Yesterday Citrix released the beta (or "Tech Preview" in their words) for the next version of XenApp which has been known by the codename "Parra." It's not known how this will be branded, but with the changes we're seeing it's quite possible that you might be looking at XenApp 6.
Yesterday Citrix released the beta (or “Tech Preview” in their words) for the next version of XenApp which has been known by the codename “Parra.” It’s not known how this will be branded, but with the changes we’re seeing it’s quite possible that you might be looking at XenApp 6. (Right now it’s simply called “XenApp for Windows Server 2008 R2.”)
I’ve actually begun downloading it, but at 2.5GB, I’m still waiting for the download to complete as I write this.
We’ve been hearing about Parra for at least two-and-a-half years. I first wrote about it in June 2007 after attending Citrix iForum Edinburgh, and Tim Mangan shared more details after attending iForum 2007 a few months later. (Here’s a snippet of what he wrote:)
The version after Delaware is called Parra, and we heard a bit about it as well. They plan on a lot changing in Parra. From a management standpoint, Citrix is getting high on PowerShell and intend to rewrite the APIs to make everything available from Powershell scripting. There will be a single console, of sorts. Everything will go to MMC snap-ins, and multiple snap-ins will exist that are more task oriented, allowing you to create a MMC console with just the snap-ins you need (or all of them). A separation of functions of the installed components is also planned. Currently called "Controller" and "Worker" categories, the concept might help larger installations if it doesn't manage to just confuse the heck out of us. No progress without pain. Also they promise to be more AD integrated for customers using Active Directory.
Of course those two posts are more than two years old, and we’ve seen several XenApp releases since then. Gabe Knuth actually wrote about Parra more recently as part of a larger level-set he did a few months ago around XenApp Feature Pack 2. From Gabe on September 18:
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 [a.k.a. XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2] 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.
What’s new in Parra?
Citrix’s Sridhar Mullapudi blogged about yesterday’s Tech Preview release, sharing information about Parra’s features, including:
- 20% more users per server. (Like View 4, I don’t know if this is due to improvements in Parra or improvements in 2008 R2.)
- Role-based installation, which means that if you want a dedicated data collector, you can install a server as that. No longer do you have to build a normal member server with no apps published! Similarly your “worker” servers will just serve apps—they don’t have to participate in elections and won’t need the XML or STA services.
- Unified application management console. (Did hell just freeze over?)
- Management through Active Directory group policies
- PowerShell 2.0 support
- HDX RealTime audio support with support for Microsoft Office Communicator and VoIP softphones.
- HDX Plug-n-Play for more general USB device support
- Integration with Dazzle
- Support for the latest version of XenApp Streaming, which now supports Windows Service isolation and Microsoft App-V integration (which we discussed in July).
So that’s the short version. As an old school Terminal Server guy, it goes without saying that I’m really excited about Parra. And a lot of these changes seem pretty substantial as we get what appears to be the rearchitecture of the core product that we’ve wanted for a long time.
I’ll try to get a Parra Server set up in my lab over the next few weeks. So between this and XenDesktop 4 and View 4, it looks like we’re going to have an exciting Q1 next year!