A little like Christmas without Santa Claus, it wouldn’t be the week of Citrix Synergy without a XenServer release! Hot on the heels of XenServer 7.1, we’re excited to announce that XenServer 7.2 is now available for download. With industry-first advances in graphics virtualisation, unique Windows Continuum support, and easier snapshot management, there’s something in “Project Falcon” for everyone.

Windows Continuum for Virtual Desktops

Want to smoothly roam your virtual desktop from your laptop to your iPad? XenDesktop has been able to that for a long time. But today we’re making that even better: XenServer 7.2 includes a technology preview that enables your virtual desktop to seamlessly adjust its interface to Windows 10’s tablet mode (and back), automatically. Only available on the Citrix stack, we’re again showing how XenServer under XenDesktop unlocks possibilities other hypervisors can’t, and helping you to deploy Windows 10. Oh, and have I mentioned recently before that it’ll save you $136 a desktop compared to running vSphere?

A Virtualised Graphics Hat Trick: AMD MxGPU

Citrix has long been the leader in virtualised graphics, including GPU sharing in XenApp, being the first to support NVIDIA vGPU, and most recently being the first commercial hypervisor to support Intel’s GPU virtualisation technology, GVT-g. XenServer 7.2 achieves another industry first: support for all three vendors’ GPU virtualisation technologies, with the addition of experimental support AMD MxGPU.

This “full house” of GPU technologies means that customers running XenServer and XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro can choose from the full gamut of hardware on the market, with AMD MxGPU offering hardware-level isolation and QoS courtesy of SR-IOV, and available in MXM (for blade server), single-width and double-width PCIe card forms. A single MxGPU card can host up to 16 users, with up to 64 users possible on a single host, a significant increase compared to the 1 to 1 mapping required for GPU pass-through.


Another revolution in graphics is also being announced this week: a soon to be released tech. preview of XenMotion of NVIDIA vGPU-enabled VMs. Before, if a host needed to be shut down for maintenance, vGPU-accelerated VMs needed to be shut down. But now, if you’re running this tech. preview of XenServer, you can seamlessly move the workloads just like you can live migrate any other VM.

We’ve worked closely with NVIDIA for many years, and first started discussions on live migration of vGPUs back in 2013! Fast forward to this week, and if you’re at Citrix Synergy, you can see the product of a very significant engineering effort: demonstrations of XenMotion of vGPUs at both the NVIDIA and Citrix booths. Check out Bob Ball’s blog for all of the details!

Scheduled Snapshots

With the recent news concerning ransomware, now is good time to ensure your backup strategy is robust. XenServer 7.2 aims to make remembering to take snapshots a little easier, by introducing support for snapshot schedules. Just set the policy (daily, weekly…) and a time, and you’re done. If you accidentally delete something (or are unlucky enough to have your files encrypted by malware), just right click and revert to a previous snapshot. Simple.

Where Next?

With XenServer 7.2 we’re introducing the concept of “Current Releases (CRs)”, mirroring the XenDesktop/XenApp concept of releasing every few months. Customers who are keen to access new features as quickly as possible can use 7.2, and update to newer CRs within a few months of their release. To make these updates easy, we’ve ensured that the hardware compatibility list for 7.2 includes all the 7.1 hardware, and that moving between CRs is pain-free. Hence, head over to the XenServer downloads page, take 7.2 for a spin, and give us your feedback!

Meanwhile, customers who want to build a Citrix stack with up to 10 years of support can choose XenServer 7.1, which is a Long Term Service Release (LTSR), together with a XenDesktop/XenApp LTSR. By providing a full stack with a single set of end of maintenance dates, 10 years in the future, we’re making it easy to plan for the long-term. And because XenServer entitlement is included in every edition of XenApp and XenDesktop, it’s easy financially, too.