Citrix customer is stuck on XenApp 5.0 and facing a $100k extended support bill. What would you do?

Yesterday I received an email from a Citrix customer asking for my help on his quest to deal with Citrix. His email to me (paraphrased): We are currently using XenApp 5.

Yesterday I received an email from a Citrix customer asking for my help on his quest to deal with Citrix. His email to me (paraphrased):

We are currently using XenApp 5.0 on Windows Server 2008 (both 32-bit and x64) for 250 apps worldwide. We have 35 servers with 1100 CALs of XenApp Enterprise, all renewed. We also have tech support which we pay for yearly.

Our issue is that the standard support for XenApp 5.0 ends in January, so we have to move by the end of the year or pay for extended support. Unfortunately extended support is crazy expensive, so now we're scrambling to see if we can trust 7.5 yet and get our migration done in the next six months.

The reason we're still on 5.0 is because originally we were not ready for x64 across the board, and we didn't want to have two farms if we couldn't share our licenses. Then by 2011 when we were comfortable with x64 and ready to move to XenApp 6.0, Citrix announced XenApp 6.5, so we didn't want to go through the pain and expense of the migration to 6.0 if another new version was right around the corner.

Then in 2012 Citrix announced that the end of life for 6.5 would be in 2016—only a year after 5.0—so again we didn't want to go through that migration pain and upgrade expense just to buy us a year.

Now it's 2014 and XenApp 7.5 is out. To us this is the only "real" migration from 5.0 since all the 6.x products had such short lifespans. Unfortunately as we're looking at 7.5 now, we're finding that it doesn't seem like it's ready for prime time. Not only is it missing a lot of features, but even though it's been out for months, the documentation, white papers, and training is very limited. (In fact even our 3rd party support company isn't supporting XenApp 7.5 yet.)

So we don't feel like 7.5 is an option for us now (again due to the expense and the immaturity of the product), which brings us back to the extended support option for 5.0.In discussing this with our Citrix sales rep, they provided some ridiculous option like moving to 6.5 now (for an upgrade cost of course), but again that would be a major product which would only buy us a measly 18 additional months. After that we'd have to pay another upgrade fee and go through the pain of migrating all over again.

What do you recommend? Should we pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the extended support (or "last resort," as I call it) and stay on 5.0? Do we migrate to 6.5 and then do this all over in a year? Do we trust 7.5 and go there now even though it doesn't seem like too many others are using it? Do we just stay on 5.0 without support?

What should we do? What would you do?

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Buy some new shoes. Your feet have been dragging for a while.


Those missing features-are any of them critical to your scenario? If so, go to XA6.5. Aside from upcoming tools, it looks like an uplift from XA6.5 to 7.5 can be a removal of XA65 and the installation of a VDA, providing infrastructure is in place.


If the missing features aren't critical, go to XA75.


And, um, test. A lot.


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I would go to XenApp 6.5 today and stick with the IMA architecture for now and wait until the return of the LHC like behavior in leased connections as the FMA architecture can be big change from IMA and SQL requirements potentially increase significantly. Also FrameHawk integration is underway and would also be a driver for me to wait until it has been integrated as part of a FR for XenApp 7.5 or released in the new X.X version of XenApp as it has potential to have a huge ROI for customers dealing with end points with less than ideal network stability and round trip times. XenApp 7.x is really a push to harmonize the XenApp and Xendesktop architecture and management tools and really does not offer a lot to someone looking to upgrade XenApp IMHO.


In 2016 XenApp 6.5 is still fully supported and will continue to be provided security patches if required it will no longer receive new FR’s and development will cease. You will have a 4 year window to migrate to XenApp X.X with Framehawk, Leased connections, hopefully improved Storefront and restore of some missing pieces.


www.citrix.com/.../phases.html


Thanks,


Paul


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Sounds like the root of your issues not to "jump" was some miss-information around sharing licenses across farms (always possible in XenApp 5/6)


I'd move all the apps you can to XenApp 7.5 on 2012R2, and use a 32-bit Windows 7 VM for the ones you haven't yet nailed the compatibility issues on until you are ready to move.


Citrix will announce a new XenApp version every year, so if you keep on waiting because a new version is "just around the corner" you'll never upgrade.


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Lucky dog, while we've upgraded most of our internal farms to 6.5, we've still got a CPS 4.5 farm running internally for some LOB applications that don't support anything newer than Windows Server 2003.  We've repeatedly mentioned the risk of running an EOL version to our senior management but they refuse to approve the budget to upgrade the LOB apps, so we're stuck running the old version until it dies basically...


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If your 3rd party support company isn't supporting 7.5, maybe you need a better support company.


But yeah, fast release cycles by Citrix cause too quick EOL for customers.  They should do better and extend the 6.5 EOL.


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Seriously? People cannot plan for a migration during a six to seven year cycle? Too bad for him but as others pointed out he has been dragging his feet on this for too long. If you decide to stick to legacy software just be aware of the price you will have to pay. I bet it is would be way cheaper to have all this migrated a long time ago to 6.5 and then again to XenApp 8.0 when it is out than paying for extended support. Simple math here. I am not blaming the guy that emailed you but management for a total lack of understanding how IT works and the lifecycle associated with products like XenApp. Examples like this prove that most CIOs are indeed Chief Idiot Officers.


CR


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Your biggest focus with any XenApp project is the apps. XenApp version aside, are the 250 odd applications ready for 2008 R2, or 2012 R2? I understand that the next version of XenApp is said to be scheduled for release later this year. It may just be a feature pack or a minor version update. Either way, by the time you get your apps running on a TEST XenApp 7.5 environment on say 2012 R2, you'll be ready to update XenApp and test. In my view the feature gap or "readiness" should be the least of your concerns at present. I'm not sure why you say 18 months for an upgrade. If your apps are packaged and ready to go on the latest Windows Server OS, issues are documented, and you have good test plan, it should all be very straight forward.


You must plan to succeed!


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I agree with Paul Morrissey's advice as the best option.  


Upgrades are painful sometimes, but we are in IT and we accept that as a fact of life.  What i don't agree with is those that think you have to upgrade immediately.  Those people have never dealt with the consequences of upgrading infrastructure that mission critical software is running on and having it break that mission critical software or the processes that support said software.


Go to 6.5 on 2008x64, load rollup 3 and enjoy stable servers.


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Valid points @Brent. I totally agree that you don't have to upgrade immediately. But this environment is a long way behind. And I think if your going to spend dollars upgrading, you should get yourself as far up the chain as possible to future proof the environment. Whose to say that XenApp 7.5 is not stable?


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If there wasn't a time restriction, I'd say go with 7.5, but given that you only have six or seven months, I'd go with 6.5.


XenApp 6.5 may EOL in 2016, but it will have extended support through Jan 14, 2020. That could get you where you want to go right now, then give you some time to figure out what the next step is. Paying for extended support on 6.5 in two years is better than paying for extended support on XenApp 5 now.


Then again, Neil's plan isn't bad, either :) I'm just thinking of the timing, though.


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@Brent Well the problem is there is a huge difference between upgrading a mission critical platform AND deploying in parallel the upgraded platform so you can start testing immediately. That is where most companies fail. They simply wait way to long to start testing a new platform (like in this example) and then all the sudden (like 10 years later almost) they come out to say they had no time to test and are now stuck with a $100,000 bill for extended support.


Again in my view the problem here is not understanding the lifecycle of IT and poor management overall. Any IT staff that is worth anything will start at least evaluating/testing what the next version brings to the table as soon as it is out. Then test its own apps on that platform, in parallel, and finally deciding when to pull the plug on the old stuff. As Neil said if you keep waiting for the next version that is around the corner you will never upgrade anything.


CR


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Nice comment Claudio


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I would go without Citrix and just use RDS. I can say that because of the limited information i have to base this on.. ;-)


On the other hand we have done this successfully for 3000 users, so it scalability shouldn't be a problem.


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7.5.


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Does the customer even really 'want' to upgrade?


Reading between the lines of the paraphrased email, it sounds to me like they are looking for some IT nirvana that doesn't exist. And the next best excuse is always close by!


Mike Rowe's recent 'Letter to Parker' comes to mind immediately! :)


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With Dennis, i would consider looking at 2012R2 as well, has most of the stuff you need even for larger enterprises and the RDP 8 protocol (when used with client that support this) works really wel.


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I would take $100K from bonus and salary from the CIO and other decisions makers who have been sitting on their hands for years. Then do the f'ing upgrade to whatever works best, Citrix/VMware/Microsoft. As part of this rescue project ensure that you design it such that you upgrade frequently. Ignore advise that says *** to vendor to extend support. In the new world frequent upgrades will be the norm.


Good luck!


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This customer should have upgraded to XenApp 6.5 a while ago.  On a positive note, it is not too late.  They still have until the end of the year to upgrade to XenApp 6.5 and then will have several more years of running on a stable platform.  Bottom line is that XenApp 7.5 is just not ready for prime time yet.  Most existing XenApp customers are better off sticking with XenApp 6.5 and 2008 R2 for at least another 12 – 18 months.  


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That depends. If most of the apps have been working fine with current service patch, there is no need to get extra money for support. Worse comes to worst, just reinstall CTX box with version 5 along with service patch, it should work. Then you can now setup a few swing boxes with 7.5 on it, use PS script to assist moving existing apps to the new 7.5 farm. Just my 2 cents


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where is my posting? no point to get support if you are really need it for what is working all the time


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Who cares about support, these days Citrix aren't much of a help.  You have to do your own Homework and owning your own problems.  Too many companies I've been to created their own hardships.


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I think some people are missing a few key items to consider.


IT can't drive business software requirements: If IT is dictating to the business what software it needs, that is just backwards. IT is there to provide a service... to enable the business to perform their jobs as best they can.


With that being said, IT should be providing solutions to business needs, and bringing new ways to solve problems, but in the end....IT (AND CITRIX) both exist to service the business. Telling a business they have to upgrade when it directly impacts their ability to conduct the business that makes the money that pays the bills to cover the software Citrix and others want to sell is insane.


I understand that you have to move forward, and Citrix and others can't provide support for apps forever, however the arrogant attitude of some that would say that the business had better upgrade, or take money from the CEO.... really? You mean the guy leading the charge to make sure there is enough money being made to buy those servers, apps, etc.... really


In the end, if support isn't going to be affordable to the business, then it becomes a risk. Risk isn't something that can't be tolerated... just something that should be documented and understood.


Maybe it makes sense to run that old version of Xenapp and take the risk that you won't have support....


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