I had an interesting discussion with a customer around prioritisation of their services prior to Windows 2003 and Windows XP going end of life in 2014. As we saunter nonchalantly to the start of 2012, what must the focus be next year? You may well be having the same conversations. Let’s be honest, corporate change isn’t as dynamic as we’d like. This has it’s own positives, it’s own negatives.

Back to my customer. There is a business-influential Citrix XenApp estate hosted on Windows 2003. It has a reliable history: and if it ain’t broke…The client has a sizable user-base in central London, this estate is scheduled to be expanded to accommodate more remote working due to the Olympics: which will cause the greatest mass of people in one place that you can get in peace-time.

Granted, there was an understanding that the XenApp environment had a limited shelf-life. Granted, there was an understanding that because this was an external facing  service, End of Life (EOL) and the subsequent lack of ability to at least security patch the service could not be tolerated.

So, we have an interesting question. Windows 2003, Windows XP EOL is 2014. For all Citrix XenApp versions other than the most recent 6.5 release, EOL .. End. Of. Life.

No Support.

No Security patches.

No message other than, “Upgrade”.

This likely signals an upheaval for a Citrix customers, especially if they’ve attempted to be ingenious with their Citrix Subscriptions renewals in this economic climate. Which in turns poses a number of questions.

Citrix’s main customer base is XenApp. There is a large pre-XenApp 6.5 user base.  What are the options for migration, do you need to upgrade? Will Citrix have a crisis of confidence as customers look at their license, hardware and migration costs and think – what else it out there?

Plan to standardise on Citrix XenApp 6.5 Now.

Of course, this isn’t “news”, this is “olds” –  you can read the full version here

Product Version/model End of Maintenance End of Life
Presentation Server 4.5 30-Sep-2012 31-Mar-2013
Presentation Server 4.5 FP1 30-Sep-2012 31-Mar-2013
XenApp 5.0 30-Sep-2012 31-Mar-2013
XenApp 5.0 FP 30-Sep-2012 31-Mar-2013
XenApp for Windows Server 2008 5.0 15-Jan-2013 15-Jul-2013
XenApp for Windows Server 2008 5.0 FP 15-Jan-2013 15-Jul-2013
XenApp for Windows Server 2008R2 6.0 15-Jan-13 15-Jul-13
XenApp for Windows Server 2008R2 6.5 23-Jan-15 24-Jul-15

Obviously, Citrix’s XenApp product currently sits across a number of Microsoft platforms: Windows 2003, Windows 2008, Windows 2008R2. There are fundamental differences between 4.5 and 6.5. Maintaining different environments will be costly and, given the end dates for Windows 2003 is continuing an option. As we discussed in a previous article, there are a range of features that help make XenApp 6.5 an important consideration in an enterprise desktop delivery strategy.

However, 2008R2 is a 64 bit operating system. There are advantages here for scale and reliability but this won’t be a simple farm upgrade: a new 6.5 farm environment must be built and then existing farm settings effectively saved and re-entered into the new environment.

Importantly – will your applications run in this environment? Citrix’s acquisition of AppDNA is likely going to be key in the remediation of application  issues. However, a major precursor to that activity is understanding the actual application use. What is the point in migrating an unused application? Here, solutions from the likes of Centrix Software, Lakeside, Liquidware Labs and RES Software are going to be needed as they can reduce the time and effort required to track and understand this information and then feed into solutions like AppDNA.

You could of course, continue with the Windows 2003 environment being unsupported. But, as services are increasingly delivered to devices outside of the network – to home users, to mobile users, to partners – will your environment continue to remain robust and reliable if it is not actively maintained?

This could be the time to move from a server based operating environment to a virtual desktop. However, one of the reasons for deploying session based services is the scalability and ease of management. Virtual Desktops provide access to a 32-bit desktop OS for sure, and it may be that there is more need for such services to support specific applications. But, en masse migration from session desktops to hosted desktops will be a costly exercise.

Will other vendors, such as Quest or Ericom, be able to take advantage? There may be an opportunity to highlight the difference in licensing, and take advantage of the fact it is a new environment but moving vendors is always a challenge and is not always definable  as license cost alone.

Regardless, 2012 may not be the year of the virtual desktop but it will very likely be the year of desktop transformation planning.

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Andrew Wood (144 Posts)

Andrew is a Director of Gilwood CS Ltd, based in the North East of England, which specialises in delivering and optimising server and application virtualisation solutions. With 12 years of experience in developing architectures that deliver server based computing implementations from small-medium size business to global enterprise solutions, his role involves examining emerging technology trends, vendor strategies, development and integration issues, and management best practices.

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10 comments for “Citrix XenApp 4.x, 5.x and 6.0 EOL is 2013. The End is Coming: Look Busy.

  1. Mr. X
    November 21, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    A better question is “When does 7.0 come out?” If it’s coming sometime in 2012, then it’d better to move from 4.5/5.0 to that platform than to 6.5, which expires three years beyond 2012.

  2. November 23, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    X,

    Citrix have pretty much committed to a regular release schedule for XenApp. I’d expect a successor to 6.5 sometime Q2/3 2012.

    How comfortable an organisation is going to the most recent revision is a source of entertaining debate. Do you go with latest, or latest -1?

    I think software companies (like Citrix) need not to issue and forget, if you want to have a continual revenue stream there needs to be regular updates. That said, if you are updating regularly you want to make sure you’re not supporting “legacy” environments.

    In the past – organisations have implemented environments and then looked to sweat them as long as possbile. As services are delivered to a wider environment beyond the office, as they integrate with other services or become shared I believe they’ll be a greater question of how long that sweating process will take: especially as there are far better tools now for deploying and refreshing existing resources.

  3. December 6, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    From all my interactions with customers and their SBC deployments, they care less about the platform than they do about what that platform is delivering. If you have business critical applications that are not ready to move past Windows 2003 then that is where they will stay until the software vendor is ready to release an update (which is usually in line with Microsoft’s release schedule or later, ie healthcare).

  4. Andrew Wood
    December 6, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    Fair point well made Steve. As I said – you could of course, continue with the Windows 2003 environment being unsupported. For your healthcare example – perhaps that’s an isolated system: it’s delivering an fixed application/set of applications, change is minimal. In which case, your plan your planning meeting early, finish up, write it up and take the rest of the day off. Tea and buns all round.

    However maybe in keeping that going forward you’ve half an eye on the life span of the hardware; then you’re considering if the server will support w2k3 – should you virtualise? If you’re running AV when does that go EOL, is that in line with MS’ apps. How usually is usually? Maybe all the responses when it’s all thought through are “nothing to worry about” because you’ve considered this already. But if not, do you do that in March 2013, do you do that early in 2012?

    You are absolutely right – users care about the application, not the platform. But someone, somewhere cares about the platform: for want of a nail.

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  6. June 11, 2012 at 6:02 AM

    If you are concerned with the Citrix EOL schedule, you might consider switching to Ericom’s PowerTerm WebConnect. With a three-tier architecture, PowerTerm WebConnect can support mixed farms containing Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2 and future versions of Windows as well. So it can actually be easier and more cost-effective to not only choose this solution over Citrix’s in the first place, but even to upgrade an existing XenApp farm to PowerTerm WebConnect than to XenApp 6 or 6.5!

    Ericom also has attractive pricing for Citrix replacement customers.

    Adam

  7. Max
    January 9, 2013 at 6:12 AM

    The info in the post is incorrect, you can slow down your upgrade on W2K8. Please see the Link: support.citrix.com/article/CTX122442

  8. January 9, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Max,

    If only we could whisper in the ear of our younger selves, how would their future be changed?

    The post is indeed out of date *now* (as of Jan 2013), Citrix have modified their EoL status since this post (dated 2011).

    I do refer to the article you mention, where it says you can read the full version “here”. Although, it is fair to say (now I look at it again), the “here” is the only link and it doesn’t reference the CTX reference number. I should have made that better, sorry about that.

    For anyone who has arrived here now, in 2013 and are in a blind panic, there is perhaps a moment for pause. 2008 and you can relax until 2015. 2003? Keep panicing.

    I’m happy to leave this for posterity. At the time of writing those dates were valid. I’m going to punt Citrix responding positively to customer feedback via the efforts of the Virtualization Practice. I may even get away with it. But worthy of your note and clarification, maybe even a newer post.

    Thanks for taking the time to post.

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