Last month, we kicked off our monthly “What’s New in XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer” series to highlight all the new monthly enhancements in our virtualization solutions. Building on the momentum from November, we continue to enhance user satisfaction with our industry-first Windows Continuum virtual desktop experience. Also this month, we release XenServer 7.3, which expands our market-leading graphics-virtualization capabilities with NVIDIA.

Our Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service is designed to aggregate your workloads across any cloud. This month we are expanding that ‘any cloud’ mission to include Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud. We have also partnered with Nutanix to introduce the first-ever Citrix Workspace Appliance, Nutanix InstantOn for Citrix Cloud. This new offering is a tightly integrated hybrid cloud solution that simplifies and accelerates virtual application and desktop (VDI) deployments for companies of any size. Additionally, our immensely popular XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR provides key security and compliance updates, fortifying the digital workspace. Each December enhancement has been designed to help you along on your digital workspace journey by strengthening the overall value of your Citrix Workspace.

Let’s kick things off with XenServer 7.3 updates, which are available today. These significant enhancements extend our goal of providing enterprise solutions that offer an unmatched end-user experience. With updates ranging from providing a native-like experience for Windows 10 desktops, to showcasing the power of NVIDIA vGPU and our long-standing partnership with NVIDIA, XenServer 7.3 provides some of our most innovative features to date. It doesn’t end there — we also have some updates to our popular XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR:

  • Extending XenServer graphic-virtualization leadership: Building on our longstanding partnership with NVIDIA, aimed at improving the user experience for digital workspaces, the XenServer 7.3 release introduces support for the latest NVIDIA Pascal GPUs. The addition of NVIDIA virtualization software, such as Quadro vDWS and GRID vPC with Pascal GPUs to your XenServer VDI environment, enables you to deliver the highest-performance graphics-accelerated apps and desktops. From CAD users to typical knowledge workers, all of your employees can benefit from enhanced experience and productivity by adding NVIDIA virtualization software and the latest NVIDIA GPUs to your XenApp and XenDesktop environment. Users will get a native-like experience for high-end applications, as well as their modern, productivity apps, on their choice of device, while organizations will reap the benefits of centralizing these workloads.
  • Expanding our industry-first Windows Continuum virtual desktop experience: XenDesktop, with XenServer, is the first and only desktop virtualization solution to deliver Windows Continuum experience with Windows 10 virtual desktops. XenDesktop 7.16 expanded our industry-leading Windows Continuum virtual desktop technology by enabling a Windows 10 virtual desktop to recognize when the user switches from a physical tablet to a physical desktop and automatically toggle the virtual desktop between tablet and desktop mode. See it in action in a short video.

  • Introducing our first-ever LTSR of the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Skype for Business: Our immensely popular XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 Long Term Service Release (LTSR) is proving to be one of our most downloaded releases. We are excited to announce that we are aligning our equally popular HDX RealTime Optimization Pack (RTOP) for Skype for Business with the Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.9 LTSR. The HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.4 is our LTSR version of the offering, giving you the option of running the same RTOP for up to 18 months. This makes it easier to align your Skype deployment with your long-term support and maintenance goals. This is coming soon in December.

This year, reducing the threat landscape continues to be a high priority for IT decision makers, as cyber threats such as ransomware attacks continue their upward trend. Balancing end-user experience without impacting your security posture takes careful planning — simply shutting out employees from the web isn’t a realistic approach. At Citrix, we are constantly looking at innovative ways to help organizations achieve this balance. This month, we build upon our existing security features by making web browsing safer, as well as enhancing the security and compliance of our popular XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR.

  • Stopping malicious attacks where they start, in the web browser – Most attacks enter the enterprise from vulnerable browsers and plugins causing some organizations to eliminate web browsing altogether. This can negatively impact user-experience and productivity. Rather than shutting out users from the web, simply secure the way they browse. Browsing the web securely just got easier with Citrix Secure Browser Service. Available in Tech Preview, Secure Browser allows organizations to mitigate threats such as ransomware, data theft and malware by letting admins define a secure, remote browser hosted on a Linux VM in Citrix Cloud and instantly deploy it to users.
  • XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR achieves FIPS Compliance, Common Criteria in evaluation – As a long-time software vendor of choice for the US Federal Government, Citrix has consistently ensured our products and services meet compliance requirements outlined for procurement of IT systems. We are proud to announce that 7.15 LTSR has completed FIPS testing, and is officially FIPS compliant. We also know Common Criteria is essential for government admins across the world, which is why we are confident in saying XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR Common Criteria certification is in evaluation. Stay tuned to our blog posts for news in the coming weeks. Even if you aren’t a public-sector customer, you might find the associated security guidelines we published helpful for your deployments.

Over the past year, our team has had the opportunity to chat with many Citrix customers on their future priorities, and it’s no surprise that transitioning to the cloud is one of the key initiatives on their minds. Our main goal is to make our customers’ journey to the cloud seamless and easy and we’ve partnered with some of the industry’s biggest software vendors to help achieve that goal. This month’s update highlights updates from those partnerships, as well as other goodies for XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer.

  • Any cloud flexibility with Google Cloud Platform: For many years, Citrix and Google have partnered to develop key technology for XenApp and XenDesktop users, including Receiver for Chrome. Earlier this year, the partnership was expanded to include integrations between ShareFile and Google G Suite, and ShareFile connectors for Google Drive and Gmail. We are taking our partnership to a new level by announcing that the XenApp and XenDesktop Service now officially integrates with Google Cloud Platform. This integration enables you to host virtual applications and desktops workloads within Google Cloud Platform and to securely deliver and manage those workloads with the Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service. To help you get started, Citrix has released a new Citrix Cloud with Google Cloud deployment guide.
  • XenApp and XenDesktop Service is now available in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace: Citrix is forging ahead in our partnership with Oracle, and a key testament to that commitment is the availability of the XenApp and XenDesktop Service in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace. In partnership with our good friends at Oracle, you can now host virtual application and desktop workloads in the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI Classic) and securely manage and deliver those workloads with the Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service. Learn more about this exciting new partnership with Oracle.
  • Announcing our first-ever Citrix Workspace Appliance with Nutanix: Citrix in partnership with Nutanix are proud to announce the availability of Nutanix InstantOn for Citrix Cloud as the industry’s first Citrix Ready Workspace Appliance, making it faster and easier to deliver secure digital workspaces in today’s hybrid cloud world. As a Citrix Ready solution, Nutanix and Citrix together provide a fully integrated, scalable and cost-effective solution for delivering virtual applications and desktops. By combining the cloud-simplicity of XenApp and XenDesktop Service with Nutanix scale-as-you-grow architecture, you can reduce ongoing management costs, alleviate infrastructure complexity, and deliver high-performance access to applications and desktops to every user. As an official Citrix Ready Workspace Appliance, Nutanix InstantOn is a Citrix Ready verified, turnkey digital workspace solution making it easy to get started today.
  • Improving the admin experience with Azure Managed Disks and Citrix Cloud Helpdesk Tool: We’ve had Azure Managed Disks in tech preview for some months, but we’re excited to announce that Azure Managed Disks are now GA! Managed Disks eliminates the complexity of storage accounts and offers customers a scalable and highly available solution for creating and managing disks that does away with the time-consuming need to replicate master images to storage accounts. Furthermore, reliability of machines in availability sets is improved as Managed Disks are allocated to storage clusters in a manner that optimizes the distribution across fault domains. We’ve also got a great update for customers requiring Helpdesk functionality with your move to the cloud service. Helpdesk support gives unique permissions aligned to Level 1 troubleshooting and issue remediation. Helpdesk Support allows the creation of Helpdesk operators for the XenApp and XenDesktop Service within the Citrix Cloud control plane, instead of just full administrators for the service.
  • App Layering now supports Windows 10 1703: The wildly popular App Layering solution for streamlining IT operations and improving agility now supports build 1703 of Windows 10. Easily manage OS and app updates in the most efficient manner possible.

But wait, there’s more from XenServer…
The XenServer 7.3 release also includes Changed Block Tracking to enable backup vendors to develop more efficient backups, vLAN tagging on the management interface for improved admin flexibility, and SMB version 3 for the ISO storage repository to improve security.

There you have it: a December jam packed with goodies just in time for the holidays! We’d like to wish everyone Happy Holidays, and we look forward to discussing our recent updates and future releases with Citrix Partners and sales teams when we see you at Citrix Summit 2018. If you’re a Citrix Partner and haven’t registered for Citrix Summit 2018, don’t fret, as there’s still time to register.

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As always, we welcome any feedback, questions or suggestions.

Thanks for reading my post,
Nitin Sharma

Nitin Sharma is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Citrix focused on digital workspace delivery and the associated XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer product lines.