Security First, Performance Always: How F5 Drives Citrix VDI Excellence in Application Delivery

In the dynamic realm of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), the convergence of security and performance is paramount for delivering an optimal user experience.

This article delves into the collaborative synergy between F5 technologies and Citrix VDI, uncovering how this strategic integration propels Citrix VDI deployments to new heights of excellence in application delivery.

By prioritizing a security-first approach and ensuring performance optimization, F5 plays a pivotal role in fortifying Citrix VDI environments, addressing the evolving demands of remote workforces and redefining the standards for secure, high-performance virtualized experiences. Join us on this exploration as we illuminate the ways in which F5 drives Citrix VDI to excel in both security and performance domains.



BIG-IP APM and Citrix VDI environment

As maintaining security and performance are essential in such environments, we are exploring how F5 can enhance the architecture of Citrix VDI, listed below few examples of the most common use cases. 

BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) enhanced performance

In this implementation, traffic to the Citrix Web Interface or StoreFront servers and the Citrix XML Broker or DDC servers is managed by the F5 BIG-IP LTM system, and when necessary, ensures that each client connects to the same member of the farm across multiple sessions using persistence on the BIG-IP LTM.

The F5 BIG-IP LTM system is also setup to monitor the Citrix Web Interface servers and Citrix XML Broker servers to ensure availability and automatically mark down servers that are not operating correctly. The ability to terminate SSL sessions in order to offload this processing from the Citrix devices is also available with a simple addition of the Client SSL profile to the web interface virtual server referred to in this guide.

In addition to BIG-IP LTM, additional module can help defend Citrix VDI environments against threats. BIG-IP Advancing Firewall Module (AFM) adds protection against DDoS threats, and IP intelligence that helps prevent suspicious and malicious sources from accessing VDI environment.

BIG-IP APM, adding Identity awareness to the mix

In this section, we have two main solutions that help make identity-aware decisions to secure and enhance Citrix VDI environment.

What BIG-IP APM adds to the mix?

  • In some deployments we have users use Thin client that connects to the VDI environment; BIG-IP APM helps to have a unified destination for Thin client to connect to varios platforms (VDI environment, Local applications, SaaS-based applications).
  • BIG-IP APM inspects endpoints for compliance and machine certificates to validate the endpoint prior to connecting to the VDI environment.
  • BIG-IP APM provides both connectivity to users, whether as a proxy to internal environment, or establishing VPN to reach different internal resources.
  • BIG-IP APM adds the ability to use different Multi-Factor Authentication mechanisms.

BIG-IP APM to replace Citrix Storefront

In this scenario, the BIG-IP APM Dynamic Presentation Webtop functionality is used to replace the Citrix Web Interface or storefront tier. With BIG-IP APM, a front-end virtual server is created to provide security, compliance and control. In secure ICA proxy mode, no F5 BIG-IP APM client is required for network access. The BIG- IP system uses SSL on the public (non-secure) network and ICA to the servers on the local (secure) network.

Through the setup of a secure proxy that traverses APM, remote access for user sessions originating from desktops or mobile devices is possible. Secure proxy mode has many benefits for both users and administrators. For administrations, APM user authentication is tied directly to Citrix’s Active Directory store allowing for compliance and administrative control. For users, TCP optimization and application delivery, plus the need for only the Citrix client, creates a fast and efficient experience.

BIG-IP APM and Citrix Storefront

This scenario is very similar to the previous one. However, in this example, the BIG-IP APM, while still proxying ICA traffic and authenticating users, is not replacing the Web Interface or StoreFront devices.

Integrations' extra flavors

Now, after listing example for the common designs for the integrating BIG-IP APM and Citrix VDI, we can mention few helpful resources for different protocols used during implementation.

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Published Dec 13, 2023
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