Life after Citrix XenApp 6.5

Mainstream Maintenance for XenApp 6.5 ends on June 30, 2018. What are you doing next?

Yes, in just 100 days, XenApp 6.5 will complete End of Life, and support will only be available under Extended End of Life. Let’s first delve into exactly what these terms signify, and then we’ll review your options.

Lifecycle terms

The various lifecycle terms have profound implications on the availability, enhancements, and support. Below is a crisp definition as to the significance of the various culmination terms, as well as their associated dates:

  • End of Maintenance—December 31, 2017: No more product code modifications, but support continues.
  • End of Life—June 30, 2018: No new product documentation and limited support, but product can continue to be used as-is. In other words, limited help but you’re not totally left out in the cold.
  • End of Extended Support—January 14, 2020: No more support no matter how much you beg.

While you may know of someone that’s still running older versions of XenApp or Presentation Server after end of extended support, the risk is high, and it’s potentially a recipe for an RGE (resume-generating event). Consider what would happen if you experience a strange anomaly in your XenApp 6.5 farm: soon, you’ll have limited help available, and after the end of extended support, you’ll have no lifeline at all.

XenApp 6.5 has been available since August 2011, and if the red warning lights aren’t starting to flash about the support of your existing environment, they should. You need to start planning and implementing your go-forward solution.

What’s next?

There are several possibilities to consider for the next phase of your environment; however, the parallel sunsetting of Windows Server 2008 R2 will also affect your options. The extended support end date for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is also January 14, 2020, so the underlying operating system for your XenApp 6.5 servers will need new life as well.

The next solution for hosting your XenApp 6.5 applications may be any of the following:

  • Upgrading to XenApp 7.x in place: While this can be done now by upgrading your existing XenApp 6.5 servers and attaching them to a new XenApp 7.x site onsite or in the cloud, this option is short-lived because of the upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2 end of life. While this upgrade could technically be done as part of a move to the cloud, doing so would add more complexity than starting fresh in the cloud.
  • Migrating to XenApp 7.x onsite or cloud: Where migration is defined as a complete rebuild, i.e. installing a new operating system, XenApp software, and all your applications, this solution provides you with the longest life span. Especially where Windows Server 2016 is used as the operating system, longevity would be on your side. Adding a dash of Citrix Cloud may make it easier as Citrix would address the infrastructure components such as StoreFront, licensing, and NetScaler.
  • XenDesktop onsite or cloud: Perhaps the need for only providing applications isn’t suitable for the business anymore. As the IT requirements of an enterprise evolve, rethinking business requirements may include use cases for full virtual desktops for some users, such as customer service representatives or contractors.
  • Another solution: As you reconsider the needs of the business and technical requirements, a vanilla Microsoft RDS solution or product from another vendor may be more appropriate at this time.

Determine your next steps soon

There’s no doubt that your enterprise has changed significantly since the days when XenApp 6.5 was implemented, and go-forward decisions need to be made based on both present and future business and technical requirements. A key consideration for many enterprises is whether to move to the cloud. It’s a major decision--and yes, so long as you’re at this pivotal juncture, it should be considered as part of next steps.

If you haven’t yet started down the path of assessing what’s next for your application infrastructure, there’s a good chance that January 14, 2020 will be arrive, and numerous servers will be sporting unsupported Microsoft and Citrix products. In the short term, acquiring extended support agreements would be a smart move.

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