The word “upgrade” has become almost entirely associated with software, hardware and computer environments. Software production is a fluid and forward motion. For customers it can sometimes become a challenge to keep up with the ongoing lifecycle maintenance of any enterprise solution. With XenDesktop there are several supported upgrade scenarios that will get you from A to B. The path you choose ultimately depends on where you are starting from.

  • The Desktop Delivery Controller has an IMA architecture infrastructure like that of XenApp. The IMA data store is architecturally the same so upgrade scenarios are similar for both XenApp and XenDesktop. The main difference is that XenDesktop has a larger number of integrating components.

  • By default, Web Interface will be upgraded with the DDC. If Web Interface is running as a standalone server, be sure to upgrade this component since often times new features are dependent on these changes.

  • The Virtual Desktop Agents should be upgraded after the farm has been upgraded.

  • The host infrastructure and Provisioning Services in most cases can be upgraded before or after the DDCs and VDAs unless a specific patch is documented as a requirement.

  • It is always a best practice to upgrade the end user component but often the most cumbersome. The Desktop Receiver can be automatically upgraded by the user logging into Web Interface. Full Desktop Receivers can be rolled out with Group Policy or other msi technologies. This step should be done after the upgrades in the data center are complete.

Table1: Order of components as it applies to XenDesktop 3 upgrade from XenDesktop 2.0/2.1

XenDesktop Component Notes
1 Farm Master DDC The Farm Master is the “Data Collector” of the XenDesktop farm and maintains IMA data from all other servers. This server should be the first to upgrade.
2 Member DDCs All other servers in the farm should be upgraded next. Mixed farms are supported during transitional periods.
3 Web Interface When Web Interface is installed on a standalone server, upgrade it next. (By default it will be upgraded when running on the DDC).
3 Management Consoles Make sure that the Management Consoles are selected and are upgraded with the DDC.
4 Virtual Desktop Agent Upgrade the VDAs after the DDC farm is upgraded. The VDA 2.x is supported during transitional periods.
5 Desktop Receiver The Desktop Receiver 11.1 is required for new XD3 features. The previous version will connect but will not have full feature capability. Admin rights are required for USB support.

Optional Components Notes

License Server No upgrade required. For XD Edition upgrades, see
Host Infrastructure Citrix recommends upgrading from XenServer 4.1 to XenServer 5.0. Both are supported with XenDesktop 3.

Provisioning Services Citrix recommends upgrading from PVS 4.5 to PVS 5.0. Both are supported with XenDesktop 3.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard On PVS, you must first uninstall the previous version and then install the new version of Setup Wizard. This new version is supported on PVS 4.5 or PVS 5.0.

Depending on the size and scope of the existing XenDesktop 2.x deployment, there are three options to choose from to upgrade the XenDesktop farm. In all cases, upgrade the DDCs first and then the VDAs.

Scenario 1:

Build a new/parallel XenDesktop 3 farm and perform a cutover. A gradual transition can be implemented using a shared Web Interface site with multiple desktop icons from the two farms. This is a good choice when the existing farm was small or not ready for production.

Scenario 2:

Build a new DDC 3.0 and add it to the existing XD 2.1 farm. This is a good choice when using direct mode access to a 3rd party database and you want to save the existing farm configuration. Once the new DDC has joined the farm, remove the old DDC(s) from the farm.

Scenario 3:

Perform an in-place-upgrade to the DDCs. Upgrade the DDCs from 2.1 to 3.0, starting with DDC master. This method can be used with a direct mode or an MS Access data store and will maintain farm configuration.

Choosing the scenario that best fits you and your customers needs is key to providing continued improvement to the end user and administrator experience. Hardware, fault tolerance, disaster recovery and adding users are all factors that give each upgrade a unique set of choices and decisions to be made.