NetApp has now released a version of its Virtual Storage Console for Citrix XenServer as a plug-in to XenCenter. The VSC allows you to provision, resize and destroy storage repositories, manage deduplication and provision VMs using FlexClone and then import them into XenDesktop.
One of the nice things about XenServer and XenCenter is you create storage at the pool level and it is automatically mounted to all hosts in the pool rather than having to provision the storage for each host individually like you need to do in vSphere clusters. This VSC now makes it even simpler by being able to create the volumes and exports on the array as well.
You can read all about the release from the DataSheet.
Citrix has released a Beta of their next major XenServer version called “Project Boston”.
Some highlights from the new version release notes that I’ve spotted other than the expected performance enhancements are:
Citrix XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 is the latest release of XenServer but it is not supported as a hypervisor with either XenDesktop 4 or XenDesktop 5.
Have a look at the Citrix eDocs for Host Requirements / Hosting Infrastructure.
XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 has been out since 15 December 2010 and the release notes specifically mention enhancements to Provisioning Services and XenDesktop (only coming in a future release)
Provisioning Services improvements to Windows volume license (MAK and KMS) support.
XenDesktop platform enhancements. Provides local host caching of VM images to reduce storage TCO for XenDesktop VDI deployments. (Note: these platform enhancements will be enabled by a future version of XenDesktop).
XenDesktop 5 was released on 3 December 2010. OK, that’s only 12 days before XenServer FP1 but surely Citrix would have made the enhancements to XenDesktop 5 to support XenServer 5.6 FP 1…obviously not.
I’ve heard from Citrix that XenServer 5.6 Service Pack 2 is due for release soonish and will be supported by both XenDesktop 4 and 5. This does contradict somewhat with the release notes which state support will be in a newer version of XenDesktop rather than a newer version of XenServer.
If you are running XenDesktop 4 or 5 with XenServer 5.6 as the hypervisor, don’t upgrade to Feature Release 1, rather wait for Service Pack 2.
Citrix has just released some more information about its CPU masking technology for XenServer. Citrix calls it Heterogeneous resource pools which require a XenServer Enterprise or Platinum license. This technology is similar to VMware’s Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC).
These features use the capabilities built into the CPUs, either Intel’s FlexMigration or AMD’s Extended Migration to allow the configuration of a CPU to be changed by applying a CPU mask so it appears to provide different features than it actually does. This allows pools or clusters of hosts with different CPUs (from the same vendor) to support live migrations.
This is extremely useful as even CPUs with the same model number can have some differences which could cause XenMotion / Vmotion to fail. Newer generation servers with faster CPUs and even additional cores can be added into existing pools / clusters without any downtime.
Generally you need to start with hosts with the lowest capability CPUs and then add the newer revision ones which when added to the pool / cluster mask CPU features not available with the original CPUs. This can be done with all VMs online as the new hosts have the masks applied before any VMs start to run on the new host, maintaining compatibility with the existing pool /cluster.
If you are adding older hosts into a pool / cluster you would need to amend the mask of existing hosts which would mean all VMs would need to be shut down for this to work as a guest VM cannot downgrade its CPU capabilities while running.
Citrix has also helpfully released a Heterogeneous CPU Pool Self-Test Kit so you can check your CPU compatibility.