To migrate Horizon View to Citrix XenDesktop or not, that is the question
Today, Citrix made a call out to all Horizon View customers that, should they require it, their option to move from VMware's Horizon View to Citrix's XenApp and/or XenDesktop had been simplified with the first release of a Migration Service along with a free migration kit.
Having had a chance to review the service and the actions of the migration, I'd agree that there is hardly time for even a little sleep during the process: the claimed migration time of around 15 minutes with almost no downtime (if you have a XenDesktop environment deployed) appears pretty close to the mark.
So - a new Citrix Migration Service. What were the design goals? What is involved in the process? How much of an undiscovered country would migration be?
Design Goals for Horizon View to Citrix XenDesktop Migration Service
While, right up there, you might expect "reduce the installed base of Horizon View" or maybe a cheeky "cause a bit of a kerfuffle at VMworld", the three headline goals were stated as:-
1) No Disruption – Create a simple service to migrate data from Horizon View environment without interrupting any administrative workflow. So, we can take it this migration service is targeted at established installs rather than early proof of concept environments.
2) No Downtime – Stand up a side-by-side XenDesktop environment for administrators to roll out pilots and PoCs. The existing Horizon View environment should be up and functioning all the time. Rarely do businesses want a big bang approach to change; enabling a phased migration to fit in with different business units existing working better allows for adopting change.
3) No Productivity Loss – The end user productivity should not be affected. Users can disconnect from their Horizon View desktops and apps and connect to the same desktop via Citrix Receiver. Because nothing prevents the proposal for business change than saying that the users will lose their minesweeper high score... all be it they'll dress it up as "keep Macro settings in Excel".
VMware Horizon View to Citrix XenDesktop - Peeking Under the Hood
In this first release, migration is focused on Horizon View 6 and XenDesktop 7.6 for manually provisioned dedicated desktops; you'll also need PowerCLI v6 or later.
The migration service has two options for migration - both fundamentally built on PowerShell code developed by a team incorporating the expert eye of fellow CTP Carl Webster.
a) Citrix Lifecycle Management Service - I've spoken about Citrix LifeCycle Management Services (CLM) before in relation to using CLM to automate the deployment and management of Atlantis Computing's USX Software Defined Storage solution.
Once you've signed up to the CLM service, deployed your CLM agent(s) and integrated your VMware environment, you'll be able to use two Blueprints (an Import and an Export) to migrate key settings between the environments (you still need to test it mind - its very good, not magic).
b) Citrix XenDesktop PowerShell Scripts - a key advantage of CLM is that it presents a service framework which can utilise a range of scripts. You don't have to use CLM for migration, you can run the import/export scripts directly.
Indeed, worth downloading the 6MB migration pack and reviewing the scripts if you're learning PowerShell (and you're always learning right?) to automate your environment because no one wants to grunt and sweat under a weary life of manual configuration.
What may also be interesting to consider is that the migration process requires XenDesktop 7.6 to be available to migrate into. While you can stand up your own environment, you could also consider utilising Citrix Workspace Cloud to provide that environment.
To Migrate or Not to Migrate?
Many VDI projects that have taken organisations from physical desktops to virtual desktops, or looked to enhance application delivery have already very likely experienced heartache and a thousand natural shocks. Would there be stomach in migrating again?
Citrix claim that performance improvements will be experienced by Horizon 6 users around printing, application launch and file saving. Perhaps you're considering implementing Microsoft Lync, or now have a demand for FIPS-compliance? I'm mildly surprised the remote protocol enhancements brought by the Framehawk for limited bandwidth connections, or HDX 3D Pro didn't get a mention but there you go. While VMworld 2015 will undoubtedly have announcements for Horizon View, it should be an unusual project that would have completed and then found that such outstanding components were now very much key (even tho' some are so new at the time of writing they still smell new-car fresh).
That said, this announcement demonstrates the flexibility of a new services that Citrix are offering customers and partners (Citrix LifeCylce Management, Citrix Workspace Cloud); and while this is a v1 release, the simplicity of migration process could be incorporated into other migration services (such as Citrix's Project Serenity).
Easy migration is an incentive to stay current by reducing risk and bringing better time to value. It's key to moving from on-premise->on-premise; on->off; off->on; off->somewhere-else-off: allowing flexibility to less likely to lose the name of action.
However, while we're talking about pangs of despised love, VMware had a Fling for a Horizon Migration Tool. This allows you to migrate from XenApp to VMware View with RDSH: and that tool takes you from XenApp 6.5, 6.0 or even 5.0.
Usefully CLM allows partners to offer code directly in the form of Blueprints. It is important, I think, for vendors to leverage partners and advocates expertise in developing similar tools: VMware have been better in the past at doing this, Citrix is catching up.
The Citrix Migration Tool is an impressive first release, thorough in its testing and documentation. Well worth a review to understand how it has been achieved. Unlikely to have a major impact on sales in the short term, but hopefully that momentum of wider engagement to develop tools will continue at the same high level of quality.