February 18, 2014

Are you migrating to XenDesktop 7.x? If not, why?

Have you been looking at XenDesktop 7.1, or the next iteration of XenDesktop/XenApp 7.5 and trying to determine if the time is right for your organization to make the move? Maybe talking to your peers or management, perhaps kicking the tires in your lab? There's a few really nice technical enhancements in XenDeskop 7x I'll highlight below.

If you know me from working with me in the past you'll see by reading through the list below that most of my
favorite enhancements revolve around one of my passions when it comes to architecting environments: SIMPLICITY. Citrix has put forth a tremendous effort to simplify the deployment and support of a XenDesktop/XenApp infrastructure, from the installation, to the monitoring, to the day-to-day support.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons you should seriously consider it, and possibly some of the road blocks that would put your project on hold.

Outside your control is the product lifecycle as announced by Microsoft

  • Windows XP End of Extended Support: April 8, 2014
  • Windows Server 2003 End of Extended Support: July 14, 2015

Why should you move to XenDesktop 7.x

  • MCS for XenApp - One of my favorite reasons. Using Machine Creation Services (MCS) we have been able to implement single image management for Desktops for a number of years. Now, we can also use MCS for XenApp images. So if you have, say, 6 XenApp servers that you wish were identical (same configuration, same apps, etc) you can use MCS to ensure they are always in check, no more guessing.
  • New installer - Another great feature is the ability to quickly add new servers to your XenApp infrastructure using a simple VDA installer. No more long drawn out complex install procedures.
  • Storefront no longer requires a Database. Server Groups easy to keep in check, capabilities above and beyond Web Interface.
  • Edgesight is being deprecated and worked into Desktop Studio, simplifying installation AND support.
  • Profile Management - Automatically installed with the VDA and managed by Policies in the Desktop Studio.
  • Configuration Logging - Again, installed by default with the VDA
  • Universal Print Server - Sensing a theme here? The Delivery Controller now includes the Universal Print Server functionality. You need only install the Universal Print Server on your print servers.

  • Console Reduction - Let's look at the number of consoles need to manage your environment:
    • XenDesktop 5.6/XenApp 6.5
      • Citrix XenApp AppCenter
      • Citrix Edgesight
      • Citrix Provisioning Services
      • Citrix Desktop Studio
      • Citrix Desktop Director
      • Citrix Web Interface/Storefront
    • XenDesktop 7.x
      • Citrix Desktop Studio
      • Citrix Desktop Director
  • HDX Enhancements
    • Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 support 
    • Desktop Composition Redirection — Extend the Aero Redirection feature introduced in XenDesktop 5.5 to provide users with a more fluid Windows 7 Aero or Windows 8 desktop experience by leveraging the graphics processing unit (GPU) or integrated graphics processor (IGP) on supported Windows user devices for local DirectX graphics rendering. This feature delivers rich multimedia applications to user devices, while maintaining high scalability on the server.
    • Windows Media client-side content fetching — Enable a user device to stream multimedia files directly from the source provider on the Internet or Intranet to improve network utilization and server scalability.
    • Multicast support — Reduce bandwidth consumption when streaming live video to branch offices. 
    • Real-time multimedia transcoding — Enable audio and video streaming to mobile devices, improving the way that Windows Media content is delivered.
    • Webcam video compression — Reduce bandwidth consumption to improve performance when using supported video conferencing applications.
    • HDX 3D Pro — Deliver applications with graphics processing units (GPUs) for hardware acceleration to the desktop. This includes 3D professional graphics applications based on OpenGL and DirectX.
    • Server-rendered Rich Graphics and Video — Deliver rich graphics (including Windows 8 or Windows Aero) to virtual desktop users on any client, platform, and bandwidth condition by rendering the content on the server. When users have the latest Citrix Receiver, they will also notice improved performance for server-rendered video.
    • Improved Flash Redirection

What's preventing you

  • CSG: Did you know if you have less than 10 concurrent connections or 5MB throughput, you can install a FREE Netscaler VPX? Not trial, or limited time, FREE!
  • Web Interface: Citrix announced recently that Web Interface WILL be supported with XenDesktop 7.x, allowing you to move forward and still use Web Interface as you determine a path to Storefront. 
  • Windows 8/2012: XenDesktop 7.x supports Windows 2008  R2 and Windows 7.
  • Features: Are there features missing you like? Session Pre-Launch and Linger, publishing of content, etc. Stay tuned as many of the 'missing' features are being worked on by Citrix. 

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