“I’ll be back – most likely everyone knows that sentence. A cyborg from the future told that the police officer – who refused him entry – at the entrance desk window, “I’ll be back”, before returning moments later with a powerful car, driving it through the doors into the officer’s counter and then commencing to massacre seventeen other police officers in the building. And that’s what comes to my mind when I think about new version of Citrix XenApp 7.5 which was released yesterday, 26th of March 2014. Why?
Citrix over the years used to change the naming conventions of its’ products. The best example is of course XenApp which name was changed over the years multiple times. Starting from Citrix WinFrame Server, through Citrix MetaFrame Server and Citrix Presentation Server, to finally finish as XenApp. With release of XenApp 5, and then version 6 and 6.5 everyone thought that Citrix will finally stick to it’s naming convention with Xen at the beginning, especialy that other products as well started to be named with Xen prefix:
- XenApp – for application virtualization (Server Based Computing)
- XenDesktop – for desktop virtualization (Virtual Desktop Infratructure)
- XenServer – for server virtualization (hypervisor)
- XenClient – virtual desktops on the go even when disconnected
- XenMobile – for mobile devices management
By the way – it is quite interesting why “Xen” prefix was not added to other products e.g. XenScaler or XenReceiver as well why the annual conference is not named Xenergy 🙂
Going back to main topic – Citrix wouldn’t be itself if it wouldn’t astonish IT Pros one more time. In 2013 with release of XenDesktop 7 Citrix resigned from separate product for only application and desktop virtualization. XenApp was incorporated into XenDesktop and that was another huge change in the naming of Citrix product. I’m not sure why they decided to do such a change. One reason for that was probably be the change of the architecture for both products and Citrix probably wanted to underline that fact. The other thing was probably the fact that XenApp was far more popular than any other product from the application/desktop virtualization area. Nor XenDesktop nor VMware View has as many customers and of course end users as XenApp has. That was probably the reason why Citrix included XenApp in XenDesktop 7 – they wanted to increase the usage of their VDI product among customers. New product of course required new licenses which means money and profit for the company. However reality is always different than we expect it to be and not so many customers moved from earlier versions of XenApp to XenDesktop 7. One more time there was a bunch of reasons for that:
- change of underlying architecture from IMA to FMA
- not clear licensing models
- most of the customers were still in the middle of upgrade/move from x86 platform to 64 bit and still was trying to upgrade to XenApp 6.5
- money – upgrade to XenApp 6.5 probably just ended few months before and companies were not eager to invest money in new technology
That was probably a reason why Citrix decided to make another surprise for its customers. In January 2014 they announced that XenApp will be live back starting with new release on XenApp 7.5. Most of the Citrix community was happy from that decision. Most of us were waiting anxiously to download new version of XenApp and check what really changed. Luckily this times Citrix left the name 🙂
What’s new in Citrix XenApp 7.5?
New release of XenApp 7.5 completely changed an architecture in comparison with Citrix XenApp 6.5. The main changes are:
- XenApp is built now on FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA) instead of traditional IMA — this release of XenApp is built on the FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA) used in XenDesktop 7.5. This means XenApp provides many features available in XenDesktop, including:
- Platform support for application delivery, mobility, services, flexible provisioning, and cloud management.
- The ability to use Citrix HDX technologies to provide a superior user experience on a variety of devices and networks.
- A single management console (Citrix Studio) to deliver applications and desktops, for cloud and on-premises infrastructure.
- A redesigned monitoring and troubleshooting console (Citrix Director) with integrated EdgeSight features.
To better understand how moving to FMA has affected this release of XenApp, please check Citrix KB: How is XenApp 7.5 different from previous XenApp versions.
- Cloud deployments — This release provides the ability for hybrid cloud provisioning on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or any CloudPlatform-powered public or private cloud. Cloud deployments are configured, managed, and monitored through the same consoles as deployments on traditional on-premises virtualization infrastructure. It should be possible as well to host new XenApp in Windows Azure cloud.
- Full AppDNA support — AppDNA provides automated analysis of applications for Windows platforms and suitability for application virtualization through App-V, XenApp, or XenDesktop. Full AppDNA functionality is available in some editions. This one feature can be very beneficial for the companies that will still try to upgrade from their legacy environments that contain non-64 bit compatible applications.
- Additional virtualization resource support — Connections can be configured to VMware vSphere 5.5 hypervisors.
- StoreFront 2.5 — The installation media includes a newest version of StoreFront.
- Support for Web Interface 5.4 — This release supports Web Interface 5.4. No enhancements or additional operating system support have been added to Web Interface. I think that this one is still important. Still Storefront and Receiver doesn’t not provide the possibility to enumerate all the apps available for the end users. That’s something that is really hard to change for end users as they really used to launch apps from Citrix plugin directly.
In comparison to XenApp 6.5 the changes are big and for sure everyone has to check if there are any reason to move from their current version of XenApp. There is one more important thing to emphazise. Due to the change of the architecture from IMA to FMA there is no upgrade path supported by Citrix. You have to create a new farm and do the clean installation of XenApp. Some important information can be found here:
All in all it’s good that XenApp is back. I only think that Citrix made a huge mistake in 2013 with not releasing XenApp 7. There is an interesting blog post from Gunnar Berger regarding that:
XenApp 7.5 seems to bring a lot of new features and possibilities. I’m not only sure if during that 2 years since XenApp 6.5 wa released the competitors did not move forward with their solution and SaaS, DaaS models. Future will show.
In the next post I will show “my ” first look on installation of XenApp 7.5. Stay tuned! 🙂
Reference materials used: http://support.citrix.com/