Citrix XenApp 6 is one year old product already and still not wide deployed (In my country at least, France). Why ? I think about two reasons :

Mostly because you can install XenApp 6 only on Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 which is only 64Bits operation system from Microsoft and because there are many features just disappearing from this version but a lot of new ones.

XenApp 6 :

  • No more Installation Manager (Just remain a read only console to deploy past packages)
  • No more Resource Manager (EdgeSight is suppose to do the job)
  • No more Access database for the DataStore, now it’s replace by MS SQL Express 2008
  • No possibilities to have mixed farms
  • Farms settings are now store in IMA and/or Global policies
  • New feature, Worker Groups
  • New feature, Global Policy (XenApp Policies in the Active Directory)
  • New management console (Only one !) Citrix Delivery Services Console, at last 😉
  • Simplified Install
  • HDX RealTime Collaboration & HDX RealTime audio

These is the main part, I think admins and Engineer used to XenApp 5, 4.5, Presentation Server 4, Metaframe Presentation Server 3, Metaframe XP, Metaframe 1.8 etc… are used to have new features but no new way to think their XenApp architecture and administration. Introduction Worker Groups dramatically change the way of thinking publishing application, settings policies up, configuring a farm or several farms. It might be a too radical change for most of us even if you still can think, administrate using the “old” way.

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 is a 64Bit system, and I can assure you, it doesn’t bite ! I don’t understand why so many Engineers and Consultants I went to meet are afraid to try this OS, just because you need to test applications. Of course 16Bits applications will remain in 32Bit Windows 2003 or Windows 2008, but why on earth guys are afraid to try ? We are using Citrix XenApp, don’t forget most of the accesses are made through a Web Interface and you can still have the possibility to keep a PS4/XenApp 5 farm aside a XenApp 6 one.

Finaly if you’re really not familliar with application migrations and processes to follow, you can still call me 😉

This blog is an introduction to the next one Fast Provisioning Citrix Xenapp 6 with Worker Groups and Policies

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  • Actually, I’m not sure that people are really afraid.

    The real problem, according to me, is applications compatibility testing along with application vendors support.

    Why ? Just simply because if you have hundred’s of applications, it’s not only a matter of testing or being afraid, it’s a real cost issue.

    Also, only few vendors do support Win2K8 R2 now.

    Then I’m seeing more an more projects where XenApp 6.0 is involved as the main desktop along with XenApp 5.0 remediation environments.

    At the end, I don’t think that France is the only concerned country as XenApp 6.0 has only a few patches and lots of unsolved bugs which proves that is not that much spread.

    To conclude : I like the new features, but even through Virtual Desktops I’m deploying applications and I’ve to stick to the platforms they’re supported / working on and in my case, actually for my customers, that’s why XenApp 6.0 is only deployed in POCs.

  • Also, the RTM was end of March, so the product is 6 monthes old (Tech preview will be one year old in january) which also explains that it is still not deployed (along with other mentionned issues).

  • Pierre you’re right, RTM is 7 monthes old but admins / Engineers and consultant had access to the tech preview 6 month before the RTM release.
    I agree there is lack of support from vendor but as you might know, in very large environment, you don’t call vendor to try to make work their application in a multi user environment because 80% of them don’t know what is multi user environement…

    By waiting for everyone to make the first step, we will be struggle with Windows 2003 EOL and EOS, then 2008 is for me the Windows Vista “server edition”; I mean this ais not the best OS Microsoft have ever made and it’s quite obvious with the availability of Windows 2008 R2…

  • @gilwood_cs @archynet @kimmojernstrom @pmarmignon In most cases EOL is the only justification we see. The biz does not care about OS/PS EOL

    I agree to that one too, but when you face a blocking PS4 bug (I had this situation) Then everything changes when business is impacted.

  • Cruel deal, but true for every migration. With Xenapp 6 the OS changes generates more complexity to migrate but the main question will always be : what gains can the business expect if migrating ?

  • No immediate gain of course. After our discussion on the phone we both know tehre is a lot to speak about 🙂

  • XA 6 is the most feature rich of citrix’s PS environments. It has tools to automate server deployment, to intelligently load balance to better manage power in datacentres, HDX – and supports W2k8R2. W2k8R2 is perhaps the best MS OS to support PV on any scale.

    *Yet * of all that – its only really (imo) the automated server deployment that is the ‘brand new’ feature – along with W2k8R2.

    However, many citrix customers don’t make use of the those automation features. And, many Citrix customers know that a move to W2k8R2 will mean:

    *) new server licenses
    *) new RDS CALS

    and importantly – testing testing testing. W2k8R2 is x64. Not everyone has made that move yet. You have to migrate profiles, have to migrate apps, have to

    * What happens if you’ve still a reliance on IE6
    * What happens if your app vendor hasn’t got an x64 release?
    * What happens if your print server isn’t x64 compatible?
    * What happens with all your other applications?
    * what is your migration strategy for users of terminals between farms?
    * what is your migration strategy for all the existing configuration sets to the new environment?

    At best its a 1-2 month project for a 400-500 seat installation: it is not a quick win and it is not an inexpensive one.

    In terms of ‘what will this project deliver’ its often “being up-to-date”. In the current economic climate – that’s not an easy sell.

    I think the takeup of 6 is going to be a lot slower than previous releases.

    • Andy,

      XenApp6 is full of new features you’re right, and Citrix played it well by giving us (ITs) access to a Tech preview 6 months ahead so we get familliar to the product before the final release.(In my opinion)

      About what you are pointing out, I would like to answer because there are always solutions, we’re ITs and we manage very complex environments.

      * What happens if you’ve still a reliance on IE6
      –> You can still use your “old” PS4 farm to publish it, and you can stream it, I saw some guide from Citrix about that.
      * What happens if your app vendor hasn’t got an x64 release?
      –>32Bits application will still work on a 64Bits server, only 16Bits will definitly not.
      * What happens if your print server isn’t x64 compatible?
      –>HP, Lexmark and the bigger printers companies does all provides x64 drivers now and even more, universal printer drivers. That with UPD, it makes the trick. And I don’t mention all the third party product available on the market
      * What happens with all your other applications?
      Either it remains on Ps4/Xa5 either App-v either streaming either vm hosted…
      * what is your migration strategy for users of terminals between farms?
      Strategy is quite simple, desktop and office –>XenApp 6, it let you time if the customer isn’t ready ($$£€€€) to begin a migration process.
      I’ve done it several time and when VIP(users) – the one who give money to IT – see bloomberg m, reuters tv and other financial flash website running so smooth on XenApp, they show it to other users (traders for ex) and everyone want that 🙂 this is of course an example, but this is strategic as well.

      We will catch at Synergy !

  • Kimmo

    If we look at application compatibility then most of these do work just fine on Windows 2008 R1 32-bit, the problem is, as have been stated, that there’s not so much developer support for 2008 R1 32-bit – not to mention Windows 2008 R2 that is 64-bit only.

    I dare to say that the majority of applications in the enterprise are only properly supported and tested on Windows XP (Windows 2003). This if nothing that will change very quickly, especially if you consider the amount of homebrew applications and rare never-heard-of developer made applications with little or no documentation or support. It’s really scary to see what some customers are running (!)

    We can only hope that customer migrations to Windows 7 will assist in forcing the developers more rapidly move to the 64-bit era and the different architecture of Windows 7/2008 R2.

    If we look at the different editions of XenApp; it’s 4.5 for Windows 2003, 5.0 for Windows 2008 R1 and finally 6.0 for Windows 2008 R2, all of which either cannot co-exist in a single farm (XA6 vs. all the rest) or shouldn’t co-exist for any extended time (XA 4.5 with XA 5.0). All this makes life as an IT-administrator nightmarish as well for the end-users.

    Here I would’ve proposed for Citrix to make the next version, or point version, compatible with both Windows 2008 R1 as well as for R2, however I cannot. The internals of Windows 2008 R1 and R2 are considerably different when it comes to the implementation of RDS that it’s simple not a justifiable cost for Citrix to make the effort to support the R1 version. I’m really not sure how things are with the alternatives such as Quest, but maybe that’s worth checking up.

    Finally, I believe it’s also a question of knowledge and adaption. Sooner or later people have to move, or maybe they’ll stick to running Windows XP in VDI for another 5 years or so.

  • Kimmo

    Whoa. Bad typo

    “I dare to say that the majority of applications in the enterprise are only properly supported and tested on Windows XP (Windows 2003). This if nothing that will change very quickly”

    The last part should’ve read:
    “This IS nothing that will change very quickly”

  • Some notes :

    XenApp 5.0 is not a good, stable product and sometimes not as features rich as 5.0 (let’s say 4.5) for Windows 2K3.

    As Win2K8 (R1) is relying on the new Windows 2008 core, it’s not as easy to say that all apps will work on the x86 version and that’s also why developpers are not working on it.

    But actually, the problem is not on the developpers side, but on the business side : will they pay to get new up-to-date apps ? And that’s where it hurts the most …

    Yes they’ll but when ?

  • Archy,

    I’m not saying there aren’t answers 🙂 What I’m trying to demonstrate is :

    a) There is a lot to consider. It isn’t just upgrade Xenapp, but upgrade the OS, the profiles, printers, AV.. as well as licenses. And ‘you can keep apps on x32″ – yes, but in a different farm. If you’ve a small implementation that could mean extending out the farm, rather than reducing it. This is adding complexity not removing it.

    b) The advantages of the move were/are focused on ‘benefits to IT’ – not benefits to the business.

    Your question is ‘why doesn’t XA6 spread’. If you regularly rebuild servers, if you want to manage your power, if you want to standardise your server estate on R2 – then you’ve a business case to move to XA6.

    If perhaps you’ve a 15-20 older servers with a common build, and you’re looking to replace your servers – again you’ve an option of reducing your server estate by moving to R2

    But, there are a lot of customers who aren’t in this sort of position. Indeed, some of the business drivers for moving (flash support for example) can be achieved in 4.5.

    So – why isn’t it moving? Because there’s still (i think) few business reasons to drive for change. And what is worse (imo) is that it is likely that you’ll have to stick with a 4.5 farm anyways (for compatibility as you mention).

  • I understand your point of view and I agree with it. But I think we will reach the day where “Benefits of IT” will mean “Benefits to the business”
    XenApp6 or 7 or 8 or whatever next release, will be even more easy to install and administrate, the job will be outsourced and I can tell you, the business side is very focus on the fact his IT will have cost divide by 4 or more…
    But this is again another subjtect and I don’t even speak about the mega super cool Cloud 🙂

  • +1 on Andy’s last comment 😉

    A XenApp migration is always a big project, even if staying on the same OS.

    With XenApp 6, we have two migrations to do and the whole environment is impacted (profiles, scripts, applications packages …).

    It’s obvious that new projects are trying to start on XenApp 6.0, but here again we do have to analyze all apps to know where they’ll run … and that’s possible but it costs.

    Also, somthing I’ve not read in the comments is that Windows 2003 is not dead : Microsoft support is free until 2015 and you have to pay then.

    Citrix’s XenApp 5.0 / Windows 2003 is supported until 2013 and some customers may pay for extensions.

    What will we have in 2013 ? XenApp 7 ? Maybe XenApp 10 if we stick on the one release / year !

    This is a neverendind story …

    But actually, things may be going too fast. New products (even OSes !) are released before any big company has time to qualify them and then to roll them out.

    So what are business managers doing ? Unless they do have key business drivers to implement a new release, they’re waiting for vNext until they do not have any other issue.

    Anyway, let’s add some comments in the following monthes, when the product will be more mature and see if Windows 2008 R2 is becoming a standard or if companies will wait for its Windows 8 based successor 🙂

    The only thing we can bet on is that the Windows 7 actual move will help us to deploy Windows 7 like desktops 🙂

  • “Benefits of IT” will mean “Benefits to the business” – I don’t think these should be separate to be honest 😉

    What is interesting is that, as IT moves forward, the ‘complexity’ of IT should reduce. As services “move out” what they “move onto” should become less relevant.

    So, from a user/business perspective, it should not matter what the XenApp version is – it should just work. Ideally – quicker and cheaper.

    Pierre makes an excellent point – W2k3 isn’t dead – it isn’t asleep, it has not ceased to be. So the driver (for IT) to move to XA6 is going to be less. Our recurring point

    I think the adoption of XA6 is more dependent on the take-up of W2k8R2 than the new features in XA6.

    There is of course the question of, what will drive the use of Presentation Virtualization in the future (beyond 4.5); and was it a mistake (by Citrix) to have the management of the two environments so separate?

  • We all have our point of view regarding our personal experience, this is what I like to share with you all and this is always very cool to learn from the others experiences.

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  • Kimmo

    As a post-debate post I’d like to add some background on the subject of Citrix and 2008 R!/R2 .

    We all know the roller-coaster affair between Citrix and Microsoft since the early days.

    In ways it might be forgotten how the relation was governed over the years with deals. For example, It might not be common knowledge of today that the NT 3.5 source was sublicensed to Citrix with rights to in its turn sublicense the MS source and the Citrix add-ons to the source.

    The names of Exodus, NTrigue, NTprise and others might not ring a bell, but that was the way of those days.

    Fast forward to the release of Windows Server 2008; R1 as I’m recalling, the thing was that the perpetual license deal between Microsoft and Citrix on certain OS infringements just became at halt moments after the signing or release of Windows Server 2008 R1 .

    Microsoft, late as always, realized (or thought, whatever your opinion) that it was not anymore good to allow 3: rd parties into the internals.

    Security measures you know, and by no surprise was this quite the stern within Microsoft.
    To a degree it was somewhat of a relief to Microsoft that the 2008 R1 (Vista) code-base never really took off. So, there was this new 2008 R2. A product that was not confined to age old license agreements.

    A lot of rearrangement was done in the core and Citrix was not anymore allowed to the “hacking” as someone’s refer to the intermingling of the 2008 R1 code base. In a parlance, a new baby was born.

    Citrix now had to interface (rather than intermingle) to known sets of interfaces and API:s , you know, like the next guy… Thus the long time to recode, and as a matter of fact Citrix even went as far as doing a side-by-side implementation of what was already there. Anyone’s story is as good as mine on how wise this was.

    Personally I suspect that some Citrix coders though they had a better implementation on some code – here I would agree. Problem of course is that by doing so is to be sitting between a rock and hard place. In any case it will be interesting whether Citrix is to stick to this pattern in the long run.

    Yeah, well, that was it. No real moral to the story, just some history. Besides, I like Citrix and think that XA6 is a huge leap forward.

  • One issue with Citrix XenApp 6 is that, unlike previous versions, it doesn’t support mixed server farms (server clusters that contain more than one XenApp and/or Windows server version in the same farm.). That leaves 3 possible options for upgrading existing XenApp sites:

    Option 1: Upgrade all servers to XenApp 6 all at once (since XenApp 6 only runs on Windows Server 2008 R2). This is not easy to accomplish in a production environment, which can afford little or no downtime. And if you are hosting an application that isn’t very compatible with 64-bit platforms (Windows Server 2008 R2 is 64-bit only) then you’re truly stuck.

    Option 2: Create a secondary farm for the XenApp 6 servers; then distribute the clients between the two using a Web interface. This introduces 3 challenges: (1) Since XenApp 6 has new management consoles and a whole new way of doing configuration and scripting, each farm will need to be managed separately using a different tool-set. (2) Determining how to properly distribute the clients between each of the two farms requires close monitoring; otherwise users may not be able to connect to the proper farm. (3) In all likelihood the combined size of both farms will potentially be much larger than a single farm would have been.

    Option 3: Switch to Ericom’s PowerTerm WebConnect. With a three-tier architecture, PowerTerm WebConnect (certified by Microsoft for Windows Server 2008 R2) can support mixed farms containing Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2 and future versions of Windows as well. So it can actually be easier, safer and more cost-effective to not only choose this solution over Citrix’s in the first place, but even to upgrade an existing XenApp farm to PowerTerm WebConnect than to XenApp 6!

    You can read more and download a free evaluation at:
    http://www.ericom.com/citrix_alternative.asp?URL_ID=708

    Adam

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