Saturday, 8 June 2013

XenDesktop 7 Top New Features

Citrix’s next version of XenApp and XenDesktop codenamed Avalon Excalibur has been in Tech Preview for a number of months now. Recently at Synergy it has been finally announced that XenDesktop 7 will be released in June or July 2013.

Here is a brief summary of some of the changes I have noticed by being part of the Citrix High Engagement Beta program, between previous versions of XenApp and XenDesktop, and new features you can expect to see. This is by no means an exhaustive list just some of the items that stood out to me - feel free to comment on any you think should be added.

·         No longer is there a separate XenDesktop site and XenApp farm and thus two sets of controllers, now there is just one site, one set of controllers for VDI, SBC desktops and Applications, and only one set of controllers managing it all.

·         There is no traditional XenApp Install for Worker Group Servers. This has been replaced with just a simple VDA install. There are two types of VDA, Desktop and Server OS. But essentially the same install (There are some differences in the type of ICA stack that gets installed single for desktop OS' and multi-user for server OS's - naturally) . but the installs are nearly identical and both are Version 7.

 ·         The VDA is now the “Virtual Delivery Agent” not “Virtual Desktop agent”, as it now enables the server component as well as the desktop, essentially this replaces the Worker Group XenApp install.
 
·         No IMA in XenApp, replaced with FMA (Flexible Management Architecture, in XenDesktop since V5.0)

·        Full Delegated Administration is available in XenDesktop, finally. This is more akin to the level of delegated administration that is available in XenApp.

·         XenApp has effectively gone the way of XenDesktop. Publishing an application requires a Machine Catalogue and a Delivery Group, just to be in a position to publish a single application.

·         StoreFront 2.0 (The replacement for Web Interface) has built in server propagation and synchronisation, so no need to repeat the same changes multiple times in a load balanced set up. You can propagate the changes from one to multiple StoreFront servers saving a lot of time and potential human error in making repetitive changes.

·         Desktop Director now has a significant amounts of extra information, particularly for troubleshooting and is just called “Director” as it has information from applications not just desktops. This has now become a far feature / data rich capability and has a lot of data formally only available in EdgeSight now presented to assist support in troubleshooting  - this is a significant improvement.

·         Likewise the Desktop was dropped from Desktop Studio, to become just Studio

·         Now there are only 3 console to manage your combined XenApp and XenDesktop environment (Studio, Director and StoreFront) rather than the countless consoles in the past. Plus one more for PVS if you use it.

·         Having said that expect to not see a lot of the features and functionality from XenApp and Web Interface currently available in their respective GUI‘s (AppCentre and Web Interface). Many features have been removed from the new Studio and Storefront GUI’s for some strange reason and most of this will require PowerShell knowledge to configure.

·         MCS now supports server OS's as well as just desktop's, so you can now simply deliver both, without PVS (which is still supported)

·         All previous versions of XenApp would only work with a specific version of the Windows Server OS. So if you had XenApp 5 on Windows 2003, and had a server OS upgrade project, it meant a complete new farm as well. Now however XenDesktop 7 will support Windows server 2008 and 2012 controllers and Desktop and Application servers. The idea is also that when Windows Server 2015/2020 and Windows 9 (or whatever it ends up being called) is released it will also be supported (may require an update to the controllers). This means that you can do server OS upgrades without needing to create a new Citrix farm every time. In essence the Citrix farm or site is abstracted from specific OS’s, the dependency on only one specific OS is lost, and the farm now operates at one level higher, and in essence a site or farm could exist a lot longer, evolving rather than being refreshed every three or so years in line with OS refresh’s. This new feature alone IMO is reason to upgrade and is a well thought out improvement.

·         Support for App-V version 5.

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