New features and integrations with Citrix AppDNA 7.8

Citrix has released a long waited new version (7.8.) of AppDNA that now integrates with XenDesktop and XenApp via the new AppDisk layering technology that was also released at the same time. This is a quick overview of what has changed, new features that has been enabled and what´s the benefit of updates. In my opinion this release is the biggest leap for AppDNA since the introduction of application attributes functionality.

Citrix AppDisk and Studio Integration

Clearly the biggest improvement is the integration with XenDesktop and XenApp via the automatic upload of AppDisks for compatibility analysis and reporting the application issues thru Citrix Studio. This is something that will increase the interest in AppDNA within desktop and application virtualization space and really differentiates XenDesktop and Xenapp from competition as Citrix has added a quality control and change management aspect to it´s application and desktop virtualization solution.

Algorithms for AppDisks are related to application drivers that load earlier in the boot process than the AppDisk driver, issues are identified by analyzing inf. files and registry keys. Another compatibility aspect that algorithms detect out of the box are the conflicts that occur between AppDisks when they are applied in certain order to the virtual machines, these issues comes from overlapping registry keys and files between AppDisks and AppDNA can help in reordering the AppDisks.

Patch Management and WSUS Integration

Another huge improvement is the introduction of patch management which i know being a feature that has been requested for years for "Business as usual application management", finally they have made it available. In my opinion AppDNA has not been so attractive for continuous application delivery as it has missed functionality for it other than managing application attributes and providing application compatibility reports. Outside of introducing new apps, patch management is one of the few day to day tasks between bigger migrations and obviously this makes AppDNA adoption much more attractive as you can analyze your application portfolio, custom operating system images and your patches to see if everything is ok after patching.

Microsoft patches can be imported very much the same way as apps. It can be done as "direct import" by importing the patch files or by integrating with WSUS and importing the patches in similar way to importing apps from SCCM. Unfortunately my lab does not have WSUS installed and i can not yet provide any insight to how well it works (or doesn´t), but i will get back to it in near future. Maybe patch tuesdays are not followed by rollback wednesdays anymore.

Application Forms and Attributes

Application forms are a new way for managing and presenting application attributes that can be created manually or imported from corporate ITSM systems. Earlier application attributes were displayed on the header section of application report and displaying the attributes took a lot of space from the report. Clearly large number of attributes may take so much space that it makes reports unfriendly to interpretation. Now it is possible to create forms from attributes and and attach the forms to application reports, this makes the report much easier to read and you can also organize the attributes for multiple forms for different use cases, for example dedicated attribute form for each business unit.

Now it is also possible to pin attachments to application data. This is very useful if you need to maintain some kind of document or media repository within AppDNA. Clearly this feature is meant for storing documents like installation instructions or similar as the attachment size is limited to 20MB by default. However the limit can be changed and you could possibly maintain also a library of installation sources or deployed packages. Increasing the limit to some hundred megabytes gives you a warning and it remains to be seen if this is useful for this kind of DML management or not. Clearly it would be useful. 

Minor Improvements

AppDNA user interface has also gone thru multiple changes. Some of the changes are a bit confusing if you are used to operating with previous releases, but if you are new to AppDNA the change is definetely a move to right direction. Mainly this means just reorganizing the menus and left hand panel. I guess the reorganized UI is more logical, all the old stuff is available, it is just found in different ways. For example the forward path reports can now be pinned to left hand panel and it is easier to navigate between different FP reports. Also simultaneous application import limit has been icreased from 3 to 20, this significantly improves the time required to import apps.

They have also introduced few new solution reports, one of them is an App-V solution that enables definition for App-V prerequisities and an alternative method for configuring App-V sequencing virtual machines and as a new feature configuring a virtual machine for testing the launch of created App-V sequences.

Another new solution reports are obviously the solution for AppDisks that enables definition for applying AppDisks in correct order and the solution for assessing the impact of applying operating system patches.

Note:

I earlier wrote that some of the solution reports were removed from this release. I found out that they are still there, instead there seems to be a bug when upgrading from previous version, this may disable the solutions from previous release. When performing fresh install, there is all previous solutions added with the new ones.

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