14 dec 2016

Citrix XenApp / XenDesktop 7.12 Whats New

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What’s new in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.12

Last week i upgraded my home lab to the latest edition of Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.12.

So off course there is lots of detailed information available on the E-Docs website of Citrix…..

But I want to pick out some of the new and improved features.. So lets start…

 

Microsoft Azure Resource Manager plugin

Microsoft Azure Resource Manager can be leveraged to provision virtual machines in XenApp an XenDesktop deployments. With the new release of 7.12 there are some enhancements.

When XA/XD 7.11 came out some time ago. The new connection type was introduced Microsoft Azure. So with the latest edition some enhancements are created there. During the creation of the connection in the hosting resource folder you now have the option to choose “global” or “china”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After this you will get the subscription ID page. That where previously the only option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you have created this connection, master images that are created in so called Azure Resource Manager (ARM) are available for use when creating Machine Catalogs.

At this point there are also some improvements that came with the new release.

  • Support for Microsoft Azure “Hybrid Use Benefit” license. This offers administrators to allocate their exiting on-premise Windows Server licenses to Azure based VM’s.

 

  • Write Back Cache feature, now you can use the Write Back Cache feature wich was introduced in XA/XD 7.9 against Azure Bases resources.

 

Provisioning Server Enhancements 

With the release of XA/XD 7.12 there was also a release of Provisioning Services 7.12

In this release, there are 2 new features

vDisk Caching

PVS now provides a new Proxy. A proxy between XenServer and PVS. This proxy is also called or referred by as vDisk Caching.

vDisk caching enables a PVS proxy to reside in Dom0 in a XenServer host. At this point the streaming of a PVS disk is cached a this proxy before being forwarded to the target VM. Offcourse in this model more locally resources are used. But when target devices acces data directly from the host RAM cache instead of PVS cache, network traffic that normally would pass from PVS target devices to PVS server can be reduced. At the end this will allow more vm density, faster boot, and improve all over performance.

You have to keep in mind that this PVS XenServer Proxy is only supported on XenServer with an optional package installed.

More on this subject can be found at the following blog post.

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/10/31/pvs-and-xenserver-better-together/

 

Linux VDA Streaming 

Now Linux PVS streaming is also possible. But only for certain Linux Servers

  • RedHat Enterprise Linux Server
  • CentOS
  • SuSE Linux Enterprise Server

The above version are also the same versions for which the VDA agent is supported.

At this point the client OS’s are not supported.

Keep in mind that for this to work you need to have the “Tech Preview” version of XenServer.

 

StoreFront 3.8

With the release of XenApp / XenDesktop 7.12 also StoreFront 3.8 is released with some new features;

Multiple StoreFront Websites

Most of the time large enterprise customers and service providers would like to use different stores in diffent IIS webite, so that each store can have a different hostname an cert binding. In previous versions it was only possible to use one base URL in StoreFront.

In the past it was possible to create multiple StoreFront website with for instance using Powershell StoreFront cmdlets. But due to the limitation of StoreFront SDK it was a bit of a problem. So you needed to copy the web files between IIS websites.

So from 3.8 it now is possible to create multiple host base URL’s each tied to a specific site ID.

If you create multiple sites you are not able to use the StoreFront Console. When you open the console you will receive a message that the console is unavailable due to multi-site deployment. You will then need to rely on the StoreFront Powershell cmdlets to manage the sites.

Mozila Firefox support.

In april 2017 Mozilla plans to remove support for NPAPI in Firefox. Therefore SF 3.8 has an alternative support for the HDX engine detection and launch. This is something similar that is done with Google Chrome

More on this subject:

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/12/09/storefront-3-8-is-available-now/

 

Self Service Password Reset v1.1

XenApp and XenDesktop 7.12 introduces an new SSPR package: v1.1.  In this release there are a lot of security enhancements.

There is also a new so called “Blacklist Configuration: feature available. Users and groups added to this blacklist, cannot use any of the Self-Service Password Reset features. This includes enrollment, account unlock, and password reset.

Entries in the blacklist is done through the User Configuration.

 

 

 

 

 

Universal Printer Driver

In XA/XD 7.9 Citrix Universal print driver support for stapling and paper source location was introduced for XPS print format. In XA/XD 7.12 this support also is available for EMF print format.

Emulated 8-Bit mode

With XA/XD 7.12 there is an policy setting available “Preferred color depth for simple graphics” Setting this policy to 8-bit mode reduces bandwidth up to nearly 50%. It provides a low bandwith usage for sessions that are not graphical demanding. Non Graphical Applications, Mobile Apps etc…

Call-Home option

We all know the call option, with the latest version within the 7.12 release this is 100% in par with Citrix Scout. Citrix build in additional data points.

 

Keyboard Layout Synchronisation.

A new enhancement is the Dynamic Synhronisation of the keyboard layout from the client to the VDA during a XA/XD session. This is usefull for users to switch keyboard layout on the client device. At that point the sync will take place. This feature is only supported with VDA 7.12 and Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.6

You can configure this setting from the CTX Receiver tray icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HTML 5 redirection

One of the coolest enhancements in my opinion is the HTML5 video redirection. A lot of websites are using HTML5 these days. And the impact of server-side rendering is huge. So i am glad this is now available in XA/XD 7.12.

HTML5 redirection provides the best balance between smooth audio and video display and server scalability.

At this point it only working on internal website only. Due to a requirement of an additional JavaScript (HdxVideo.js & HDXVideoMin.js) which are found in the program folder after installing the VDA software.

The feature is controlled by a new policy “HTML5 Redirection”. This one is not enabled by default.  In addition the HDX Policy “Windows Media Redirection” must be set to Allowed for HTML5 video redirection to work.

And off course you will need the latest 4.6 receiver to make it work.

 

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