Long Term Service Releases, Current Releases, upgrades and updates, hotfixes. What are they all, and what’s changing?

Let me give you the details.

Long Term Service Releases (LTSRs): up to 10 years of support

With the release of XenServer 7.1 LTSR Cumulative Update (CU) 1, we’ve taken the first step on a 10 year-long journey of our first Long Term Service Release. CU1 is a roll-up of all hotfixes released thus far on XenServer 7.1, along with several other stability fixes. It’s been deliberately designed for customers who are operating large production environments: no new features, no big architectural changes. Just the updates you need to keep your deployments running smoothly, and end-of-life dates that are the same as the most recent XenDesktop/XenApp LTSR (to make life just that little bit simpler).

Current Releases (CRs): getting you new features faster

Of course, it would be a little boring if all we did was make an LTSR, but never pushed out any new features! CRs are all about putting new functionality into customers’ hands faster, rather than waiting for “big bang” releases. XenServer 7.2 was the first of these in May this year (if you haven’t seen the video of support for Windows Continuum on 7.2, you should!), and we aim to release a CR approximately once a quarter.

Customer Success Services: Required for LTSR

As part of our move to the two different streams (LTSRs and CRs), we’ve taken the opportunity to investigate how we can add more product value to our existing Customer Success Services (CSS) program for XenServer. Given that CSS focuses on your overall product experience, we looked carefully at the XenServer hotfix process.

Customer Success Services customers who need to install a particular release of XenServer — and remain on that release for many years — can now take advantage of our 7.1 LTSR. As a unique benefit for active CSS customers, the 7.1 LTSR has longer product lifecycle milestones (5 years of mainstream support, followed by 5 years of, optional, extended support), aligned with the LTSR milestones for XenDesktop and XenApp. CSS customers can easily download the 7.1 Cumulative Update package, and future hotfixes based on it. Without CSS, customers will not be able to access CU1, nor any future hotfixes based on it.

In order to provide a transition period, we will endeavour to release any hotfixes made for 7.1 CU1 also on the base 7.1 release, until the 1st of December 2017. After that point, all functional and security hotfixes will only be released on top of 7.1 CU1, and will only be available to you if you have purchased Customer Success Services, and have applied a license to your XenServer environment.

In a similar fashion, XenServer 7.0 hotfixes will be available to all until the 1st of December 2017, after which the download of new hotfixes will require Customer Success Services.

CRs: available to everyone

For customers without Customer Success Services, fear not! You will still be able to download our quarterly Current Releases, with all of the latest features, and critical hotfixes for them. All hotfixes released for a CR will be rolled-up into the one that follows. This means that approximately a quarter later, when the next CR emerges, you will need to install the next CR to have all the latest fixes, and are all set to take future fixes.

If you do need to remain on a CR for a while (maybe you want to “skip” a CR), Customer Success Services customers now have a longer lifecycle for CRs as well. You’ll have access to four months’ more of hotfixes for the CR, giving you time to skip one and move straight to the next.

As an example, if we release a CR in December 2017, and then another in March 2018, hotfixes released until March 2018 on that first CR will be available to all. CSS customers will then also have access to fixes for that first CR for an additional 4 months, until July 2018.

What’s Not Changing

I understand that this change will be a surprise to some. I therefore want to provide clarity on what is not changing:

  • There will still be a free edition of XenServer.
  • Free edition users will continue to receive hotfixes on CRs (until the next CR is released which is approximately 3 months).
  • All editions of XenApp and XenDesktop continue to include entitlement to XenServer.
  • XenServer’s source code remains open source.
  • All hotfixes that have already been released will continue to be available to all.
  • There is no change to XenServer 6.2 or 6.5: these releases have End of Life dates in June 2018, and are today only eligible for critical security (not functional) fixes.

What Should Customers Do?

If you are a Citrix customer with an active CSS contract for XenServer, you will be unaffected by this change. This includes all XenApp and XenDesktop customers with a valid CSS contract, as these products include entitlement to XenServer.

Citrix customers who have let their Software Maintenance (now replaced by CSS) subscriptions expire should investigate renewing them, in order to retain access to the 7.0 or 7.1 LTSR updates stream, or to take advantage of the ability to skip a CR.

Users of the free edition of XenServer should be aware that to receive security hotfixes they will need to move to the latest CR as soon as practical. In order to retain access to LTSR hotfixes (or the ability to skip a CR), they will need to purchase XenServer Standard Edition or XenServer Enterprise Edition which includes 1 year of CSS.

I hope you’ll agree that in XenServer, there is something for everyone.

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