We are thrilled to announce the general availability of the latest major release of our virtualization platform, XenServer 7.

This new release of XenServer extends its lead in 3D graphics virtualization, transforms hypervisor security with our new and unique Direct Inspect API and significantly enhances support for Microsoft Windows environments. Combine this with some substantial scalability improvements, and customers will see major benefits when running Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop or other third-party workloads.

First With Support for Intel Virtualized Graphics

XenServer 7 simplifies graphics virtualization using the Intel Iris Pro on-CPU Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to substantially reduce costs to run graphics-intensive applications. This industry-first feature requires no additional hardware or licenses, and accelerates graphical workloads of many types. This is a benefit to many classes of applications including: web browsers, productivity tools like Microsoft PowerPoint, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and enterprise 3D data visualization software.

“Intel is pleased to partner with Citrix to be first in the industry to enable Intel Graphic Virtualization Technology virtual GPU (Intel GVT-g) in a commercial hypervisor, allowing Citrix XenDesktop to deliver graphics-intensive applications remotely to a broad set of professional designers, creators, and researchers. This industry-first capability, supported on Intel Xeon processor E3 family with integrated Intel Iris Pro graphics, allows users to seamlessly access applications from secure data centers, enabling workers to efficiently collaborate anytime, anywhere.” — Jennifer Huffstetler, Director, Datacenter Product Management, Intel Corporation.

NIVIDIA vGPU Improvements

XenServer was the first hypervisor to support NVIDIA vGPU technology and now we’re extending that lead. XenServer 7 supports up to 128 NVIDIA GRID vGPU-enabled VMs—a 33% increase over previous releases. This allows for the highest density of accelerated VMs, and dramatically reduces costs. In addition, we now support NVIDIA vGPU with Linux virtual machines! This opens up a whole new set of use cases for Linux-heavy industries such as oil and gas.

One serious user of XenServer and NVIDIA GRID technology for high-end CAD applications is Red Bull Technology, and they had the following to say after trying out preview releases of XenServer 7.

“XenServer is first on the grid at Red Bull Technology.  As long time power users of XenServer we’re delighted to see that the latest XenServer 7 release delivers even more performance and scale. We’re now able to run even our most demanding applications in a fully virtualized manner, made possible by the latest vGPU innovation from NVIDIA coupled to XenServer 7.0’s support for 1.5TB of guest memory and 32vCPUs.

Red Bull Technology is an incredibly pressured environment, with time perhaps the most precious of all commodities; therefore, anything that helps reduce the burden of server or VM administration is hugely attractive to us, which is why we’re so impressed with the new autonomous Health Check feature.

In short we’re big fans of XenServer, we abuse it, and it works”. — Neil Bailey Head of IT Infrastructure Red Bull Technology

And, here’s what NVIDIA themselves has to say about XenServer 7:

“XenServer 7.0 with the NVIDIA TESLA M10 supports up to 128 NVIDIA GRID vGPU-enabled VMs (a 33% increase on XenServer 6.5), enabling the highest density deployments of GPU-accelerated applications across the enterprise for knowledge workers, and with the TESLA M60/M6,  it supports the most graphics demanding CAD users – with no compromise in performance.  With GRID software, Citrix customers benefit from twice yearly updates to ensure they always have access to the latest innovations and improvements. Support for Linux brings the benefits of virtualization to an entirely new customers in industries such as oil and gas, media and entertainment, and aerospace and defense.” — John Fanelli, VP Product for NVIDIA GRID

A New Era in Security Technology

Unique in the industry, XenServer 7 introduces the new Direct Inspect APIs to provide better than physical protection of virtual infrastructures from malicious activity. Adopting an innovative approach, XenServer Direct Inspect APIs enable security vendors to fundamentally change how they approach operating system security. With absolutely no agents required inside the guest operating system, these APIs allow third-party security vendors to partner with Citrix in providing the next generation of virtual infrastructure protection, leaving malware, viruses and rootkit zero-day attacks no place to hide within the VM, and unable to compromise the security software.

“Now available as a technology preview, Bitdefender Hypervisor Introspection (HVI) tightly integrates with the XenServer Direct Inspect API released by Citrix as part of XenServer 7, the first and only commercial hypervisor capable of virtual machine introspection. Bitdefender HVI is the first solution to offer real-time memory scanning and monitoring of guest virtual machines, providing unparalleled visibility into advanced targeted threats.” — Harish Agastya, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions at Bitdefender

Microsoft Technology Integrations

XenServer 7 includes several new features for Microsoft Windows environments. XenServer now supports the Server Message Block (SMB) storage protocol, which is ubiquitous in Windows environments, for virtual machine image storage. This enables organizations heavily invested in Microsoft Windows to utilize existing file shares to reduce complexity and cost. This is especially attractive for customers virtualizing Windows applications with XenApp and XenDesktop, and SMB support for primary VM storage isn’t available with VMware ESX.

Now supporting Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016, XenServer 7 also extends our market-leading support of Docker container technology to the Windows platform. This easy-to-use integration into XenCenter allows infrastructure administrators to support new DevOps workflows without requiring any change to their existing processes or tooling. XenServer is now the first hypervisor to offer integrated management of Docker containers on Linux and Windows.

Another great new feature for Microsoft Windows environments is the ability to update the XenServer tools through Microsoft Windows update. This feature will be a huge time saver and will greatly ease keeping private cloud environments up-to-date.

One customer who uses XenServer to manage a large Windows environment is Prudential Group. Here’s what they had to say about XenServer 7.

“Here at the Prudential Group, Citrix XenServer has been the engine that’s driven VDI adoption to over 90% of the group user estate.

We’ve found it to be cost effective, efficient and reliable, three qualities that we value highly, and XenServer forms the heart of our private VDI “cloud” offering, providing desktop services to over ten thousand of our group clients, day in, day out, 24/7.

I look forward to being able to leverage the latest XenServer 7 for even lower TCO and maintainability improvements.” — David Morrison – Citrix Platform Manager – Prudential Global Data Services

Additional XenServer 7 Highlights

  • XenServer Health Check – provides proactive, regular and automated health checks and reporting
  • XenServer Conversion Manager – now supports batch conversion of all versions of Windows and simplifies migration from VMware
  • Significant scalability improvements –
    • 5x increase in supported host RAM (up to 5TB)
    • 2x increase in support for CPU cores (up to 288)
    • 8x increase in VM RAM (up to 1.5TB)
    • Support for Citrix AppDisks (up to 255 virtual disks per VM)

Here’s a final thought from our CTO that I think sums up our objectives well for XenServer 7:

“As more and more customers look to consolidate their on-premises infrastructure without compromising security or performance, the “better together” approach from Citrix resonates as an incredibly appealing solution. Yet again, with the release of XenServer 7, we have delivered on our promise to make the Citrix stack the most performant and cost effective for customers across any industry sector. We leverage our strong partner relationships to combine innovation with a commitment to incredible product quality that enables us to provide the foundation for delivering mission critical services, including Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and many other application workloads . In this release, our focus on security, manageability and flexibility are a direct result of our deep understanding of customer requirements and we are excited to see how XenServer 7 will help play a part in their digital business transformation initiatives.” — Christian Reilly, CTO, Workspace Services Business Unit, Citrix

For more information on XenServer 7, visit: https://www.citrix.com/products/xenserver/whats-new.html


XenServer 7 is available for download today, Tuesday, May 24th, and further information can be found at http://www.citrix.com/xenserver

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