Citrix XenDesktop 5
YES!!! CITRIX XENDESKTOP 5 is released to download. I have been waiting for Citrix to release Citrix XenDesktop 5 since Citrix annonced Citrix XenDesktop 5 at Citrix Synergy In Berlin in September 2010.
What’s New in XenDesktop 5
Simplified desktop deployment and machine creation. XenDesktop simplifies the task of creating, managing, and delivering virtual desktops to users. XenDesktop’s wizards guide you through the process of setting up your deployment, provisioning desktops by building a master image and creating user desktops, and then assigning desktops to users. Groups of user desktops are created and managed as a single entity, which enables you to assign, update and extend thousands of user desktops quickly and easily. XenDesktop supports desktops hosted on both VMs and on physical computers.
Simplified install. New installation wizards simplify the process of installing and setting up a XenDesktop deployment. A wizard guides you through the installation of server-side XenDesktop components, including the controller, the Desktop Studio management console, licensing, and the Web Interface. The wizard also guides you through individual component installations, and pre-configures these for you (for example, it will build all the Web Interface sites). A separate wizard guides you through the installation of the Virtual Desktop Agent on virtual desktops or on a base image.
Desktop Studio. This tool snaps into the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and enables you to configure and manage your XenDesktop deployment. Desktop Studio provides various wizards to guide you through the process of setting up your environment, creating your desktops, and assigning desktops to users.
Desktop Director. This Web-based tool enables level-1 and level-2 IT Support staff to monitor a XenDesktop deployment and perform day-to-day maintenance tasks. You can use the Desktop Director to monitor status, such as the health of the hypervisors and controllers in a site. You can manipulate sessions and desktops, such as restarting a desktop or logging off a session. You can also view and interact with a user’s session, using Microsoft Remote Assistance, to troubleshoot problems.
Active Directory-based policies. XenDesktop 5 uses the Windows Active Directory-based policy mechanism for Citrix policies. Citrix policies allow you to control user access or session environments, and are the most efficient method of controlling connection, security, and bandwidth settings. You can specify policies that are shared between XenDesktop and XenApp; for example, you can turn Client Drive Mapping off using one policy.
Printing optimizations. XenDesktop 5 provides administrators and users with the ability to optimize printing in their virtual desktop environment. Using printing preferences and policies to configure resolution, color depth and compression, administrators can optimize for better print quality or faster printing. Users can also modify print quality by adjusting dpi settings.
Evaluation tool. A new Proof of Concept wizard simplifies the process of setting up a XenDesktop deployment for evaluation purposes. The wizard guides you through the stages of creating and provisioning desktops, making it quick and easy to configure and evaluate XenDesktop.
Improved smart card single sign-on from non domain-joined user devices. Improvements to smart card authentication mean that users only need to enter their smart card PIN once to log onto their virtual desktops from non domain-joined Windows thin clients. Removing repetitive prompts for the smart card PIN is particularly beneficial to users roaming between different thin clients who quickly need to reconnect to their virtual desktops. For more information about configuring smart card authentication for non domain-joined desktop appliances, see your Web Interface documentation.
Video Conferencing. HDX RealTime provides users with a complete desktop video conferencing feature.
Dynamic color compression. This improves the overall user experience by dynamically adjusting color compression based on network conditions.
32-bit color support. 32-bit color session support improves XenDesktop’s application compatibility.
Key Differences in XenDesktop 5
There are key differences between XenDesktop 5 and previous releases that you need to be aware of, particularly if you have an existing deployment and intend transitioning this to XenDesktop 5 to take advantage of the new features and functionality.
Terminology and conceptual changes
- Farms are now referred to as sites. Think of a site as a deployment of XenDesktop in a single geographical location.
- A catalog is a collection of user desktops managed as a single entity. Catalogs specify virtual machines (VMs) or physical computers that host user desktops, the Active Directory computer accounts assigned to those VMs or computers, and, in some cases, the master VM that is copied to create the user desktops.
- Desktop groups and the virtual desktops they contain can be configured more flexibly. A single desktop group can contain desktops from a number of catalogs rather than being limited, as in earlier versions, to a single hypervisor pool. Also, a single desktop group can be published to users so that a single user may access multiple desktops in the group, and a single desktop may be assigned for use by multiple users. Desktops can also be assigned to client machines, rather than users, if required.
- A host is the infrastructure on which desktops are hosted, which comprises of hypervisors (resource pools or clusters), storage etc.
Key architectural differences
In addition to the new features, note the following differences in XenDesktop 5’s design and the consequences of these:
- No IMA data store. XenDesktop 5 no longer uses the IMA data store as the central database in which to store configuration information. Instead, a Microsoft SQL Server database is used as the data store for both configuration and session information. This means:
- Database requirements are different: Microsoft Access and Oracle are no longer supported databases.
- Terminal Services is no longer required on servers running the controller.
- There is no longer a dedicated zone master. In previous XenDesktop versions, there was a zone master/data collector responsible for user connection requests and communication with hypervisors. In XenDesktop 5, this function is distributed evenly across all controllers in the site.
- Due to reliance on Microsoft SQL Server, to ensure failover should the database become unavailable, you must use either SQL clustering or mirroring, or deploy the database as a virtual machine and use your hypervisor’s high availability features instead. For more information about planning for high availability, see High Availability Planning.
- Registry-based discovery. The default mechanism for desktops to find controllers is now registry-based. An Active Directory Organizational Unit is no longer required, although you can still use Active Directory-based registration. Active Directory is still needed in a XenDesktop deployment for authentication and authorization, therefore machines need to be domain-joined regardless of whether you use registry-based discovery or not.
- SDKs. XenDesktop 5 provides a new PowerShell SDK which allows you to perform the same tasks as you would with the Desktop Studio console. You can also perform tasks with the SDK that you cannot do with the console, such as assigning an IP address to a desktop, rather than a user name. Desktop Studio is built upon the PowerShell SDK; you can display the PowerShell in use in the console. For more information about using the SDK, see Using the XenDesktop SDK and the PowerShell cmdlets. Note that the new PowerShell SDK is not compatible with the SDK associated with previous XenDesktop releases.
Changes to Key Tools
This topic lists changes to key tools you may have used in earlier versions of XenDesktop, and explains where you can find equivalent functionality in XenDesktop 5.
As a result of architectural changes, particularly use of an SQL database rather than an IMA data store, some tools are no longer applicable or available in XenDesktop 5. These tools include:
- DS maint. Tool used to perform data store maintenance tasks, such as backing up the data store or migrating the data store to a new server. There is no equivalent supplied for XenDesktop 5; use standard database tools instead.
- Active Directory Configuration wizard. Tool for configuring Active Directory. In XenDesktop 5, use the new PowerShell script Set-ADControllerDiscovery.ps1, available from the …\Broker\SetupScripts directory.
- AutoFarmTuner. Tool to optimise IMA data collectors in large deployments. There is no equivalent supplied for XenDesktop 5; use standard database optimisation tools to optimise database access.
- DdcSdk. The XenDesktop Delivery Controller PowerShell SDK available in earlier releases. In XenDesktop 5, use the new PowerShell SDK for the controller and the other components and services.
- DsView and QueryDC. Tools to examine the contents of the IMA data store. XenDesktop 5 equivalent data can be seen using the SDK or by examining database tables directly using standard SQL server tools such as SQL Server Management Studio.
- QueryDS and QueryHR. Tools to examine the contents of the IMA dynamic store. XenDesktop 5 equivalent data can be seen using the SDK or by examining database tables directly using standard SQL server tools such as SQL Server Management Studio.
- Ftacln. Tool to tidy up file type associations on client machines using PNAgent. Do not use PNAgent with XenDesktop 5 except in the ‘repurposed PC as dedicated thin client’ case.
- Sslautoconfig. Tool for setting up certificates used for secure sockets, particularly the SSL relay tool for handling XML traffic in XenDesktop 4. This tool is no longer relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- XenDesktop Setup Tool. Wizard to help administrators use Citrix Provisioning Services provisioned machines with XenDesktop. This tool is not compatible with XenDesktop 5, and is replaced by the provisioning capabilities of the Desktop Studio console, using Machine Creation Services. XenDesktop 5 will work with machines provisioned using Provisioning Services. For on-going provisioning of machines, see your Provisioning Services documentation, or switch to using machines provisioned using XenDesktop 5’s Machine Creation Services.
- DSCheck, DSMaint, sqlfix. Tools to fix issues in IMA stores and check the consistency/validity of the IMA data store. This is not relevant to XenDesktop 5; use constraints checks in the database instead.
- ChFarm. Tool to move a Controller into or out of a farm. In XenDesktop 5, you can script this process using the new PowerShell SDK and SQL scripts.
- IMAPort. Tool to query or change the IMA port. This is no longer relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- AIEADF, AIEUN, AIECom, AIESetup, qaie. Tools relating to application isolation. Not relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- Acrcfg, altaddr, chgcdm, cltprint, cshadow, twconfig, ss3admin, softkey. Tools for XenApp-specific functions such as automatic client reconnect, IMA address settings, client-drive mapping, printer pipe handling, and session shadowing. Not relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- Auditlog. Tool for extracting IMA audit logging. Not relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- DriveRemap. Tool to remap Windows drives. Not relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- EnableLB. Tool for handling XenApp load balancing. Not relevant in XenDesktop 5.
- Mfcom, mfreg. Tools for dealing with SDK-level access to XenDesktop/XenApp. Not relevant in XenDesktop 5; use the new XenDesktop PowerShell SDK instead.
- Qserver, qfarm. Tools for examining the contents of the IMA dynamic/persistent store. XenDesktop 5 equivalent data can be seen using the SDK or by examining database tables directly using standard SQL server tools such as SQL Server Management Studio.
- ProductEdition.exe. Tool for changing to a different edition of XenDesktop. In XenDesktop 5, use the new PowerShell SDK.
XenDesktop 5 Editions
Features in XenDesktop VDI Edition
- Desktop Director. This Web-based tool enables level-1 and level-2 IT Support staff to monitor a XenDesktop deployment and perform day-to-day maintenance tasks. You can use the Desktop Director to monitor status, such as the health of the hypervisors and controllers in a site. You can manipulate sessions and desktops, such as restarting a desktop or logging off a session. You can also view and interact with a user’s session, using Microsoft Remote Assistance, to troubleshoot problems.
- Smart card support. Smart card support provides user authentication to XenDesktop sessions and locally installed or virtualized applications, and allows users to digitally sign or encrypt documents.
- Local peripheral support. Users can insert a USB device locally and use it with their virtual desktops and applications as they would on a local machine.
- User-driven desktop restart. If the desktop fails to start or is taking a long time to connect, users can use the desktop restart option to shut down and restart the desktop.
- SmoothRoaming. With SmoothRoaming, users can pause desktop sessions and resume working from different locations at exactly the point where they left off.
- Multimedia support. Citrix HDX includes a broad set of technologies designed to provide users of virtual desktops with a high definition audio-visual experience, comparable to a local PC. For example, HDX MediaStream ensures a smooth, seamless experience with multimedia content, and provides support for Media Foundation used by Windows Media Player. HDX MediaStream Flash Redirection enables Adobe Flash content to play locally on user devices, providing users with a high definition playback. HDX Plug-n-Play enables simple connectivity for USB, multi-monitor, printers and other peripheral devices, as well as local machine resources. Other HDX technologies ensure that the delivery of virtual desktops is optimized for any network, whether local or remote.
- Instant on. XenDesktop virtual machines are kept running in idle pools so that new virtual desktops are ready for users when they log on, eliminating the lengthy startup times of physical computers and increasing productivity.
- Universal printer driver. XenDesktop delivers a consistent and fast printing experience for users without requiring specific local printer drivers. Users can simply plug in USB-compatible printers to their user devices.
- Virtual machine infrastructure. XenDesktop uses XenServer, an integrated 64-bit paravirtualization-based hypervisor, for scalable, cost-effective hosting of virtual desktops. XenServer delivers live migration and centralized multi-server management, radically reducing datacenter costs by transforming static and complex datacenter environments into dynamic, easy to manage IT service delivery centers. In addition, XenDesktop also supports Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and VMware vSphere, plus a wide range of hardware, applications, and user devices.
- Desktop assignment. XenDesktop allows administrators to assign different types of virtual desktops to different users, including blade PC-based desktops, dedicated virtual machine-based desktops, and pooled desktops for groups of users.
- Session management. XenDesktop allows administrators to manage active and inactive virtual desktop connections. Administrators can view the servers to which users are connected and log them off if necessary.
- Session reliability. This feature maintains users’ virtual desktops during network outages. When the network connection is re-established, users can resume their work without any interruption.
- High availability/failover. XenDesktop eliminates single points of failure by providing failover capability. Users can continue to access and use their virtual desktops even when individual servers fail.
- On-demand desktops. XenDesktop allows administrators to configure resources into pools so that common configuration settings can be applied on a pool-wide basis, greatly simplifying reconfiguration tasks.
- Desktop image management. XenDesktop allows administrators to manage multiple virtual desktops from a single desktop image. Administrators can easily create a new virtual desktop image, update an existing image, or roll back changes without any downtime.
- Workflow Studio. This provides an easy-to-use, graphical interface for workflow composition that virtually eliminates scripting. Workflow Studio acts as the glue across the IT infrastructure allowing administrators to easily tie technology components together via workflows.
- Profile management. XenDesktop provides an easy, reliable, and high performance method to manage user personalization settings in virtualized or physical Windows environments.
- StorageLink. This technology lets your virtual server infrastructures fully utilize all the resources and functionality of existing storage systems.
- Receiver. Citrix Receiver is a new, lightweight software client that makes it easy to access virtual applications and desktops on any device. Receiver allows IT organizations to deliver desktops and Windows, Web or SaaS applications as an on-demand service to any device in any location with a rich “high definition” experience. For users, Citrix Receiver makes it easy to work anywhere with the same, simple experience in the office, travelling, or at home; users simply connect and work. For IT administration, Receiver makes it quick and easy to deliver new client software or updates without the complexity of packaging and distribution generally associated with other solutions, while reducing the cost of desktop management.
Features in XenDesktop Enterprise Edition
The Enterprise Edition includes all the features in the VDI Edition, plus the following:
- XenServer. XenServer adds valuable management features, including high availability, provisioning services, and alerting.
- XenApp. Citrix XenApp is an application delivery system that offers client-side and server-side application virtualization for optimal application performance and flexible delivery options. This allows the delivery of secure applications as a service, while providing the flexibility to use future application architectures.
- XenClient and Synchronizer. XenClient allows you to extend the benefits of desktop virtualization to laptop users. XenClient is a client-side hypervisor that enables virtual desktops to run directly on client devices. By separating the operating system from the underlying hardware, desktop images can now be created, secured, deployed and moved across any supported hardware, greatly reducing the maintenance burden on IT and simplifying disaster recovery for laptop users. Synchronizer adds centralized management, secure backup and self-service restore of virtual machines running on XenClient laptops.
- XenVault. Citrix XenVault extends the built-in security protection provided with delivering applications in a hosted virtual environment to include XenApp data encryption on the local device. IT can centrally manage encryption with granular application and data access policies, and can easily lock and delete data in the event of loss, theft or termination. Administrators can establish time-based lockout periods and implement self-service password resets-unlocks enhancing user experience while maintaining security and control of the local device.
Features in XenDesktop Platinum Edition
The Platinum Edition includes all the features in the Enterprise Edition, plus the following:
- Citrix Access Gateway Enterprise Edition. Access Gateway provides secure remote access to XenDesktop.
- Desktop performance monitoring. This feature monitors and tracks the performance of virtual desktops, allowing administrators to proactively manage the virtual desktop experience by measuring key performance elements. This data can then be used to enhance the infrastructure before users are adversely affected.
- WAN optimization. XenDesktop maximizes the quality of the remote user experience by using Citrix Branch Repeater to accelerate virtual desktop and application performance across wide area networks. This feature requires the separate purchase of a Branch Repeater appliance.
- Citrix Single Sign-on. Single Sign-on (formerly known as “Password Manager”) provides single sign-on access regardless of how or where users connect, and it enables users to reset their own Windows password or unlock their account.
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