ADM and the Missing Stylebook

Citrix Application Delivery Management (ADM), formerly known as NetScaler Management and Analytics (MAS), provides network management, analytics, and orchestration of Citrix technologies from a single platform.  Some of the key benefits of ADM include (deep breath):

  • Centralised management for NetScaler appliances/instances
  • Application-centric view of network services infrastructure
  • Logging and analytics of application performance and security
  • Automated provisioning of NetScaler services
  • SSL certificate management
  • Configuration templates to simplify application deployment
  • Scheduling of firmware upgrades with no downtime
  • Comprehensive role-based access (users and groups)

Citrix ADM and the Stylebook feature provide the ability to automate the setup and update of virtual servers and their settings that are hosted within the Citrix ADC appliance.  A StyleBooks is a template enabling the creation and management of  Citrix ADC configurations and are a fantastic option for configuring Citrix ADC features.  It provides the ability to quickly deploy configurations to multiple Citrix ADC appliances from a single interface.  ADM logs which StyleBook was deployed to particular Citrix ADC’s and provides the ability to re-deploy the StyleBook if required.

Citrix has provided a number of ‘out of the box’ Stylebooks that are part of the ADM system and can be used to configure services such as:

  • Microsoft Skype for Business
  • HTTP/HTTPS Load Balancer
  • HTTP/HTTPS Content Switched Application
  • GSLB
  • SSO Google Apps
  • Microsoft Exchange 2016

But the list looks to be incomplete as one of the key features of Citrix ADC is the Citrix Gateway component and Citrix have not provided a Stylebook for this service!  You could argue there is a decent Citrix Gateway wizard available within the ADC appliance, but this doesn’t allow for a centralised managed solution when updating multiple Citrix ADC’s as the Citrix administrators will need to log in to each and every ADC and configure the Citrix Gateway component multiple times (human error, management overhead anyone?!?).  ADM Stylebooks provide the ability to build and rebuild the configuration into different target systems in an automated manner, this ensures all target systems mimic the configuration that is set in the centralised system in a simple and automated manner.

Recently for me, not having a Stylebook for configuring Citrix Gateway was an issue.  A customer had six Citrix ADC’s, each in differing environments, that all needed multiple Citrix Gateway virtual servers configured.  Logging in to each VPX and configuring the required Citrix Gateway’s was not something I looked forward to doing, and the ongoing management of the multiple devices was going to consume the support teams time during any updates.

As I had deployed ADM to manage the ADC appliances and knew StyleBooks could be used to help deploy all the  Citrix Gateway’s, my Citrix Gateway StyleBook journey began.  Using the provided ADM StyleBooks as a starting point, and researching what’s required for coding in Yaml, I started creating the StyleBook needed for deploying a Citrix Gateway virtual servers en masse.

A fantastic resource for finding out the commands needed to add to the StyleBook for building the Citrix Gateway came from the following link: https://developer-docs.citrix.com/projects/netscaler-nitro-api/en/latest/. To make it easier for others the code provided in this blog builds a basic Citrix Gateway virtual server.  There are a couple of things that need to be configured on the NetScaler ADC before using the StyleBook as you’ll be prompted for these by ADM:

  • StoreFront load balancer
  • Authentication policy
  • Citrix Gateway certificate

As you can see in the screenshot below, there are a small number of fields to fill out for the StyleBook to create the Citrix Gateway and the Session Policies and Profiles enabling ICA-Proxy access:

ADM and its StyleBooks is a great feature for deploying templates and building or updating services on NetScaler ADC appliances.  StyleBooks can also be re-applied to managed NetScaler ADC’s as ADM tracks what it deploys to the NetScaler’s it controls (although it doesn’t track configuration drift, but maybe Citrix can develop that in future releases).

If you have a need to deploy a Citrix Gateway, and want to use Stylebooks but don’t know where to start, the StyleBook included below in this blog can help get you but as with everything please ensure that you test this fully before using it in any production environment.

MAS NG Stylebook

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