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Citrix Convergence: XenApp and XenDesktop

What happens when you take the most powerful application delivery platform and converge that with the most powerful desktop virtualization platform on the market? Well Citrix seems to think that magic will happen, and I tend to agree.

Last week at Citrix Synergy Barcelona, Citrix showed off Excalibur which is supposed to finally integrate XenDesktop and XenApp into a single product with one installation that has a unified back-end infrastructure based on XenDesktop's Flexcast Management Architecture. Those of you who are emotionally attached to Independent Management Architecture, which today is the underlying architecture that runs XenApp, should probably begin to say your goodbyes.

Excalibur also promised to converge Citrix Profile Manager, Citrix EdgeSight (hopefully by then, it is either redesigned or Citrix acquires a new company to replace its technology), and Storefront, which is the successor to the legendary Web Interface. Citrix, do you expect me to believe that after all these years, all these GB downloads, I can finally have one install package, unified architecture, two management consoles to do all this? Tears of joy and contentment are raining down my face, so please get this right.

How is Citrix unifying XenApp and XenDesktop? Well, they are moving away from the traditional component installation of XenApp atop Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host to use the current XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent. So, in essence, you install the VDA on your Windows Terminal Server and that's it.

Now, granted that the VDA for XenApp will install many more components and make significantly more changes to the underlying operating system, the idea here a better, streamlined admin experience installing XenApp than what's available now.

Two things to note here: First, as of this writing Excalibur will not have a VDA package for XenApp running on 32-bit operating systems. But given the history with Citrix, they will bow down to popular demand. With enough customer push back, I am sure this will happen.

Second, as my fellow CTP Shawn Bass pointed out, FMA does not have the concept of Zones, which are an important design criteria in XenApp environments that allows us to isolate interserver communications and limit them to a particular zone. Given the importance of this feature, I would be surprised if Citrix does not address it in one way or another, as it could very well be a barrier for scalability and there are some really large XenApp environments out there. If you want them to upgrade, Citrix, you better get this one right.

Excalibur goes into Tech Preview November 1 and you can be assured we will cover this extensively. For now, I would love to get your reactions, thoughts, and concerns on this convergence.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 10/22/2012 at 3:08 PM


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