Product Documentation

XenApp administrators

Mar 26, 2015

This release unifies hosted applications and desktops (XenApp) with personalized desktops (XenDesktop) within a single architecture and management experience. The capabilities previously available within XenApp are now delivered within the XenDesktop infrastructure and components. If you have prior experience managing XenApp farms, this document helps you understand the following:

  • Key concepts of the unified infrastructure
  • Differences in terminology
  • The components and what they do
  • Application delivery using the new infrastructure
  • Monitoring and managing multiple versions of XenApp and XenDesktop

To review some of the past XenApp features that are deprecated in this release, see Features not in this release.

Important infrastructure concepts for XenApp administrators

The following terms and concepts are important for you to understand so that you can effectively publish applications and desktops from the unified infrastructure. When you publish applications, you are creating or adding applications. These components are:

  • A machine catalog is a collection of virtual machines (VMs) and physical machines managed as a single entity. Machine catalogs specify the following:
    • VMs or physical computers available to host applications or desktops
    • The Active Directory computer accounts assigned to those VMs or computers
    • In some cases, the master image that is copied to create the VMs
  • A Delivery Group is a collection of servers that specify who can use a set of applications. A single Delivery Group can contain applications from a number of machine catalogs rather than a single hypervisor pool. Also, a single Delivery Group can be published to users so that a single user can access multiple applications in the group.

Key differences between XenApp and XenDesktop

In moving from a traditional XenApp environment to the unified environment, you will find the following key differences:

  • Citrix Studio instead of Delivery Services Console— In this release, you use Studio to configure your environments and provide users with access to applications and desktops.

    For example, instead of using folders and Worker Groups to organize applications, servers, and other resources, in Studio you organize those resources using a combination of machine catalogs, tags, Delivery Groups, and Delegated Administrators.

  • Delegated Administration — In XenApp, you can create custom administrators and assign them permissions based on folders and objects. In XenDesktop, you can create custom administrators whose permissions are based on role and scope pairs. A role represents a job function and has defined permissions associated with it. A scope represents a collection of objects. You use scopes to group objects in a way that is relevant to your organization (for example, the set of Delivery Groups used by the Sales team). This release also offers several built-in administrator roles (other than the full administrator role), such as help desk, applications, hosting, and catalog. Each of these built-in roles includes specific management permissions. For more information, see Delegated Administration.
  • No IMA data store — This release does not use the IMA data store as the central database in which to store configuration information. Instead, it uses a Microsoft SQL Server database as the data store for both configuration and session information. This means:
    • Database requirements are different. Microsoft Access and Oracle are no longer supported databases.
    • Remote Desktop Services Client Access Licenses (RDS CALs) are no longer needed on the servers where Controllers are running. You still need RDS CALs on the servers that are hosting and delivering your applications and desktops.
    • There is no dedicated zone master. In XenApp, there is a zone master or data collector responsible for user connection requests and communication with hypervisors. In this release, this function is distributed evenly across all Controllers in the site.
    • If you require high availability or disaster recovery for Microsoft SQL Server you can configure clustering or mirroring, or deploy the database as a virtual machine and use your hypervisor's high availability features instead. For more information, see Ensure database fault tolerance.
  • FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA) — FMA requires that you must be in a domain to deploy a site. For example, to install the servers, your account must have local administrator privileges and be a domain user in the Active Directory.
  • Sites instead of Farms — In this release, the XenApp "farms" are known as "sites." Sites should be within one data center.
  • Citrix Director monitors the environment — Director is a separate monitoring tool that is installed by default as a website on the Delivery Controller. From this console, administrators (depending on their Delegated Administrator permissions) can monitor the environment, shadow user devices, and troubleshoot IT issues for users and sites. For example, help desk administrators can work only with individual users on specified sites, while full administrators can monitor the entire deployment and resolve system-wide IT issues. For more information on Director and how it enables IT support, see Monitor environments with Director.
  • No Shadow taskbar — To view and interact with other users' sessions remotely, you use the shadow feature launched from Director console, which uses Microsoft Remote Assistance to connect to user machines. Remote Assistance is installed by default on the VDA; if you clear the check box during installation, you cannot shadow the user remotely.

Components in this release

If you already have experience with a XenDesktop or XenApp environment, it will be helpful to you to identify the components introduced in this release and learn how they work and communicate with each other. Under the new architecture, XenDesktop and XenApp are unified, including management and delivery components, to give administrators a unified management experience.

This figure shows the key components in a typical deployment.

The core components of this release are:

Director — Director is a web-based tool that enables IT support and help desk teams to monitor an environment, troubleshoot issues before they become system-critical, and perform support tasks for end users. You can also view and interact with a user's sessions using Microsoft Remote Assistance.

Receiver — Installed on user devices, Citrix Receiver provides users with quick, secure, self-service access to documents, applications, and desktops from any of the user's devices including smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Receiver provides on-demand access to Windows, Web, and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.

StoreFront — StoreFront authenticates users to sites hosting resources and manages stores of desktops and applications that users access.

Studio — Studio is the management console that enables you to configure and manage your deployment, eliminating the need for separate management consoles for managing delivery of applications and desktops. Studio provides various wizards to guide you through the process of setting up your environment, creating your workloads to host applications and desktops, and assigning applications and desktops to users.

License server — License server manages your product licenses. You must create at least one license server to store and manage your license files.

Delivery Controller — Installed on servers in the data center, the Delivery Controller consists of services that communicate with the hypervisor to distribute applications and desktops, authenticate and manage user access, and broker connections between users and their virtual desktops and applications. The Controller manages the state of the desktops, starting and stopping them based on demand and administrative configuration. In some editions, the Controller allows you to install Profile management to manage user personalization settings in virtualized or physical Windows environments. Each site has one or more Delivery Controllers.

XenServer — XenServer is an enterprise-class virtual machine infrastructure solution that creates the foundation for delivering virtual desktops and offers advanced management features. Multiple VMs can run on XenServer, which takes advantage of the advanced virtualization features of the latest virtualization-enabled processors from Intel and AMD. For more information about XenServer, see the XenServer documentation in eDocs.

Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) — Installed on server or workstation operating systems, the VDA enables connections for desktops and apps. For Remote PC Access, install the VDA on the office PC.

Machine Creation Services (MCS) — A collection of services that work together to create virtual servers and desktops from a master image on demand, optimizing storage utilization and providing a pristine virtual machine to users every time they log on. Machine Creation Services is fully integrated and administrated in Citrix Studio.

Windows Server OS machines — VMs or physical machines based on Windows Server operating system used for delivering applications or hosted shared desktops to users.

Desktop OS machines — VMs or physical machines based on Windows Desktop operating system used for delivering personalized desktops to users, or applications from desktop operating systems.

Remote PC Access — User devices that are included on a whitelist, enabling users to access resources on their office PCs remotely, from any device running Citrix Receiver.

Additional components provide the following features:

Secure delivery — When users connect from outside the corporate firewall, this release can use Citrix NetScaler Gateway (formerly Access Gateway) technology to secure these connections with SSL. NetScaler Gateway or NetScaler VPX virtual appliance is an SSL VPN appliance that is deployed in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to provide a single secure point of access through the corporate firewall.

WAN optimization — In deployments where virtual desktops are delivered to users at remote locations such as branch offices, Citrix CloudBridge (formerly Citrix Branch Repeater or WANScaler) technology can be employed to optimize performance. Repeaters accelerate performance across wide-area networks, so with Repeaters in the network, users in the branch office experience LAN-like performance over the WAN. CloudBridge can prioritize different parts of the user experience so that, for example, the user experience does not degrade in the branch location when a large file or print job is sent over the network. HDX WAN Optimization with CloudBridge provides tokenized compression and data deduplication, dramatically reducing bandwidth requirements and improving performance. For more information, see the Citrix CloudBridge documentation.

Application delivery in this release

In XenApp, you use the Publish Application wizard to prepare applications and deliver them to individuals or groups of users. In XenDesktop, you use the Studio component to create and add applications to make them available to users who are included in a Delivery Group. Using Studio, you first configure a site, create and specify machine catalogs, and then create Delivery Groups within those machine catalogs. Delivery Groups are then used to determine which users have access to the applications you deliver. Refer to the Deliver section for this release.

Once you have created Delivery Groups, you can then create an application to specify which Delivery Groups will provide access to that specific application. In Studio, you can view which applications are added to a selected Delivery Group, as well as enable, disable, or modify the applications. For a detailed explanation of how you configure Delivery Groups to make applications available to users, see Delivery Groups.

These methods are available for delivering applications, and you can choose the method that is most appropriate for your specific environment:

  • Hosted applications and desktops — This server-hosted applications feature integrates XenApp functionality into a XenDesktop environment to deliver applications virtually to remote user devices in high definition. For details, review the Plan section for this release, and in particular, see Plan for hosting desktops and applications.
  • Local App Access — This client-hosted applications feature enables the integration of users' locally-installed applications and hosted applications within a hosted desktop environment. This feature allows users to access all of the applications they need in one place. Using Local App Access, you can publish shortcuts to locally-installed applications on a virtual desktop. When a user connects to a virtual desktop, shortcuts to locally-installed applications are displayed on the virtual desktop and in the Start menu. When the user launches a local application in the virtual desktop session, the application window appears in the desktop session window even though it is actually running on the user's computer.
  • Streamed applications — This release supports App-V 5.0 as the preferred technology to stream applications to user devices. If you use the application streaming feature in XenApp deployments, including the Streaming Profiler and Offline Plug-in, you can continue to use that process in those deployments.

Manage multiple versions of XenApp and XenDesktop

There is no XenApp to XenDesktop 7 upgrade. Citrix will support customers in their migration from XenApp 6.5 to XenDesktop in a future release and plans to release tools and/or scripts to assist in this transition.

The Studio management and Director can monitor and manage only XenDesktop 7 sites. The monitoring and management tools do not support past versions of XenDesktop or XenApp. For example, XenDesktop 7 Director requires a XenDesktop 7 Delivery Controller. Director 7 can monitor XenDesktop 5. x VDAs; however, some data, including logon duration, will not be available with the XenDesktop 5. x VDAs.

Citrix recommends that if you continue running deployments of past versions of XenApp or XenDesktop, you run them in parallel wiht the XenDesktop 7 site and continue running the management consoles with each release for that site. For example, in a mixed environment, to continue using Desktop Director 2.1 to monitor XenApp 6.5, make sure that Desktop Director 2.1 is installed on a separate server from Director 7.

Use StoreFront to aggregate applications and desktops from the different versions of XenApp and XenDesktop.