I’m sure you have heard by now that some limited part of AppDNA has been included in the XenDesktop 7 and XenApp 6.5 FP2 Platinum offerings.   How much is included and what it does for you has been the subject of much discussion among customers and partners, so this is a good time to talk a little more about it.

What is new is the fact that, with the upcoming AppDNA 6.3 version of AppDNA due out on June 26th, you will find an extra option added to the licensing screen.  The previous options were either to use the built-in 5-application trial license, or point the license server at a license that you received from Citrix – either an evaluation license, or a retail license (one for which you paid good money).   The new option invites you to name a XenDesktop or XenApp license server, and ask AppDNA to check if there is a valid license for Platinum there.  Here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

Option to choose the Platinum license server

If AppDNA finds a valid Platinum license, it unlocks an unlimited quantity for the server-hosted application reports inside AppDNA.  These will appear in the reports menu as SBC (Server-Based Computing), followed by ‘XenApp Hosted/TS’.   This set of reports focuses on assessing whether your applications are suitable for deploying in a XenApp or XenDesktop Hosted environment (not streamed).

The point behind offering this new capability is to help you assess the thousands of applications that we hear many customers have, sitting waiting to be virtualized.  Because manual testing takes time to do, applications that may not be the first-line in terms of importance tend to move to the back of the queue.   The XenApp Hosted reports will determine within minutes whether an application will ‘play well’ in a shared hosting environment.  Using registry keys or files that are shared is not going to work well in a hosted environment, so this is an example of what the XenApp Hosted algorithms will detect.  The more complete list that I have put together on what is checked is this:

  • Applications that make administrative calls
  • Use of shared resources (registry keys, files)
  • Likely performance issues

Here is what a typical analysis screen from the XenApp Hosted reports will look like:

Analysis screen for SBC Module showing before fixes and after fixes

Applications are divided into Red, Amber, and Green in general.  The meaning is as follows:

  1. Green – the application seems to be running well, but we don’t yet know whether it will run for sure. Send it for user acceptance testing (UAT).
  2. Red – We know for certain that the application is going to fail in some serious way, and you need to take steps to fix it.
  3. Yellow – this is the hardest result to interpret – it means that AppDNA found some errors, but we are not sure whether they will affect you.  For instance, we may have detected an unsupported 32-bit printer driver,  but if you know that no user ever prints from this particular application, there may not be a problem.

We see in the sample report screen above that, of the raw applications analyzed by AppDNA in this example,  almost 75% of them are already compatible with XenApp or XenDesktop.  However,  if you follow the advice and fixes given by AppDNA,  you will be able to get that number to 100%.

Not only does AppDNA show you the problems that have been detected with each application you have loaded (Standard Summary pie chart on the left), but it also tells you how much better the situation will be if you follow the advice of the AppDNA team (After Action pie chart on the right).  Even better, AppDNA will try and give you the benefit of standard application fixes for many problems, which you can download immediately. Such fixes include modifying install conditions that limit the application only to Windows XP,  or not requesting Administrator privileges to perform certain functions because they ‘never needed them before’.

Now, we need to be careful what we are saying here (and this is where the recent discussion has focused).   While the XenApp Hosted analysis is pretty useful, it is only a part of the story if you are upgrading from older versions of XenApp or XenDesktop (or even Metaframe Presentation Server if you remember that).  If you are on older versions of those products, you are most likely facing an upgrade of the operating system – whether it be Microsoft Server or Microsoft Windows desktop.   A typical migration might be from Windows Server 2003 to either Windows Server 2008 R2 or to 2012.   These migrations bring up another compatibility issue:  that of 64-bit compatibility.  16-bit code is not supported on the latest versions of Microsoft OS’s, and neither are 32-bit drivers.   Detection of these items is important early on, because it usually means that further testing is a waste of time – you need to either redevelop the application if it is homegrown, or get an update from the vendor if it is a purchased application.   A further wrinkle comes if you are using the Citrix Application Streaming format (CAS) – that is not being carried forward with the latest versions of XenDesktop and XenApp.  If this is the case,  then you need to look at compatibility with App-V v5 instead.  That brings the total number of compatibility checks that need to be considered to 4:

  1. Compatibility of each application with the latest versions of XenApp and XenDesktop
  2. Compatibility of each application with a ‘modern’ OS such as Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8
  3. Compatibility of each application with a 64-bit OS
  4. (Optional)  Compatibility of each application with App-V v5

The AppDNA Platinum activation will give you answers to question #1 for an unlimited number of applications.   However, to get answers to the other questions, you will need to purchase retail licenses for some of the AppDNA editions:

  • To change OS (answer questions #2 and #3) you will need AppDNA Standard Edition
  • To assess compatibility with App-V v5 (question #4), you will need AppDNA Enterprise Edition – which includes all the features of AppDNA Standard.

So to sum up,  Platinum customers have now got a quick and easy way to assess compatibility for thousands of applications that they are thinking of moving into their XenApp or XenDesktop environments.  However, if you are doing an upgrade from an older version of these products, there are additional questions you need to answer, and for these you should also invest in the AppDNA Standard or Enterprise Editions.

More information on AppDNA is available at www.citrix.com/appdna.  If you would like to share this blog with others, the shortlink is /blogs/?p=174197067