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Citrix XenApp Migration Tool, restored features due this year

Citrix XenApp 6.5 users will soon have a XenApp migration tool to aid XenApp 7 upgrades, along with reinstated features.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- IT shops on XenApp 6.5 will get a migration tool later this year to simplify XenApp 7.5 upgrades, along with reinstated features lost in the recent architecture change.

With the release of XenApp 7 last year, Citrix moved off the Independent Management Architecture (IMA) it had used since MetaFrame XP in 2007, to the FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA). IT shops with XenApp 6.5 or older were told their only way up was to build a new environment.

Starting from scratch didn't sit well with enterprise customers who have invested time in configuring app settings and policies, and the complaints rolled in. Citrix responded with the XenApp Migration Tool, released in private tech preview here at Citrix Synergy this week.

The longer you stay [on software], the harder it gets to move forward.

Jim Thomas, director of IT operations, Pella

The tool, which will be generally available during the second half of this year, will simplify the migration and upgrade process by preserving settings from one version to another. It automates preparation, assessment and migration, eliminating much of the manual labor.

The XenApp Migration Tool has two components; one is a collection of information on policies, application publishing settings and configurations to bring customers from the old database to the new architecture. The second component is a utility that rebuilds the XenApp environment. Citrix claims the tool will reduce the time a move to the new version takes by 90%.

IT shops that upgrade to XenApp 7.5 will get a simpler way to manage, support and deliver apps through Citrix Studio, along with shared-session multi-user delivery to present applications to end users. 3D application support is also included, and it incorporates EdgeSight analytics with NetScaler HDX insights in the Director console.

Pella Corp., a window and door manufacturer based in Pella, Iowa, migrated from XenApp 6.5 starting in the fall of 2013. The company's IT team upgraded seven branches and 650 users to XenApp 7.1 by December. As part of the process, Pella moved to StoreFront, consolidated consoles to Citrix Studio and Provisioning Services, and upgraded from Microsoft Hyper-V 2008 R2 to Hyper-V 2012 R2.

"We are committed to stay current," said Jim Thomas, director of IT operations for Pella, during a XenApp migration session here. "The longer you stay [on software], the harder it gets to move forward."

Lost XenApp 6 features to return

Not everyone sees reason to upgrade now, at least not until XenApp 7.5 offers all the features of the previous release.

The change from IMA to FMA meant the loss of a number of features, including local host cache, single global XenApp farm support, XenApp ICA Shadowing, application streaming, advanced load balancing capabilities, Secure Gateway and many others.

The loss of those features and few compelling new ones leaves little reason to upgrade, according to Joe Dropkin, a XenApp 6.5 user and senior server engineer for a major travel website.

Others say XenApp 7.5 should not have been released until the features sacrificed through the FMA switch were re-added and the migration tool should have been available with the latest release.

"They need to get better about maintaining compatibility across versions," said Philip Jones, senior enterprise engineer with IT solutions provider Varrow and a virtualization blogger. "We lost some features with the FMA move, which is being added back in, but there are still gaps."

Citrix is working to reinstate the lost features by the end of this year, a company spokesperson said. Their return is likely to coincide with the XenApp Migration Tool general availability, he said.

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