What’s New in XenApp 6.0?
New Feature Summary
The new XenApp 6 features can be summarized as:
- Support for Windows 2008 R2.
- Performance improvements.
- Simplified installation through roles and automated installation through worker groups.
- Server role and user connection policy management through Active Directory.
- Improved Microsoft App-V integration.
- Support for Novell eDirectory.
- Major improvements to audio and collaboration services.
- Support for Plug and Play on Windows portable USB devices.
- Support for Multi-user interface.
For a full feature comparison list check out the link on Citrix’s website –http://www.citrix.com/site/resources/dynamic/salesdocs/Citrix-XenApp-Comparative-Feature-Matrix.pdf.
Features in detail:
Microsoft Windows 2008R2 Support Obviously. But, and this an important fact in terms of migration, XenApp 6 W2k8 R2 is the only OS supported: XenApp 6 is not available for Windows 2003 or Windows 2008 R1 (x32, x64): for those operating systems you need the Presentation Server 4.5 (PS4.5) for Windows Server 2003 or XenApp 5.0 (XA5) for Windows 2008 R1 Citrix’s XA5. Feature Pack 3 is the latest update for these releases which brings the HDX functionality that had been lacking for Windows 2008 up-to-speed. Sadly, but understandably, FP3 still doesn’t have the unique capacity power management available
Simplified Management and Enterprise Scalability Citrix’s unique Provisioning Services allows computers to obtain software from the network, as needed, in real-time allowing you to remove the need to manage each copy of software that each individual computer requires to run. Even for relatively small farm sizes, keeping servers operational and secure is a cost. The ability to create a server image that is delivered on each reboot means that the cost, in terms of time and effort, for deploying updates is much reduced. While Provisioning Services isn’t a new feature in XenApp 6, and it is only available for the Platinum edition – XenApp 6 does introduce new functions to Microsoft AD Group Policy to configure provisioned servers automatically or re-configure them on-the-fly.
XenApp 6 (XA6) also has a new role based installation mechanism – very much in keeping with how Microsoft have focused the Windows Server installation around enabling services to fulfill roles. Such a feature isn’t new for PV, Ericom have had this style of installation for a while. It is useful for for first-time installs, not a great ground breaking feature in itself.
With previous versions of Presentation Server/XenApp a number of user connection and experience settings were managed using the Farm’s administration console. XenApp 6 introduces Group Policy templates and integration with Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy-based management enabling not only server provisioning but the configuration of application availability and delivery. A new concept of ‘Worker Groups’ allows Farm server settings to be applied to new servers depending on where they sit in the Active Directory. All this is useful, and all the more so if you’ve previously achieved this automation using Citrix’s MFCOM – as that feature is no longer supported in XA6: its time to migrate your own automation scripts to use PowerShell and the new management features.
XA6 introduces the facility to create system policies that manage server power consumption and make the most optimal use of server capacity during both peak and off-peak hours for Windows 2008. This feature is unique to XenApp, but has been available to Windows 2003 users as a part of a feature pack for Presentation Services 4.5. This service automatically brings capacity on-line to maintain expected user performance and access while retiring capacity when it is no longer needed – allowing you to reduce costs by better managing power consumption in your data-center.
With XA6, Citrix have improved the integration with Microsoft App-V. In September 2009, Microsoft announced that App-V was ‘free’ for RDS users. With XA6’s App-V integration you can manage and deliver both Citrix and Microsoft application delivery from a single point: it’s long been possible to have Citrix XenApp servers deliver App-V applications, but this new facility simplifies the management process and the user experience for both XenApp and desktop sessions.
If you’d moved to Windows Server 2008 and were disappointed that XenApp’s Novell eDirectory had disappeared you can rest easy – with XA6 its back again.
Early tests have suggested that there is a performance benefit in moving to a XenApp 6.0 environment – the combination of R2 and XenApp improvements combining to improve concurrent user capacity: which in turn allows you to support more users without increasing hardware costs. However, as yet, there are no figures published to quantify this improvement.
Improvements to the User Experience If your user experience for virtualisation is poor projects will fail. XenApp 6 does introduce impressive enhancements to deliver an improved user experience.
An enhanced audio codec reduces bandwidth consumption of audio streams by 90% while preserving CD quality sound; there is support for Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) to enable audio and video conferencing if you’ve OCS in your data center. Additionally, soft-phone compatibility enhancements like echo cancellation allow soft-phones to be hosted centrally on XenApp servers. While not an advantage to everyone, these features remove barriers for deploying PV services to users who need higher quality audio functionality.
While XA5 introduced USB support for mass storage devices, XA6 improves the user experience further to include support for the connection of devices – such as digital cameras, point-of-sale devices, scanners and webcams,- to user’s PCs – automatically mapping them to their server-hosted application session.
If you need to, or are supporting servers with different language settings, XA6’s Multi-User Interface (MUI) support will enable your users to connect to any server and receive their application session in the native language set on their desktop. The benefit here is that the number of servers you need to provide native language support can be reduced.
Citrix Dazzle, their ‘application store-front’ is now better integrated into the environment. I’ve never been a great fan of Dazzle although this feature appears to be a growing trend where vendors offer an element of ‘consumerization’ ; Systancia have a store-front style ‘rate your app’ for example. – I’m still of the opinion its not a great idea: but if you do, then its finally integrated rather than being a separate add-on.
Posted in VirtualizationPractice
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