoff string which the LoadMaster will detect and clear the session.
If you are unable to upgrade to StoreFront 1912 set the idle timeout to a full working day on both the LoadMaster and "Sessionstate" on your StoreFront servers (refer to the Appendix for further details on this) otherwise clients must refresh their browser to re-authenticate before launching an application.
From the Virtual Services > Add New in the main menu of the LoadMaster UI, select a template that meets your Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environment.
This Virtual Service IP address will be configured for your external DNS record, for example citrix.domain.com 10.1.154.202 which will resolve to a Public IP address where it will be NATed to the Virtual Service IP address. Enter the Virtual Address and click Add this Virtual Service.
The Citrix StoreFront Gateway Virtual Service consists of either two, three, four, or five SubVSs depending on the selected template. These SubVSs are used to authenticate and rewrite your ICA file. The template also creates multiple Secure Listeners which are used to connect securely to your VDI servers.
Expand the SubVSs section and click Modify on the StoreFront Browser Auth ESP SubVS. Expand the Real Servers section and click Add New to add your StoreFront servers. Select the Add to All SubVSs check box (as shown above) so your StoreFront servers will be added to all SubVSs.
After Adding your StoreFront servers, update the health check Citrix Store Name URL. Replace STORENAME with the name of your Store. Modify all SubVSs to update the health check URL (as shown above).
The STORENAME is case sensitive.
On the StoreFront Browser Auth ESP & StoreFront Workspace-Receiver Auth ESP SubVS, update the ESP Options settings of SSO Domain, Allowed Virtual Hosts, Logoff String and Form Authentication Path. For the Logoff String and Form Authentication Path, replace STORENAME with your StoreFront name (as shown above).
For non-ESP deployments, simply update your health check URL in each SubVS.
The STORENAME is case sensitive.
Logoff String: /Citrix/STORENAMEWeb/Authentication/Logoff
Form Authentication Path: /Citrix/STORENAMEWeb/PostCredentialsAuth/Login
Each of these secure listeners appear as a Virtual Service under Virtual Services > View/Modify Services in the LoadMaster UI. Modify each of the Virtual Services to add a Real Server (back-end VDI server) which will point to the corresponding VDI IP address that the template created and will be modified in the Modify the Content Rules section.
Each Secure Listener Virtual Service offloads/decrypts the encrypted traffic and forwards on port 2598 for Workspace/Receiver and port 8008 if utilizing HTML5 WebSockets.
Below is an example of how 10 VDI Secure Listeners are mapped to specific VDI servers.
Citrix StoreFront Gateway Template
Once configured, your Virtual Services should resemble the layout shown in the screenshot above.
Citrix StoreFront Gateway - HTML5 Template
Once configured, your Virtual Services should resemble the layout shown in the screenshot above.
In the LoadMaster UI, go to Rules & Checking > Content Rules from the menu and scroll down to see the Header Modification and Body Modification rules. The template deploys Content Rules starting with Citrix_ and these are applied to the appropriate Virtual Services.
Start by modifying three (3) of the Header Modification Rules:
If deploying without ESP, only one rule (Citrix_Browser_URL) must be updated.
- Citrix_Browser_URL: Replace STORENAME with your own store name, including the forward slash.
- Citrix_Delete_AuthID: Replace STORENAME with your own store name, including the forward slash.
- Citrix_Redirect: Replace the full FQDN and path, including the forward slash.
The STORENAME is case sensitive.
The LoadMaster is going to read the ICA file and take your internal IP address and rewrite it to your external FQDN using a specific secure destination port as outlined in the Secure Listeners section. This is achieved with the following updates to the default body modification rules as shown in the screenshot below.
In the body response rules, replace the internal IP addresses with your own Citrix VDI server IP addresses, as shown above. Ensure to retain port 1494 - only modify the IP address. In some environments the FQDN is returned. In this case, add the FQDN instead of the IP address while also retaining port 1494. If you are uncertain if the ICA file returns an FQDN or an IP address, complete the following steps:
1. Internally, log in to StoreFront.
2. When it asks to detect Receiver, cancel and select Already Installed.
3. Click on an application and download the ICA file.
4. Open using Notepad and note the Address= setting, as shown above.
If port :1494 is not included, then remove it from each of the rules that are shown in the above two screenshots.
In the body modification rules in the LoadMaster UI, change EXTERNAL.DOMAIN.COM in the Replacement text field to be your external URL, as shown above. Again, ensure you do not change the port number as this is associated with your Secure Listener VDI Virtual Service.
You can use the UI to create new VDI listeners and content rules by following these steps:
1. Duplicate an existing Secure Listener. You can do this in the Virtual Service modify screen by clicking Duplicate VIP.
2. Set a new name for the duplicated Virtual Service, such as Citrix - Workspace-ICA VDI-11 and change to a new unique listening port such as 4445.
3. In the Real Servers section, delete the existing Real Server, such as 192.168.1.10, and add the new VDI server IP address (for example, 192.168.1.11) or FQDN on port 2598 or port 8008 for HTML5.
4. Duplicate an existing Body Response Rule (go to Rules & Checking > Content Rules > Duplicate).
5. Update the Rule Name, Match String, IP address, and update the port in the Replacement text field.
6. Match your new internal IP address and replace it with your secure external URL and with your new unique listening port.
7. Add the rule to the StoreFront Workspace-Receiver Launch App SubVS. In the SubVS, go to Advanced Properties > Show Body Modification Rules > select the new rule name from the drop-down list and click Add.
If you do not require all of the Secure Listeners, you can deactivate or delete them. Kemp recommends you simply deactivate as the Listener might be used in the future.
To deactivate a Secure Listener, follow these steps:
1. In the main menu of the LoadMaster UI, go to Virtual Services > View/Modify Services.
2. Click Modify on the relevant Virtual Service.
3. In the Basic Properties section, uncheck the Activate or Deactivate Service check box to deactivate the Virtual Service.
To enable full end-to-end security and provide the ability to re-encrypt on the Citrix Workspace Browser and Citrix Workspace Client Virtual Services, you must install a CA signed certificate.
To do this, in the LoadMaster UI go to Certificates & Security > SSL Certificates. Click Import Certificate and add the appropriate CA signed certificate.
When the certificate is installed, assign it to the StoreFront Gateway Virtual Service and all Secure Listeners.
Depending on the required features, this section outlines the Citrix StoreFront settings that you must update to support the Progress Kemp solution. These steps are only applicable for external deployments.
It is not necessary to configure a Remote Access Gateway.
For Form Based authentication, enable HTTP Basic authentication. Ensure to propagate the settings.
For HTML5 Web Sockets, enable the WebSockets policy under Policies. Ensure to propagate the settings.
Create a DNS record or Host File entry to point to your Citrix StoreFront Gateway Virtual Service IP address. You should be greeted with a Progress Kemp logon page. If you are using SAML, you are redirected to your IDP.
After you have successfully authenticated, click Detect Receiver. If your Citrix Workspace or Receiver application is installed, your browser should automatically detect it.
From your application store, launch a Virtual application or Virtual Desktop. Your browser should now ask if you would like to launch your application using Workspace or Receiver. If it is unable to detect either, it will download your ICA file. Locate your ICA File and either double-click or right-click and launch with Workspace or Receiver.
If you receiver an error, refer to the Troubleshooting section.
Please ensure that you are not testing using a Self-Signed Certificate as Workspace/Receiver will close the SSL connection.
If you have enabled the WebSocket policy on your StoreFront server and have configured your Citrix StoreFront Gateway Virtual Service using the HTML5 Template or PowerShell script, you can test by selecting Use Light Version upon your initial login, or navigate to Account Settings > Change Citrix Receiver > Use Light Version.
From your application store, launch a Virtual application or Virtual Desktop. Your browser should now launch your application from a new browser tab.
If you receive an error, refer to the Troubleshooting section.
For help with troubleshooting, refer to the following Knowledge Base article: How To - Troubleshoot StoreFront for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.
This appendix outlines how to set the Sessionstate on your StoreFront servers:
1. Go to C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\STORENAME\web.conf.
2. Locate sessionState timeout and set it to 600 minutes (10 hours).
This document was last updated on 24 October 2022.