Citrix came up with their new product XenApp 6 brings a bunch of new features that most emerging companies will need as the technology continues to evolve and the client requirements continues to expand. These features and benefits include:

•Simple Installation
•Single Administrative  Console
•Introduction of Worker Groups
•Citrix Policies and GPO Integration
•Merchandizing Server and Dazzle
•HDX MediaStream for Flash
•Provisioning Server Technology

1.1. Simple Installation

With the introduction of XenApp 6, Citrix introduced a number of enhancements to the installation wizard. Replicating from Microsoft's "Manage your Server" and roles concepts, Citrix adopted a similar process for installing XenApp. The Figure below depicts a typical Citrix Farm Architecture.                 Citrix Farm Architecture

At the time of installation of XenApp, the administrator is allowed to choose the specific   roles of a particular server that it will play in the XenApp Farm. Small Citrix farms typically have the following roles.
•Web Server
•License Server
•Application Server
•Database Server

Although the Farm Data Store (Database Server) is an essential part of the Farm, it is not technically a role. In fact, it is not a Citrix Server at all. It is a database server, typically SQL (can be Oracle or MS Access) that contains critical Farm Data. At the time of configuring the wizard for XenApp6, the administrator can designate the place where the Data Store will be located.

In larger environments, the Citrix Farms are much more complex and compact in the architectural level. They include other essential and value adding components like Provisioning Services, EdgeSight monitoring, Dedicated Data Collectors, Remote Access Devices, Secure Access Gateway and increased redundancy with all essential servers.

Another change to the install process is that there is no configuration required during installation. This makes the installation of each Server roles very easy to handle. Once the installation is completed, the administrator is prompted to configure each of the roles.            

1.2. Single Administrative Console

Over the last decade one challenge for Citrix administrators has been the different consoles for doing different kinds of Farm management tasks. XenApp 6 has conglomerated almost all administrative tasks in one console called the Delivery Services Console.

Delivery Services Console

With this new Citrix Delivery Services Console, a Citrix administrator can use one console to perform all the required tasks like Publishing Applications, Creating Policies, and Managing Worker Groups and Zones, along with many other tasks. With a single console, it became easy to manage hundreds of servers and applications in a Citrix Server Farm.

1.3. Introduction of Worker Groups

Generally, each and every XenApp Server in the Citrix Farm would look the same. It would have all of the same applications installed, and there would be no compatibility issues or DLL conflicts between applications. Unfortunately, it is not the case every time. In some cases, we have complicated environments that sometimes require different applications to be installed on different XenApp servers. We have to deal with huge Clients with world-wide offices with geographically dispersed data centers and file servers. There are Test Environments, Production Environments, Segregated Contractor DMZ Servers, and many other scenarios we refer to as Application Silos. Application Silos are common in Citrix Farms, not because they are preferred but because they are required.    

                                Worker Groups

In the former releases of Citrix, Application Silos were managed in a very manual way by only installing and publishing certain applications to some definite Citrix servers. But in XenApp 6, Citrix has introduced Worker Groups concept. Worker Groups paves the way to manage all servers within an Application Silo as one object. This allows us to publish applications and set a particular policy on a specific Worker Group rather than individual servers, making managing complex real-life Citrix environments much easier.

Moreover the Worker Groups can Perform Load Balancing between geographical locations or direct users to the XenApp servers closest to their current location.

1.4. Citrix Policies and GPO Integration

There must be a balance between allowing users to do what they need to do without exposing them to unnecessary risk and Outage. These controls are executed via policy. Before XenApp 6, the Microsoft policies (GPOs) were controlled with one console, and the Citrix policies were managed with another separate console. Citrix Administrators can now use GPOs and Organizational Units (OUs) to manage their Citrix Policies just like they do their Microsoft Policies, giving Administrators one tool to manage user rights. 

GPO IntegrationIf one doesn’t have rights at an Active Directory Level, XenApp6 does still allow for IMA-Based Polices, which is stored in the Citrix Data Store. These policies are created using the Delivery Services Console; however, they are superseded if GPO-Based Citrix Policies exist.

1.5. Merchandizing Server and Dazzle

Citrix Receiver for Windows, Receiver for Mac, and Merchandising Server are components of the Citrix Delivery Center solution. While Citrix Delivery Center provides the application delivery infrastructure to the IT administrator, Citrix Merchandising Server and Citrix Receiver for Windows work together to streamline the installation and management of application delivery to the user desktops. Merchandising Server provides the administrative interface for configuring, delivering, and upgrading plug-ins for your users' computers.

Merchandizing Server
Dazzle provides users with self-service access to the applications and desktops they need to work productively. Icons for those applications and desktops can be presented on the local desktop, on the Dock, or in the Dazzle folder available from the Finder.

The new, easy-to-use interface allows users to subscribe to applications and desktops hosted on XenApp 6 and XenDesktop servers with a single click, replacing the need for individual connection files used by earlier versions of the plug-in.

1.6. HDX MediaStream for Flash

HDX MediaStream for Flash is an amazing feature of XenApp.  It crept into XenApp 5 in the second and third feature packs and is installed by default in XenApp 6.

Essentially it offloads the processing of Flash content from the server to the client when using a Citrix distributed copy of Internet Explorer.  The result is that the playback on the client PC is noticeably better than without it in most cases.  It also hammers the CPU of the client PC instead of the CPU on the server so should improve the user experience for everyone else too and help get more users per server.

Despite being installed by default in modern clients and on XenApp 6 servers there are a few things that might trip it up.  If any of these occur the client will generally silently fall back on the standard way of processing Flash content on the server.

1.7. Provisioning Server Technology

Provisioning Server technology allows Citrix administrators to create a single master virtual disk (vDisk) and then connect multiple desktops or servers to that vDisk and boot simultaneously.  

Provisioning Server                                            
With XenApp, we can leverage this technology to keep all of the Application Servers in a Citrix Farm consistent with the same applications, hotfixes, and patches. This ensures that users receive the same experience, regardless of which server they are load-balanced to. With this technology, administrators can now update many servers by updating a single vDisk, making administering large server farms much simpler.

1.8. Farm Properties Transformed into Citrix Policies 

Till XenApp 5 Farm Properties were the only means by which all the settings on the Farm level was controlled of. From XenApp6 onwards there is no concept of Farm Properties. Everything is integrated in the Citrix Policy now. Citrix Policies have been made more compact and robust. With the help of Citrix Policies each and every settings at the Farm level can be controlled and modified. This new feature has made the life easier for the Citrix Administrators.

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