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Sep 30 / The Architect

XenApp 7.6 first look – part one: upgrading from 7.5

Citrix released the new version of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 on September 30th. It’s very much a point release, introducing some features that got removed from the architecture change from IMA in 6.5 to FMA in 7/7.5.

The full list of what’s new can be found on eDocs.

My top three feature picks

Single internal & external URL support in StoreFront 2.6.

This allows users to  be given a single URL to access their applications via browser or Receiver both externally via Netscaler Gateway and internally directly to StoreFront.

It involves an extremely lengthy process to setup and configure though, involving SAN certificates, DNS aliases and editing XML configuration files so not for the faint hearted! (or get your friendly local consultant on board to help 🙂

Connection leasing

Many users have been fearful of upgrading to the FMA architecture because of the high dependency on the database being available. A new feature in 7.6 allows connections that have already been brokered to be cached, then replicated to all the delivery controllers so they can be “replayed” should the SQL database be offline when the user next needs that resource.

New 6.5 upgrade option

One of the most interesting developments (for me) is that you can now perform an in-place upgrade from a XenApp 6.5 worker server to the XenApp 7.6 VDA. New PowerShell scripts can export your 6.5 farm policies and application, and import them into your 7.6 site.

Upgrading from XenApp 7.5

As I already have 7.5 up and running, let’s take a look at the upgrade process. Running the autolaunch we see our now familiar menu of installation options:

XenApp 7.6 upgrade menu

So the installer has detected an existing installation and is giving us the option to upgrade. All good so far. I choose the “Studio and server components” option is this is my delivery controller.

upgrade_2

 

Accepting the usual EULA we get presented with a new upgrade checklist dialog with some handy tips on upgrading your environment:

Upgrade checklist

 

Rather handily you can copy and paste this list:

1 Make sure that your Subscription Advantage date for licenses is no earlier than 2014.0815.

2 Back up the Delivery Controller databases.

3 Upgrade Director if it is installed on a separate machine from your Delivery Controllers.

4 Backup templates and upgrade hypervisors (optional).

5 Upgrade Provisioning Services if in use.

6 Upgrade the Virtual Delivery Agent and perform an image update on all master images.

7 Upgrade half of your Delivery Controllers (all components).

8 Use the upgraded version of Studio to perform Site upgrade.

9 Upgrade your remaining Delivery Controllers (all components).

 

All good advice, although the link at the bottom for “Learning more” takes you to the upgrade page for XenDesktop 7.1 and not 7.6 as one would expect. Ooops.

A helpful addition might be to clarify if any of those items should or must be performed before upgrading your delivery controllers or VDAs or perhaps displaying this useful upgrade process diagram:

Upgrade process

OK let’s continue. On the next screen I hit my first snag:

license_server_error

Checking my license server version I see it is version 11.11.1.

license_server_version

 

So my license server does not meet the  system requirements for XenApp 7.6:

  • The Citrix License Server requires 40 MB of disk space. See the licensing documentation for system requirements. The minimum supported Citrix License Server version is 11.12.1.

So, time for a quick License server upgrade. From the XenApp 7.6 media let’s launch the license server installer:

upgrade_license_server

license_server_upgrade1

 

license_server_upgrade2

license_server_upgrade3

So now we’ve upgraded our license server, let’s restart the XenApp upgrade wizard (it didn’t want to re-scan the license server mid-upgrade).

We now reach the Firewall configuration page.

upgrade_4

A summary of the components that will be upgraded is displayed. And we’re ready to go!

upgrade_5

 

The upgrade of my DDC, Direct and StoreFront components (which in my lab are all on one server) begins. After about 15 minutes I get the notification:

upgrade_reboot

After rebooting and reminding the XenApp installer where it’s installation files were (I ran the installer from a network UNC which didn’t get reconnected automatically) the installation wizard continues:

post_reboot1

 

 

The final stage is to launch Studio and upgrade your site database. When launching Studio you are presented with two upgrade choices:

post_reboot2

 

I’m lazy so I chose the first option to let Studio perform the upgrade for me, despite being curious about the underlying PowerShell commands. At this point it’s wise to backup your Site database, given the next dialog that appears is:

upgrade_confirmation

 

 

Now the first time I tried the upgrade, I got this error message. Didn’t really mean alot but I saved the “Error details” just in case any@Citrix is interested.

studio_upgrade_error

 

Trying a second time the upgrade progressed through to completion with no further errors reported.

upgrade_complete

   XenApp 7.6 upgrade complete!

I’ll examine some of the new features in more detail in a future post.

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