When optimizing slows things down

It has been a little while since I posted on my comings and goings. Beginning of the year and had to knock out a bunch of certifications, but that isn't exciting at all.

What is exciting is trying to make a user environment perform at top notch and then it having the exact OPPOSITE outcome than expected. Many of us are familiar with the VMware OS Optimization tool (https://labs.vmware.com/flings/vmware-os-optimization-tool). This has been out in the wild for some time. Recently Citrix came out with their own optimization tool which was very nice (https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX224676). While the Citrix optimizer was not nearly as robust as it relates to number of settings it will make for you, it is easier to extend. By creating your own XML file you can make a specific template for settings you prefer. Additionally, Citrix has updated the tool itself a few times with optimizations specific to the various OS builds. Since each new Win 10 release is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates (you NEVER know what you are gonna get), this has been very useful.

One thing I always caution colleagues and customers about optimizing, is to ALWAYS baseline things prior to optimizing; and always have a base version to revert to in case problems arise. Some look at me weird when I mention this because they think that if the tool comes from the vendor, what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully vendors have caught on that they cannot anticipate all scenarios in all environments and have provided mechanisms to roll configuration changes back. However, sometimes you can't undo things exact. So please, I'm begging you, take a snapshot, make a new version, whatever.....give yourself an out.

Here's a prime example of when things don't quite go the way you expected. I was building a new image for a customer and things were going just fine. Built the base image, converted it to a vDisk, streamed it out. Logon times were ok. Now comes the fun part, optimizing the image. So I ran the optimizers (yes I run both optimizers on an image) and pushed out the image. Here comes the moment of truth.......wait......the logon time was LONGER! How can this be?

What was happening was the logon was hanging at 'waiting for user profile service.' So I did the normal things, disabled the UPM GPO, disabled the UPM service, etc around profiles. None of this made a difference. So I loaded up the handy dandy Google and started searching. I came across this little gem: https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX232313. So I went ahead and tested it out and sure enough enabling the Network Location Awareness service returned logons to their normal state. So I made the recommended changes in GPO and everything was well with the world.

As fate would have it about 2 months after that, a colleague was doing a deployment and hit me up with a question. "Hey have you seen this, brand new image, no apps, and it hangs on logon." I smiled and asked if they had run any vendor optimizations. Sure enough they just had. I relayed my experience to them and they had the EXACT same results.

So what does this tell us? First, always understand what it is that you are doing. You may be making the most routine change, but you are changing something. Know what you are doing so you can isolate if there are issues. Second, give yourself a well defined starting point to go back to in the event of an issue. It is fine to make lots of changes all at once, but have a starting point to go back to and give yourself the option to step through all the changes one by one in the event there is a problem. Third, community knowledge sharing! Share your experiences so others don't have to pound their head against the wall. You are not going to give someone a 'leg up' on you, you are helping someone out. That someone may very well be able to help you out in the future. Developing solid relationships helps everyone out in the long run, whether it is personal or professional.

Hopefully I'll be able to post some other interesting information for you in the near future and not have so long of a hiatus. If there is a topic you are interested, let me know and I'll see what I can do with it or even have you help me.

Take it easy out there!

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