Citrix XenServer 6.0 released

In this release Citrix introduces private cloud self-service tools and platform, networking, performance and scalability improvements designed to enable a multi-tenant environment that reduces your infrastructure total cost of ownership into XenServer.

With the XenServer 6.0 release, Citrix now offers greater disaster recovery protection that removes dependencies on Windows virtual machines, but Citrix and Microsoft were still able to bolster their virtualization partnership with increased integration between XenServer and Microsoft’s management software. As a consequence of the new feature set that XenServer 6.0 incorperates Citrix is now moved up in the Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization, as seen in the image below:

Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure

Key new features in Citrix XenServer 6.0:

XenServer 6.0 includes a number of new features and ongoing improvements, including:

Integrated Site Recovery (Disaster Recovery):

Automated 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 the requirement to run a 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 and 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 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.

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 and 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 and 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.

Noteworthy changes to existing features

  • Lab Manager has been superseded by Self Service Manager.  Lab Manager will continue to be supported with XenServer 5.x through December 2012 according to the lifecycle policy posted here
  • StorageLink: With the move from the Windows-based “StorageLink Gateway” to “integrated StorageLink,” some StorageLink array support is being retired.  Focus for StorageLink support is being placed on arrays with standards-based SMI-S interfaces (e.g. EMC CLARiiON) and those which are widely used with XenServer (NetApp and Dell EqualLogic).  Arrays whose StorageLink supportability is being retired will continue to be supported via the standard iSCSI and Hardware HBA Storage Repositories.  StorageLink Gateway will continue to be supported with XenServer 5.x until September 2013 according to the lifecycle policy posted here.   Note also that the new “rolling pool” upgrade takes care of upgrading from StorageLink Gateway, and performing validation for unsupported arrays
  • Site Recovery:  Site Recovery is no longer based on StorageLink.  This enables DR support for virtually any iSCSI or Hardware HBA storage repository scenario where the underlying array includes replication features (either supplied by the array vendor or a third-party replication scenario)

Click here to download Citrix XenServer 6.0 (my require a valid mycitrix.com account)