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Quick background

I have an application that we run on Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 that needs a configuration file for each machine. Currently those files are stored on a file server that is not highly available. I want to move those files to a DFS (which I have never setup before). I think that the best option is to use the citrix servers themselves as the DFS servers and use the file replication service to ensure they are always up to date on all the servers.

Can this be done is the biggest question, and of course, should I do this or is there a better solution I am not aware of?

Edit: Considering some of the answers so far, I want to be more clear. My goal is to make the system more reliable. Right now our file server is not redundant in anyway, if it goes down we need to restore it from backups, and this application will not work. My idea to put the DFS shares on the citrix servers themselves is because I need both the files and the citrix servers for the program to work, so my goal is if even one citrix server survives whatever form of disaster we might have, I want those files to be available.

So a more clear question might be, will using my citrix servers as DFS root servers for these configuration files make my system more reliable, or will I have problems with the two that will make it less reliable?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've long since let my Citrix certification lapse, and I haven't worked with Presentation Server 4.5 at all, so take my with a grain of salt here.

Assuming that the files are alright to access from a UNC, in general, hosting them on a domain DFS share w/ replication (either FRS or DFS-R-based) ought to be fine, in principle. If the files are frequently updated by the software (I don't know what the files are and whether they're accessed in a read-only or read-write fashion) you may have concerns re: excess replication traffic being generated.

If the files are just static read-only files (or, seldom-write files) and can exist on at a UNC path you're probably fine to put them on a replicated domain DFS share.

re: using DFS and file replication to replicate the files but referring to them with their local drive letter: I get the feeling that you might be looking at using domain DFS replication to handle the replication, but then you'll refer to the files via their local drive-letter and path. That will work, too. The same caveats apply re: the files being updated frequently, but there's no concern about the files being accessible with a UNC path.

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My idea was to use the UNC path so that the windows DFS system would make sure the files were available to every server even if one server somehow lost it's local copy. But, I have never really used DFS before, so I don't know if that has any merit or not. – Adam Towne Dec 4 '09 at 18:50
If you've got some ability to test (i.e. test servers, or a good backup to revert to if you're going to test on production in off-hours) you could always give it a shot. – Evan Anderson Dec 4 '09 at 19:14
Good point, we are scheduled to start putting it on the test servers in about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, some things I just can't really emulate in test, like real users usage. But, I will do as much as I can to make sure it is reliable in test. – Adam Towne Dec 4 '09 at 19:20
After several days in the test environment we pushed the change out to live and everything is working. Thanks for the help. – Adam Towne Dec 10 '09 at 16:06

Unless you have budget or technical constraints that prevent it, I would recommend against setting up DFS on the Citrix servers themselves. I'm not a fan of mixing what I consider application services (Citrix, TS, etc.) with infrastructure services (file, print, etc.).

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To clarify: DFS provises for a distributed backend for front end applications and user access. From the Citrix perspective, as long as the application can work with drive mappings and\or UNC paths, the backend DFS should be completely transparent to the front end. – joeqwerty Dec 4 '09 at 18:20
Budget concerns aside, I am trying to reduce the number of dependancies for the system to work. Right now, I NEED, active directory, Citrix, and the file server for the program to work. If I can put DFS on the citrix servers, and not create a greater chance for either citrix servers or DFS to crash I eliminate one of my dependancies and increase the reliability. (At least that is what I am trying to achieve.) – Adam Towne Dec 4 '09 at 18:40
OK, I get where you're going. My only concern is that while you're resolving your current file server reliability problem you may create a new Citrix reliability problem by setting up DFS on the Citrix servers. – joeqwerty Dec 4 '09 at 19:28
That was my concern as well. I have no experience with DFS, and I don't want to have it cause a problem I can't diagnose a year down the road. I also don't want to just assume they won't cause problems with each other. – Adam Towne Dec 4 '09 at 19:33
I don't see the DFS-related services (DFS service itself, NTFRS or DFS-R service) actually interfering with the Citrix products themselves. I'd be more concerned that the application can't handle getting the files from a UNC path, but the files will be accessible as a local drive-letter as well. – Evan Anderson Dec 4 '09 at 20:04

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