Citrix ICA Piggyback

During a recent customer engagement deploying Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 to 4000 users across EMEA, we came across an issue for a group of users that had a requirement to access a Citrix Metaframe XP farm hosted on a W2K server to access some legacy apps hosted by a third party.To meet this requirement we used something called ICA Piggyback.

So what is ICA Piggyback? Essentially, it allows us to use a double hop process to bounce from one farm to another allowing us to make use of different ICA client versions.

I published an ICA file from our XenApp 6.5 farm to the specific group of users, however we had complaints that when the published desktop was maximised to a full window the session would disconnect. Also if the user left the desktop as a window, the session would randomly disconnect at random intervals even when the desktop was in use.

The desktops published from Citrix XenDesktop were running Citrix Receiver 3.3, so I started to investigate the issue by ensuring we had met current supported levels.

A quick look at the receiver documentation showed the target destination was unsupported, not surprising really….

My first approach was to contact the third party to see if it was possible to access the legacy applications on a supported platform, to no avail.  Therefore, it was back the drawing board.

I started searching through the Citrix documentation looking for a client that supported both W2K and Metaframe XP, eventually finding the XenApp Plugin for hosted Apps version

After finding what was going to be client for the job, I had to figure out how I could get this client to the users. After some head scratching, I figured I had two options, package the application, or deploy it out from a XenApp server and use a piggyback method.

We had a number of Citrix XenApp 6.5 servers available in a farm, yet I didn’t want to install such an old client on these servers in case I lost any functionality going forward. We had a separate requirement to host some legacy IE6 applications, so I deployed out a small Citrix XenApp 5.0 farm hosted on W2K3 R2.

After a number of functional tests for performance and stability, this allowed for smooth connections from a hosted desktop, running Citrix Receiver 3.1 passing through a XenApp 5 farm, into a Metaframe XP farm.

Whilst this is not a permanent solution it does provide a handy workaround and functionality to a number of users whilst the final legacy apps are retired and replaced.


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