This blog post is intended to help XenServer customers plan ahead. If you are using a XenServer Current Release (CR), you will want to read on to find out about what’s coming and when.
Choosing between LTSR and CR
Last month, we released XenServer 7.6, which marks the continued evolution of a CR stream that started back in May 2017, with the release of XenServer 7.2.
That first XenServer 7.2 CR — and all the subsequent ones — were derived from the original XenServer 7.1 Long Term Service Release (LTSR) offering. By way of a quick refresher, the premise of LTSR and CR is to allow our customers to choose between the ultimate in code stability (LTSR), or the opportunity to use new features at the earliest juncture (CR). In order to benefit from the latest features within CRs, customers are required to adopt newer CRs on a regular basis (typically within four months of the release of the next CR). Click here for details.
We consciously chose a four-month interval, rather than three, so that customers can, if desired, skip alternate releases, and still remain in support.
CRs and updates
To date, customers have been able to move seamlessly from one minor version (CR) to the next, using the XenServer update mechanism. This update wizard handles the process of installing the new features, while ensuring that workloads continue to run without interruption. Given that the underlying platform hasn’t changed from XenServer 7.2 through XenServer 7.6, re-certification by hardware vendors has not been necessary; the XenServer Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) essentially has remaining unchanged throughout this period.
Major new release and changes to the HCL
In Q1 2019, we plan to release version 8.0 (CR). As denoted by the numbering, this will constitute a major new release and, as such has some potential implications that customers on the CR stream should know. The new 8.0 release includes new platform components, most notably changes to the linux kernel. The changes to the linux kernel will require hardware vendors to re-certify their servers, NICs and HBAs against this new platform; therefore, changes to the HCL should be expected.
Prior to commencing an upgrade, customers using older hardware to run XenServer CR environments will need to check whether their hardware is still on the version 8.0 HCL. If this older hardware is not listed on the HCL, customers can:
- Upgrade hardware, that doesn’t appear on the new version 8.0. HCL to hardware that is supported.
- Consider adopting the XenServer LTS release* for those pools running on older hardware. Having a mix of LTSR and CR pools is perfectly ok, just don’t mix and match!
- Approach your hardware vendor to see if they are prepared to certify your older hardware on the new 8.0 platform.
- Rest assured that whether your hardware appears on the new HCL or not, your support calls will still be fully serviced by Citrix (with the limitation being our ability to escalate to vendors, if needed, where the hardware in question has not been certified).
*You cannot downgrade from a CR to an earlier LTS release, therefore a re-installation would be required.
XenServer 7.6 EOL Q2 2019
XenServer 7.6 will be supported through to the end of Q2 2019, at which time XenServer CR customers will be required to adopt the new 8.0 release in order to remain in support. You can check the Citrix Product Matrix for further details of EOL dates, for all XenServer releases.
XenServer 7.1 CU2 coming to LTSR
This quarter we will release the second Cumulative Update to XenServer 7.1 (CU2). Customers using XenServer 7.1 LTSR will need to apply this update within three months of release to remain in a supported configuration. The End Of Life (EOL) and End Of Extended Support (EOES) dates remain unchanged (August 2022 and August 2027 respectively).
Finally, and for those of you who might have been wondering when XenServer would adopt the new product branding, I can reveal that the Q1 2019 8.0 release, will be Citrix Hypervisor. Stay tuned to the Citrix website for further details over the coming months.