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Citrix XenApp 6.5: Eight exciting enhancements

Citrix XenApp 6.5 arrived in August, bringing some welcome improvements to the company's application streaming product.

The newest version of XenApp improves the performance and management of virtualized applications,

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gives end users more robust virtual application support and reduces management overhead. Data flow and Quality of Service (QoS) developments also allow XenApp 6.5 apps to be used in higher latency environments, while still supporting a high fidelity experience for the end user.

Here's a rundown of what's new and exciting in Citrix XenApp 6.5:

Instant App Access feature

Perhaps the most significant new XenApp feature is Instant App Access, which eliminates the delay associated with launching applications on a virtual machine. It works by creating an Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) session as the user logs in to Citrix Receiver, reducing session creation latency by several seconds. That prelaunch event dramatically reduces overall launch times because the ICA session is created before the user can click on an application icon.

That means launch times, depending upon the specific application, can be nearly instantaneous.

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Upgrading from XenApp 6.0 to 6.5

HDX enhancements

Citrix XenApp 6.5 also takes advantage of the HDX protocol enhancements that came with XenDesktop 5.5. For example, significant updates to HDX MediaStream for Flash mean that Adobe Flash content can be rendered locally over more network conditions than before. That capability dynamically uses computing resources at the endpoint, resulting in higher server scalability and an improved user experience, even in high-latency situations.

Multi-Stream ICA

Further enhancing performance is the Multi-Stream ICA technology, which allows XenApp ICA traffic to be delivered over as many as four TCP/IP streams. That effectively creates a larger pipe for data to travel through and gives administrators the ability to incorporate more granular control for QoS routing rules.

Multi-Stream ICA also eliminates the need to rely on HTTP traffic prioritization, which means that users will experience superior audio/visual quality for apps delivered over the WAN -- all without disrupting other HTTP traffic.

Increased device support

XenApp 6.5 takes advantage of Citrix Receiver enhancements that support extreme multitasking, faster Windows app performance and advanced Linux device support. Those enhancements also enable XenApp to work with more devices than ever before, including PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones and thin clients -- plus major device OSes, including Apple iOS, Google Android and Chrome OS.

End-user experience boost

Users will get an improved desktop experience, thanks to the inclusion of what was once an add-on pack for XenApp 6.0. New XenApp features include built-in Windows themes, the installation of accessory apps and the ability to display high-resolution wallpapers. A Windows 7-like Start Menu and taskbar give users the look and feel of a Windows 7 desktop.

What's more, as a virtual application solution, Citrix XenApp 6.5 can be based on a locked-down image of a hosted shared desktop, allowing an increase in server density and improved security.

Troubleshooting and management console

Administrators will appreciate the new Desktop Director, which offers a single console for managing, monitoring and troubleshooting virtual desktops and apps for thousands of users. Administrators can drill down to individual user sessions and offer remote support or troubleshooting from a central console, eliminating the need to spawn additional support products to solve user problems.

Improved server farm management

On the installation and management end, XenApp 6.5 includes Dynamic Data Center Provisioning, a feature that gives administrators the ability to create "controller" or "worker" roles in a server farm. 

In the past, all servers performed both roles, which was inefficient. Worker role servers need to handle much less data, so optimizing a server farm with distinct roles can increase density and improve efficiency. The ability to assign roles reduces overhead while migrating from previous versions of XenApp and simplifies the process of joining a large number of servers to a XenApp farm.

Better printing

For users that print from virtual applications, Citrix XenApp 6.5 offers as much as a 90% reduction in bandwidth needed for print jobs, increasing print performance while reducing the effect of print traffic over the Web.

This was first published in November 2012

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