A lot of people ask me technical questions about Citrix, but it seems that the same questions are getting asked over and over. That got me thinking, so I decided to formally ask the community of Citrix MetaFrame administrators what their biggest problems were. The answers themselves did not really surprise me. What surprised me was how many people had a single pain—printing.
I received 49 responses to my initial question. Here are the answers in order of popularity. Third-party utility vendors take note! (hint, hint)
Probably not a surprise to anyone, but 80% of the people who responded listed some form of printing as one of their biggest problems. Some quotes:
"Printing to every printer from every application from every type of device. My biggest nightmare is getting calls from people trying to print from our main HIS application (I work at a hospital) over citrix while using either a MAC client or a CE thin client. It sucks, and that's all there is to it."
"Printing Definitely, and not just from a stability point of view (although they cause 90% of stability problems). They want to fax, scan, print to different trays, lock their print jobs, different fonts, orientation, etc. I haven't used a single driver that has been problem or error free."
The second biggest problem was profiles. About 40% of respondents said that profiles were a problem. (Note that these numbers do not add up to 100% because several people responds with several things that were their "biggest problems.") Personally, I feel that a lot of the profile problems have really started going away, especially with Windows 2003 and Microsoft's new UHPClean utility. However, it looks like they're not going away as much as I thought.
3. Everything Adobe
The third-biggest problem really surprised me, and it can basically be classified as "everything" about Adobe in Terminal Server environments. People complained about the lack of functionality, poor tech support, crazy administrative "requirements," blue screens, and general problems with Adobe applications on Terminal Servers. Personally, I've always despised the fact that Windows Adobe applications "feel" like Mac applications (no right-mouse button support, non-standard keyboard shortcuts, etc.), so it's no surprise that these applications aren't exactly Terminal Server-friendly.
4. Patch Management
Patch management is something that I didn't think about as being a problem, but several people mentioned it. The problems that people have with patch management in Terminal Server and Citrix MetaFrame environments are twofold. First, Citrix does not have any kind of patch management software that can easily show you what patches are where and help you bring all servers up to speed. (i.e. There is no "CitrixUpdate.") In fact, it's almost a challenge to find out what patches are even available from Citrix and which ones are relevant. Secondly, people have problems with Microsoft patches with the fact that they often require reboots and they sometimes break more than they fix.
5. Locking Down Servers
The last problem that posed a significant challenge to several people was locking down servers. People complained that there was no single method or technique that could be used, and that even when they think they did everything, users would still figure out ways to get places they shouldn't be.
These five challenges weren't the only ones, but they were the biggest. Some of the other challenges that people mentioned that didn't make the top five include: rebooting servers, policies, poorly written custom applications, licensing models, missing functionality in MetaFrame, folder redirection, license consumption, application integration and installation, antivirus, and spotty performance.