Citrix XenDesktop 7 is probably one of the biggest product releases by Citrix ever. The consolidation of two of the strongest products, XenApp and XenDesktop into one single product is a huge step forward on so many levels!
For those of you who worked with me or who I had the honor to discuss IT in general, know that I focus on simplicity. I can get really irritated about products with great functionality but are managed with terrible management tools and a lot of different consoles. This is why I love products like SMS Passcode and RES Software products.
For what I’ve seen in the latest announcements and while testing preview releases of XenDesktop 7 (also known as Excalibur), this really is a product that comes close to true simplicity. I’m really happy with the consolidation of products, features and consoles.
This article is not going to be a “what’s new and hip style” article, there are plenty of those out there. What I want to show you is how much simpler this release makes our lives on a product and architectural level. Not only on the implementation side but especially on the management side.
To show you how some of the new features change the base architecture of a mixed VDI and RDS platform I’ll start with an architectural overview based on the “old” XenApp 6.x and XenDesktop 5.x.
Of course this overview shows us a full blown infrastructure where all the components are implemented. Components like Desktop Director (Now Director) and Edgesight are optional components. Note that I didn’t include any High Availabilitity (HA), normally most of the components use at least two servers.
I think we can agree that with the existing products we need a lot of components to just offer published applications and desktops.
With XenDesktop 7 Citrix announced new and changed features that makes this architecture less complex to build and manage. So what features will I focus on?
- XenDesktop now fully supports XenApp worker load
- MCS now available for XenApp virtual machines
- EdgeSight will be integrated in Desktop Director
- StoreFront no longer requires a SQL database for application subscriptions
To start off with the first new feature, XenDesktop now fully supports XenApp Worker load. When adding full “XenApp like” functionality right within XenDesktop 7 we don’t need a separate XenApp farm which essentially saves us two XenApp worker servers, a separate database for configuration and optionally one for database for logging.
With the support of XenApp server image provisioning in MCS on XenDesktop 7 we have the option to choose between Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) and Machine Creation Services(MCS). To help you out with that choice visit another blog article called Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services 2013 revision. For the sake of this article lets say you are like me and will use MCS.
The integration of EdgeSight in Citrix Director saves us another server because we don’t need a separate server for Director and EdgeSight. Of course we could have consolidated these two roles on one server before but did someone really do this?
Citrix StoreFront 2.0 will finally ditch the database used for storing application subscriptions and just synchronizes the data within the “cluster”. This really saves us some headaches because this wasn’t the most stable solution I’ve seen;).
Lets see what happens to our base architecture when we take all of the above mentioned changes into account.
When looking at the new architecture I think you agree that this is a much simpler architecture. In an enterprise setup this would mean we are able to remove 6 servers and 4 databases. Depending on the size of your environment this might not sound like a big deal but if it’s not about amount of servers and databases look at the availability and management! Less components mean less patching, less monitoring, less backupping and plain simply less things that could potentially go wrong.
For a very long time Citrix is making great products and great consoles, great consoles because they have a lot of consoles and with that comes a lot of experience on building consoles! There are even some small jokes about Citrix “the console company”. Kidding aside,
for day to day management the less consoles to look at the better
What console did we use on the earlier mentioned mixed XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop 5.6 platform:
- Citrix XenApp AppCenter
- Citrix Edgesight
- Citrix Provisioning Services
- Citrix Desktop Studio
- Citrix Desktop Director
With XenDesktop 7 we only have two consoles left to rule them all, or was that something about one r…. that rules them all? Either way two consoles where most of us will use only one of them at the same time.
The two console that are left are: (See how they removed the word desktop? I wonder why that is;))
- Citrix Studio
- Citrix Director
Citrix Studio is used by for system administrators who build and configure XenDesktop sites.
Citrix Director is a web based console build solely for managing users in a very easy way, just start typing the user name and it will pop out very fast. Citrix Edgesight is optionally integrated in the same console for Platinum customers.
Citrix XenDesktop 7 Final Conclusion
Looking at my blog articles and resume it should be obvious that I love the end user functionality Citrix is offering with products for many years now. Although end user functionality is the most important part of what we do it’s not the only thing that matters.
Managing an IT platform is about offering great functionality and experience in a cost effective way. Simplifying IT infrastructure is a way to cut down costs, minimize downtime and offer a predictable experience to our end users. This is essentially what Citrix is doing with Citrix XenDesktop 7.
Even if XenDesktop 7 is already a leap forward Citrix is still working on part two of Project Avalon.
Part 1, Excalibur is what will be released as XenDesktop 7.
Part 2, project Merlin will focus on further integrating XenDesktop with other Citrix products and several cloud offerings. Unfortunately we will have to wait a bit longer before the products based on Merlin will be announced and released.
For now start working with Citrix XenDesktop 7 and let me know what you think about it!