Citrix have release Tech Preview 2 of Citrix XenServer (next release). Great news for customers, partners, cloud providers using Citrix XenServer. The XenServer team have improved again the Dom0 and made the hypervisor even faster, this will be interesting to see if XenServer will be faster than the competitor VMware vSphere. Intel GPU virtualisation is now part of the hypervisor and again Citrix is leading the GPU virtualisation space as nr 1 compared to Microsoft and VMware. If you have a server with Intel Iris Pro graphics on Broadwell and Haswell processors equipped with the C226 chipset you can now virtualise the GPU to a VDI/XenApp. Software thin provisioning for SAN is now available in this release so XenServer better can utilise storage and not consume lots of space with “block based” as previously releases, a lot of customers is going to love this feature + a lot of new awesome features…
Important information before testing this release.
Known Issues and Advisories in this Tech Preview
NVIDIA vGPU cannot be used in conjunction with this Tech Preview. GPU Pass Through is supported. So if you have NVIDIA GRID vGPU running in your environment and you upgrade with this technical preview, I advise you not to do this.
Why Citrix XenServer Tech Preview 2
As a core component of the Citrix portfolio of products, Citrix continually strive to ensure that XenServer remains the best possible platform for hosting Citrix solutions, and for fulfilling the needs of server virtualization and Cloud customers.
This Technical Preview 2 offers enhanced features and functionality for application, desktop and server virtualization use cases. In addition to improved support for large-scale Microsoft Active Directory infrastructures and enhancements to XenServer control domain responsiveness, the Tech Preview includes:
- Improved heterogeneous pool support
- Support for software-boot-from-iSCSI for Cisco UCS
- Support for hardware-accelerated graphics processing
- Enhanced block and file based storage features
- Increased scalability
Terms of access and use
- The Tech Preview 2 is only available to existing customers, and requires a Tech Preview license key. The license key is available from this page and needs to be installed on a Citrix License Server.
- This preview is intended only for existing Citrix XenServer, XenApp or XenDesktop customers.
- The previewed features and enhancements are being considered for inclusion in future versions of XenServer. They have not yet been fully integrated or productized, and there may be debugging code in place.
- This is not a fully featured release, is not intended for use in any environment other than test or development, and should not be used for production workloads. Citrix does not guarantee that any preview features or functionality described here or within the downloadable product will be made available in a future releases.
Providing feedback and reporting bugs
To help us produce the best quality product and improve future releases, please report any issues you encounter at https://tracker.citrix.com/projects/XSB/
Whats next in Tech Preview 2
Simplified Heterogeneous Pool Support
Enables new hosts to be added to existing resource pools, irrespective of the underlying CPU type (as long as the CPU is from the same vendor family).
VMs can now freely migrate within and across pools, irrespective of the particular CPU features the VM may be using.
These enhanced agilities are delivered without recourse to any command line expressions and do not require any hosts to be rebooted. Page 2 Copyright © 2016 Citrix Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. Citrix XenServer Tech Preview TP2: Release Notes v2.0 January 2016
Software-boot-from-iSCSI for Cisco UCS
Enables XenServer to boot from SAN via iSCSI, complimenting existing FC boot capabilities.
XenServer can be installed to, booted from, and run from a LUN provided by an iSCSI target, which is specified in the iSCSI Boot Firmware Table (iBFT).
Helps reduce infrastructure costs by removing the need for expensive Fibre Channel HBAs.
To use this feature, see Enabling Software-boot-from-iSCSI later in this document.
Intel GVT-g virtual GPU for Windows
We continue to collaborate with our partners, in driving innovation in the virtualized-graphics domain. Within this Tech Preview, we showcase Intel’s virtual GPU; a graphics acceleration solution that requires no additional hardware:
Uses the Intel Iris Pro functionality on Broadwell and Haswell processors equipped with the C226 chipset
Utilizes a standard Intel GPU driver, installed within the VM
Experience the benefit; simply RDP into a Windows 10 or a Windows 8.1 VM and run a graphically demanding application
Software Thin Provisioning for SAN
With thin provisioning, a small amount of space is allocated initially to VDIs, which grows on demand, leading to far more efficient utilization of storage space. This will enable a significant reduction in the cost of ownership for the storage component of a SAN-based (LVMoiSCSI and LVMoHBA) XenServer environment.
This contrasts with previous versions of XenServer which only supported fully provisioned storage for block storage.
Support for SMB Storage
XenServer is now able to use SMB1 storage as an SR type.
1 SMB is sometimes referred to as CIFS.
2 Press F10 when the installer boots to enable boot-from-SAN and to configure Open-FCoE settings.
Customers with existing SMB storage (ubiquitous in many Microsoft environments) can now utilize SMB as their XenServer SR, and therefore may need no additional storage for their XenServer environment, enabling significant potential cost savings.
Support for Offline Storage Migration
Enables storage migrations to be undertaken with the VM in a stopped or suspended state. Currently customers are only able to migrate the storage of a VM, if the VM is actually running.
Support for NFSv4
Adds support for the current version of the NFS standard and complements the existing NFSv3 support, delivering additional performance improvements.
Support for Open-FCoE
Supports software FCoE, which can be configured easily using the XenServer installation program. Software-based FCoE delivers the same benefits as hardware-based FCoE. It alleviates the need for using expensive HBAs, but does so using less-expensive network adapters, in an entirely software-defined manner.
This Tech Preview also supports boot-from-SAN from Open-FCoE and includes an updated installer2 to assist with the configuration of Open-FCoE.
Improved Performance & Scale
We continue to deliver ever greater performance and scale, enabling customers to realize economies of scale and processing efficiencies.
Increased Host Memory
Support for up to 5 TB of system memory, accommodating even the largest workloads.
Support for up to 1.5 TB of Memory per VM
For memory-hungry VMs3, such as those running databases, we now support up to 1.5 TB of memory.
Improved Dom0 Responsiveness
The responsiveness of Dom0 has been significantly improved when subjected to heavy VM load.
Support for 256 CPUs
Support for up to 256 physical CPUs, accommodating even the most powerful servers.
Increased number of VBDs
Maximum number of VBDs per VM has increased to 255
Increased number of VBDs
Maximum number of VBDs per host has increased to 4096
Enhanced Active Directory Support
Delivering improvements for customers with large numbers of objects within their Active Directory, including improved login times.
Increased Size of Dom0 Disk Partitions
By moving log files to a larger, separate partition, we enable more detailed logs to be held, over a longer period of time, improving the ability to diagnose issues. Simultaneously, this alleviates demands on Dom0’s root disk, which can sometimes lead to out of space issues, due to log file disk space consumption.
Single-threaded Storage IO
Customers should notice significant improvements when using high performance/low latency storage.
Networking and Storage IO
Higher throughput for Networking and Storage IO in aggregate usage scenarios.
Support for New Guests
Introduction of the following new guests:
Debian Jessie 8.0
This Tech Preview also incorporates the following platform improvements:
Latest Xen hypervisor v4.6
Dom0 now uses Centos v7.1 for user space
Support for booting hosts using UEFI, anticipating the eventual retirement of BIOS configured servers
Customers are now able to initiate SSH console sessions direct from XenCenter.
Citrix Health Check
Customers are now able to automate the process of uploading Server Status Reports to Citrix Insight Services and receive notifications in XenCenter, regarding the health of their systems, based on CIS-generated reports.
Download Tech Preview 2 here
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