So a new year is coming! and I’m getting a lot of questions about XenApp Express these days, what it is and how much does it cost and how does it work? So this is a blog post which sums up the things I know as of now, so things might change before the release and not all information is released to the public yet so.
First of, XenApp Express is not something revolutionary is just a piece of Citrix Cloud which has evolved quite a lot of the last year with new features such as NetScaler Service, SmartScale, Labs pieces with Secure Browser, Windows 10 VDI in Azure and so on.
But Citrix has also been integrating more Azure services as part of their on-premises Citrix XenDesktop as well. With Citrix Cloud so far the customers have been able to have the Citrix Management Plane in Citrix Cloud meaning that all required infrastructure components are managed by Citrix, all we manage/control is the data plane and transport plane, as show in the picture below users connect using their client and transport is being handled by our NetScaler and forwarded to our backend servers (VDI or RDSH) so no direct communication to the cloud. Only component we need here is the Cloud Connector which acts as a Controller for our terminalservers/VDI and communicates with Citrix Cloud to broker sessions and so on.
Citrix have also created their own transport layer which they offer as part of their service as well, called NetScaler Gateway Service in which our client will communicate to Citrix Cloud and then back to our infrastructure using the cloud connector. Since the traffic is brokered using Citrix Cloud it will add extra latency but will require less infrastructure components but does not support all of the more advanced features.
Now Citrix has noted a couple of things about XenApp Express
- It will be native Azure IaaS not as a full service such as Azure RemoteApp so you will get billed for IaaS consumption (compute, storage, bandwidth)
- It requires minimum 100 users
- You will need to have NetScaler, either as a service or full NetScaler
- It will have an option to do Image uploading and provisioning servers based upon an Image
- You will need to get it from a Citrix Partner (So no you can’t buy it directly as a end-customer)
- You will need to get RDS CAL as well (or SALs) for RDSH
- Here are some of the things that are going to be part of XenApp Express (Look under Virtual Apps and Desktops) so for instance Citrix SmartScale is going to be a part of it which http://msandbu.org/citrix-smartscale-and-microsoft-azure/ does Power optimization to reduce the Azure cost.
- You will be able to leverage either full desktop or just applications
- You can be able to leverage VDI or RDSH
- You will be able to leverage the different instances within Azure
- Citrix Cloud while it can be used for other clouds, XenApp Express will only be available for Azure
- You will most likely need to have dedicated servers for the Cloud Connectors (x2 for High availability)
- You will most likely need an existing Active Directory
But I think that XenApp Express is going to be at the price range of 22,50$ Per user, per month but that only includes the Citrix part (Azure cost and RDS licensing comes in addition to it) but on the other hand you get the ICA Proxy VPX’s and also you can use Citrix XenApp Express against both Linux/Windows, Apps/Desktops as well. The virtual apps and desktops also include 2x ICA Proxy VPX which is NetScalers as well.
But the funny thing is I think they are a bit behind schedule, since XenApp Express was stated to come in Tech Preview in Q4 2016, according to the timeline which was presented at Ignite
I hope that they release is soon in Q1 then and that they don’t delay too long… But some of the other stuff that is coming will make it alot easier to leverage cloud with XenApp/XenDesktop since latency is an issue regardless on how much Citrix have tuned their protocol, in 7.12 Citrix has been playing around with UDP as the transport protocol which works alot better in high latency scenarios which might be the case in cloud scenarioes.