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Citrix tunes XenApp for Windows Server R2

App-V virtual embrace

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Now with added HDX

XenApp 6 also has a bunch of new HDX features, which is Citrixpeak for doing clever things on the server side so video and audio streaming from the servers back to the clients feels local even though it is not. HDX also allows for USB peripherals to plug into local clients and interact with hosted Windows instances and streamed applications. XenApp 5 allowed for USB-attached flash and disk drives to be linked to XenApp sessions, and with XenApp 6, cameras (including Webcams), microphones, headsets, point-of-sale peripherals, and other USC devices can plug into the client in real time and be seen by XenApp.

The software also has new codecs that use 90 per cent less bandwidth than those in XenApp 5, and CD quality audio as well as hooks into Microsoft Office Communicator as well as VOIP softphones such as Skype. Windows 7 clients have smartcard support too.

Citrix is once again touting its Dazzle interface for streaming applications down to end users, which is part of the XenApp stack. Dazzle presents users with an interface that looks like an online store, and they subscribe to applications rather than simply have a zillion apps pushed at them by system administrators. The news with this release is that in addition to being able to allow subscriptions to applications packaged up for XenApp, XenApp 6 has plug-ins that allow for applications that were formatted for Microsoft's own App-V application virtualization and streaming software to be served up by Dazzle.

But that is not the end of it. XenApp 6 itself allows for App-V applications to be published from XenApp and has a plug-in so App-V applications can be managed from XenApp and be streamed down to the Receiver client. In other words, Citrix just made App-V irrelevant. Microsoft is not, as far as Rey knows, building any capability into App-V so it can host XenApp applications and stream them down to its own App-V client.

XenApp 6 will be available for download on March 24. The Advanced Edition, which is the entry product, costs $350 per concurrent user. Enterprise Edition allows for greater scalability and is aimed at larger installations, and it costs $450 per concurrent user. Platinum Edition, which has all the bells and whistles, costs $600 per concurrent user.

Last October, Citrix started pouring all the goodies from XenApp into its XenDesktop 4 virtual desktop infrastructure package, turning it into something of a Swiss army knife of virtualization. None of that means Citrix is going to kill off XenApp any time soon, and Rey says that Citrix intends to continue to offer XenApp as a standalone product and make enhancements to it.

The reason is simple: the vast majority of Presentation Server and XenApp customers pay for maintenance. Depending on the quarter, services attach rates for these lines ranges from the high 80 per cent to low 90 per cent range, and you don't mess with that. You do everything you can to protect it.

For customers who want to go all out on desktop virtualization, XenApp 6 is now being rolled into XenDesktop 4, which is priced based on named users or devices, not on concurrent users. XenDesktop costs between $95 to $350 per device or user, with the price changing based on the feature set.

One last thing: Upgrades. Because of the substantial differences between XenApp 5 and 6, upgrades are not simply a matter of doing downloads and getting a cup of coffee. Customers who are on Subscription Advantage support contracts with Citrix will be able to get the XenApp code (or the updates to XenDesktop 4), but they have to plan for their upgrades.

The XenApp 6 software will run only on Windows Server 2008 R2, with XenApp 5 supported on Windows Server 2003 and the first release of Windows Server 2008. Citrix will encourage customers to go with the former combo, of course, and that might mean Windows upgrades concurrent with XenApp upgrades at many shops. To help make the transitions easier, Citrix has several hundred customers who have been testing out some migration tools since last December for moving to the new XenApp 6. These tools will be available in the second quarter. The tools will also help upgrade from prior Presentation Server and XenApp releases, not just do the XenApp 5 to XenApp 6 hop. ®

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