Citrix has released updates to their core products, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, now both in version 7.7. I’ve been beta testing 7.7 for some time, and the product has a lot of new stuff to offer.
Enterprise Infrastructure and Management simplification
Deploying and managing geographically disperse XenApp & XenDesktop deployments can be challenging. The new MultiZone Management functionality allows an administrator to deploy a XenDesktop site that spans multiple locations, or zones, without the need to publish user resources for each location. This simplification in Infrastructure and Management reduces the overall complexity without impacting flexibility.
Enhanced Director Monitoring
Administrators now have more flexibility when it comes to monitoring their XenApp & XenDesktop deployments. Functionality such as Application Limit monitoring, Desktop and Server OS usage reporting, Proactive Notification and Alerting and SCOM integration enhance the overall monitoring experience. More flexible and more secure authentication options address security needs in certain security sensitive verticals.
Comprehensive functionality with hosted Skype for Business
The HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.0, a result of close collaboration between Citrix and Microsoft, provides uncompromised voice and video quality, a fully native user experience for a broad range of devices and operating systems with maximum VDI/RDS server scalability when the Skype for Business client is hosted on Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop.
Accelerating adoption of latest Microsoft platforms
Enhancements to Provisioning Services and Machine Creation Services technology such as PVS support for Windows 10, PVS support for Scale Out File Servers and Provisioning to Azure with MCS allow customers to enjoy the latest Microsoft Server, Desktop and Cloud platforms.
Application Management and Availability
Improvements to functionality such as AppLimits, Multiple Reboot Warnings and Workspace Control all add up to ensure a better Application Availability. AppLimits, for example, allows an Administrator to limit the number of simultaneous instances of resource-intensive applications thus maintaining server performance and prevent deterioration in service. Multiple Reboot Warnings gives the Admin better peace of mind that users have been notified of impending reboots and changes to Workspace Control that allows an Admin to override the default session roaming behavior to ensure that a session does not roam in scenarios where roaming would be detrimental to the user experience.
What’s new in 7.7?
Deployments that span widely-dispersed locations connected by a WAN can face challenges due to network latency and reliability. Configuring zones can help users in remote regions connect to local resources without forcing connections to traverse large segments of the WAN. Using zones allows effective Site management from a single Citrix Studio console, Citrix Director, and the Site database. This saves the costs of deploying, staffing, licensing, and maintaining additional Sites containing separate databases in remote locations.
Zones can be helpful in deployments of all sizes. You can use zones to keep applications and desktops closer to end users, which improves performance.
For more information, see the Zones article.
- Improved database flow and configuration
When you configure the databases during Site creation, you can now specify separate locations for the Site, Logging, and Monitoring databases. Later, you can specify different locations for all three databases. In previous releases, all three databases were created at the same address, and you could not specify a different address for the Site database later.
You can now add more Delivery Controllers when you create a Site, as well as later. In previous releases, you could add more Controllers only after you created the Site.
- Application limits
Configure application limits to help manage application use. For example, you can use application limits to manage the number of users accessing an application simultaneously. Similarly, application limits can be used to manage the number of simultaneous instances of resource-intensive applications, this can help maintain server performance and prevent deterioration in service.
For more information, see the Manage applications article.
- Multiple notifications before machine updates or scheduled restarts
You can now choose to repeat a notification message that is sent to affected machines before the following types of actions begin:
Updating machines in a Machine Catalog using a new master image
Restarting machines in a Delivery Group according to a configured schedule
If you indicate that the first message should be sent to each affected machine 15 minutes before the update or restart begins, you can also specify that the message be repeated every five minutes until the update/restart begins.
- API support for managing session roaming
By default, sessions roam between client devices with the user. When the user launches a session and then moves to another device, the same session is used and applications are available on both devices. The applications follow, regardless of the device or whether current sessions exist. Similarly, printers and other resources assigned to the application follow.
You can now use the PowerShell SDK to tailor session roaming. This was an experimental feature in the previous release.
- API support for provisioning VMs from hypervisor templates
When using the PowerShell SDK to create or update a Machine Catalog, you can now select a template from other hypervisor connections. This is in addition to the currently-available choices of VM images and snapshots.
- Support for new and additional platforms
By default, SQL Server 2012 Express SP2 is installed when you install the Delivery Controller. SP1 is no longer installed.
The component installers now automatically deploy 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 runtimes, as well as 2008 and 2010 runtimes. Visual C++ 2005 is no longer deployed.
You can install Studio or VDAs for Windows Desktop OS on machines running Windows 10.
You can create connections to Microsoft Azure virtualization resources.
The product ISO no longer includes versions of the Citrix Receiver for Mac and the Citrix Receiver for Linux. You (or your users) can download and install the Citrix Receivers from the Citrix website. Alternatively, you can make those Citrix Receivers available from your StoreFront server (see the Make Citrix Receiver installation files available on the server section in the StoreFront 3.0.x documentation, or the equivalent documentation for the StoreFront version you are using).
- Proactive monitoring and alerting
You can now configure proactive alerting and notifications when thresholds are reached. This enables quicker responses even when you are not viewing the monitoring console.
- SCOM integration
Deployments that use Microsoft System Center 2012 – Operations Manager to monitor deployments can now view alerts provided by the Operations Manager on the Dashboard and in other high level views in Director. For example, if connections to supported hypervisors fail, the administrator can check Director for Operations Manager alerts. After reviewing alert details in Director, the administrator can then switch to the Operations Manager console for additional troubleshooting, if needed.
- Windows Authentication
Director now supports Integrated Windows Authentication. For single sign-on, a user’s Windows credentials are automatically used to access Director. This support allows users to log on to their machines using any credential provider and supporting hardware, and use that logged-on identity to access Director.
- Desktop and Server OS usage
The Trends view now shows the usage of Desktop OS by Site and by Delivery group, and it shows the usage of Server OS by site, by Delivery group, and by Machine. This gives you a real-time view of your OS usage, enabling you to quickly assess your site’s capacity needs.
- Application limits in Director
Application limits configured in Studio are shown in existing views and counts in Director. For example, the User Connection Failures on the Dashboard will indicate when a connection attempt fails because it would exceed an application limit.