XenApp Express replaces Microsoft Azure RemoteApp – the facts so far

Datetime:2016-08-22 23:32:09          Topic: Windows Azure           Share

During the past week there has been a lot of excitement around the recent announcements regarding Azure RemoteApp being replaced by, what is now temporary called Citrix XenApp Express. Throughout this blog post I’d like to summarize what we know so far.

  • First of all, Microsoft has announced that Azure RemoteApp, ARA from now on, will no longer be sold after October 1 st 2016. However, existing customers will remain supported until August 31, 2017.
  • During Ignite, September 26 th , Microsoft and Citrix will showcase this ‘new’ cloud service to the world, though its exact name (now XenApp Express and also referred to as RemoteApp 2.0) is yet to be decided on. An early Tech Preview will be available somewhere in Q4 of this year, you can subscribe here if you are interested.
  • The partnership between Microsoft and Citrix has a long history, in fact it dates back over 25 years already. Just recently, during Citrix Synergy (May 2016) a new joint initiative was announced where Windows 10 based VDI machines were introduced as an Azure (only) cloud service powered by Citrix’s XenDesktop, exclusive to both MS and CTX, at least for now. According to Citrix, and I quote ‘the new service is being developed in conjunction with the previously announced XenDesktop for Windows 10 on Azure service . Unifying both efforts showcases the strength of the integrated Citrix and Microsoft partnership as well as demonstrates the commitment from both companies to deliver the best possible application and desktop experience’.
  • Citrix XenApp has always been the Nr. 1 application delivery platform, though it had several other names in the past. As of today both Microsoft and Citrix will closely collaborate and share their insights and lessons learned between teams making ARA, or XenApp Express one the best Azure cloud services yet. Of-course the customer feedback they have had throughout the past two years also plays an important part in all this, at least that’s what Microsoft tells us.
  • They will leverage the scalability and flexibility of the Azure platform, the simplicity of ARA including the enterprise capabilities that Citrix XenApp brings to the table, including the full HDX/ICA protocol suite and all that comes with it.
  • Both teams will work together on developing various migration tools for existing ARA customers going forward. In the meantime, Microsoft will also inform its current ARA customers via email on some of the (migration) options they have today (hosted services, RDS based deployments etc.).
  • The XenApp Express offering will be exclusive to Microsoft Azure only.
  • It will be sold through the well-known Azure marketplace. Customers will have the option to choose from various instance types depending on the workload(s) that need to be published – more or less compute power etc. No further details at this time. The same applies to costs and/or subscription models.
  • While customers will be able to bring in their own Azure subscriptions, management (the control plane) will be offered from the Citrix Cloud exclusively.
  • Also remember that this new offering is completely separate from the existing Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp service offerings from the Citrix cloud, there are some distinct differences between the two. I’ll highlight them in a minute.
  • They are working on a new simplified management user interface (control plane) specifically aimed at XenApp Express, again, it’s operated from the Citrix Cloud.
  • If and how this will integrate with the existing XenDesktop and XenApp servicing options (Citrix Cloud) is not known at this time. The same applies to Azure AD integration by the way.
  • The Citrix Express control plane (the simplified management piece) will be linked to the customers’ resource location (Azure subscription) by means of a cloud connector, basically in the same way as we are used to with the Citrix Cloud today.
  • Currently the customer’s Azure subscription will be the only resource location available, though this might chance over time. It is not clear if on-premises, for example will become optional as well (I hope so).
  • While customers bring in their own Azure subscription they will be assisted with the initial setup and configuration.
  • As we all know by now, when new FMA features are being developed they will go ‘live’ in the cloud first before they will become available in the on-premises editions of both XenDesktop and/or XenApp, perhaps they are taking a similar approach here.
  • Again, as mentioned XenApp Express is different from the XenDesktop and XenApp services currently offered from the Citrix Cloud. Express will have limited monitoring (Director) capabilities, more simplified management capabilities (Studio) and the number of Catalogs that can be used will also be limited – following the current ARA (Collection) model, and again, it will be limited to the Azure cloud only.
  • Since it is XenApp we are talking about, replacing Azure RemoteApp, the provisioning of desktops will not be possible. This is where the Citrix Cloud XenDesktop service comes in together with earlier announced Windows 10 VDI based (Azure) cloud service.
  • Of course all this is still subject to change, I will try and keep this a work in progress and update the blogpost with new and relevant information when it becomes available.

Timeline:





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