Perhaps a bit premature (although they do have an excellent marketing department, I’m just saying) but last Saturday Citrix announced the release, and return, of XenApp version 7.5! When I, accidently, found out I Tweeted: ‘Criticise, be sceptical, surprised, annoyed, amazed, happy or sad but Citrix XenApp 7.5 is, according to Citrix, ‘back by popular demand’ Well, during the past few day’s I’ve seen a lot of sceptical, annoyed, amazed and sad Tweets appearing on my timeline. That’s right, happy is missing! I guess most of us are still in shock! Last updated on 28-01-2014, scroll down.
To be honest
I must admit, when they first released XenDesktop 7, adding the XenApp functionality into the FMA architecture, I thought it was a smart move. And although some of my customers were a bit skeptical and confused at first, I had no trouble, with a few exceptions, explaining this new architecture and the concept behind it. XenApp was no more and its functionality was merged into XenDesktop leveraging the Flex Management Architecture (FMA) from now on. I admit, technically there was, or is, a bit more to it. Especially for the die hard XenApp Admins used to IMA, FMA is a big change. And now that we’re finally used to XenDesktop 7.x, sort of anyway, and we’ve ‘spread’ the word for at least six months or so, it’s about to change, again! Fortunately, with regards to FMA, it’s more of a marketing campaign than anything else as we will soon find out, does XenDesktop App Editon ring any bells?!
Hold your horses
Slow down, don’t worry! Yes, it’s going to change, again, but no, you won’t have to start all over, again. Have a look at this YouTube clip from Citrix where it all started last weekend. Calvin Hsu, the VP Product Marketing, Desktops and Application Group, for Citrix Systems, will tell you that Citrix XenApp 7.5 is still based on the Flex Management Architecture and that the IMA is still dead and buried. Next he tells us that there will be some form of cloud integration, a.k.a. Hybrid Cloud Provisioning, with regards to the HSD concept. This will combine on-premises and traditional data center infrastructures, creating a best of both worlds solution, CSP anyone?!
App DNA and mobility
Also, and this could prove to be a real added value, the full App DNA feature set, including P2V App migration, will be available as well, although I’m guessing this will probably depend on the type of license you purchase, interesting nonetheless right? I’ve also read something about mobile integration ‘Citrix XenApp 7.5 makes it simple to deliver any Windows app to an increasingly mobile workforce, while leveraging the cost saving and elasticity of hybrid clouds’ not sure what to make of that, I guess they’re referring to the StoreFront, XenMobile / AppController integration which we already know of.
Old is still new
Since it’s still FMA, both products, XenDesktop and XenApp can still, and probably will, reside under the same roof using the same management console (Studio) and monitoring software (Director / EdgeSight), including the well known, respected and optimized HDX policy suite, at least that’s what I presume. Meaning no separate (IMA vs FMA) architectures like before, unless that’s what you prefer. Because of this it’s not going to be XenApp like we were used to back in the day, still no zones, data collectors, Local Host cache etc. However, it does give us the separation, if preferred, and choice between products, offering us some form of flexibility, I’m trying to be positive here!
The glas is half full
And besides, according to various white papers addressing FMA, it should be scalable as hell, let’s wait and find out. I am curious about the ‘new’ licensing structure though, will existing XD 7.x customers with SA be able to upgrade / migrate without any additional costs? Is there something in it for the XenApp Advanced licenses as well? Who knows?! Exciting times ahead, again, the glass is half full! Come to think of it, with XD7 we are able to provision tons of apps in a matter of minutes, easy app provisioning, I’m sure we’ll see something similar. It goes without saying that most of the (technical) details are still under DNA and will follow the official release on Thursday, at least according to latest rumors, although with Citrix you never know for sure :-)
UPDATED 28-01-2014 16:06 PM.
The word is out, in March of 2014 Citrix will launch both XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5. I had a look at their product pages and without further ado I’ll try and summarize some, or all, of the new features and functionalities. Although ‘new’, with a few exceptions, doesn’t really apply as far as I’m concerned, I mean, a few months XenApp was already re-released, remember, we named it Xendesktop 7. Anyway here goes, I’ll first have a look at Citrix XenApp 7.5
XenApp 7.5 is (still) based and build on the Flex management Architecture, meaning one management console (probably Studio, not sure though) and tight integration with XenDesktop 7.5, as if they were one product ;-) XenApp is simply to deploy within 5 minutes, according to Citrix. FMA should be scalable up to 100.000+ users and around 1000 servers.
Integrated Profile Management and automated app and desktop thin provisioning. I guess they’re referring to MCS / PVS. I also picked up that XenServer will be included as well, not mandatory, you can still choose your own Hypervisor.
Here comes the Cloud
Hybrid Cloud Provisioning gives you the ability to provision application and or desktop workloads to public and or private cloud infrastructures, combining and creating, (hybrid) cloud and on-premises datacenter infrastructures. Again, MCS, all managed from one central console. It should be as easy as picking ‘the Cloud delivery option’ from the Studio drop-down menu, according to Techtarget. Besides Azure (still to come) all big cloud vendors are supported. Sounds like another new FlexCast Delivery Technology, right?!
Public and or private clouds built with Citrix Cloud Platform are also supported.
Here’s one I missed earlier. Not to long ago Citrix acquired Framehawk again extending their leadership in App and Desktop Virtualization user experience, or so Citrix tells us. I got this from their website: The Framehawk Platform consists of several components working together to deliver secure mobile access to new and existing enterprise applications without rewriting them. Nothing new right, it’s got XenMobile written all over it, but wait…
Framehawk developed and uses a Lightweight Framebuffer Protocol (LFP) inspired by their experiences working in spacecraft communications at NASA. It’s specifically designed to communicate over long distance high latency networks, maintaing security with no or minimal loss of quality. I’ve seen their demo clip on YouTube and it’s impressive to say the least! Framehawk also provides an excellent user experience on almost any (mobile) device, including: touch, gesture mapping, offset mouse and keyboard popup capabilities. You might want to check this one out as well If this technology makes it into XenApp, or XenMobile for that matter, they’ll again be miles ahead of the competition.
Old & new
Performance monitoring, system monitoring and simplified operations using Director with buid-in EdgeSight technology, and with proper licensing in place you can add NetScaler HDX Insight to the equation as well, nothing new though.
Quickly deploy corporate (Windows) applications to mobile devices and mobilize existing Windows apps using HDX mobile technology. Optimizing applications for tablet and smartphone use, including swipe and touch functionalities. XenApp will automatically detect when a device is ‘mobile’ and if configured properly, will then leverage the applied HDX bits and bytes, mobilizing the application at hand (this is where Framehawk could come into play as well) Easy app publishing, dozens within minutes, like we are / were used to with earlier XenDesktop 7.x editions.
Citrix states that XenApp 7.5 makes it possible to host 5 generations of Windows applications, all from one central infrastructure. I must admit, that does sound cool! Freely translated this means that they are now able to deliver multiple applications from different Windows Operating Systems without having to build separate (IMA / FMA) infrastructures, reducing compatibility issues. Although this is a big change compared to XenApp 6.5 and earlier versions, it’s nothing new from a XenDesktop 7.x perspective.
The full App DNA feature set will be available to platinum license subscribers. Application testing and migration tools including P2V. XenApp also supports, and integrates with, Microsoft App-V, although it doesn’t state which version.
Make use of the full HDX feature set, providing WAN optimized networking, HDX Mobile, NetScaler Insight (already mentioned this one, ah well…) HDX 3D Pro technology, HDX user experience optimization for multimedia redirection, collaboration, and USB peripherals and much more.
Extended WebInterface support. I’ll say that again, Extended WebInterface support! Yes, it’s back as well! No need to upgrade to StoreFront just yet, take your time, you’ll have another year or two. Aggregate all of your existing XenApp Farms, including XenApp 7.5 and XenDesktop 7.5. Although WebInterface isn’t being renewed in any way I still think it’s awesome!
It seems that with XenApp 7.5 all existing editions will continue to be available, meaning, Advanced, Enterprise and Platinum. If you currently own Platinum licenses, and have Subscription Advantage, you’ll be able to get the App DNA bits for free as well, no matter which version of XenApp and or XenDesktop you are running. Since former Advanced XenApp customers felt somewhat forced to upgrade to XenDesktop App Edition, with the release of XenDesktop 7, they got some sort of ‘compelling’ offer, as Citrix likes to call it. Now Citrix will again come with a special offer, no details yet, to specifically address and support these XenDesktop App Edition customers in upgrading to XenApp 7.5 Enterprise edition which will eventually replace App Edition all together (end of life is yet to be decided). Please feel free to leave a comment or point out anything I might have missed.
Last but not least, and not a feature, Citrix announces their, limited, Mobility Promotion program. It runs from the 31st of January to September 30th, 2014. Quoted: Citrix offers new or existing XenApp or XenDesktop Platinum customers with perpetual licenses current on Subscription Advantage (SA) the ability to receive FREE XenMobile MDM edition licenses or get 20% off XenMobile Enterprise licenses with the purchase of first year Software Maintenance for all licenses obtained via this promotion. Nice right?!
That about raps it up for now. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to write about in the coming weeks. I’ll try and address XenDesktop 7.5 as well when and if time permits. Just note that most of the above applies to Citrix XenDesktop 7.5 as well. Remember that, even today, XenApp and XenDesktop still share the same infrastructure (as one product) and because of this, most of the above features and functionality, with a few exceptions of course, is already out there. Never the less I’m, again, looking forward to the coming months, getting my hand dirty and see what they come up with next!
Thanks for reading… Again :-)
Bas van Kaam ©
Reference materials used: Citrix.com/tv