This week Citrix released the latest version of XenServer: 7.5 CR. For those unfamiliar with the LTSR and CR release models offered by Citrix, please refer to the recent article published on the Citrix blogs that explains the difference between the two release models.
So what’s new in 7.5 you may be asking? Great question!
Before I answer this question however, I’d like to remind everyone of the many features we’ve introduced since the release of 7.1 (LTSR) back in February 2017, starting with 7.1 itself.
7.1 LTSR features:
- Automated updates to simplify host maintenance
- Delivering Windows VM drivers via Windows updates (WSUS)
- Health Check (via Citrix Insight Services) to monitor the health of XenServer hosts
- Live-Patching, enabling hosts to be updated (patched) without rebooting to minimize downtime
- PVS-Accelerator -reducing/eliminating boot storms while dramatically improving virtual desktop performance
- SMB storage, providing even more options for SRs
- Bitdefender Hypervisor Introspection (HVI), which scans raw memory at the hypervisor later to detect and protect virtual environments from sophisticated IT attacks (i.e., viruses, malware, ransomeware and rootkit exploits)
- Support for Nutanix, combining the benefits of a single software stack (XA/XD/XS) with the cost-effective scale and management benefits provided by hyper-converged infrastructure
7.2 CR features:
- Windows Continuum (tablet mode enablement) – providing seamless transition from desktop to tablet mode on virtual desktops
- Scheduled snapshots for greater control and more flexible backup capabilities
7.3 CR features:
- Citrix Director integration to simplify troubleshooting of virtual desktop issues
- Bromium Secure Platform - providing advanced protection for Windows VMs
- XenCenter host status and licensing visibility
- Expanded Linux template support
- VLAN tagging for management and storage interfaces to improve network utilization
With the release of 7.4 CR, XenServer became the first hypervisor to support vGPU-accelerated VM Live-Migration (XenMotion)! In addition, 7.4 introduced support for AMD MxGPU, further extending its support for the major graphics vendors (NVIDIA, Intel, AMD). Combined, these features reinforced XenServer’s lead in advanced virtual graphics capabilities.
Now that we’ve reviewed the many features that have been introduced since 7.1, let’s highlight what’s new in 7.5.
First and foremost, 7.5 introduces support for GFS2. With GFS2 support comes several experimental features, including thin provisioning on block storage for virtual disk storage repositories, as well as a significant increase in virtual disk size: from 2TBs to 16TBs. Yes, that’s correct… an 8x increase in storage capacity to help our customers with their ever-increasing data requirements!
With newly added support for Networking SR-IOV: Pass-Through of Virtual Functions, XenServer can now use Single Root I/O Virtualization that allows a single PCI device to appear as multiple PCI devices on the physical system. By assigning one or more VFs to a VM, the guest OS can use the device(s) as if it was directly assigned.
For large-scale virtual environments, customers can now take advantage of the significant increase in the number of supported hosts per XenPool – from the current limit of 16 to as many as 64.
7.5 introduces support for USB Pass-Through, enabling physical USB devices to be passed through to a VM so the guest OS can use the physical USB device as a local USB device.
Lastly, several changes have been made in 7.5 pertaining to guest OS support, including the addition of the following Linux guest OS templates:
- CentOS 7.4
- CentOS 6.9
- Oracle Linux 6.9
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9
- Scientific Linux 6.9
Please note the majority of the features described above are available in XenServer 7.5 Enterprise edition only. For more information regarding the newest features in 7.5, refer to the Release Notes.
As you can see, XenServer continues to push the envelope when it comes to ease-of-use, security, graphics, performance, and scalability. And there are a lot more great things coming your way in future releases!
Until next time,