FAQ: XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 webinar

Last evening or morning depending on your timezone I presented a webinar together with Srinivas of eG Innovations. They offered me the platform to talk about the best practices when migrating to XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6. We had 470 people online which is pretty cool I think.
I had too much topics to talk about and we ran out of time, only a few minutes but still too much to do any Q&A. In this blog post I will address the questions asked.
  • Are XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 different
    software modules, or am I installing the same software for both?
The software is the same, the components as I said in the webinar also are the same. The software you install will install a Delivery controller and offer you to install the license server and storefront server. 

Whether you choose XenApp or XenDesktop during the setup, you will end up with the same back end components.
  • The Local Host Cache was present in Citrix XenApp
    6.5. In XenApp 7.6, there is no Local Host Cache or equivalent functionality. Correct?
That’s correct, there is no real equivalent in 7.6. In 7.6 you have connection leasing which is a method to provide the user with a two week history of connections to resources. This will be used to connect the user to e.g. a desktop in case of a database failure. It does not do any load balancing or check if the desktop is in maintenance mode.
  • Is it possible to extend connection leasing
    beyond 2 weeks?
Yes it is, read this article about how to.
  • Will Connection Leasing work even for a
    XenDesktop environment or is it specific to XenApp?
It will work for both environments under specific conditions, it won’t work with pooled desktops and won’t work with anonymous users. Xendesktop will be setup most of the time with pooled desktops I presume and that won’t work. Only if users have an assigned desktop it works.
  • How much days of data does Director store if I
    have a Platinum license?
With Platinum you can save up to 1 year of data instead of the 1 week without.
  • Is Framehawk intended to replace branch
    repeater…or something like session reliability?  How does that compare with the technology in
    Horizon View?
FrameHawk is not intended to replace branch repeater, at least I haven’t heard anything about that. It is acquired because it was offering Citrix to ability to offer better user experience in more use cases whereas Branch Repeater is not used that much

From a protocol point of view it is comparable, both are UDP based. PCoIP however is not designed to handle this kind of connections. 
  • How is XenDesktop deployment different with a Nutanix
    Acropolis hypervisor than on VMware ESX? Any inputs on performance differences
    between Nutanix and VMware?
From a component point of view there is no difference, you still need your back end environment to get Citrix up and running. Nutanix is offering compute and performance in one.

With a VMware hypervisor you will be able to get the same performance, Nutanix is not something magical. You need to focus om computing power, storage performance and GPU. Personally i think that the cost for Nutanix are pretty high and I’m not sure at this moment if that justifiable. Time will tell, we’re a partner also, so we will see both worlds at customers. 
  • Am I correct that Framehawk works remotely with
    NetScaler 11?
Yes since a week or so it is supported.
  • Are
    there any viable alternatives for GPU technology other than NVIDIA?
There are many others but NVIDIA is one of the top players, AMD is pretty strong also in that field.
  • We are having trouble getting a XenApp 7.6
    environment up and running.  6.x, 5.x,
    and 4.x were much easier to install and run. 
    What are we doing wrong?
If wish I could say that.. With 7.6 make sure you have the controllers, storefront and licensing running fine.. if that runs without issues you just need to add a virtual machine with e.g. 2012R2 or Win7 and install the VDA. From Studio you should be able to create a catalog at that point. Start with MCS if you feel insecure, what it needs is a snapshot of a virtual machine with of course the agent installed. good luck. 

If you don’t succeed write a blog about it and show us where you fail, people are out there to help you… we are nice people 🙂
  • We only want to verify that our products are
    compatible with XenApp7.6. Is there a free testing environment available?
There is no free testing environment available I think, never saw one. You could easily set it up on one server or heavy laptop. controller, storefront and licensing can be on one server, you could even add the database there. then all you need is one extra server with the agent. I have an Intel NUC i5 running as my lab at home. cheap to buy easy to manage and enough to do some testing.
  • What are the requirements to build a test lab
    for Citrix XenDesktop 7.x ?
Depends on your testing requirements, but you need at least one vm as mentioned before to run controller, storefront, licensing and db. And one to run a VDI or SBC server.
  • Regarding migration to XenDesktop 7.x, what do
    I have to update first: the XenDesktop Controllers or the PVS?
I would go for PVS for that one thing you really want to get stable. Check the compatibility of the target device software,I think it’s backwards compatible. Good thing is that PVS has always been separate from other Citrix products so it will work most of the time. It’s more dependent on operating system versions.
  • If updating the XenDesktop Controllers 7.5 to
    7.6 or PVS 7.1 to 7.6, do we have to update the Agents (VDA) immediately or we
    can continue to use the previous versions till the new golden image is ready?
You will be able to run them for a short period of time but it’s never a good idea to do that too long
  • Does the feature pack for XenDesktop 7.6 contain
    any additional performance optimizations?
It says so, it contains performance optimization for video and chat. I haven’t seen much other things so far.
  • Is it possible to migrate from XenApp
    5.0 to XenApp 7.6 on Windows server 2008 standard?
2008 or 2008R2, it’s only supported on 2008R2. see edocs.
  • If you
    had a choice of the hypervisor for hosting XenApp, which one would you choose
    and why?
That’s a tricky question, I’d go for VMware for they have the most experience in this field whereas others are relative new there. I like a solid foundation to host my server that my user rely on. Doesn’t mean that Hyper-v or Xenserver are bad choices but if you ask me I go for VMware.
  • I am
    sure you’ve got this question before – where do you see VMware Horizon View in
    capabilities relating to XenDesktop 7.6?
VMware has been working hard to get close to Citrix, for a couple of years Citrix seemed to be standing still. lots of rumors inside and not much new stuff coming out. VMware Horizon View certainly is side by side with Citrix. VMware RDSH is not that close yet. For me I don’t care who is in the lead of winning. I’m not a fanboy, I value each vendor on what the bring for the money and if it’s rubbish I will say so.

Net step in the race is the cloud solution with Citrix having workspace cloud on the market and VMware going to release Project Enzo pretty soon. Interesting to see but again who cares who has the biggest…childish games from fanboys.
  • Any
    recommendations for storage when deploying XenApp 7.6 or XenDesktop 7.6?
Make sure you have enough performance and don’t think you can sit there with your 10K disks for another 5 years. Times have changed, look towards PVS with cache to ram w/o to disk to speed up or go for a software defined solution.
  • My
    organization uses Microsoft SCOM as the enterprise management tool and I am
    trying to add Citrix monitoring to SCOM. Can SCOM give me end-to-end
SCOM can’t give you end to end, it’s not designed for that. SCOM with several expensive management packs will offer something close but not as easy as other can.
  • Can I
    use the same hardware I am using for XenApp 6.5 for 7.5 or will I need more
You can, but think about GPU and look towards you storage. It all depends on your users and the applications they use. There is no one answer to this, you need to test.

Hope my answers are helpful, thanks everyone for attending my webinar last night. I was a good one I think, hope you felt the same.

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