Long Term Service Release (LTSR). It doesn't happen often. And here's why this is a big deal!
The Wait is OVER – XenApp and XenDesktop LTSR 7.15
Aside from “should I use PVS and MCS?” the most common question I have been getting this year is, “When is the next LTSR being released?”
When no announcement was made at Synergy, I think people started thinking they would be waiting for “the Citrix” for-ev-er.
Understanding Releases- CR and LTSR
Very briefly if you don't know already- Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop (yes, one product line with multiple license types, a discussion for another day) has two streams of releases:
- CR – Current Release. Roughly every 3-9 months or so, as new features are developed they are released into the ‘wild'. CR has a shorter lifecycle of support but you always have the latest features. It's a great fit for environments that care about being on the cutting edge.
- LTSR – Long Term Service Release. Roughly every 2-3 years a new version is released. This “Locks in” a feature set and only security and stability patches are released. Those that are paying attention will note that Microsoft and other vendors are doing the same thing, and it's important in the Enterprise.
Why Care About a Long Term Service Release (LTSR)?
There's a lot of reasons to care about LTSR. Here's my top 5:
- Proven Stability. LTSR has been simply huge in high-availability 24-hr verticals like Healthcare because you can predict what it will do. A longer lifespan means more predictability. LTSR is the Honda Accord of Citrix releases. You just know it's going to work the same way 3 years from now as it does today. You know it because literally hundreds of customers are using the same version.
- 10 Year Support Possible. This is because with less changes being made, the support lifecycle is longer. This means in some cases an almost 10 year support lifespan (not that you would, but you could!) Given the amount of XenApp 5.0 and 6.0 farms I'm still seeing out there, I'm reminded that not everyone upgrades often. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
- App Vendors Like it. Sure, new features are great but there are times when the development lifecycle for an application is longer than the features of the underlying delivery. An LTSR release lets you specify a standard way of doing things knowing it will be easier to support in the long run.
- Better ROI. I have to say this again- Return on Investment only applies if your Operational costs are lower. A standardized release means more people will learn how to administer the environment and get better at it over time. In fact- certifications are now aligning towards LTSR releases.
- Better and Faster Support. Not just from Citrix, but from partners and application vendors and even web searches. Let's face it- for all the reasons above you'll get better quality and faster support using an LTSR than a CR.
So What's the Problem?
Well- 1.6 years ended up being a long time to wait for a lot of people. After all, there have been a LOT of useful features in the 7 releases that have come between LTSRs. So, what I have been seeing is a lot of ‘inbetween' adoption of versions to get a certain feature that have had consequences in the areas I note above. A full comparison of feature sets can be found here. Needless to say, a full 2 or even 3 years just wasn't going to work. Too many people were clamoring for features that they couldn't get in LTSR and making compromises in Enterprise environments, which totally goes against the whole purpose!
Key Features I've been waiting for in LTSR
There are a LOT of key features I've been waiting to see – the list is long but distinguished (DON'T say it…):
- HDX Enlightened/Adaptive Transport (note, 7.6 locked in the last great advancement in ICA. This is the next and the single most common reason I've seen the switch to CR this year. Solved.)
- HTML5 Redirection, Framehawk and H.264 SuperCodec if you're into such things
- Windows 10 support
- Application Groups
- Local App Access
- Local Host Cache. This may be the missing feature others were quick to use CR. Me, I say you still want to have a good SQL structure regardless but at least this makes a more assured stable environment.
- MCS for Server OS. I'll admit it. I'd rather see some image management than none. PVS is not always appropriate despite it's UTTER AND COMPLETE SUPERIORITY. Bonus points to have access to RAM caching to further reduce the hit to IOPS for writes. [Edit 9/19/17: I noticed today that support for HyperV Gen2 VMs is now included with 7.15! Hello 2016!]
- Federated Services and SAML.
- Web Password reset
- Azure and Nutanix Acropolis support!
- Linux Desktops AND LINUX ON FREAKIN PVS!!!
Anything Missing in LTSR 7.15?
- WebInterface Support. I try not to giggle, but the reality is that a lot of people are still stuck on WI instead of StoreFront. Some even have legit reasons. And for that I am sorry. But if you are in that very exclusive club, do NOT upgrade to 7.15 LTSR. You will not find WebInterface support follows you. Time to increase those consulting budgets!
- Common Criteria Certification and FIPS Compliance. FIPS may actually have a leg to stand on with 7.15 LTSR, but Common Criteria is notably missing. I'm not yet sure why but… if you need to be sure, stay with 7.6 LTSR.
- Multiple license editions per farm. Sadly- still missing since sometime around the 6.5 days 🙁
- SA Licensing. In a move I'm sure will cause a backlash, only CRs are currently eligible under SA. You must have Customer Success Services active to get the new licenses. Sorry, holdouts. It's the future.
- Mixed component versioning. As with LTSR 7.6 – you must maintain all components at the same LTSR version to get support for the full timeframe.
Read More about the release here: XenApp & XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR – The Blockbuster Release of the Summer | Citrix Blogs
With XenApp 6.5 going End of Life in… less than a year… (June 30th, 2018… or August 24th, 2016 if you broke your active SA agreement- long story but do you really want to take the chance of calling support and finding you have none?) I'd say it's probably time to upgrade, and this is the release that should make it practical!
Unfortunately this release has come at a busy time for me but… I downloaded it yesterday (8/14/2017) and am looking forward to getting this live!
Interested in help with your migration? Questions about licensing? My team at Accordant Technology can help or contact me below.
So, how about it? Will you be upgrading this Fall?
(note- this website is not maintained by Accordant Technology, it's where I work 😉 )
And, how about some celebration music?
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