Citrix XenServer 6.5

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in AMD, Cisco, Citrix, Cloud, CloudStack, Datacenter and Cloud, Dell, Desktop Virtualization, FirePro, GRID, HDX, HDX 3D, HDX 3D, HDX 3D Pro, HP, IBM, Lakeside Software, LoginVSI, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Server 2012R2, VDI-in-a-box, vGPU, Virtualization Ready, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012R2, XenDesktop, XenServer

Citrix have released a major release of their hypervisor XenServer 6.5

I have with this blogpost gathered all the public informations available and created a blogpost on what I think is new with Citrix XenServer 6.5 and why this is great and how you can use this.

FAQ on how Citrix XenServer is used in the world and how its changing the world.

Its the industry-leading fully open source virtualization platform that supports cloud, datacenter and desktop virtualization infrastructures. XenServer is used for 40% of Citrix XenDesktop deployments and 60% of Citrix CloudPlatform deployments. XenServer is the power behind the great product Citrix NetScaler SDX. 750.000+hosts are running Citrix XenServer around the world. XenServer is running the worlds largest public and private clouds and its powered by Xen Project hypervisor. It have been the prefered hypervisor used for GPU pass-through or vGPU solutions. Citrix XenServer helped NVIDIA change the market for GPU cloud, datacenter and desktop virtualization with colloborating their NVIDIA GRID which lower the price of GPU’s that can be virtualized and give a better EUC experience.

Raw facts.. have it been worth waiting for XenServer 6.5

Lets face it, last version was in 2013, now its 2015 and is it worth waiting for next version of version 6.5. Yes it is why, cause now Dom0 have been upgraded from 32bit to 64bit, this means performance is boosted big time since version 6.2. Hypervisor is upgarded to Xen 4.4 in Citrix XenServer 6.5 and 64 bit domain0 (Dom0) can handle more VM’s, more data, 50% increase in GPU density with NVIDIA GRID vGPU profiles, better support for new CPU’s from Intel and AMD such as Intel Haswell EP and AMD Warsaw + much more

Look at this sample of benchmarks comparing the performance of Citrix XenServer 6.2 vs Citrix XenServer 6.5

xs65perfsm

Pretty impressive, looks like 64bit with Dom0 have improved the XenServer big time, lets dig in the features.

New Features and Improvements in XenServer 6.5

Citrix XenServer continues to be a fundamental platform for Citrix’s long term goal of enabling work and play from anywhere, from any device. With the introduction of XenServer 6.5, Citrix delivers support for the newest 64-bit hardware and latest Guest operating systems, delivering increased vGPU scalability, in-memory read caching and performance improvements in the areas of storage and networking.

Architectural Improvements

Citrix XenServer 6.5 introduces many architectural improvements which aim to improve overall performance and removes a number of scalability limitations in XenServer 6.2. For details of the new configuration limits, refer to CTX141510 – XenServer 6.5

Configuration Limits.

Citrix XenServer 6.5 – Virtual Machine (VM) Limits

Virtual Machine (VM) Limits 2015-01-13_0828

Citrix XenServer 6.5 – Host Limits

xenserver 65 host limits

64-bit Control Domain Linux Kernel

The new 64-bit Control Domain (Dom0) enables XenServer to accommodate many more PCI devices per host (NICs, GPUs, and so on), and allows the use of devices that are 64-bit only (including many Solid State Drive solutions). The new 64-bit kernel removes the previous restrictive low/highmemory division which limited the maximum amount of memory that Dom0 could use. This could
result in sub-optimal memory performance within Dom0, when more than 752MB RAM was allocated. In addition, Dom0 has been upgraded from CentOS 5.7 to CentOS 5.10.

Dom0 memory is automatically configured depending on the amount of free host memory and can be scaled and optimized to cope with memory demands of the very latest vGPU, disk and network drivers. This enables support for more Virtual Machines (VMs) and internal caches to speed up disk access

New Xen Project Hypervisor v4.4

XenServer 6.5 includes the latest Xen Project hypervisor available; v4.4 delivers many improvements.
It vastly increases the number of virtual event channels available for Dom0, from 1023 to 131071,
which translates into a correspondingly larger number of attached virtual devices. XenServer v6.2 used a special interim solution that provided 4096 event channels, which was enough for around
500 VMs per host but with only a few virtual devices in each Virtual Machine. With the support for
extra event channels in version 4.4, XenServer 6.5 allows each of these VMs a far richer set of virtual
devices. Xen 4.4 also handles grant-copy locking requests more efficiently, dramatically improving
aggregate network and disk throughput.

In-memory Read Caching

In scenarios where golden images are deployed and VMs share much of their data, the few specific blocks VMs write are stored in differencing-disks unique to each VM. Read caching improves a VM’s disk performance as, after the initial read from external disk, data is cached within the XenServer host’s memory. This enables all VMs to benefit from in-memory access to the contents of the golden image, reducingthe amount of I/O going to and from physical storage. It greatly improves performance in situations where many VMs are cloned off a single base VM on a read-caching supported SR (currently EXT and NFS). For example, in XenDesktop Machine Creation Service (MCS) environments, it drastically reduces the number of blocks read from disk. This performance improvement can be seen whenever data needs to be read from disk more than once. This is most pronounced in the degradation of service that can occur during heavy I/O situations. For example, when a significant number of end users boot up within a very narrow time frame (boot storm), or when a significant number of VMs are scheduled to run malware scans at the same time (anti-virus storms).

** keep in mind this features is only available XenServer 6.5 Desktop+ License edition or its called if you are a Citrix XenDesktop Platinum customer.

 

read-cache

Storage Improvements

There are several improvements, including the ability for XenServer to free up previously used blocks from a LUN (i.e. deleted VMs from an SR), live LUN expansion, support for tapdisk3 and an updated device mapper multipath

Network Improvements

There’s an updated Open vSwitch (now at v2.1.3), GRO is enabled by default and now a Netback Thread per VIF, which is an improved way of sharing resources and improving performance with para-virtualized VM NICs.  There is also an updated DVSC, the distributed virtual switch controller with a number of platform related security fixes. Improved IPv6 guest performance.

New Guest Operating Systems support

  • Ubunto 14.04
  •  & SLES 12
  • Debian 7.2 “Jessie”
  • CentOS 5.10,6.5,7.0
  • Red Hat 5.10, 6.5, 7.0
  • Oracle Linux 5.10, 6.x
  • Oracle UEK 6.x

Workload Balancing

Workload Balancing appliance is back..

  • Reintroduction of Workload Balancing appliance
  • Generate performance monitoring reports
  • Alert administator to system hot spots
  • Automatically place workload based on historic data
  • Dynamically move workload based on CPU, storage & network load

** keep in mind this features is only available XenServer 6.5 Enterprise & Desktop+ License edition or its called if you are a Citrix XenDesktop Platinum customer.

XenCenter Improvements

  • XC Logs and Alerts rewrite
  • Hotfix notification process improved
  • Settings of cores per socket via GUI
  • DVSC fully supported, no longer shown as deprecated
  • XC installer improved including slimmed down .NET install

NVIDIA GRID vGPU improvements- support up to 96 vGPU profiles pr host

Citrix XenServer has led the market in its support for virtualized graphics processors.  GPU passthrough has been around for a while and even some of our competitors also feature it, however it was never a scalable solution for large volumes of desktop virtualization users.  vGPU, introduced a year ago by Citrix with Support for NVIDIA GRID cards meant suddenly, higher numbers of users could get access to advanced graphics in a virtualized desktop scenario.

In this release, Citrix scaled their support for vGPU sessions by 50%, now with 96 vGPU sessions per host.  Obviously you need to have the appropriate h/w host to support 3 NVIDIA GRID cards, with all necessary resources to run the numbers of VM, however, it demonstrates how Citrix continues to lead the market for organizations seeking application and desktop virtualization solutions. Remember when you add more GRID cards in a server its recommended having the more CPU for this.

** keep in mind this features is only available XenServer 6.5 Enterprise & Desktop & Desktop+ License edition.

*** Keep in mind NVIDIA GRID vGPU is not available in the free version or standard version of Citrix XenServer

**** GPU pass-through feature is available for all versions for Citrix XenServer 6.5 including the free edition.

vGPU.png

Citrix XenServer 6.5 License FAQ

Citrix XenServer 6.5 is available in 1 free edition & 4 commercial editions:

Commercial editions

  • Standard
  • Enterprise
  • Desktop
  • Desktop+

The Standard edition is Citrix entry level commercial offering, with a range of features that will suit the needs of those customers who want a robust and high performing virtualization platform, but do not require the premium features offered by the Enterprise edition; while still wishing to benefit from the assurance of comprehensive Citrix support and maintenance.

The Enterprise edition is Citrix premium offering, optimized for both server, desktop and cloud workloads. In addition to the Standard edition, it offers access to in-memory read caching, Dynamic Workload Balancing, GPU Virtualization (vGPU) with NVIDIA GRID, VMware vSphere to XenServer Conversion utilities, Intel Secure Measured Boot (TXT) and Export Resource Data.

The Desktop edition is only available to customers who have purchased XenApp or XenDesktop; it includes all XenServer features previously available to XenApp or XenDesktop customers. This includes features that the Standard edition does not have, namely: Dynamic Workload Balancing, GPU Virtualization (vGPU) with NVIDIA GRID, VMware vSphere to XenServer Conversion utilities, Intel Secure Measured Boot (TXT), as well as full Citrix support and maintenance.

The Desktop+ edition is only available to customers who have purchased the Platinum edition of XenApp or XenDesktop; in addition to the features available in the Desktop edition, it also includes access to in-memory read caching.
Note: Upgrades to the Enterprise edition are available from the Standard edition. To buy a XenServer 6.5 license, click here.

In XenServer 6.5, customers should allocate product licenses using a Citrix License Server, as with other Citrix components. From version 6.2.0 onwards, XenServer (other than via the XenDesktop licenses) is licensed on a per-socket basis. Allocation of licenses is managed centrally and enforced by a standalone Citrix License Server, physical or virtual, in the environment. After applying a per-socket license, XenServer will display as Citrix XenServer Per-Socket Edition.
Note: Mixed pools of licensed and unlicensed hosts will behave as if all hosts were unlicensed.

Read more about the Citrix XenServer 6.5 License FAQ here

Citrix XenServer Feature Set 6.1, 6.2 vs 6.5

Below graph give a great overview which feature is available for the free version vs the paid version in XenServer 6.5
The feature set gives also a great overview what is new in XenServer 6.5 compared to 6.1 & 6.2
* hint click the image for larger picture to see better the details.

xenserver feature set

Source

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 media here

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 installation guide here

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 graphics guide here (used if you want to configure GPU pass-through or NVIDIA vGPU)

Download  Citrix Xenserver 6.5 Technical FAQ

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 Configuration Limits

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 Release Notes

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 Admistration Guide 

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 Virtual Machine User Guide

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 Management API Guide

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 Workload Balancing Quick Start Guide

Download Citrix XenServer 6.56 Workload Balancing Administrator’s Guide

Download Citrix XenServer 6.5 vSwitch Controller User Guide

Citrix XenDesktop & XenApp 7.6

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in Android, AppDNA, Apple, Chromebook, Citrix, Cloud, Datacenter and Cloud, Desktop Virtualization, GRID, HDX, HDX 3D, HDX 3D Pro, HTML5, iOS, Microsoft, NVIDIA, OS X, Provisioning, Receiver, Server 2012R2, vGPU, VMware, vSphere, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012R2, XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer

Citrix have released a new version of Citrix XenDesktop & XenApp 7.6

This is a major release that contains new version of many new software components.

I have in this article included all new product releases to give you an overview what is released related to XenDesktop & XenApp 7.6 solution.

How to get Fraps working with Citrix XenApp 7.5 & Login VSI Graphics Framework

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in AMD, Autodesk, Citrix, Cloud, Datacenter and Cloud, Dell, FirePro, GRID, HDX 3D, HDX 3D, HDX 3D Pro, HowTo, HP, IBM, LoginVSI, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Receiver, Server 2012R2, vDGA, vGPU, VMware, vSGA, vSphere, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012R2, XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer

This is one of my many series of how to scale test applications using Login VSI Graphics Framework.

If you are interested in trying out the new Graphics Framework from LoginVSI Click here to register for the public beta.

LoginVSI GFX requires you to have Fraps installed on your either VDI or XenApp server.

To get Fraps working correctly, you might run into the issue I have been having. UAC will not allow it to run or if you have UAC disable, you still get a UAC prompt.

This article describes how to get Fraps working in a multisession environment Microsoft Remote Desktop Services 2012R2, Citrix XenApp 7.5 with Login VSI Graphics Framework.

Hotfix Name Changes for Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 and XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5

Written by Thomas Poppelgaard. Posted in Best Practise, Citrix, XenApp, XenDesktop

There is some confussion about the new VDA for XenDesktop and VDA for XenApp, how do you apply which hotfix to which OS you are running, this article gives you an overview of which hotfixes to apply your Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp 7.1 > 7.5 environment.

Hotfix Name Changes

With the reintroduction of XenApp in version 7.5, the same underlying components are used for XenApp and XenDesktop. As a result, the ‘XA’ and ‘XD’ designation will not appear in the hotfix name. Instead, the component name is prepended to the hotfix name.

Recent Comments

Thomas

|

really good overview. thank you very much!

Thomas

Jani Kohonen

|

Great post! Very informative, thanks!

Danny de Wolf

|

Hey Thomas,
Great work, thanks. I’m still running into an issue that I cannot seem to resolve. I was hoping you might have an idea where I should look ?
I’ve got an application server with ES5.4, and a separate SQL server with the Reporting installed. I can get to the Reporting websites /reports and /reportserver, but when configuring Reporting within ES, it keeps saying “The report server credentials used to communicate with Reporting Services are invalid”. I tried pretty much everything I think, and cannot get my head around this.
The account that I’m using at the “Report Server Credentials” page, is a domain account, and has admin rights on the application server (for now, local admin) as well as on the Report and ES databases.
I’m a bit lost what else I can check to make this work… Any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated :-)
Thanks.

Mike

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+ Receiver for Windows 14.1.200
+ Profile Management 5.2

Ge

|

Same here. Version 12 and 13 of the receiver still can’t handle SHA2 so for me also a useless product.
Come on Citrix, you have implemented sha2 almost in all receivers so it should be rocket-science for you.

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