by Lyle Smith

Citrix Makes XenApp/XenDesktop & Workspace Cloud Annoucements

Citrix has made several announcements at the company's Summit, all of which are focused on their XenApp/XenDesktop and Workspace Cloud product lines, offering new features and packages for large enterprises and channel partners.

Citrix unveiled that XenApp 7.7 and XenDesktop 7.7 are now both available for download at The new 7.7 release is designed to enhance the on-going relationship between Citrix and Microsoft with new cloud provisioning and collaboration optimizations. In addition, it also improves the flexibility of the FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA) across multiple geographical locations all the while simplifying application management.

Citrix has indicated the following key features:

  • Comprehensive Skype for Business functionality within a virtual app or desktop. As a result of close collaboration between Citrix and Microsoft, this release of the RealTime Optimization Pack provides a fully native Skype for Business user experience within a virtual app or desktop, as well as high-quality voice and video.
  • Extended integration with the latest Microsoft platform. You can now rapidly provision virtual desktops in Microsoft Azure leveraging the Machine Creation Services (MCS) feature of XenApp and XenDesktop. In addition, Citrix Provisioning Services now supports the on-premises provisioning of Windows 10 virtual desktops.
  • Enhanced image provisioning technology. Rapidly provisioning desktops or server images simplifies patch management, conserves storage, and protects base image configurations. This release introduced a number of improvements in Provisioning Services technology including support for NVIDIA GRID GPU performance enhancements on vSphere, FIPS compliant communication, in-place upgrades of target device software, support for modern pre-boot environments, extended license grace period, enhanced APIs and more.
  • Simplified management across geographically dispersed deployments through zones. The new multi zone management functionality allows you to deploy a XenApp site that spans multiple locations, or zones, therefore streamlining multi-site management by enabling you to publish apps across all zones from one console.
  • Improved application management and monitoring. Users now have more flexibility monitoring and managing deployments. You can now limit the number of resource-intensive applications running on a single server to preserve scalability and performance. You can be proactively notified of error conditions or excessive usage making it easier to contain issues before they impact the entire deployment while also leveraging new usage reporting capabilities to provide detailed insights into resource utilization.

Looking further down the road, Citrix also announced the upcoming availability of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.8, which will include all the features and functionality of version 7.7. Citrix has designed this release with a focus on application management and delivery as well as optimizing the user experience, citing the following benefits:

  • Simplifying app management by layering apps onto a master OS image with AppDisk: New AppDisk technology allows admins to package and manage applications independent of their master OS image alleviating the management complexity of multiple, departmental-based images. AppDisk makes it easy to install or update applications without impacting the golden desktop or server image.
  • Integrated AppDNA compatibility testing for applications layered with AppDisk: AppDNA extends the layering benefits of AppDisk by providing instant application compatibility reporting and layer reordering for assigned AppDisks. Now an admin will be able to validate and remediate any OS or inter-app compatibility issues before distributing the AppDisk applications to their employees.
  • Seamlessly manage Microsoft App-V packages from the Studio admin console: XenApp and XenDesktop admins may now use Citrix Studio to manage the distribution of App-V applications to virtual desktops or XenApp servers without requiring separate App-V server and database infrastructure simplifying administrative processes and eliminating additional infrastructure costs.
  • Improved app publishing experience: Large enterprises manage hundreds of applications across thousands of servers. The newly improved Studio has a more intuitive user interface for app publishing as well as new features that enable the admin to publish apps to multiple delivery groups, improved tag management for easier management and tracking across machines, apps and delivery groups.
  • Enhanced graphics performance for virtual desktops. Optimizing the graphics performance for virtual desktops is critical to adoption and this release brings even more enhancements including the combination of our innovative Framehawk display technology with our high performance HDX 3D Pro graphics acceleration for Windows 7 and 8 virtual desktops.
  • Higher scalability for innovative Framehawk technology: Newly released Framehawk remote display technology provides a brilliant user experience under very challenging network conditions and provides real-time interactivity on networks where packet losses impair performance. This release brings scalability enhancements that enable over 40% reduction in memory footprint, up to 20% increase in CPU efficiency, and over 50% improvement in bandwidth efficiency when scrolling via touch input, as well as a significantly increased frame rate for a smoother user experience.

Also announced by Citrix are new XenApp and XenDesktop servicing options designed to balance long-term planning with speedy product releases. The company’s first-ever Long Term Service Release of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 is now available for download on the company website. Citrix indicated the following benefits for the new servicing option:

  • Extended Lifecycle: For each Long Term Service Release, the clock restarts, giving you 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support (separate contract required).
  • Predictable Maintenance: On a regular schedule, Citrix will release cumulative updates for each Long Term Service Release. These updates will typically contain just the fixes for that release void of new features to simplify on-going maintenance.
  • Reduced IT Costs: By opting to implement a Long Term Service Release, you will have access to the highest quality releases with the most predictable maintenance schedule to streamline your management efforts, which can lower your total cost of ownership.

In addition, Citrix is also now offering Current Releases (CR) of XenApp and XenDesktop. These specifically designed for agile environments that need to stay on top of the newest features and functionality, helping organizations to stay competitive.

Benefits include:

  • Rapid innovation: The IT world changes quickly and Current Releases will provide access to the latest security, productivity and collaboration features to help keep your workforce competitive.
  • Address new business challenges: Current releases will extend the flexibility of the XenApp and XenDesktop architecture to address more use cases, giving you more value out of your current investment.
  • Faster delivery of enhancements: Citrix welcomes your enhancement requests to further improve our app and desktop delivery technology, and the faster release cycles of Current Releases will help expedite your enhancement request.

Citrix also unveiled two new Technology Previews built to make provisioning simpler and faster: Citrix AppDisk and Citrix Provisioning Services.

With AppDisk, applications are installed into a virtual disk (VHD or VMDK) instead of installing applications into a golden image. When a user creates an AppDisk, it can be assigned across various golden images. As a result, this new approach reduces the number of golden images that admins need to manage. Citrix indicates that the availability of AppDisk Technology Preview can be found in the Workspace Cloud Apps and Desktops Service. Additionally, the PVS Tech Preview for the Apps and Desktops Service are also available.

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