As part of the XenApp 7.5 release, Citrix will include AppDNA with the Platinum edition. When considering the new version, some may be questioning the key benefits of XenApp 7.5 Platinum and comparing them with the package value-add that had been incorporated into XenApp 6.x Platinum.
Previously with XenApp 6.x, the major benefits for purchasing Platinum were EdgeSight and Provisioning Server. There were a few other benefits for purchasing Platinum, such as SmartAuditor, but let’s face it: the other add-ons were generally even less popular than EdgeSight.
XenApp 6.x Value-Adds: Provisioning Server and EdgeSight
Provisioning Server is a key value-add for those organizations that use it. Provisioning Services (PVS) is a great solution, but it’s complex to set up and requires discipline. Many organizations don’t have someone who can focus on PVS, so even if it is installed and configured initially by a consultant, ongoing maintenance may not be realistic.
EdgeSight is not widely used. It is actually a great tool, if (and that’s a big IF!) you can get it to work properly. Admittedly, I’m one of the few people who have persevered through EdgeSight’s many quirks and idiosyncrasies, and there have been many, many headaches along the way. Even once EdgeSight is deployed successfully, it’s not smooth sailing to keep it running, because the agents occasionally get hungry and eat one CPU non-stop or just cease uploading some or all data for what appears to be no good reason. Thus, it’s clear why many technologists become frustrated with EdgeSight and decide that it’s not worth the trouble.
With XenApp 6.x, if EdgeSight and Provisioning Server were supposed to be the glitter that made Platinum a compelling purchase, the true benefit may not have been realized in many environments. Essentially, most Platinum purchasers may only be using Enterprise functionality, which sometimes causes Platinum to be questioned at renewal time.
XenApp 7.5 Platinum: The AppDNA Glitter
With XenApp 7.5, the Platinum glitter appears to be somewhat focused on AppDNA. Small and medium organizations will likely use MCS (Machine Creation Services) rather than PVS, so it will likely be less of a draw. The “new” EdgeSight functionality is much improved since the days of XenApp 6.x and may provide more glitter than AppDNA.
Basic AppDNA functionality was embedded within XenDesktop 7.0/7.1. Specifically, the multi-user application testing capabilities were included, but if full testing functionality was required, it was necessary to write a check. Although multi-user application integration is often the focus of testing, more than once, I have found that being able to determine issues associated with the operating system in particular were valuable.
Application issues have long represented one of the major barriers to implementing a XenApp environment, so incorporating AppDNA as the Platinum glitter will provide some benefits. Although Citrix states that it “can reduce time and overhead of application virtualization and platform migrations by as much as 90 percent,” the reality is that it may save you some time but probably not nearly that much. It’s a good tool, but not great, and certainly not a miracle.
The output from AppDNA can be somewhat cryptic. A newbie might expect an easy-to-read report that sequentially lists the most probable issues and solutions, but it’s just not as straightforward as the marketing materials will lead you to believe. Yes, there are some pretty colors on the reports that draw your attention to the red and yellow flags, but the myriad of potential issues and solutions presented can be daunting. Keeping in mind that the tool provides a DNA-like analysis of the application, a good portion of the output may be generic and may not specifically address your application issue.
Will AppDNA provide sufficient Platinum glitter? For many organizations, it doesn’t matter. After all, some companies purchase Platinum just because it’s Platinum, and the purchase order continues to get processed every year for more Platinum. But for organizations that carefully evaluate the feature set and edition to be purchased, AppDNA will likely have some widespread acceptance, yet still might not provide enough glitter for the Platinum price tag.