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Citrix XenDesktop 7

by on May 29, 2013

Last week I had the privilege to attend Citrix Synergy in Anaheim, Calif. In typical form, Citrix made many announcements at their annual conference. The announcement that intrigued me the most was the announcement of Citrix XenDesktop 7 (code name Excalibur). Below is a brief summary of the product.

Citrix XenDesktop 7 combines Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp under one management system. Citrix utilizes FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA) as the foundation for XenDesktop 7. Published applications, and virtual and hosted desktops are administered under a single interface (Desktop Studio). Desktop Director is extended to now support XenApp servers along with virtual desktops. Desktop Director also allows for Citrix EdgeSight to pull server and desktop specific information.

That’s nice, but what happened with XenApp?

XenApp still very much exists – now it is just called XenDesktop. I know, confusing. Basically an agent is installed on the RDS server that communicates with the Desktop Delivery Controller (DDC). You administer both server and desktops via Desktop Studio. This is huge as Citrix finally got away from good old IMA (Independent Management Architecture).  IMA existed ever since the birth of WinFrame and continued through MetaFrame, Presentation Server, and XenApp.

Below are some key new features of XenDesktop 7:

  • One management interface (Desktop Studio).
  • One farm for published applications, hosted desktops, and virtual desktops utilizing the FlexCast Management Architecture.
  • Massive improvements with HDX, specifically around graphics. Citrix worked with graphics processor unit (GPU) manufacturer NVIDIA on extending the GPU properties even more than previous chipset with the introduction of NVIDIA GRID. GRID also provides virtualization of the GPU which is a massive breakthrough by NVIDIA. Gotham, along with M7 Global Partners are the first NVIDIA Certified Partners to market with this technology.
  • Support for Windows 2012.
  • Integrated AppDNA.
  • Mobility enhancements.

Gotchas

So all of this is really cool, however with any new solution there are always gotchas. In this case, while you can upgrade XenDesktop 5.6 servers to XenDesktop 7, you cannot upgrade XenApp 6.5 servers to XenDesktop 7. The SQL database was always very important with XenDesktop; now this is magnified even more as we are supporting servers with the same SQL architecture. And Citrix Streaming is no longer supported for virtualizing applications; Citrix now recommends Microsoft App-V.

There were some great announcements made at Synergy, but nothing more game changing than XenDesktop 7. Be sure to speak with your Gotham team should you have any questions. Gotham will also be hosting “What you Missed at Synergy” events in June where you can find out additional information, and visit Gotham’s Training Page for information on upcoming classes.

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