Citrix XenApp is Back! Actually, It Never Left.

XenAppCitrix has announced and is gearing up for two significant releases: XenDesktop 7.5 and XenApp 7.5.

This announcement was met with a few different reactions like:

          • Great! Citrix is bringing XenApp back!
          • Wait! What happened to XenApp version 7.0?
          • Bringing XenApp back? You mean it was gone?!?

XenApp 6.5 with Feature Pack 2 was the last release of XenApp. When XenDesktop 7.0 was released, there was a bit of confusion over the fate of XenApp. Some thought that XenApp had just not been updated and XenDesktop 7.0 was just a release for XenDesktop with new features and support for Server 2012. Which then brought then brought on the question of when will XenApp get a release for Server 2012? The reality was that XenApp never disappeared; it was merged under the umbrella of XenDesktop 7’s release.

Citrix has been working to unify the XenApp/XenDesktop product lines for some time. A feature of the unification was to bring about a single control panel for the different Xen products and their features. Previously, the number of control panels for different products and features was becoming a big issue with Citrix customers. XenDesktop 7 solved that issue and more. XenApp was rolled up into the XenDesktop 7.0 release. It was referred to as XenDesktop App edition, but it was really just another name for XenApp. It even had Server 2012 support built in. In fact, it has to be the easiest installation for the desktop and application virtualization line (XenApp / Metaframe / Winframe) ever. Admittedly the installation is easy, but proper configuration required more effort and was a little more difficult. The point is, XenApp’s capabilities never went away.

The release of XenDesktop 7.5 will also coincide with the re-release of XenApp 7.5 as a standalone product. This is due in part to the ongoing confusion from XenDesktop 7.0, new marketing decisions and previous licensing issues. The important thing about this release is a number of features that were missing when XenApp was part of XenDesktop 7.0 will be available again. This release will also feature upgrade paths for XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop 7 installations. Tighter integration with other products including the new mobility line of products will be available as well. Look for the release of XenApp 7.5 soon.

AZS-3

 

Craig R. Kalty (CCIA, CCEE, CCA, MCITP:EA, MCITP:SA, VCP)
Sr. Network Consultant
Craig.Kalty@CustomSystemsCorp.com
© 2014 Custom Systems Corporation

Confessions of a Marketing Communications Specialist…

I’m a wanna-be IT geek. There, I said it. One small wrinkle – I have no formal IT training/education.  And yet imagine how excited I was to learn that I would be responsible for maintaining the new Custom Systems Corporation’s WordPress website! Now, I just had to learn WordPress. The brief training our website development team at SemDrive did was a great start that enabled me to make simple changes and add pages. But I need to know more.  I want to share my experience with you, over the next few months, as I learn WordPress and work to maintain and improve our company website.

Let’s start with a little background.

I am not a programmer or an analyst. I am a marketing communications specialist. What does that mean? The practice in the field of marketing communication is to become a master at all forms of communication. The idea being, that we can adapt into whichever niche we’re placed. Regardless of the field – IT, banking, fashion or manufacturing – words are words. While grammar and spelling should be maintained in all areas of business writing, it’s really just style and content that changes.

I know what you’re thinking (wink, wink), my adaptive personality makes me the ideal candidate to manage the site, right? Thank you, I think you’re right! Here’s another little secret that has helped me – I once taught myself HTML coding and even set up a corporate intra-net site. I mention this, because in the few months I’ve spent learning WordPress, my knowledge of HTML coding has been invaluable.

Why WordPress.org?            

Many people know WordPress as a blogging platform, and that is true, but there are two associated sites. WordPres.com is a free hosting site most often associated with blogging. Because it’s free, you will have ads on your site.  While WordPress.org is an open-source, self-hosting website development site. We chose WordPress.org for its ease of access, use and ability to customize. Our domain name is registered and hosted, through GoDaddy.com. Our site developer was able to take a WordPress template and customize it through a design and corporate branding created by Truth Boost.

Look at what I’ve done!

As you follow me over the next few months, I’ll show you real-time examples of what I’m working on that you’ll be able to see as you wander around our website. For example, right now you’ll see new pages I’ve added, including: Careers and Help Desk. I can tell you about new plug-ins that have helped me and how I’ve learned from my mistakes (like the time I accidentally deleted our client log-in page!). In the meantime, take a look around and reply below to tell me what you think.

 

LynnLynn McGinnis
Marketing Specialist
Lynn.McGinnis@CustomSystemsCorp.com

 

 

 

© Copyright Custom Systems Corporation 2014

 

Microsoft Desktop Licensing for Beginners

Microsoft desktop licensing is one area where there are many questions.  The answers can be quite surprising.  I will focus on Microsoft Windows Operating systems and the Office suite for this post.

Windows XP, 7 & 8.  All Editions – Home, Business, Ultimate

When you purchase a new computer Windows will already be installed on the device.  This is called an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) license.  Simply stated the software can only be used on the computer it was delivered on.  You cannot legally move the operating system to a new computer, old computer, home computer, your friend’s computer, etc.  If you replace the operating system with Linux or some other variant, you cannot move the Windows OEM to another computer.  It lives and dies with the computer it was delivered on.  If you have CDs or recovery DVDs they can only be legally used on this specific computer.

Windows 7/8 Upgrades – None, not available, they do not exist (think Easter Bunny) Microsoft discontinued Windows operating systems upgrades many years ago.  They simply do not exist for Windows 7 or 8. All Windows 7/8 Upgrades are a full retail license purchase that can legally be installed on only one computer.

Microsoft Office – 2007, 2010 & 2013. All Editions, Standard, Professional, Student , Small Business, Home, etc.

If your copy of Microsoft Office was included with your new computer over the last 10 years it is considered an OEM license just like the operating systems above.  It lives and dies with the PC. You cannot legally install it to another computer even if you have the CD/DVD and license keys.  Microsoft has added Product Activation to track how many times a product is installed and activated. Try it and you will see after installs… it will no longer activate.

Retail License – if you purchase a box of software from a retail location, Staples, Amazon, etc. and were provided a box with CDs and a license card you are authorized to install the product one time on a PC.  If you get a new PC you can remove the product from the old PC and install it on different PC.  If the product will not activate, you can call Microsoft and plead your case and they will reset the Product Activation.  This does not mean you can do this 10 times, you will no longer get your product activated.

The benefit of OEM and Retail licensing is low cost.  The primary disadvantage is that there are NO upgrades ever and you cannot move the software to other computers.

Open License, Open Business and Open Value Licensing

If you are a business and want the flexibility to purchase your Microsoft Office licenses in quantities greater than 10, and the ability to move licenses between any of your computers up to the quantity purchased.  Microsoft offers several license programs to accommodate your needs.  These various programs provide numerous benefits.  You can pay for it all up front, or over three annual equal payments.  The licenses cost more than an OEM license but you control what computers will have the software installed.  Microsoft’s only concern is that you only install up to the license count purchased. Many of these programs can include upgrade rights to new versions when available for an added cost. For business that wants to always be at a current version these programs offer the best value.

Licensing of Microsoft Desktop products is a simple concept, however, the variety of methods available to acquire the licenses can be intimidating.  Should you have any questions about the best license program for your business, please contact a Custom Systems Microsoft License expert at 800-359-3523.  All contact regarding license questions are kept strictly confidential.

Paul R. Cook
Paul R. Cook
Vice President, Network Services Group
Paul.Cook@CustomSystemsCorp.com

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Custom Systems Corporation

The True Cost of Windows XP Replacement

In a previous blog, Do I need to replace Windows XP we discussed how to know if this is necessary. Now, let’s discuss actual replacement costs.

 

Are you planning to upgrade your Windows XP Pro PCs with Windows 7 or 8?  Have you looked closely at the true cost of an upgrade in a business environment? The typical Internet price of $139.99 for a full copy of Windows 7 or 8 Professional is the easiest part of the upgrade cost to swallow.  Remember, Microsoft no longer offer “Upgrades” for an operating system so you are purchasing a new full license.   Let’s look more closely into the real world costs.

Does your PC have a modern 64-bit processor with at least two cores and sufficient memory to run Windows 7/8 efficiently?  If you have a Pentium or Celeron processor it’s time to responsibly dispose of the PC or donate it to charity.

If you have less than 2GB of RAM plan on another $50 to $100 for a memory upgrade or you will become very familiar with the perpetual spinning circle cursor that has replaced the hourglass cursor in Windows XP while you wait for every task to complete.

Assuming your Windows XP Pro PC has 100GB or more of free disk space… let’s move over to the software side of the upgrade.

Step 1 Create a list of the applications you are currently using.  Most likely you will be using Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and a legacy application specific to your industry.  Office 2007 or better is required for compatibility, if you are still running Office 2003 or older, plan on another $200 or more for Office 2013 depending on the edition you select.

Step 2 Begin collecting all the drivers that your PC will require once you replace the operating system.  I would specifically look for Windows 7/8 drivers for Printers and other devices such as scanners, bar code readers, magnetic card readers and other industry specific peripherals.  You don’t want to take the time to do this upgrade and realize you can no longer swipe credit cards at a Point-of-Sale terminal or use your Warehouse bar code scanners after you do the upgrade.

Step 3 Backup any user specific data on the Windows XP PC.  User profiles, local data, license keys and serial numbers of locally installed applications.

Now we’re ready to move forward forward.  Boot from the Windows 7/8 CD and delete the entire XP Pro partition, reformat the drive, and install your fresh copy of Windows 7/8.  Allow 30 to 45 minutes depending on the speed of the PC.

Time for Windows Updates… settle back and run the 100+ Windows updates to secure the system, install your anti-virus solution, re-install Microsoft Office and your legacy applications, restore the user profile and local data.  Install the drivers for your printers and other peripherals and reconnect everything.  Now run Windows Updates again and return the PC to the user.

The entire process from start-to-finish will require 4 to 6 hours depending on the speed of the PC, your Internet connection for Windows Updates, and the amount of data you need to back up and restore for the individual user data.

The total cost of the upgrade is typically $140 to $250 in software and memory.  Assuming market rates for labor in your area are similar to our area, plan on $250 to $350 labor per computer for a total cost of $400 to $600 to bring an old PC up to Windows 7/8.

An alternative to upgrading, is to replace an outdated PC with a new business grade, pre-loaded Windows 7/8 desktop PC for $500 or a laptop for $600 to $700, with at least a one-year warranty.  From a time perspective, open the box, install your applications and issue to the user — one to two hours.

With these costs in mind, now you can understand why the Windows XP upgrade cycle is a windfall for service providers that focus on Windows XP to Windows 7/8 upgrades.  PC replacement is always a better long term solution from a cost and performance perspective.

Still not sure? Let Custom Systems provide a free assessment to determine your “True Cost” to replace Windows XP Pro. Call us today at 800-539-3523.
Paul R. Cook
Paul R. Cook
Vice President, Network Services Group
Paul.Cook@CustomSystemsCorp.com

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Custom Systems Corporation

Microsoft Hyper-V vs. Citrix Xen Server

For a few years now, here at Custom Systems we’ve had an ongoing debate between two different Virtualization camps: Microsoft Hyper-V Server and Citrix Xen Server.  Today I am going to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Hyper-VIf you’ve read my blog posts before, you can probably guess which camp I’m in.  I’ve been a big fan of using Microsoft Hyper-V as a Virtualization host for a few years, and here’s why:  For starters, the host server is a true Windows Server environment, (excluding Core version).  I’m used to using Windows Servers, and I am very familiar with them.  I know how to install hardware drivers, software updates, etc.  I can install my Backup Software on the host, and make changes to my Virtual Servers from the Hyper-V host console.  When setup properly, I can have a new Virtual Server up and running in a few minutes.

Citrix Xen ServerCitrix Xen Server, by that comparison, is not as easy to manage.  Granted the install process is MUCH faster, but to properly manage your Xen’s Virtual Servers, you need to install the Xen Center Console on a Windows PC or server.  In some environments, that isn’t practical.

Now for the advantages of Xen Server:  There is almost no overhead.  The Xen Server Host can fit on a small RAID 1 partition, needs very little RAM, and doesn’t need to be managed as often as a Windows Host Server.  This allows you to dedicate all of those fast hard drives and RAM to your Virtual Servers, instead getting taken up by a Windows Host Server.  Plus if you use Xen Server as your host server, that’s one less Microsoft Server license you will need.  You can save that license for one of your VM’s.  Also, exporting or migrating a VM with Xen Server is easy and painless.  I wish I could say the same about Microsoft Hyper-V.  (Maybe in the next release?)

Just a few “Gotcha’s”

I have run into a few situations where a third party vendor would not support using their software or hardware on a Xen Server.  At the beginning of the sales process, we will meet with you to discuss your needs and to determine which Virtualization solution is right for you!

AZS-4Chase Reitter
Network Consultant
Chase.Reitter@CustomSystemsCorp.com

 

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Custom Systems Corporation