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Announcing the Availability of XenServer 7.3

We're pleased to announce the availability of XenServer 7.3, the latest Current Release (CR)!

CRs Versus LTSRs

XenServer 7.3 offers customers following the CR release track access to the latest product features designed to enhance application, desktop and server virtualization deployments. For customers running XenServer 7.2 (up until now the most recent CR), Citrix recommends upgrading to 7.3 at the earliest convenience to maintain support.

For customers following the LTSR release track (starting with XenServer 7.1 LTSR), Citrix recommends reviewing the XenServer 7.3 release notes to determine if 7.3 would deliver additional benefits to their virtual environments.

Note: The decision to embark on the CR release track entails the adoption of new CRs as they are made available in order to maintain support, as hotfixes for each CR are only made available for up to 4 months after the next CR is released. See the XenServer Product Lifecycle page for details.

XenServer 7.3 is available in the usual three editions:

  • Free Edition
  • Standard Edition
  • Enterprise Edition

Important Notice for XenServer Free Edition Users

With the release of 7.3 comes several changes to feature availability in the Free Edition of XenServer. For details regarding these changes, please see XenServer 7.3: Changes to the Free Edition.

New Features in XenServer 7.3

The following is a list of the features and functionality introduced in XenServer 7.3:

  • Enhanced security for Windows virtual machines by support for Bromium Secure Platform
  • Changed Block Tracking API (for enhanced backups)
  • New and expanded guest OS support
  • Support for VLAN tagging on management and storage network interfaces
  • IGMP snooping for IPv4 multicast support
  • SMB v3.0 for ISO storage repositories (SRs)
  • Improvements to XenServer Conversion Manager
  • Localization for Email Performance Alerts
  • Support for BIOS Asset Tags
  • Citrix Director integration
  • Enablement for XenDesktop Tablet Mode (enables Windows 10 Continuum experience in virtualized desktop environments)

For more information, including the edition(s) in which each feature can be found, please refer to the XenServer 7.3 release notes.

To download XenServer 7.3, please visit the XenServer Product Download page.

Cheers!

Andy

 

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XenServer 7.3: Changes to the Free Edition

Today we're pleased to announce the release of XenServer 7.3, which includes a raft of new features and improvements. Whilst you can read all about exactly what's in that release over on the release announcement blog, I wanted to provide clarity on the changes we're making to the Free Edition of XenServer as part of the release.

As many of you will be aware, XenServer is available in three editions: Free, Standard, and Enterprise. All of them are installed from the same ISO, and all are equally open source. The Standard edition is almost identical to the Free edition in terms of feature set, but includes commercial support and an extended period of hotfix availability from Citrix, whilst the Enterprise edition enables a variety of additional features.

Having carefully considered what features are in each edition, we've taken the decision to move some features out of the Free edition, and into Standard.

The full list of features being moved is:

  • Dynamic Memory Control
  • Xen Storage Motion
  • Active Directory Integration
  • Role Based Access Control
  • High Availability
  • GPU Pass-Through
  • Site Recovery Manager (Disaster Recovery)
  • XenCenter Rolling Pool Upgrade Wizard
  • Maximum Pool Size Restricted To 3 Hosts (existing larger pools will continue to work, but no new host joins will be permitted)

This will therefore make the Standard edition substantially different to the Free edition. No features are moving from Free to Enterprise. You can find all of the details in the full XenServer 7.3 feature matrix.

I suspect many readers will be asking "why?". We have thousands of customers who trust XenServer to host their workloads, and we need to make sure we can invest in the product for them. Of the many thousands of customers using the Free edition, we hope that those using it for large deployments (and likely to be using the features above) will consider purchasing a subscription to enable access not just to the features above, but also the patch/hotfix stream for each release for an extended period (roughly 7 months from release versus 3 months for Free users), access to Long Term Service Releases (up to 10 years of maintenance) and support services from Citrix.

I realise that this news will be difficult for people who make use of the Free edition of XenServer in larger environments. We have looked carefully at how the revised Free edition compares to other free virtualisation platforms on the market, and concluded that even with this change, XenServer's free feature set is still great for small deployments or home labs. Evidently Citrix will continue to add functionality to all three editions in the future: as you can see from 7.3 release notes, there is plenty going on!

As usual, you can get in touch with me via the comments function below, or on Twitter. I'll endeavour to reply as soon as practical!

Recent Comments
Sam McLeod
David, you know I hold the upmost respect for you so please don't take this personally. This is a typical, big enterprise, Micros... Read More
Thursday, 14 December 2017 02:03
David Cottingham
Hi Sam, Firstly, I'll say that I can understand where you're coming from. I recognise that there will be some people affected by ... Read More
Thursday, 14 December 2017 03:32
Sam McLeod
What happens if a host dies in one of your existing pools and you need to replace it? Unless your pool is tiny (3 or less hosts) -... Read More
Thursday, 14 December 2017 05:05
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A Great Time to Take A Look at XenServer Enterprise!

Good afternoon everyone,

As we make our way through the last quarter of the year, I wanted to remind the community of the significant progress the XenServer team has achieved over the last 18 months to make XenServer the awesome hypervisor that it is today!

While many of you have been making the most of your free XenServer hypervisor, I would like to take this opportunity to review just a few of the new features introduced in the latest releases of the Enterprise edition - features that our customers have been using to optimize their application and desktop virtualization deployments.

For starters, we've instrumented automated updates and live patching, features that streamline the platform upgrade process by enabling multiple fixes to be installed and applied with a single reboot and in many cases, no reboot whatsoever, significantly reducing downtime for environments that require continuous uptime.

We've also worked with one of our partners to introduce a revolutionary approach to securing virtual workloads, one that is capable of scanning raw memory at the hypervisor layer to detect, protect and remediate against the most sophisticated attacks on an IT environment. This unique approach provides an effective line of defense against viruses, malware, ransomware and even root kit exploits. What's more, this advanced security technique complements security mechanisms already implemented to further strengthen protection of critical IT environments.

Providing a local caching mechanism within the XenServer hypervisor enables our virtual desktop customers to dramatically improve the performance of their virtual desktops, particularly during boot storms. By caching requests for OS image contents in local resources (i.e., memory and storage), XenServer is able to work with Provisioning Services to stream contents directly to virtual desktops, reducing resource utilization (network and CPU) while enhancing user productivity.

Expanded support for virtual graphics allows our customers to leverage their investments in hardware from the major graphics vendors and enable GPU-accelerated virtual desktops that effectively support graphics-intensive workloads.

Designing, developing and delivering features that bring out the best in virtualization technologies... that's our focus. And thanks to the invaluable insight and feedback provided by this community, will continue to be the driving force behind our innovation efforts.

Interested in evaluating the features described above, click here.

Until next time,

Andy

 

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Citrix Announces First Cumulative Update for XenServer 7.1

Citrix has posted a blog announcing the availability of XenServer 7.1 CU1, the first cumulative update for the XenServer 7.1 Long-Term Support Release (LTSR).

CU1 rolls-up all hotfixes released on XenServer 7.1 to date. While there are no new features introduced in this update, a number of additional fixes are included to further enhance and simplify XenApp and XenDesktop environments. Information pertaining to these fixes can be found in the release notes.

Of particular significance, this cumulative update provides customers on Long-Term Support Release (LTSR) 7.1 with the latest platform fixes applicable to v7.1. Unlike Current Releases (CR), which provide access to new features on an almost quarterly basis, Long-Term Support Releases are designed for customers who, possessing the features they need to optimize their XenApp and XenDesktop environments, intend to remain on the LTSR for the foreseeable future. For these customers, using a Long-Term Support Release offers stability - Citrix will support the LTSR for up to 10 years – as well as access to fixes as they become available. You can learn more about the differences between Long-Term Support and Current Releases here.

Wondering if XenServer 7.1 Enterprise edition is right for your organization? Click here to download a free trial version.

Cheers!

Andy

 

Recent comment in this post
Sam McLeod
Great to see a roll-up for all hotfixes for 7.1 to date, it was very painful figuring out what patches to apply and what not to in... Read More
Sunday, 17 September 2017 23:15
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Changes to Hotfixes and Maintenance for XenServer Releases

Changes to Hotfixes and Maintenance for XenServer Releases

XenServer (XS) is changing as a product with more aggressive release cycles as well as the recent introduction of both Current Release (CR) and Long Term Service Release (LTSR) options. Citrix recently announced changes to the way XenServer updates (hotfixes) will be regulated and this article summarizes the way these will be dealt with looking forward.

To first define a few terms and clarify some points, the CR model is intended for those who always want to install the latest and greatest versions, and these are being targeted for roughly quarterly releases. The LTSR model is primarily intended for installations that are required to run with a fixed release. These are by definition required to be under a service contract in order to gain access to periodic updates, known as Cumulative Updates or CUs. The first of these will be CU1. Since Citrix is targeting support for LTSR versions for ten years, this incurs quite a bit of cost over time and is much longer than a general CR cycle is maintained, hence the requirement for active support. The support for those running XS as part of running licensed versions of XenApp/XenDesktop will remain the same, as these CR licenses are provided as part of the XenApp/XenDesktop purchase. There will still be a free version of XenServer and the only change at this point will be that on-demand hotfixes for a given CR will no longer be available once the next CR is released. Instead, updates to quarterly releases will be needed to access and stay on top of hotfixes. More will be discussed about this later on. End-of-life timelines should help customers in planning for these changes. Licensed versions of XenServer need to fall under active Customer Success Services (CSS) contracts to be eligible for access to the corresponding types of updates and releases that fall outside of current product cycles.

 

At a Glance

The summary of how various XS versions are treated looking forward is presented in the following table, which provides an overview at a glance.

XenServer Version

Active Hotfix Cut-Off

Action Required

6.2 & 6.5 SP1

EOL June 2018

None. Hotfixes will continue to be available as before until EOL.

7.0

December 2017

Upgrade or buy CSS.

7.1

December 2017

Upgrade or buy CSS (to stay on the LTSR stream by deploying CU1)

7.2

At release of next CR

Upgrade to latest CR, or buy CSS to obtain 4 months more of hotfixes (and thus skip one CR)

 

In the future, the only way to get hotfixes for XS 7.2 without paying for a CSS will be to upgrade to the most current CR once released. Customers who do pay for CSS will also be able to access hotfixes on 7.2 for a further four months after the next CR is released. This would in principle allow you to skip a release and transition to the next one beyond it.

 

What Stays the Same

While changes are fairly significant for especially users of the free edition of XS, some aspects will not change. These include:

·        There will still be free versions of XenSever released as part of the quarterly CR cycle.

·        The free version of XS can still be updated with all released hotfixes until the next CR becomes generally available.

·        XS code still remains open source.

·        Any hotfixes that have already been released will remain publically available.

·        There will be no change to XS 6.2 through 6.5 SP1. They will only receive security hotfixes at this point, anyway, until being EOLed in June 2018.

 

In Summary 

First off, stay calm and keep on maintaining XS pretty much as before except for the cut-offs on how long hotfixes will be available for non-paid-for versions. The large base of free XS users should not fear that all access to hotfixes is getting completely cut off. You will still be able to maintain your installation exactly as before, up to the point of a new CR. This will take place roughly every quarter. This is a pretty small amount of extra effort to keep up, especially given how much easier updating has become, in particular for pools. Most users would do well to keep up with current releases to benefit from improvements and to not have to apply huge numbers of hotfixes whenever installing a base version; the CR releases will include all hotfixes accumulated up to that point, which will be more convenient.

 

What To Do 

Any customers who already have active CSS contracts will be unaffected by any of these changes. Included are servers that support actively licensed XenApp/XenDesktop instances, who by the way, get all the XS Enterprise features incorporated into the latest XS releases – for all editions of XA/XD. Customers on XS 7.0 and 7.1 LTSR who have allowed their software maintenance to lapse and have not renewed/upgraded to CCS subscriptions should seriously consider that route.

Citrix will provide additional information as these changes are put into place.

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About XenServer

XenServer is the leading open source virtualization platform, powered by the Xen Project hypervisor and the XAPI toolstack. It is used in the world's largest clouds and enterprises.
 
Commercial support for XenServer is available from Citrix.