Working closely with key industry partners, Citrix solution architects have been busy preparing for the announcement of Citrix XenDesktop 7 (a.k.a., Project Excalibur). This release marks a new chapter in how Citrix software changes the delivery of Microsoft Windows apps and desktops, transforming them as secure, centrally managed services that users can access on any device, anywhere. The new release is exciting because it follows a common architecture for provisioning all Windows apps and desktops — for hosted-shared RDS access as well as VDI desktops — taking advantage of common policies and cohesive tools that govern infrastructure resources and access. The service delivery model is cloud-ready because it promotes mobility and allows users to search and subscribe to published services.

To help system architects quickly deploy solutions based on the new Citrix XenDesktop 7 release, engineers from Citrix, Cisco, Microsoft, and EMC are in the process of designing, testing, and documenting a comprehensive reference architecture. The architecture merges infrastructure components and virtualization technologies to build a cost-effective solution that scales predictably. As shown below, Hyper-V virtual machines host Server OS Machines (for RDS), Desktop OS Machines (for VDI), and Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS). The XenDesktop Delivery Controller manages access, distributes apps and desktops, and optimizes connections. Updated software components — Citrix Studio, StoreFront, and Director — simplify app store and profile management, user self-service subscription, and real-time analytics, respectively, making virtualization solutions easy to manage and deploy. An enhanced Provisioning Services release provides consistent image management for both RDS and VDI-based machines.

Solution architects are building out the reference architecture to prove how well a small to mid-size virtualization environment can scale, conducting scalability tests using a mix of hosted-shared and VDI desktops. The configuration includes: Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers, Cisco 6248UP Fabric Interconnects, Cisco Nexus 5548UP Access Layer Switches, Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switches, EMC VNXe storage, Microsoft Server 2012 with Hyper-V, and Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager. Additional testing and analysis is underway to help customers confidently size Citrix XenDesktop 7 solutions on Cisco platforms, EMC storage, and Hyper-V, so stay tuned!
— Frank Anderson, Principal Solutions Architect with Citrix Worldwide Alliances