Deployed around the globe at organizations of all types and by service providers offering public, private and hybrid Clouds, Citrix CloudPlatform is relied on to deliver critical production workloads at scale. As organizations continue to increase the size of their production Clouds, new releases of Citrix CloudPlatform demand a relentless pursuit of quality and resiliency by Citrix. And with this release, the Citrix development team has really delivered the goods.
Much of the hard work on this release resulted in major improvements that could be considered “behind the scenes” and not readily apparent on the surface. But there are some really interesting new innovations in this release. I’ll cover those first.
New Support for 3D Workloads
In conjunction with Citrix XenServer, Citrix CloudPlatform 4.5 can now take full advantage of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) hardware. Now, offload graphics-intensive tasks from a general purpose CPU to a GPU to deliver a much higher performance for professional designers using specialized graphics tools. IT can dedicate a GPU to their needs using GPU passthrough. For power users and knowledge users who don’t have the same intense requirements as professional designers, a physical GPU can be shared among several users via vGPU. The ability to dedicate and share GPU hardware makes efficient use of GPU investments. At the same time, organizations can deliver the performance required for workloads in support of big data processing, medical imaging, video and more. Administrators have the flexibility to assign GPUs to Guest VMs when deployed or later on by simply changing the service offering.
Figure 1: Creating a Compute offering with GPU support
While on the topic of new items in the area of compute, for those customers running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Citrix CloudPlatform 4.5 now supports a default KVM implementation which removes prior QUEM customizations for Volume snapshots.
While experimental features are not ready for production use, the intent is to deliver these compelling future capabilities to you now for testing and evaluation purposes. There are two experimental features are in Citrix CloudPlatform 4.5; check them out and let us know what you think.
- Baremetal for Advanced Networks: Baremetal deployments, which run virtual machines without a host operating system, deliver very high performance for performance-sensitive workloads. Prior releases of Citrix CloudPlatform supported baremetal on basic networking topologies. Baremetal on advanced networks adds support for sophisticated capabilities around traffic isolation, security, virtual local area networks (VLAN) and Virtual Routers for network services like DHCP and DNS. For organizations that want to deliver a baremetal service offering, advanced networking support is essential.
- Linux Containers (LXC): For workloads that do not require complete operating system virtualization, LXC offers a high-performance resource-friendly alternative compute option. LXC offers very high workload density per host with minimal overhead.
Figure 2: Adding an LXC Zone
Reliability and Resiliency
Throughout Citrix CloudPlatform 4.5, Citrix has worked hard to ensure reliable and consistent performance across capabilities like creating, deleting and migrating VMs. The ability to recover from system failures gracefully and maintain service levels despite unanticipated issues affecting the Management Server or database have been enhanced. There are also improvements in areas like logging, error messages and debugging that make supporting this release much easier. You’ll also notice that Citrix has revamped the documentation with updated and improved content.
To make Citrix CloudPlatform 4.5 more operationally efficient, Citrix continued to build on foundational work for Virtual Router (VR) rolling upgrades initiated in the previous release. In version 4.5, it’s much faster to configure VRs during upgrades and reduce the overall time it takes to complete the upgrade cycle. Now VR commands are aggregated and processed as a single batch. Any VR restart, if needed, is performed once after the batch processing is completed.
Other Compelling Items
Citrix Insight Services (CIS)
You can now easily upload Citrix CloudPlatform configuration data and log information to CIS and perform analytics on your environment. CIS provides visibility into your Cloud environment, configuration, resource counts, upgrade history and more.
Dynamic support for new Guest operating systems (OS)
Previously, when new Guest OSs became available on supported hypervisors, customers had to wait for an updated version of Citrix CloudPlatform to be released. Now customers can submit a request through support to have a new Guest OS added and Citrix can validate and certify the new Guest OS between releases.
New Software and Systems
Citrix continues to update support for new virtualization platforms including Citrix XenServer 6.5, VMware vCenter (5.0 up to Update 3a, 5.1 up to Update 2a, 5.5 up to Update 1b), and KVM on RHEL 6.5. Support for Citrix NetScaler VPX, MPX and SDX 10.1e and 10.5 are also added.
There’s quite a bit to explore in this new release. As Citrix CloudPlatform has become an essential foundation for high-scale production clouds, we’re delivering a release that is rock-solid and designed to support your growth. It’s a new year, and we’ve just begun.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be updating the Citrix CloudPlatform section of the web site along with other materials. To get started, take a look at the release notes and other guides here. Download the software and experience the enhancements.