XenApp Feature Pack 2, Projects Cache and Parra, the new Tech Preview of Windows 2008 R2

In a storm of tweets and blog posts a this week, we were made aware of some information regarding Citrix XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2. I've asked and been asked what "release" this is in Citrix's codename parlance, since we've been waiting on information about both Project Cache and Project Parra, and had to do some digging around to get the correct answers.

In a storm of tweets and blog posts a this week, we were made aware of some information regarding Citrix XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2.  I've asked and been asked what "release" this is in Citrix's codename parlance, since we've been waiting on information about both Project Cache and Project Parra, and had to do some digging around to get the correct answers.  In order to understand what's going on, it's helpful to see a little bit behind the scenes into the Citrix Development world.  After that, we'll take a look at the different projects and their current statuses.

Code Bases

With Window Server 2008 R2 coming, XenApp has three code bases.  Before R2, there were only two, but with R2 being x64 only, Citrix is taking the opportunity to start from scratch.  The three code bases and their respective products are:

  • Windows Server 2003 - This code base has been the foundation of Presentation Server 4.5 through XenApp 5 FP2 (formerly known as Project Cache, which we'll talk about shortly)
  • Windows Server 2008 R1 - This is the foundation of XenApp 5 (the first version that supported Server 2008) through XenApp 5 FP2 (again...more shortly)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 - This is what is known as Project Parra, and is the next platform release of XenApp.  (We'll talk a bit about this after we talk about Project Cache)

Project Cache

While a Tech Preview of the upcoming XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2 has been around for some time now, the name Project Cache (the code name for this Feature Pack) hasn't been used much.  Yesterday, Brian wrote about the update, which will be released on September 29th with support for both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 (but NOT Windows Server 2008 R2).  In the article, Brian mentions that several of the new features are only available on Windows Server 2003, and that there are no core changes to the Server 2008 side of the release.

Citrix has decided that those features (HDX MediaStream for Flash, HDX Plug-n-Play for USB Drives, and Power and Capacity Management) are most important on Windows Server 2003 because that's where an estimated 85% of their user base is at. Earlier this month, Citrix's Orestes Melgarejo blogged about the fact that some people are waiting for R2 before moving platforms, whereas others are just waiting until all Microsoft 32-bit support is eliminated in 2018 (if you're one of those people, good luck with that). If this is the case, then it's understandable why the updates would be focused on Server 2003.  There's still time between now and the release, so if you want updates to Windows Server 2008, make some noise to your rep!

The XenApp for Windows Server 2008 R2 Tech Preview (a.k.a. Project Parra)

We also know that Citrix has announced a Tech Preview program called XenApp for Windows Server 2008 R2 Tech Preview that you can sign up for right now. After a few tweets and emails, we incorrectly came to the conclusion that this was nothing more than Project Cache, tweaked to run on 2008 R2.  In fact, this is actually Project Parra - the next major release of XenApp!  As we talked about earlier, Parra represents a new code base and will only support Windows Server 2008 R2 (which, as we know is x64 only).  Little information about Parra is public at this point, but here's what we've gleaned from various conversations and presentations:

  • It will include the features that are in Cache (including the features that built for Windows Server 2003 only). 
  • Citrix is working to make a single management console (Cláudio will have to find a new topic to tweet about!)
  • They are also working to add Citrix Policies into AD

According to the Tech Preview sign-up page, the Tech Preview will be launching soon, and the final release will be available sometime in the first half of 2010.  This is pretty much in line with past platform releases from Citrix - XenApp 5 was released about six months after Windows Server 2008 was released.

So there we have it!  FP 2 is Cache and will be released on 9/29, Tech Preview is Parra and will be available sometime between now and June 2010.  What's next?

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