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Citrix XenServer, seriously!

Geschreven door George de Vries - 10 oktober 2017

George de Vries
Well, today I want to focus on Citrix XenServer. I hear you thinking, ‘Citrix XenServer – seriously?’ To which I say ‘YES, seriously’. Because I think Citrix XenServer has never truly been embraced in the world of hypervisors. Although some people (like me) liked it, Citrix had some catching up to do with VMware, and to be honest they never did manage to catch up with VMware, or even Hyper-V for that matter. So now I hear you thinking, ‘Why make a blog about Citrix XenServer then?’ Since 2015, Citrix has been working on making XenServer a fully-fledged hypervisor and, in my view, with success.

You can find all sorts of articles online covering the pros and cons of VMware vs XenServer, VMware vs Hyper-V, etc. In my experience, however, you don’t have to opt for a particular hypervisor, just the one that gets the job done. If a customer has a VMware environment and a Citrix environment and you have the opportunity to design a whole new environment, then consider the possibilities Citrix XenServer has to offer you – and your customer most of all. Why run XenApp/XenDesktop on an ‘alien’ hypervisor when Citrix has its own? The only reason I can think of is that you then have to manage two different hypervisors, like VMware and XenServer or Hyper-V and XenServer. But the advantages of running Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop on Citrix XenServer are real, and Citrix XenServer offers many benefits over other hypervisors:

  • Better virtualized graphics with NVIDIA and Intel
  • Better workload security with Direct Inspect APIs
  • In a XenApp/XenDesktop environment you no longer require a specific XenServer license
  • Integration with Microsoft Windows Update Services for automatic Windows VM-driver updates
  • Support for Intel Virtual Graphics Technology (GTV-g), which is a CPU-embedded GPU, meaning no extra hardware needed for heavy graphical loads.

The key changes in the latest version (XenServer 7.2) are huge. If you have XenApp/XenDesktop entitlements this gives you access to most features. But what exactly are XenApp/XenDesktop entitlements? This means that all license holders, regardless of edition, have access to all applicable XenServer features. You can utilize your XenApp/XenDesktop licenses to license the XenServer infrastructure in the license server for any XenApp/XenDesktop infrastructure.

Now, I could give you a list of all the features of XenServer 7.2. That is a huge list however. So, instead I’ll just point you to the feature matrix for XenServer 7.2, which you can find at: XenServer7.2FeatureMatrix

There are a few features that I feel need some extra attention however:

Long Term Service Release (LTSR) XenServer LTSR offers five years of mainstream supports, optionally extendable for an additional five years with extended support. Only available with Customer Success Services, previously Software Maintenance.
Live-Patching Live patching enables infrastructure admins to patch the XenServer hypervisor without needing to migrate VMs from the host, shut down or suspend VMs.
Automated Updates via XenCenter XenServer infrastructure hotfixes are able to be deployed from either the command line or XenCenter, and in batches, automatically downloading the required hotfixes to further simplify management of the hypervisor platform.
XenServer Conversion Manager As a separately downloadable supplemental pack, IT admins are able to batch migrate VMs from VMware vSphere infrastructures to Citrix XenServer. Windows and Linux operating systems can be migrated with minimal steps and effort.
PVS-Accelerator The integration of a XenServer Provisioning Services (PVS) host cache dramatically reduces solution network traffic, enabling fewer PVS servers to handle the same volume of VMs, yet with faster VM time-to-boot. PVS entitlement (standalone license or XenApp/XenDesktop entitlement) is required.
Direct Inspect APIs* Memory Introspection APIs enable 3rd party security software vendors to build and integrate agentless security products for ‘better than physical’ protection against malicious datacenter activity (viruses, malware and rootkits).

*Requires use of a third-party product such as Bitdefender HVI

The new features mentioned above are all XenApp/XenDesktop entitled.

And remember, XenServer leads the industry in 3D graphics support, delivering a complete solution for any use case on Windows and Linux.

Craft Expert George de Vries is part of the Cloud team within Craft, the development programme for IT professionals (powered by Centric). If you would like to follow his blog, sign up for Craft updates.

Tags:Cloud

       
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