XenDesktop 5 Service Pack 1 is now available for download!

XenDesktop 5 Service Pack 1 follows the December

2010 XenDesktop 5 release with a number of bug fixes and quality improvements for hosted VDI desktop deployments and adds recommended support  for the new Microsoft Server 2008R2 SP1, Microsoft Hyper-V 2008R2 SP1, and Windows 7 SP1 platforms, as well as VMware vSphere 4.1 update 1. Service Pack 1 also delivers improvements to licensing reporting and optimization built into Desktop Studio.

Details of the improvements and fixes can be found here

For customers who have deployed pervious verisons of XenDesktop or are planning production deployments, XenDesktop 5 SP1 also includes 2 important features to  make migration and deployment simple:  Provisioning Services XenDesktop setup wizard and the XenDesktop 5 migration tool.

Provisioning Services XenDesktop Setup Wizard

Recently released and packaged with XenDesktop 5 SP1 is the updated Provisioning Services XenDesktop Setup Wizard for leveraging Citrix Provisioning Services in a XenDesktop 5 hosted virtual desktop deployment. While the XenDesktop 5 desktop controller now includes an integrated provisioning and management system called Machine Creation Services (MCS), Provisioning Services is an all-purpose provisioning system that can maintain a common repository of master images and provision physical PCs or Blades, virtual machines, or physical or virtual XenApp servers used for hosted shared desktops or applications.

The flexibility of Provisioning Services makes it an important part of larger, more complex XenDesktop deployments. In addition, when using Provisioning Services to provision non-persistent / non-assigned hosted virtual desktops, the storage IOPS are approximately 33% lower compared to MCS-provisioned desktops. Finally, While NFS (network file system) is the preferred central storage infrastructure for virtual desktops, Citrix Provisioning Services is the recommended option for thin provisioning desktops when using block-based SAN central storage.

Migration tool for XenDesktop 5

Also recently released for XenDesktop 5 and packaged with Service Pack 1 is a migration tool for assisting in the migration from previous XenDesktop environments. XenDesktop 5 introduced a number of powerful new features which require moving to a new database architecture utilizing standard SQL and the concept of catalogs that provide additional flexibility, scale, and manageability.

XenDesktop 5 also represents a change in server platform from Microsoft Server 2003 or 2008 to Microsoft Server 2008R2 (or SP1) requiring new controllers to be built alongside the existing broker infrastructure. Also, the shift toward use of an SQL database to enable better scalability and reduce the complexity of role and configuration planning for desktop controllers requires that the SQL database utilize best practices for HA and performance.

Citrix Consulting has provided documentation for best practices in migrating to XenDesktop 5, and now, a migration tool is available to capture desktop group schema and virtual machine configuration state so that they may be imported into a new XenDesktop 5 desktop controller to ease migration of large deployments.