Citrix 7.15 LTSR EOL Schedule – The dates you must know

For many workers, the impact of COVID-19 has greatly depended on one question: Can I work from home or am I tethered to my workplace? Quarantines, lockdowns and self-imposed isolation have pushed tens of millions around the world to work from home, accelerating a workplace experiment which had struggled to gain traction before COVID-19 hit. 

Over the last 24 months through the pandemic, remote working has become the norm for many organisations. Consequently, it has become more critical to proactively maintain remote working solutions to guarantee a secure and productive experience for all personnel. 

We’re all guilty of missing an application upgrade cycle. Sometimes it’s simply resourcing the work, sometimes the business doesn’t see the value and sometimes it’s just too big a risk to the user base. Enterprises are continually beset with a spectrum of application support and compatibility challenges due to lackluster upgrade programs, however missing these cycles can introduce significant business risk. 

If you have missed one or more of the upgrade cycles on your core application delivery platform, the risk increases exponentially. Citrix has released its forward schedule for its product upgrade cycles, with four updates a year covering its two release programs. 

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop 7.15 LTSR End Of Life (EOL) period is ending on August 15, 2022. Customers leveraging the 7.15 LTSR who intend to stay on the LTSR track and gain the latest on premises features must upgrade to a supported version before then or risk being on an unsupported platform. 

We are surprised how many clients are unaware of the potential business impact of failing to meet a core application end-of-life upgrade, let alone the delivery platform for those applications and the knock-on effect to the users. 

Many of these conversations include the misconception that license compliance and support lines up with mitigation of End-Of-Life issues. Having active maintenance or support on your licensing does not mean you are protected. Does it mean you are entitled to upgrade? Absolutely! Protected from having to perform the upgrade to remain compliant? Definitely not. 

What would be the impact on your company if you failed to meet the deadline and run on unsupported software? 

THE DEVIL IS IN THE (PLATFORM) DETAILS

With a focus on CVAD 7.15 LTSR, EOL dates snuck up on the industry quickly despite Citrix providing its customers and the industry plenty of notice. CVAD 7.15 LTSR and its Windows Server counterpart in Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2016, provided many organisations with a robust and extremely stable environment which, once running, was relatively low touch and therefore left alone. 

What does this mean for customers  who haven’t yet actioned their upgrades or migrations to the new (and greatly improved) Citrix Virtual Apps platform? Well bluntly, customers will not receive any patches or support after the EOL periods. That’s right customers who have missed this boat and are not paying for additional End of Extended Support are now completely unsupported by a vendor on a product that is core to the delivery of services to the users. Ouch. 

The official legacy product support matrix can be found here 

STATUS SUPPORT OUTCOMES 
Mainstream maintenance All security patches, feature releases and technical support 
End of Maintenance (EOM) No further code-level maintenance other than security-related updates 
End of life (EOL) Security-related hot fixes, technical support, and product downloads are no longer be available 
Extended Special maintenance for huge costs not feasible for most organisations 

Table 1: The main Citrix lifecycle phases for its products 

Citrix Virtual Apps has a large customer base, and Citrix has catered for the many organisations operating the now-aging Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2016 platform (which underpinned the CVAD 7.15 LTSR platform) by allowing customers in the updated architecture to run multiple Operating System versions within the same Delivery platform, including Windows Server 2012 R2/2016. Whilst Windows Server 2019 is the optimal operating system to be deploying workloads, customers can still bring their existing Windows Server 2012 R2/2016 images across to the new platform to ensure application supportability whilst starting to address the oncoming EoL for the operating system itself and provide access to the innovations in the new versions of the Citrix platform. 

THE CRITICALITY OF CITRIX VIRTUAL APPS AND DESKTOP

Without proper maintenance or a roadmap for upgrades, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop environments will not remain robust and reliable and, without vendor support, delivery of critical line of business applications is at risk. 

Different versions and the evolution of products mandate Citrix clients must both closely observe the product lifecycle matrix to ensure support options and plan migration strategies ahead of time. Upgrading is no longer a significant undertaking, providing benefits to the users of the systems before the back-end services are updated. If you are currently operating an out of Support CVAD 7.15 LTSR environment or an out of support 7.x Current Release platform, it’s time to get it uplifted and moved to a supported release and start delivering improvements to the users such as:

  • Support for Windows 11, Server 2019, Server 2022
  • Superior user experience with new HDX enhancements
  • Provisioning Services (PVS) for Azure
  • VDA upgrade Service that automates VDA upgrade process for admins
  • Image Portability Service that assists admins to quickly and easily move machine catalogs images
  • Citrix Managed Azure for all Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service editions
  • Azure Active Directory Group Based Support

It’s also time to address the already passed End of Support for Windows Server 2016 which landed on January 11, 2022. It snuck up on a lot of customers and if you are one of the customers that missed this date then your environment is definitely jeopardised. See a real-life example of a customer that allowed lapse in environmental upgrades. Citrix EOL Customer Experience.

Microsoft has some interesting new stances on extending support for those with Azure appetite so it’s critical to look at these options and considerations ASAP. Citrix has stated support for Windows Server 2016 via the LTSR program, meaning that there should be minimal reasons not to be moving now instead of trying to move the Operating System and delivery systems at the same time.

EXICITING FEATURES OF THE LATEST 2203 LTSR

  1. The Graphics Protocol:  Adaptive audio (with UDP support) dynamically adjusts audio quality, so you no longer have to choose Low, Medium, or High qualities for your call center workers. The HDX graphics stack has been overhauled and 3D graphics have also been kicked into high gear to provide up to 120 FPS and improved scalability. Enhanced build to lossless tweaks how moving images are compressed during periods of high network activity to give a smoother UX. 
  1. Microsoft Teams Optimization: The Microsoft Teams Optimization feature offloads some multimedia to the local workstation to provide a more native experience. Citrix has added support for a multi-monitor screen picker, selective app sharing, give/request control, multi-windows for meetings vs. chat, and expanded support for Citrix Workspace app platforms. The result is a better user experience for Microsoft Teams through a virtual desktop. 
  1. Built-in Tools: Workspace Environment Management (WEM) is now integrated into the VDA installer to make it even easier to optimize and manage workloads. The VDA Restore feature reduces the impact of failed upgrades by automatically creating a restore point to revert to a known good configuration. MTU discovery is a major enhancement that facilitates proper negotiation for EDT. 
  1. Public Cloud Enhancements: This is probably the headline feature for the 2203 LTSR, where Citrix has reintroduced public cloud support. This means inheriting some of the performance and compatibility improvements made in Citrix Cloud, including faster boot times in Azure, basic GCP MCS support, PVS in Azure, removal of Azure resource group limitations etc. However, there are a couple caveats here. First, customers require hybrid rights licensing to leverage these public cloud features. Second, there is not exact feature parity with Citrix Cloud since some features require some of the backend service functions and the configuration process will differ. 
  1. LTSR Support for Citrix Cloud + VDA: Citrix is offering support for customers that deploy Citrix Cloud even with LTSR VDA. Customers will still get the five (5) years of support even though Cloud Platform is on Current Release (CR). This provides best of both of worlds by allowing the control insfrastructure to stay up to date with the latest versions while maintaining the predicatibility of the LTSR-based workload. The cherry on top for flexibility is that Citrix Cloud is a single pane of management for multiple resource locations and delivery groups such that you can mix LTSR and CR versions in the same environment. That means some workloads (such as an Electronic Health Records app) can stay on a LTSR VDA version with five years of mainstream support while other use cases, such as Linux or offshore developers can be deployed on a Current Release train to take advantage of some feature released down the road. 
  1. Future Innovation: Many of the big innovations are, and will be, only available with Citrix Cloud, sometimes because some of these functions will be dependent on a cloud-based service to work. It’s impossible to list just one item here, but the Citrix Workspace roadmap is a great resource to see other key features in the works. Here are a few of them:

See full list of features and enhancements from the following Citrix Blogs: 

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2022/03/24/top-3-reasons-to-consider-a-cloud-deployment-with-ltsr-components/

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2022/03/24/5-reasons-to-upgrade-to-the-new-ltsr-today/

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