A few weeks ago, Citrix Consulting Enterprise Architects hosted a webinar on the new XenApp/XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR that included a live Q&A portion with various representatives from our team. We recorded the webinar for those who missed it, and the on-demand version is always available in the archive on our Technology in Practice homepage.

We ended up receiving more questions during the webinar than we had time to answer. As we promised attendees, here are answers to some of the common questions we received:

Q: Citrix lifecycle dates: Is 7.6 LTSR still supported? How long will 7.15 be supported? What is the EOL date for 6.5? What is the EOL date for 7.5?

Citrix publishes lifecycle dates for all products here.  In brief, XenApp/XenDesktop 6.5 and 7.0 through 7.13 all have the same EOL date: June 30, 2018.  Current Release 7.14 follows the newly announced CR lifecycle of six months of maintenance and 18 months of mainstream support.  The fact that a new LTSR, 7.15, has been released does not invalidate the support of the previous LTSR, 7.6: both continue to have five years of mainstream support from time of release, and another five years of extended support.

Q: Microsoft operating system support: Are you saying that 7.15 LTSR will be the last LTSR for Windows 2008r2, or that version 7.16 (that is not LTSR) will also not support Windows 2008r2? I am confused because Windows 2008r2 has several years left to its life (from Microsoft). How long will you support Windows Server 2012 R2?

As announced on our deprecation page, the 7.15 release will be the last to support Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 (for both VDAs and Delivery Controllers).  This means that they will be removed from a future Current Release; this announcement is not specific to the LTSR service offering.  Citrix will support Windows operating systems based on the Microsoft support lifecycle.  For example, Windows Server 2008 R2 reaches end of extended support with Microsoft in January 2020, and customers can continue to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 VDAs up to that date, but must use the 7.15 (or earlier) version.

Q: Moving between versions: Can we upgrade from CR to LTSR or from LTSR to CR? If we stick with 7.15 LTSR, am I free to continue upgrading App Layering and still be compliant?

Yes, customers can move between LTSR and CR versions at any time, and “compatible components” (non-baseline components, like App Layering) can be updated alongside without impacting the LTSR compliance of the environment.

Q: Version cross-compatibility: If I upgrade my Delivery Controllers to 7.15 LTSR, will my older VDAs still work? Can I use the same License Server? Is there a step-by-step process available?

When moving between 7.x versions, the License Server is the sole component that has an order requirement: it must be upgraded to the version that ships with the relevant XenApp version (11.14.0 Build 21103 in the case of 7.15) prior to upgrading any XenApp server. Otherwise, all components are cross-compatible across 7.x versions (7.14 VDAs will work with 7.15 Delivery Controllers and vice versa) and this is a key requirement to staging in-place upgrade activities.

Some general upgrade order guidance is provided here; however, outside of the License Server, the order of the components is fairly flexible depending on what is easiest for your organization. Usually, we see customers tackle non-site components such as StoreFront, Director, and Provisioning Services first, as they can be easier to knock out during maintenance windows and there are fewer of them, leaving the XenApp site for last. Depending on the size of the site and whether Provisioning Services/Machine Creation Services is in use, it may take weeks or months to cycle through all of the VDAs, so many choose to upgrade the Controllers first and then work their way through various silos afterwards. However, you can also do the reverse if you would prefer to tackle the database upgrade last and not deal with the potential confusion of having features in the console (new policy settings) that do not apply to the earlier VDA versions still in the environment.

Q: Upgrades: Any issues to be aware of when upgrading from 7.9 to 7.15? How do I upgrade from 7.14 to 7.15?

Generally, if you just deployed 7.14 or 7.13, an in-place upgrade to 7.15 is probably easiest, following some of the above guidance around order of operations. With earlier CRs, the farther away from 7.15 you go, the more changes to the database are happening (to account for new features) and the more likely it is that deployment has been in production for some time (therefore, bigger impact to users versus a pre-production 7.14 or 7.13 environment). Although in-place upgrades are supported from earlier CRs back to 7.5, you may want to consider a parallel build and migration depending on your risk tolerance, available hardware, maintenance windows, and/or desire to stage the migration across different user groups (vs. a “big bang”).

Q: XenApp 6.5 migrations: Is there any value to upgrading 6.5 to 7.14 and then 7.15? What is the recommended way to cut over from 6.5 to 7.x – do you have to use a different URL??

If you have XenApp 6.5 today and no other 7.x version, it is best to go straight to 7.15 if that is your new target platform. Moving to any other 7.x version as an intermediate step will just create more work when moving to 7.15. In terms of cutting users over between those two environments (6.5 and 7.15), using the same or a new URL largely depends on how conspicuous you want to make this transition. Some customers want to advertise a new platform and a new look-and-feel, and therefore define a new URL. For others, whose users hate change, keeping the same URL (via a DNS cutover) is preferable.

Q: What is the best migration option / approach for 7.6 CR version to 7.15 LTSR version?

As with everything, it depends. Generally, we are very risk adverse within Citrix Consulting and tend to lead with parallel builds and migrations (as opposed to in-place upgrades) when pushed for a blanket recommendation, because they give the most control over the how users are moved between versions. However, for some smaller environments or user bases with well-defined work hours (with longer maintenance windows), this is not practical and in-place upgrades are used instead. As stated above, the farther away from the 7.15 release you are, the more changes have to be made to the database. Therefore, the more possibilities exist for issues with the in-place upgrade. Enterprise customers more than likely are going to go for parallel builds with phased migrations of users.

Q: Roadmap: when will we support session limits for published desktops? What other missing 6.5 features is Citrix planning to add to future versions?

Unfortunately, we cannot comment on roadmap items here, but we do provide constant feedback to our product management teams on customer use cases and functionality that are not well met by the 7.x platform. We believe that many of these 6.5 functionality gaps are now closed with 7.15, although the means of achieving that same functionality may have changed. For example, a checkbox that was previously in AppCenter may now be configured via PowerShell or settings that were previously configured independently such as Load Evaluators and Profile Management may now be integrated into Citrix policies in Studio.

Q: Last but not least, Citrix Services offerings: who do I talk to about the Citrix Professional Services offerings mentioned during the webinar?

As highlighted during the webinar, we have two Professional Services offerings to assist with your migration/upgrade to XenApp 7.x, as shown below.  Simply submit the form here to speak with a Services specialist.

  • Citrix Consulting: Architecture Design Update and Migration Plan
    Working with your team, our consultants will assess your key business and technical requirements, define and document design decisions, and create a customized migration plan.
  • Citrix Education: XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x Administration
    Our five-day basic and advanced courses cover the major aspects of installing, configuring and managing a highly available XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x environment.

Note that we’ve also extended the Citrix Services discount of up to 25% for the offerings listed above through the end of this year.

Thanks very much for all those who attended and especially for you all who stayed on for the Q&A. We hope you find this information useful.