If you’re on Citrix XenApp 5.0, XenApp 6.0, or XenApp 6.5, you know the upgrade to 7.6 isn't going to be easy. At least XenApp 6.5 support has been extended, allowing you to delay the inevitable. But there's some good news in this delay. You now have time to take advantage of a new solution that will make all future XenApp upgrades a piece of cake, while making your server farm a lot easier to manage in the process.
The Old Way to Upgrade XenApp
Citrix recently published a 15 page guide on upgrading to XenApp 7.6. Basically you need to remove your server from all published apps and silos, build a new image, install the new XenApp software, reinstall all of your apps, re-tune your host, test everything, and re-add the new server to all of your delivery groups and machine catalogs. Then rinse and repeat for every XenApp server in your farm. If you've got a big farm, this could take weeks.
The New Way to Upgrade XenApp
Unidesk now supports Citrix XenApp servers virtualized on Hyper-V or vSphere, enabling IT staffs to handle application delivery without any manual server rebuilds, agent-based software deployments, or application virtualization issues.
Not only does layering make patching Windows and configuring and updating apps on all of your silos simple, but it will also reduce XenApp upgrade times from weeks to minutes, as this video shows.
Unidesk's ability to "layer" the XenApp Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) as a virtual disk that can be mounted read-only by all servers means you would just have to remove the XenApp 6.5 VDA layer and add the XenApp 7.6 VDA layer.
When an application layer is removed, all of the components are removed from the session hosts as if they were never there. Even if there are changes copied into the XenApp server's personalization layer, those will be eradicated - it will behave as if XenApp 5.0, 6.0, or 6.5 was never installed.
When you assign the new XenApp 7.6 VDA layer, nothing else on the host will change. The new VDA will be blended with the file system and registry. This takes about 60 seconds. Overall, it takes less than 2 minutes for the machine to power back on and start its services.
If you look at the control panel, XenApp 6.5 would now be removed and XenApp 7.6 would be in its place. Applications haven’t changed and no images have been modified, tuned or lost - it’s simply no longer part of the 6.5 environment and now belongs to the XenApp 7.6 environment.
This is the power of Unidesk layering - being able to layer any app or any agent at any time and simply being able to swap it - really simplifying app management.
So if you're about to upgrade your XenApp farm, consider installing Unidesk NOW, before you migrate to 7.6. Or, if you have already gone to 7.6 and need to build additional servers, use Unidesk for those additional servers so that XenApp migration from 7.6 and 8.1 - and all future upgrades - will be easy.
Let me know what you think - email me at roglesby (at) unidesk (dot) com. Or comment below.