in January I wrote a blog article called "Citrix plans
to end support for XenApp 6.0 in 2013. What's that? You're still migrating to
which received over 20 comments and over 15k views. For some, it was a
bit of an eye opening as they were not aware of Citrix's lifecycle retirement
plans for XenApp. For others who knew about the plans, it was an
opportunity to voice their concern over early retirement of the XenApp add-on
for a Windows Server product that still had plenty of life left in it. I
highly encourage you to read through that blog to get a better understanding of
what was happening with XenApp product lifecycle. The best part of this
blog article is that Citrix did take notice and did post a response to my blog
openly seeking feedback from customers.
long after that blog went live, I had several private conversations with people
from Citrix who wanted to better understand what the concerns were from the
community with respect to these end of life dates. I tried to make it
clear that the primary issue with the lifecycle is for larger enterprise
organizations where a XenApp upgrade project might occupy anywhere from 6-18
months of effort and the frustration level that once that upgrade is complete
you're immediately launched into another upgrade to move yet again. Let's
face it, there's a lot of frustration out there that isn't entirely Citrix's
fault, but has more to do with the industry in general struggling to figure out
the move to 64-bit Windows as well as dealing with security enhancements in
Windows that are causing lots of problems for old, legacy crappy applications.
As someone who has spent many years working in large organizations I can
bring out hundreds of horror stories of bad applications, but that's for
having the private conversations with Citrix, I half expected it to fall upon
deaf ears and never go anywhere. To my surprise, the exact opposite
happened and Citrix did actually take this into consideration and in May 2012
released a revised Product
Lifecycle for XenApp on their website. This revision to the product lifecycle was
accompanied by a blog article by David McGeough named "XenApp
Lifecycle Policy Extended" explaining the basics of the revised policy. Given the
revised dates involved, it may be a little difficult to understand where a
Citrix product ends support vs. where a Microsoft server OS ends support and
therefore it may be helpful to view all of this in an overlaid form. Gabe
Knuth put out a great blog article "Citrix
XenApp and Windows Server support and End of Life timeline" that helps to
visually understand where these overlaps occur.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...
I'm personally thrilled that Citrix reviewed their lifecycle policy and has
extended their support phases to be more inline with Microsoft's policies, I
think it's important to look at what these policies involved to see whether or
not they match functionality.
Citrix End of Life
According to Citrix's
lifecycle milestones definition website, End of Life is defined as "The date
that signifies when security related hot fixes, technical support and product
downloads will no longer be available. Technical support for other issues will
be limited to information contained in the Citrix Knowledge Center and Support
Forums. If the issues cannot be corrected through this method, then an upgrade
path or migration to the latest version or product replacement is recommended.
The EOL date will be a minimum of six months from the EOM date; however, Citrix
reserves the right to change the timeframe at its sole discretion based on
business needs or technical risk for customers." Which basically
means that you won't get any security hot fixes, nor will you get regular paid
support. In order to get support on the product, you will need to enter an
extended support contract with Citrix. This means it will cost you a lot
of money to get support on the product.
Citrix End of Extended Support
According to Citrix's
lifecycle milestones definition for EOES website, End of Extended Support
is defined as "This milestone signifies when a specific product
release will no longer be covered under the Extended Support Program. The EOES
milestone for a Citrix product version is intended to align with Microsoft's
current End of Extended Support milestone for the corresponding server OS
version. This should enable customers to plan their XenApp migration as part of
the underlying OS migration planning. The Extended Support Program puts
customers in control of their upgrade strategy by offering technical support
and maintenance after the End of Maintenance (EOM) milestone. Refer to the
Software Support Programs page for details on the Extended Support Program and
other Technical Support programs applicable to this product." Which
basically means this is the complete end of any form of support for this
product, whether under a special paid support contract or not. The
verbiage here seems to indicate that the Citrix EOES is aligned with
Microsoft's end of support on the core server platform product, so let's look
at that next.
Microsoft Mainstream Support
According to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle website, Mainstream Support
entitles a customer to the following items: Request to change product
design and features, Security Updates, Other hot fixes (bug fixes),
Complimentary Support (when included with product or license program), Paid
Support (per incident or Premier/Essential Support). Basically everything
is up for grabs during the mainstream support lifecycle.
Microsoft Extended Support
According to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle website, Extended Support Phase
entitles a customer to the following items: Security Updates, Paid
Support (per incident or Premier/Essential Support). So the key
differences between Mainstream Support and Extended Support is that in extended
there is no longer any free support provided, there are no non-security related
hot fixes offered and a customer cannot offer suggestions to change product
design (duh!). If there is any ambiguity about this, review this TechNet
blog article "An
explanation of the Extended Support phase for Business & Developer products"
that we've broken down each of these support phases, let's take an example of
how this might apply to a product such as XenApp 6.5 (I won't pick on XenApp
6.0 as I realize everyone seems to want that one to die).
lists the End of Life for XenApp 6.5 as January 4th, 2016. That seems
like a nice end of life date and means we have another 3.5 years of working
with XenApp 6.5 before it goes away. However, come January 2016 we won't
have any security hot fixes for XenApp 6.5 nor will we have any per incident
paid support options. You could certainly choose to purchase an Extended
Support contract from Citrix, but that would be your only way to receive
support on this product after that date. XenApp 6.5 runs on Server 2008
R2. From a Microsoft perspective, that product receives it's end of
mainstream support on July 9, 2013 (so next year right around this time).
However, Microsoft provides Extended Support for Server 2008 R2 until
July 10, 2018 (6 more years from right now). What is the key difference
between what Citrix is providing vs. what Microsoft is providing? It's
two things: 1) Security related hot fixes. 2) Per incident paid
support. If you're not a huge organization that can't afford a very
expensive extended support contract it's nice to know that you can still get
per incident paid support from Microsoft even if it costs you a few hundred
dollars each time.
doesn't necessarily mean that Citrix has to change their policy on this
subject. We all want Citrix to continue to innovate as fast as possible
and move this technology forward. I do think it's important for people to
understand exactly what support they are able to receive on the product and how
those support offerings are different between Microsoft and Citrix.
Microsoft has probably one of the best Tech Support groups in our
industry bar none. It would be extremely difficult for Citrix to compete
with that. However, you should be aware of what you receive with both
parties in order to ensure you can support whatever platform you deploy within
your organization and that you plan appropriately to move off the products in
time to retain the support that you need. Hopefully this article helped
you better understand those positions.
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