Citrix XenServer 6

· 3 min read

Citrix just released XenServer 6 with a lot of new features. After few month using the beta (Boston Project) and playing with it on my XenServer @ Home the final release is here and keeps all the very cool features announced with the beta version.

Upgrading my XenServer @ home

Burning the new iso file was the longest action tonight, I booted my XenServer @ home (Beta Project Boston) and the upgrade has been fast without issue, within 5 minutes I’ve been able to launch my fist Vms and check everything.

Microsoft Windows 8

In a recent blog post about Installing Microsoft Windows 8 on Citrix XenServer 6 beta Project Boston, I explain how to do it because Windows 8 wasn’t supported yet and it was a bit tricky to host a Windows 8 virtual machine. With the final release of XenServer 6, Microsoft Windows 8 is installing and running very fine without any specific action, you just need to use a Windows 7 template or a Windows 2008 R2 template, install XenTools and you’re good.

New Features

Integrated Site Recovery (Disaster Recovery). Remote data replication between storage arrays with fast recovery and failback capabilities. Integrated Site Recovery replaces StorageLink Gateway Site Recovery used in previous versions, removes the Windows VM requirement, and works with any iSCSI or Hardware HBA storage repository.

Integrated StorageLink. Access to use existing storage array-based features such as data replication, de-duplication, snapshot and cloning. Replaces the StorageLink Gateway technology used in previous editions and removes requirement to run a Windows VM with the StorageLink components.

GPU Pass-Through. Enables a physical GPU to be assigned to a VM providing high-end graphics. Allows applications to leverage GPU instructions in XenDesktop VDI deployments with HDX 3D Pro.

Virtual Appliance Support (vApp). Ability to create multi-VM and boot sequenced virtual appliances (vApps) that integrate with Integrated Site Recovery and High Availability. vApps can be easily imported and exported using the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard.

Rolling Pool Upgrade Wizard. Simplify upgrades (automated or semi-automated) to XenServer 6.0 with a wizard that performs pre-checks with a step-by-step process that blocks unsupported upgrades.

Microsoft SCVMM & SCOM Support. Manage XenServer hosts and VMs with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012. System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 will also be able to manage and monitor XenServer hosts and VMs. System Center integration is available with a special supplemental pack from Citrix. For more information refer to the Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager page.

Distributed Virtual Switch Improvements. New fail safe mode allows Cross-Server Private Networks, ACLs, QoS, RSPAN and NetFlow settings to continue to be applied to a running VM in the event of vSwitch Controller failure.

Increased Performance and Scale. Supported limits have been increased to 1 TB memory for XenServer hosts, and up to16 virtual processors and 128 GB virtual memory for VMs. Improved XenServer Tools with smaller footprint.

Networking Improvements. Open vSwitch is now the default networking stack in XenServer 6.0 and now provides formal support for Active-Backup NIC bonding.

VM Import & Export Improvements. Full support for VM disk and OVF appliance imports directly from XenCenter with the ability to change VM parameters (virtual processor, virtual memory, virtual interfaces, and target storage repository) with the Import wizard. Full OVF import support for XenServer, XenConvert and VMware.

SR-IOV Improvements. Improved scalability and certification with the SR-IOV Test Kit. Experimental SR-IOV with XenMotion support with Solarflare SR-IOV adapters.

Simplified Installer. Host installations only require a single ISO.

Enhanced Guest OS Support. Support for Ubuntu 10.04 (32/64-bit). Updated support for Debian Squeeze 6.0 64-bit, Oracle Enterprise Linux 6.0 (32/64-bit) and SLES 10 SP4 (32/64-bit). Experimental VM templates for CentOS 6.0 (32/64-bit), Ubuntu 10.10 (32/64-bit) and Solaris 10.

Workload Balancing Improvements. New, ready-to-use Linux-based virtual appliance with a smaller footprint replaces the Windows-based virtual appliance and eliminates the Windows licensing dependency.

XenDesktop Enhancements. HDX enhancements for optimized user experience with virtual desktops, GPU Pass-Through, and increased VM and XenServer host limits.

VM Protection & Recovery. Now available for Advanced, Enterprise and Platinum Edition customers.

NFS Support for High Availability. HA Heartbeat disk can now reside on a NFS storage repository.

XenCenter Improvements. XenCenter operations now run in parallel, and XenCenter will be available in Japanese and Simplified Chinese (ETA Q4 2011).

Host Architectural Improvements. XenServer 6.0 now runs on the Xen 4.1 hypervisor, provides GPT support and a smaller, more scalable Dom0.

XenServer Virtual Appliances

The following XenServer virtual appliances are available for download from the Citrix XenServer 6.0 Download page:

  • Demo Linux Virtual Appliance
  • Workload Balancing Virtual Appliance
  • Citrix License Server Virtual Appliance
  • vSwitch Controller Virtual Appliance