Citrix XenApp is now the leader of application virtualization or application delivery. Several years ago, back when the word Virtualization didn't exist, people used to talk about application hosting. Citrix was founded in 1989 and they developed the first successful product in 1993 called WinView. It provided remote access to DOS and Windows 3.1 applications on a multiuser platform. Citrix licensed Microsoft's Windows NT 3.51 source code from Microsoft; and in 1995, they shipped a multiuser version of Windows NT based on MultiWin engine, known as WinFrame. This allowed multiple users to logon and execute applications on a WinFrame server. Citrix in 1996 licensed the MultiWin technology to Microsoft, establishing the foundation of Microsoft's Terminal Services.
I remember the first time I was in touch with application hosting. It was in 1997 and I was working at Microsoft in Argentina as a Technical Support Engineer. I was invited for MCSE certification training on a Saturday morning. We had been building a lab with several machines, when I saw several Microsoft Beta CDs on a table.
I took one of them called Hydra and I asked the guy in charge of the training about it. He told me that the CD contained a software to convert a Windows NT 4.0 â a sort of mainframe. I asked him if we could install it on a machine and he told me we did not have enough RAM to install it. I recall walking inside empty offices to open computers and remove the RAM so that we could install Hydra on a computer.
It was a couple of years later, in 1999, when I discovered that Hydra is the Windows 4.0 Terminal Server Edition; I was working with my first Citrix server and that was when I first fell in love with application hosting.
In this chapter, we will learn:
XenApp 6 and its features
System requirements for the installation of XenApp 6
The new Citrix XenApp 6 runs only on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. Citrix rewrote the code completely for the Windows 64-bit platform. This job provided a great opportunity to optimize the code for performance and scalability (Citrix tested XenApp 6 farms with over 1,000 member servers and 100,000 concurrent sessions) and provided new features.
Here are some of the highlights of the new XenApp 6:
Citrix Delivery Services Console is the new single management console. Only one console is something all users wanted for years. The new management console has been completely redesigned. We still need a separate console to manage web interface servers and licensing. We are going to explore the new Citrix Delivery Services Console in Chapter 4, Using Management Tools, and Chapter 5, Application Publishing.
Citrix Receiver: The new Citrix Receiver for Windows supports eight languages and provides support for new plugins including Single sign-On, WAN acceleration, App-V, and more. Also, there is a new receiver for Mac and mobile users. We can use this receiver on iPhone, iPad, Android, or Blackberry to access applications hosted on XenApp 6. We are going to learn about the Citrix Receiver in detail in Chapter 11, Receiver and Plugins Management.
Citrix Dazzle: Citrix called Dazzle the first self-service "storefront" for enterprise applications. Dazzle allows corporate employees 24x7 self-service access to the applications they need to work. End users now can subscribe to XenApp applications (including App-V packages) using Dazzle on PC or Mac.
Active Directory Group Policy integration: Now, we can manage XenApp policies and configure XenApp servers and farm settings using Active Directory Group Policies (GPO). Chapter 7, Managing Policies, is dedicated to XenApp policies and provides extensive information on how to use the Group Policy Management Console to manage Citrix policies.
PowerShell Support: We can use Microsoft PowerShell to automate common XenApp management tasks. Citrix dropped support for MFCOM (the programming interface for the administration of XenApp servers and farms on previous versions) as the favorite option for developers and added PowerShell 2.0 support. Chapter 12, Scripting Programming, is dedicated to scripting programming using PowerShell.
Windows service isolation for streamed applications: This new feature allows applications to install Windows services and they can be profiled and streamed. This new option increases the number of streamed applications supported. Applications like Microsoft Office 2010 or Adobe Creative Suite install a windows service. Now we can profile and stream them, and other applications, using the new service isolation technology. We can learn about Application Streaming in Chapter 6, Application Streaming.
Citrix HDX technologies: Provide better multimedia and high-definition experience with support for more USB devices than ever before. Citrix HDX offers great improvements in both audio and video quality. New video conference capabilities and advanced Adobe Flash support are included too. Also, HDX provides multi-monitor support, improving application compatibility when we use multiple monitors. Chapter 9, Multimedia Content on XenApp 6, is dedicated to improve the multimedia experience of users using Citrix HDX technologies.
Support for Windows portable USB devices: This feature allows our users to plug in their USB devices like cameras, scanners, and other devices and access them from their published applications on XenApp 6. The Role-based Setup Wizard simplifies server deployment and reduces installation time. The new redesigned setup makes installation simple, fast, and intuitive. Now we can install XenApp 6 in a few clicks. Also, by separating the installation from the configuration, we simplified XenApp deployments using Provisioning services or other image management solutions. We use the role-based Setup Wizard in Chapter 3, Installing XenApp 6, to install our first XenApp 6 servers.
Microsoft App-V integration allows us to manage and deliver both Citrix and Microsoft application delivery from a single point. Also, App-V managed applications can now be delivered via Citrix Dazzle. Administrators can now distribute App-V plugin to end-point devices using Citrix Receiver.
Multi-lingual User Interface (MUI): XenApp now supports MUI. This feature allows multinational companies to deploy one XenApp server to serve users who need access to their applications in their local language.
In addition to these major features and enhancements, XenApp 6 included other features like great Web Interface, Single Sign-on, and SmartAuditor enhancements, new 32-bit color support, Windows 7 smart card support, and so on.
This section provides summary descriptions of some of the most popular XenApp features. This section will help new Citrix customers to understand major features on the last three versions of XenApp (XenApp 4.5, 5.0, 6.0).
Access applications from any device, anytime, anywhere: We can deliver any published Windows application to an extensive variety of user devices and operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, UNIX, DOS, Java, and mobile devices like iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android devices.
Active Directory Federation Services support: We can use ADFS to provide business partners access to published applications.
Application gateway: Citrix provides SSL-proxy, using both hardware (Citrix NetScaler and Citrix Access Gateway) and software (Citrix Secure Gateway) solutions, to allow remote users to access published applications in XenApp, securely.
CPU utilization management: This feature prevents users and their processes from utilizing the CPU too much and guarantees a consistent performance level for all users on the XenApp server.
Installation Manager: This feature allows us to remotely install applications to multiple XenApp servers simultaneously.
Network Management Console Integration: XenApp supports SNMP monitoring and integration with third-party network management tools, including Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM), Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), IBM Tivoli, HP OpenView, CAUnicenter.
Novell eDirectory and NDS Support: XenApp 6 provides support for Novell eDirectory and Domain Services for Windows, allowing XenApp to authenticate Novell users.
Power and capacity management: We can create system policies to manage server power consumption. This feature can turn on/off XenApp servers. As users log off and idle resources increase, idle servers are shut down. When users arrive in the morning and they log on to the farm, servers are powered up. Also, we can schedule time for powering on and powering off servers.
Single Sign-On: This feature (formerly known as Password Manager) provides single sign-on access to Windows, web, and terminal emulator applications. The self-service password reset feature included in single sign-on allows users to reset their domain password or unlock their Windows account.
SmartAuditor: Uses policies to allow us to record the on-screen activity of any user's session, over any type of connection, from any server running XenApp. SmartAuditor records, catalogs, and archives sessions for review.
Web interface: The web interface allows users access to published applications and content on XenApp through a standard web browser or Citrix Plug-in. Web interface provides built-in support for two-factor, RADIUS, and Smart Card authentication, simple customization through the management console and multilingual support, for the following languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), and Korean.
The most obvious requirement to install XenApp 6 is the operating system. XenApp6 is only available for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, with two exceptions: Web Server and Core editions. We cannot install XenApp in these two versions.
If we want to deploy XenApp on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R1 (x86 and x64), we must choose to use XenApp 5. Citrix XenApp 6 does not support mixed farms. Mixed farms are XenApp farms that contain more than one server version.
Until previous versions, Citrix supported XenApp farms that contained different versions of Windows and/or of XenApp. XenApp 6 cannot coexist with any previous versions in the same farm. We can have two separated farms and use web interface to provide users access to both farms using one single interface.
During the wizard-based installation, the XenApp Server Role Manager automatically installs prerequisites for the selected roles. Also, we can choose to install XenApp from command-line installations or using unattended scripts. In that case, we must need to deploy the prerequisites before starting the XenApp role installation. We will talk about unattended install of XenApp 6 in Chapter 13, Virtualizing XenApp Farms.
We need to use the
ServerManagerCmd.exe command or PowerShell to deploy prerequisites like IIS or .NET Framework.
The XenApp Server Role Manager deploys the following software, if it is not already installed:
.NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (this is a prerequisite for the XenApp Server Role Manager and it is deployed automatically when we choose the XenApp server role)
Windows Server Remote Desktop Services role (if we do not have this prerequisite installed, the Server Role Manager installs it and enables the RDP client connection option; we will be asked to restart the server and resume the installation when we log in again)
Windows Application Server role
Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable (x64)
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 SP1 Redistributable (x64)
If the server already has the IIS role services installed, the Citrix XML Service IIS Integration component is selected by default in the wizard-based XenApp installation, and the Citrix XML Service and IIS share a port (the default port is 80).
If the IIS role services are not installed, the Citrix XML Service IIS Integration component is not selected by default in the wizard-based installation. In this case, if we select the checkbox, the Server Role Manager installs the following IIS role services. (If we do not install these services, the Citrix XML Service defaults to standalone mode with its own port settings, which we can configure using the XenApp Server Configuration Tool.)
Web Server (IIS) | Common HTTP Features | Default Document. Selecting this role automatically selects Web Server (IIS), Management Tools, and Management Console (not required for XenApp installation).
Web Server (IIS) | Application Development | ASP.NET. Choosing this role automatically selects Web Server (IIS) | Application Development | .NET Extensibility.
Web Server (IIS) | Application Development | ISAPI Extensions.
Web Server (IIS) | Application Development | ISAPI Filters.
Web Server (IIS) | Security | Windows Authentication.
Web Server (IIS) | Security | Request Filtering.
Web Server (IIS) | Management Tools | IIS 6 Management Compatibility (which includes IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility, IIS 6 WMI Compatibility, IIS 6 Scripting Tools, and IIS 6 Management Console).
The following databases are supported for the data store:
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express (the new XenApp Server Configuration Tool can install it when creating a new XenApp farm)
Microsoft SQL Server 2005
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 / 2008 R2
Oracle 11g R2
For more information about supported databases versions, see the Document ID CTX114501 at http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX114501.
We will use Microsoft SQL Server to configure the Citrix Data store in this book, because this is the most popular option. We will install and configure a SQL Server as a data store database in Chapter 3, Installing XenApp 6.
As we mentioned before, Citrix XenApp 6 includes a new Citrix Delivery Services Console. We can manage our XenApp servers using it. By default, the console is installed on the same XenApp server where we install the XenApp server role; but we can install and run the console on a separate computer.
If we want to administer multiple farms of the different XenApp versions, we need to install multiple versions of management consoles on the same computer.
To install the Citrix Delivery Services Console on a computer, from the XenApp Auto run menu, select Manually Install Components | Common Components | Management Consoles. We will install the Citrix Delivery Services Console in Chapter 3, Installing XenApp 6.
We can install the Citrix Delivery Services Console in the following operating systems:
Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3, 32-bit, and 64-bit editions
Microsoft Windows Vista SP1(Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions), 32-bit and 64-bit editions
Microsoft Windows 7 (Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions), 32-bit and 64-bit editions
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter versions), 32-bit and 64-bit editions
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter versions), 32-bit and 64-bit editions
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter versions), 32-bit and 64-bit editions
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter versions)
Also, the XenApp Server Role Manager deploys the following software, if it is not already installed:
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI) 3.0
Microsoft Windows Group Policy Management Console
Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable (x64)
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 SP1 Redistributable (x64)
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 SP1 Redistributable
Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable
Microsoft Primary Interoperability Assemblies 2005
If we install the Delivery Services Console on a computer that previously contained the Microsoft Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) and an earlier version of the Delivery Services Console, we may also need to uninstall and reinstall the Citrix XenApp Group Policy Management Experience (x64) program in order to use the GPMC to configure Citrix policies.
Download and install the latest Citrix License Server or use the version included in the ISO of XenApp 6. License server version recommended is at least 11.6.1 build 10007.
We will install and configure the Citrix License Server in Chapter 3, Installing XenApp 6.
We need to install the most recent version of the Citrix Plug-in (formerly known as ICA Client) to guarantee availability of all features and functionality of XenApp 6 to our users.
To install plugins, connect to www.citrix.com and then go to the Downloads option. Choose Citrix Clients and then install the Citrix Online Plug-in (choose full or web version) and if you're planning to run offline streamed applications, you must install the Citrix Offline Plug-in too.
In this chapter, we learned some new features about XenApp 6. Specifically:
Enhanced scalability and performance
Citrix Receiver and Citrix Dazzle
Microsoft App-V support
Windows service isolation for streamed applications
Multi-lingual User Interface
Citrix HDX technology
Single management console
Active Directory Group Policy integration
We discussed about these new exciting features, and in particular, the Citrix Delivery Service console, the 64-bit support, the new installation process using role-based setup, Citrix HDX, and more.
In the next chapter, we will discuss how to design a XenApp 6 Farm and how to implement some of these new features.