XenApp is Back! But is XenApp 7.5 REALLY Your Mother’s XenApp?

Like most Citrix admins, the announcement of XenApp 7.5 was fairly stunning to me.  Citrix had spent the last year systematically squashing the XenApp brand and promising with roadmap features that everything great about XenApp would some day live in XenDesktop.  I spoke with Chris Lau several times throughout the Betas for XenDesktop 7 and cornered him at Synergy last year about all the things I thought were missing from XenDesktop as a valid XenApp replacement.  Thinks like worker groups, folder structures, etc;  And I thought hey, with the next major iteration of XenDesktop I bet we will see some of those items!  7.1 came mostly as a stability fix for 7.  I heard rumblings of 7.5 and was ready to be wowed.  And wowed I was, just not in a way I wanted.

So what is XenApp 7.5?  It’s a marketing gimmick.  It’s a nod to all the admins like me who said “Hey Citrix calling this XenDesktop is stupid!”  It’s an attempt to save face because they haven’t been able to deliver many of the integrated features of XenApp yet into the XenDesktop management platform.  IMA is dead.  Long live FMA!  If you loved IMA and treasured your local host cache and a lack of database dependency I am sorry to say you are still out of luck.  This is XenDesktop rebranded when you install it on a server.  Heck, they both even USE the same installer.  All the new features in XenApp 7.5 are the same new features from XenDesktop 7.5.  What are those you ask?

– Hybrid Cloud Provisioning is definitely the headline grabber here.  Have Amazon cloud services?  Provision straight into your Amazon cloud from the GUI.  Very nice for those who truly use a hybrid cloud solution.  Unless you have say Windows Azure which isn’t supported quite yet 😉

– AppDNA is free!  Well, free with the thousands (or millions) of dollars you pay Citrix already.  This frankly is a long time coming and it’s great to see Citrix recognize one of their strengths is getting apps into the right virtual environment and delivered to the end users.  This is a huge deal!  Now maybe more people will actually use this awesome tool.

– Framehawk Integration is cool too according to the marketing videos :).  I have to admit I haven’t tried it yet, but it LOOKS cool.  And smooth.  Working in a large organization that often struggles with video delivery I am very eager to see how well it works.

– Extended Web Interface support is also included.  We won’t get a Web Interface update short of a major hole being discovered but it’s nice to know Citrix Support can’t play the “that’s not supported” card when you want to run XenDesktop or XenApp 7.x on Web Interface.  The rush to push us all to Storefront was poorly planned and badly supported.  Now if it would just support Chromebooks…

So all in all am I happy?  After all, I wrote some pretty scathing things when the demise of XenApp was first announced.  No, not really.  None of the things I wanted have made it back in the product.  I spent a long time setting up 6.5 with Worker Groups driving darn near every facet of my environment.  I want my worker groups back!  Also the continued reluctance of Citrix to return a simple folder structure to the GUI is baffling.  Having to use filtered searches is just a bad design plan.  So if it walks like XenDesktop and quacks like XenDesktop it doesn’t matter how much lipstick you put on it it isn’t XenApp.

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