On 20th of August Citrix announced the new version of XenApp and XenDesktop. Both products will get new version number 7.6. For some of us, including me, it was a bit of surprise. XenApp 7.5 and XenDestkop 7.5 were just released in March this year. I was writing about that here: XenApp is back!
I was wondering what made Citrix to release new version of both products in such a short time period. Back of XenApp with version 7.5 was warmly accepted by whole Citrix community. To be honest people didn’t like XenDesktop 7 where XenApp functionality was incorporated into VDI solution. There is a reason why some companies use only XenApp and do not think about XenDesktop. In the past change of version was mainly caused by new release of Windows Server which provided new features to end users and in most cases was changing the architecture of Remote Desktop services on which Citrix services rely. But this doesn’t apply to this case. So what made Citrix to still work on new features for XenApp and XenDesktop and release a new version this autumn?
First of all: XenApp 7.5 is missing a lot of features that were available in previous version XenApp 6.5. Starting from XenDesktop 7.x also XenApp 7.x got new architecture FMA which replaced IMA. Due to that a lot of great features are/were missing. Just to mention: local host cache (LHC), single global XenApp farm support, , application streaming, advanced load balancing capabilities. After looking on the list of coming back features I understood one thing. Citrix tries to make FMA similar to IMA, but still leaving F-flexibity instead of I-independent to allow deployment in the cloud. At least this is the only reason for me why FMA replaced IMA. Citrix wanted to reach the cloud and I think that somehow it was achieved. With new releases of XenApp and XenDesktop Citrix will finally combine cloud and old IMA functionality.
Let’s look on the list of changes. I think you will find here some old friends known from previous versions of XenApp:
- Application Pre-launch is back – it was available in XenApp 6.x. It is very useful especially when your employees work on shifts and you know when they should have their apps ready for work.
- Session Lingering is back – it was available in XenApp 6.x, for me very useful stuff.
- Anonymous log0n, back – to be honest I never used that feature and it was a bit annoying for me especially that we always tried to make the environment as secure as possible and rather tried to limit access than allow anonymous logon. The feature lets users immediately access a virtual desktop and authenticate once into an application. Instead of requiring users to log into Citrix Receiver with Active Directory user credentials, they instead use a combination of network security and authentication within the application itself. Anonymous logons are most popular among healthcare customers but may be used any time an application is used in a kiosk or has its own security and user management.
- Reintroduced SQL database connection resiliency – I cannot say that it is exactly old good Local Host Cache (LHC) but if database connections are lost between the XenDesktop/XenApp controller and SQL database, an environment can continue in its existing state without losing data. The feature, called Connection Leasing, ensures users can connect to dedicated or assigned VDI and server-hosted apps and desktops if the controller cannot reach the database.
- FIPS 140-compliant security – for government agencies and security-minded organizations 🙂
Those 5 features seems to be the biggest returns that make FMA similar to IMA.
Apart from them Citrix releases some new features as well:
- New high-performance graphics acceleration using GPUs provide high quality DirectX/2D rendering.
- Support for unified communications such as Lync Server 2013 and generic redirection of the latest USB 3.0 peripherals like webcams, headsets and Lync phones for Windows devices – perfect for contact center agents, contractors and remote workers.
- New update to the HDX Mobile SDK.
- New and improved Provisioning Services 7.1 with cache in RAM and spill over to disk functionality – this feature will be available based on license type used in your company. More info can be found here: PVS and cache in RAM.
- Improved Printing experience.
- Security enhancements to enable granular policies over clipboard content filtering and directional control – this feature, inspired by customer requirements in the banking industry to help prevent credit card data hacking, gives IT control over whether end users can copy into – or out of – their virtual workspace. In addition, it provides content filtering so that potentially malicious data, perhaps embedded in Rich Text Format, cannot be pasted into the secured environment.
- New HTML5 Receiver for Chrome – more info here.
- Improved AppDNA included with Platinum licensing model – to simplify app migrations to the latest versions of Windows
- Linux based XenDesktop VDA – very interesting stuff – check HERE for more information.
- New Citrix Connector 7.5 for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.
As you can see there are many new features. Finally Citrix heard customers’ complaints regarding XenDesktop 7.x and FMA and started to work on them. Personally I believe that release of VMware Horizon View 6 also played a significant role. I really hope that those new features will improve overall rate of new release. I cannot wait to install and check it by myself.
And the last but no the least: XenApp 7.6 and XenDesktop 7.6 will be available for download in September 2014. Stay tuned and check my blog for more info.
If you want you can check original post from Citrix here:
XenApp 7.6 and XenDesktop 7.6 were released. More info here: