Last month, Citrix released XenApp and XenDesktop version 7.15, which Jo Harder covered for us. The release is a Long-Term Service Release, or LTSR, which allows customers to slow the pace of deploying new versions in exchange for not always having the latest features. The last LTSR version that Citrix delivered was XenApp 7.6, which, as Jo points out in her post, was before XenApp 6.5 and 7.6 achieved feature parity. Basically, if you committed to XenApp 7.6, you committed to a lesser product, and all the new features added since that time don't apply to you. On the plus side, you haven't had to do any large upgrade projects, so you may still be happy.
This latest version, though, presents an interesting situation. Version 7.15 LTSR is the latest, greatest version of XenApp and XenDesktop, and since it's basically 7.14 with all the kinks worked out, it represents a great option for those that want to deploy the latest version and take their hands off the wheel for a bit. Citrix will still provide patches and security updates that you'll have to deploy, but will not add any features that require more complex projects.
The "Long-Term" in LTSR is no joke, either. With 7.15, Citrix provides mainstream support for five years, plus extended support for another five years. Even with new LTSR builds coming out every 12-24 months, you can count on being able to run 7.15 for the next ten years with no pushback from Citrix. (Unlike you XenApp 6.5 customers, who have targets on your back from Citrix, VMware, Workspot, Parallels, Chromotif, Teradici, and every other desktop virtualization platform vendor because your platform is so out of date.)
It's that timing that has me wondering if XenApp / XenDesktop 7.15 could be the last version of either product that you deploy on-premises.
It's quite clear that the main desktop virtualization platforms are focusing on delivering desktops from the cloud. That includes Desktops-as-a-Service, for sure, but it also includes using the cloud as the infrastructure beneath a more traditional desktop virtualization platform. In five years, corporate IT will be more on-board with the cloud than ever before, perhaps so much that they'll be ready to move their desktop environments to the cloud.
At the same time, more applications will have been moved from Windows to other, more modern platforms, meaning our dependency on the Windows desktop will have diminished. The apps you must run on Windows can be placed into XenApp, and the desktops you still need can be run from XenDesktop.
That's just the five-year outlook! Since extended support runs five years longer than that, you can run XenApp / XenDesktop 7.15 until 2027, which puts us squarely in the next era of computing. Think of what's happening the last ten years, what you can do today, and how that might look in ten years. There will still be Windows applications to deliver, for sure, but odds are you're not going to want to build out your own infrastructure on-premises to support them.
That means by 2027, there's a really good chance that you'll be leveraging some other desktop virtualization platform that isn't in your datacenter. It also means that it's quite possible that Citrix XenApp / XenDesktop 7.15 is the last version you'll ever have to deploy on-premises. Of course, you may want a new feature that comes out in the next LTSR that comes out in the next 1-2 years and have to upgrade, but you can rest assured that if 7.15 continues to meet your needs in 2022, you can keep using it.
This should be a bit of a relief to customers, but it also lightens the load on Citrix, giving them the ability to focus resources on whatever the next phase of the company is going to be. Things have been pretty quiet since David Henshall took over as CEO, so it remains to be seen where Citrix's priorities lie with regards to the Cloud & Security picture they painted at Synergy. They could up their Unified Endpoint Management game, for example, place all their bets on cloud-based desktop and application delivery platforms, or break new ground. The point is, just as you get the benefit of having a stable platform for the next ten years, so does Citrix.
Of course, this might be wishful thinking, since the prevailing sentiment around the industry is that Citrix is up for sale and is trying to position itself as such. Nevertheless, if Citrix remains on their own, they've freed up some cycles with which they can get back to innovating. At the very least, if you choose to go with XenApp / XenDesktop 7.15, you can count on ten years of support for the platform, which gives you plenty of time to assess your next move in the second quarter of the century.