Our recent XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 release has generated a lot of buzz, both because of feature set and updates to our LTSR program that make this a very appealing option for those still holding on to XenApp 6.5 and counting the days until the June 2018 EOL date.
As a result, we are starting to have a lot of transition planning conversations with our customers to prepare for this final push off of XenApp 6.5 and are hearing common challenges emerging. To help guide (and expedite!) your own migration efforts, we want to share some of the key stumbling blocks we are finding in the field. Hopefully some of these items sound familiar…
Budget Time for IMA to FMA Feature Translation. Although we have largely achieved feature parity between 6.5 and 7.15, some of the features had a bit of a makeover along the journey and may not be exactly how you remember them. Therefore, it is usually worth budgeting some extra time for this translation exercise to map features and how they were configured in previous versions to the equivalent features and how they are configured in 7.15. For example:
- Reboot schedules were applied via policy in 6.5 and are now configured per delivery group or tag (via PowerShell) in 7.15.
- Load Evaluators, conversely, were configured in a separate node in the console in 6.5 and assigned via policy, but are now both configured and applied all within policy in 7.15.
- Zone Preference and Failover was changed in 6.5 to worker group-based load balancing policies and is now back in 7.15 as zone preference, which can be assigned per user or per application.
- Local Host Cache (LHC) is back to provide some HA in case of database failure (and is replacing Connection Leasing in future versions), but works a bit differently – there are two new services – and impacts how we size Controllers since only one will be active per zone in LHC mode.
- Single server resources (meaning publishing a desktop or application to a single server, such as for temporary testing or administrative validation) is accomplished by modifying the application or desktop properties directly in 6.5 and via the use of tags in 7.15. The end result is the same, but the road to get there is a little different.
Access Methods May Change. With all the attention on XenApp, it can be easy to lose track of the fact that Web Interface is going EOL at the same time as XenApp 6.5 and anyone who has not yet cut over to StoreFront needs to plan that migration as well. Additionally, a key sticking point we are seeing at a lot of our healthcare customers in particular is the use of static or custom ICA files, which are not supported as part of normal production usage in 7.x. This is not something that we ever really recommended anyway, but they are out there and in large numbers in some environments for a variety of legitimate (and sometimes illegitimate) reasons and therefore must be addressed. We have a wide range of options for granting users access to XenApp, from webpages to desktop shortcuts, but with all the focus on XenApp infrastructure, this component of the solution should not be ignored.
Do Not Forget About User Data. This one is not specific to XenApp 7.15, but file it under the “do not forget” folder along with Web Interface / StoreFront. In the rush to get off of 6.5 and the hyper-focus on those servers, do not lose track of the basics when it comes to migrations – what applications are running, where do users store data today, and perhaps most importantly – how are you going to guarantee that they have access to that same information tomorrow? If you are coupling your migration with an operating system change and/or application upgrades, this becomes potentially more complex as you consider profile type changes and/or a lot of user experience changes at once. Key point here is just to not wait until the week before go-live to think about whether users are still going to have their email signatures the following week – don’t lose sight of the fundamentals!
This is just a high-level overview of a few of the key lessons we’ve learned from doing a few of these migrations over the years and looking ahead to what is in front of us with XenApp 7.15.
If you want more information on these and other lessons learned, please join David Case and me for a free webinar on September 20th at 9AM, 2PM, or 5PM EST. There will be a live Q&A session at the end where you can ask any question you wish on XenApp LTSR and migration strategies.
Senior Architect, Citrix Consulting Services