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Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?

Written on Sep 20 2005 134,569 views, 68 comments


by Brian Madden

Is Citrix Presentation Server “worth” the extra $300-400 on top of Terminal Server? What about one of the server-based computing products from one of the other companies that costs less? (Jetro Platforms, 2X, Sun/New Moon/Tarantella/ProPalms, etc.) This question is as old as Terminal Server itself.

I’ve done point-by-point technical comparisons of the products in the past, but those reviews were more tactical than strategic. They don’t really help you understand when you should use a third-party product.

Let’s start this conversation by clearing up two myths / misconceptions about this whole “Citrix versus Terminal Server” thing.

Misconception #1: ICA is better than RDP. This is false. They are the same. Years ago, Citrix’s ICA protocol was much better than Microsoft’s RDP protocol. However, with RDP 5.2 (the version of RDP that comes with Windows Server 2003), the protocols are basically the same. They both support 24-bit color and huge resolutions. They both support port mapping, printer mapping, shadowing, audio, and encryption. In terms of performance, they both perform about the same. For every “study” that anecdotally shows that one protocol is lighter or performs better than the other, I can create the opposite results in my lab. (It’s all how you tweak and tune everything for whoever is sponsoring the research.) This is not to suggest that Citrix (or other third-party vendors) don’t expand on ICA or RDP in cool ways. The key point though is that the ICA and RDP protocols themselves are for all intents and purposes the same. (This is also true of client devices. There are plenty of open source RDP clients that let you connect from UNIX, Linux, etc.)

Misconception #2: If you have 50 (or 75, or 100, or whatever) number of users or less, you can use pure Terminal Server. With more users you need Citrix. This is false. There are plenty of pure Terminal Server environments with thousands of users and no Citrix. The opposite is also true. There are hundreds of customers with 15, 25, or 50 users who use (and need) Citrix. (In fact, Citrix has an SMB edition of their product called “Access Essentials” that’s specifically designed for this.) My point here is that whether you do or do not need Citrix has absolutely nothing to do with the number of users you have.

So if you can’t make the decision as to whether or not you need Citrix based on the number of users in your company, then how can you decide? I’ve been a consultant my entire career, so I take a very consultative approach to this whole decision. Do you need Citrix? It depends on whether Citrix has features that you need. As obvious as it sounds, the only way you can know for sure is to figure out your needs and see if you can solve them with Terminal Server alone. If not, then look at which third party product can solve those needs for you.

Without going off onto a tangent about project needs analysis, let’s take a look at the pure Terminal Server capabilities built-in to Windows Server 2003. Even though the RDP protocol offers the same functionality of ICA, there are a few key limitations of Terminal Server today:

  • No published applications
  • No seamless windows
  • No SSL gateway or proxy
  • No web interface
  • No application-level load balancing

Let’s take a quick look at why each of these is a limitation.

No published applications
When using pure Terminal Server, a user must connect to a server and then run an application. Even though the application that is run can be specified as part of an RDP connection file, the file must first point the user to a specific server.

No seamless windows
Pure Terminal Server environments work great for connecting clients to full remote desktops, but when clients only need to connect to specific applications, the user is forced to experience a clunky, non-resizable window.

No SSL gateway or proxy
It is possible to fully encrypt an RDP connection with Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003. However, this encryption is done on a server-by-server basis. Therefore if you have ten Terminal Servers then you’ll need ten holes in your firewall for client connections.

No web interface
While it’s true that there is a Terminal Server client that can be launched via a web browser, Terminal Server does not include a full and automatic web interface like Citrix.

No application-level load balancing
The out-of-the-box load balancing capabilities of Windows Server 2003 only support load-balancing calculations based on network load. Citrix and the other third-party add-on tools can load balance servers based on several more appropriate characteristics, such as user load or CPU utilization. (As a quick aside, this is an area where Citrix lacks too. While better than Microsoft, Citrix only lets you load balance your servers based on 11 pre-selected performance counters while the other third-party products let you load-balance your servers based on any performance counter.)

Almost all of the third-party server-based computing vendors offer all five of these core capabilities in their products. It’s also widely assumed that Microsoft will be building most of this functionality into the next major release of Windows.

The title is this editorial suggests that it focuses on Citrix and Microsoft. To that end, there are two other features of Citrix that are worth mentioning that none of the other products really do. Citrix calls these capabilities SmartAccess and Workspace Control.

Citrix Smart Access

Smart Access” is the stupid marketing name given to a set of really cool technologies that allow an administrator to specify how users can access their applications from various locations. In the old days you could build Citrix policies that enabled or disabled certain features of the ICA protocol based on where a user was connecting from. (Connect from your office and you can do everything; connect from outside the firewall and clipboard integration and client drive mapping is disabled, etc.)

Citrix’s Smart Access technologies take this a step further and let you apply Citrix policies to an ICA session based on certain characteristics of the client device (beyond the simple IP address). Does the client device have current antivirus software installed? Give them full access to their local drives from with their session. If not, the user still could get access to their applications—they just wouldn’t be able to access their client device’s drives. You can apply these policies based on a myriad of client characteristics. Is the client device in the corporate domain? Did the user two-factor authenticate? Is certain software installed on the client? etc.

Without wanting to sound like a blatant marketing pitch for Citrix, it’s important to know that from an objective standpoint, Citrix Smart Access technologies are very cool and a set of technologies that are only offered by Citrix. (Sure there are competing products from Cisco, WholeSecurity, and (soon) Microsoft, but these technologies do not tie into Presentation Server in the way that Citrix’s Smart Access does.) If you need these capabilities today, then you have to buy Citrix regardless of the size of your user base.

With all the upside of Smart Access, there are a few negative points. The first is that in order to use these Smart Access technologies, users must access your Citrix Presentation Servers via one of Citrix’s 1U hardware appliances called the “Citrix Access Gateway” (or CAG). Even though Citrix tries to spin it as something else, the CAG is basically an SSL VPN appliance that’s very tightly integrated into Citrix Presentation Server. The $2500 price tag notwithstanding (double that if you want failover by buying two), selling the Citrix Access Gateway internally at a company that already has a VPN strategy can be tough. I can’t tell you how many times the “Citrix team” at a large company goes to the “Network Team” and tells them that they want to implement so CAGs. “You wanna buy a what? Who is Citrus?” (What ends up happening is that the Citrix team buys the CAGs anyway, and they just put them in their rack with the new Citrix servers and don’t ever mention that they’re SSL VPNs.)

The other downside is the fact that in order to use the Smart Access technologies, you’ll need to plunk down another $150 per concurrent user (in addition to the $300-400 that you’re already paying for Presentation Server itself).

Citrix Workspace Control

The other significant capability that Citrix brings to the table that no one else does right now is Workspace Control—the marketing name applied to a set of technologies that allow a user to log in to different client devices and pull (or “flow”) all of their applications to the new device. (It’s like a one-button logon and logoff of all their applications from all remote servers.) Workspace Control is one of those technologies that isn’t very sexy from a marketing standpoint but that quietly makes server-based computing just “work” and feel natural. A user logging on from a different location will have all of their applications reconnected for them without having to re-authenticate or manually “click click click” on all of their icons to fire up the applications.

Citrix’s SmoothRoaming (no space between those words) technologies also contribute to this Workspace Control fluidity in that applications can be reconnected from client devices with different characteristics (resolution, color depth, etc.) and the remote application sessions are automatically reconfigured to fit on the new client. This capability also fully integrates with the Citrix policies and Smart Access technologies as described previously, with specific client device characteristics affecting session capabilities even when reconnecting to existing sessions from different client devices.

Conclusion

So really I’ve boiled down Citrix’s 60-page PDF marketing document about why you should use Citrix into seven key capabilities that Citrix adds to Terminal Server:

  • Application Publishing
  • Seamless Windows
  • Intelligent Load Balancing
  • SSL Gateway / Proxy
  • Intelligent Web Interface
  • Smart Access
  • Workspace Control

What does this mean moving forward? This topic probably deserves its own article, but here’s the 30-second version:

Many, many other vendors offer products that are much cheaper than Citrix that offer the first five capabilities on the list. (In fact, it seems as Microsoft will even build application publishing, seamless windows, an SSL gateway, and a cool web interface into some future version of Windows.)

The real value for Citrix is in the last two capabilities (Smart Access and Workspace Control). If you’re not starting to make use of these technologies in your company then you’re not getting the full value out of Citrix, and you can probably get away with one of the other third party server-based computing products. If you’re only connecting users to server desktops (instead of seamlessly published applications) from inside the firewall then you probably don’t need any third party product at all.

Note about the future

Here’s a little teaser about the future: Looking at the value that Citrix provides today and comparing it to what the other third party vendors offer (and what Microsoft will offer), it’s obvious that the Smart Access and Workspace Control capabilities will be where Citrix focuses their future efforts. When thinking this way, it’s easy to see why Citrix made the NetScaler acquisition earlier this year. Three years from now when the five core capabilities are built-in to the platform, Citrix will provide value with intelligence about how users are connecting and how they flow their applications from one client to another.

 
 




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Comments

Guest wrote Good job Brian
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 10:24 AM Link To This Comment
I couldn't agree more on your comment about "it doesn't matter how many users you have" and taking the decision on a case-by-case basis. I used to manage a 20 user WTS environment and have since moved on to manage a 300 user Citrix environment. I can say I defintely save time with Citrix admin tools. I haven't fully implemented Metaframe 4.0 yet but I'm hoping to decommission a couple of our servers once we upgrade. We stress tested our seibel CRM app and it looks like we can get about 40% more users on the box with 4.0. A year ago we looked at using WTS without Citrix but WTS Session Directory requires Advanced Server so while Citrix turned out to be expensive, it actually wasn't that big of a difference since we would have spent about $40k more on the Advanced Server licenses. This paid for the Citrix licenses almost by itself. It will be interesting to see if four-processor systems come down in price, because that might have made the decision in favor of WTS. After all, if you're paying for Advanced Server you might as well use four-processor systems, right?
Guest wrote Good Analysis
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 11:12 AM Link To This Comment
I agree with Brian. Ctx or WTS is a case by case analysis that should include monet, applications, needs of the client, end even type of users.

I don't remember the name of the study, but a 4 processor server doesn't escalate as well as a 2 processor.
Stefan Vermeulen wrote re: good job
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 12:09 PM Link To This Comment
If i am not mistaking, only 1 server need to be the WTS session directory server, requiering the enterprise version, and the rest can stay standard edition.
Can anybody confirm?
Brian Madden wrote Re: good job
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 12:40 PM Link To This Comment
Yes, I can confirm this.
Guest wrote Re: Re: good job
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 12:46 PM Link To This Comment
Actually, the exact opposite is true according to Microsoft. The Session Directory service can run on Standard Windows Server, but to participate in the Session Directory the WTS server itself must run Enterprise (Server 2003) or Advaned (2000 Server)

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/features/featuresorterresults.aspx?Technology=Terminal+Services

Terminal Server Session Directory

Note: The Session Directory Service runs on all editions of Windows Server 2003. To participate in a Session Directory, however, a server must run Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, or Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, including the 64- bit editions of the Windows Server 2003 family.
Guest wrote Features
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 12:47 PM Link To This Comment
So what happened to the rest of the Citrix Features?
CPU/Memory Management?
Resource Manager
Installation Manager?
Network Monitoring Snap-ins?
EMF and Location based printing?
Refined Administration?
CSG?
Guest wrote bandwidth requirement RDP vs. ICA
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 1:14 PM Link To This Comment
So Brian you say that ICA and RDP will consume the same amount of bandwidth? From my experience ICA is more suitable for environments with external locations where bandwidth is as rare as water in the desert.

We have for instance much customers that can only be connected to the "headquarter" by ISDN. So lets say we want to connect 10 users at maximum over this line. The line is traced dynamicly with BoD so that we have up to 128KBit/s for all users.
Since printing is a major topic in almost all environments, with ICA we're able to reserve some bandwith for printing and for the work with the apps. With RDP a have no chance to enable any policies. So when a 3mb print job is created with RDP it will consume nearly all of the bandwith and soon we got some users tha are crying cause they can't work.

But i'd really like to know how i can improve the performace of RDP. So if you have any resources please let me know...
Guest wrote Re: re: good job
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 2:05 PM Link To This Comment
No, all the servers must have the Enterprise Version of Windows. The TSSession Dir can run on Windows Server 2003 standard !!!!
Alex Yushchenko wrote Re: Re: good job
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 2:18 PM Link To This Comment
confirm. Only 1 Enterprise needed. the participating parties can be standard versions.
Guest wrote Re: Re: Re: good job
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 2:55 PM Link To This Comment
Read the link above from the Microsoft site. As much as I like you guys :-) you and Brian are both wrong in this case. All servers participating in the session directory need to be the enterprise or datacenter edition. The session directory service itself can run on standard, but not the servers running apps.
Ron Jomes wrote Great Article Brian
on Tue, Sep 20 2005 5:44 PM Link To This Comment
Thanks for the article Brian. I've been asking the same questions lately. Can you do us a favor and evaluate Provision-IT from www.provisionnetworks.com ??? They claim to offer seamless windows, secure access and much more. I have no idea what it costs but it sure looks like a viable alternative to Citrix which would be a gift from above if indeed it is all it is cracked up to be according to their website. Let us know.
Kata Tank wrote Don't forget the futur...
on Wed, Sep 21 2005 5:43 AM Link To This Comment
Agree with Brian analysis...

One other point to considere when choosing TS / CTX or others is the ability to support you in the futur. You will not build such infrastructure only for 2 months. The solution you choose will have to be alive in the next 3 years, will need to be abble to support you efficiently and to deliver new feature/functionnality/new version according to business needs and new operating system / application.
That's where the number of players usually is reduced to only Microsoft or Citrix.

Please, I don't say that you can not choose other solution, but there is a huge part of risk (my opinion)....
Guest wrote TS Slow in IE
on Wed, Sep 21 2005 7:26 AM Link To This Comment
I have found that Citrix's screen refresh, particularly when showing IE pages and flash almost a must have for clients that used web based apps or need web browsing as part of their work.

Brian - Have microsoft addressed this in the latest RDP Client?
Guest wrote Re: bandwidth requirement RDP vs. ICA
on Wed, Sep 21 2005 9:11 AM Link To This Comment
You are right they are different. Thats why Brian said "the protocols are _basically_ the same"
For Sure they are not identical and ICA has some features that might be key to the decision which Product to use like it is to you.

Thats exactly the from case-to-case look.
Guest wrote Re: Great Article Brian
on Thu, Sep 22 2005 12:34 AM Link To This Comment
I've used ProvisionIT. It really rocks!! A few limitations but for a 1.0 product it is really good stuff!!!! The seamless windows works great but at higher resolutions. The app publishing is easy to use. The end-user management around the product is something I wish Citrix had. All in all, i give Provision a B+ and their next release should be an A!

Guest wrote Re: TS Slow in IE
on Tue, Sep 27 2005 5:12 PM Link To This Comment
I've seen some talk with MS dev for Terminal Server and he said that it's not going to be better in future version. I think it's difficult to them to compress flash good. Maybe use some flash blocker?

Metal
Kata Tank wrote Re: Re: TS Slow in IE
on Wed, Sep 28 2005 7:57 AM Link To This Comment
That's what Citrix called "SpeedScreen Browser Acceleration", part of the SpeedScreen functionnality set... It decrease the quality of images to save bandwidth, save them into the client cache out of the "normal screen refresh" mecanism, only draw the HTML page (not the pictural one) and do the same with Flash (decrease quality but not visibility)... Cool stuff but only for IE (not firefox)...
Lee Buskey wrote Dont forget about the client peice..
on Wed, Sep 28 2005 11:36 PM Link To This Comment
I personally do believe that Citrix is destined to lose as good portion of the conventional Presentation Server market to MS in the upcoming years. Right now, a key thing to also consider when looking between Citrix and plain RDP is the availability of clients for non MS client platforms. This becomes particularly important if you are in an organization that works along the lines of katatank's excellent point in a previous comment, and discourages the use of open source solutions like Rdesktop and instead looks for commercial, well managed and supported solutions. Your options get real simple in that sort of environment.
Guest wrote Re: Features
on Sun, Oct 9 2005 11:44 PM Link To This Comment
Don't forget Citrix has a much wider range of clients available whereas MS stick to MS only platforms. (Yes, I know you can get a *nix RDP client too but Citrix have Mac ones, Symbian ones, etc etc)
Guest wrote Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?
on Wed, Nov 30 2005 4:58 AM Link To This Comment
the software developer says we do not need citrix or any other tool since these functionalitiees are in the software itself. the application is for deployment on a central server with a few thousand users working off this application. do we need citrix?
Guest wrote RE: Re: Re: Re: good job
on Thu, Dec 29 2005 3:50 AM Link To This Comment
Please referer to the followind document
 
http://download.microsoft.com/download/8/6/2/8624174c-8587-4a37-8722-00139613a5bc/SessionDirectory.doc
 
This document clearly states that the Session Directory Service can run on any Windows 2003 platform, but the participating Servers should be 2003 Enterprise or Datacenter Editions only
Guest wrote Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Tue, Jan 10 2006 8:41 PM Link To This Comment
Guys,
Any one has a definitive experience in comparing performance of CITRIX VS TS over High latency VSAT to Terestial network ?  Our Clients are on the VSAT side but the hosts are on the Terestial network.  Our experience was that CITRIX performed much better in terms of response time compared to TS.  Any one has similar or different experience? Any tweaks to make the performance of Citrix over VSAT links better ?
 
Ping timing from VSAT end to Terestial end is about 1200-1700 ms. Available bandwidth is more than 128K dedicated for this service with only about 10 Users.
Thanks for your time in advance.
 
Sufferer in need of Technological Solution
 
Michael Burke wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Wed, Jan 11 2006 12:19 AM Link To This Comment
Citrix or Terminal Services will be pretty painful with latency like that.  In my experience, any "real-time" application such as TS/Citrix, telnet, SSH, etc. is generally poor with  satellite links.

In terms of comparing the two, RDP and ICA are virtually identical in terms of bandwidth requirements and response times.  Years ago there were differences, but the playing field has been leveled in recent years so that the augument of "ICA being more efficient" is gone now.
Chris wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Wed, Feb 15 2006 7:43 AM Link To This Comment
I have the request to build a Citrix up a Citrix server over a VSAT network. But the provider told us, the latency delay will be 800 miliseconds or more.
Over VSAT, this would be the only way to connect this 2 offices, because no working network between this 2 countries.
But if I read, over satellite, it's poor to work, is there an other way ?
Would it work better using the Citrix access gateway 4.1 ?
Has anybody a similare enviroment up and running ?
 
we would use MPS4 on Windows 2003, about 5-10 users.
 
 
 
Jeff Pitsch wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Wed, Feb 15 2006 8:21 AM Link To This Comment
Your in for some pain, once you accept that, you're ok.  Access gateway would be of no help to you.  Access Gateway is a SSL VPN solution, it has nothing to do with high latency connections.
Patrick Rouse wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Wed, Feb 15 2006 9:21 AM Link To This Comment
128Kbps for 10 users is pushing it.  Although someone typing in word uses only about 10Kbps, many operations can cause a session's bandwidth consumption to spike to 150Kbps+, i.e. flash animation, video, rendering complex images, printing.
 
You can cap each session's bandwidth via Citrix Policy, but beware that 128Kbps is better suited for 3-4 concurrent sessions.
 
My feelings about latency are in line with Michael's and Jeff's, i.e. it will work, but the response time to end user actions may be less than ideal.
Guest wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Fri, Mar 3 2006 11:24 AM Link To This Comment
ORIGINAL: Michael Burke

Citrix or Terminal Services will be pretty painful with latency like that.  In my experience, any "real-time" application such as TS/Citrix, telnet, SSH, etc. is generally poor with  satellite links.

In terms of comparing the two, RDP and ICA are virtually identical in terms of bandwidth requirements and response times.  Years ago there were differences, but the playing field has been leveled in recent years so that the augument of "ICA being more efficient" is gone now.

 
 
There is a solution to Citrix, TS, SAP and other "chatty applications" over satellie.  BASF, MA Mortenson, National Gypsum, Jordache among others are using our software technology to establish a secure LAN-like experience over satellite using our optimization technology.  Please do not hesitate to check out our website www.endiiend.com or contact me if you are an SME or MNC.  We can help.  The Fortune companies that we are dealing with can testify to the high impact that we have had on their business.
 
Doug Triblehorn
End II End Communications, Inc.
919-671-3892
dtriblehorn@eiiecomm.com
 
Guest wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Mon, Apr 24 2006 1:17 PM Link To This Comment
ORIGINAL: Guest

ORIGINAL: Michael Burke

Citrix or Terminal Services will be pretty painful with latency like that.  In my experience, any "real-time" application such as TS/Citrix, telnet, SSH, etc. is generally poor with  satellite links.

In terms of comparing the two, RDP and ICA are virtually identical in terms of bandwidth requirements and response times.  Years ago there were differences, but the playing field has been leveled in recent years so that the augument of "ICA being more efficient" is gone now.



There is a solution to Citrix, TS, SAP and other "chatty applications" over satellie.  BASF, MA Mortenson, National Gypsum, Jordache among others are using our software technology to establish a secure LAN-like experience over satellite using our optimization technology.  Please do not hesitate to check out our website www.endiiend.com or contact me if you are an SME or MNC.  We can help.  The Fortune companies that we are dealing with can testify to the high impact that we have had on their business.

Doug Triblehorn
End II End Communications, Inc.
919-671-3892
dtriblehorn@eiiecomm.com


 
Also check www.expand.com 
 
Hardware solution that does all the acceleration, encryption, caching, etc.  'Battle tested' (employed by the US military) to work with satellite : ) Awesome product road map too for branch office printing and AD integration in the future.  When it hooks to your san and does replication, it can be the one stop disaster recovery solution too.
Guest wrote RE: Citrix VS TS Over High Latency network like double Hop VSAT Links
on Mon, Aug 28 2006 8:42 PM Link To This Comment
I hate it when clueless salesmen try to Hijack a thread like this. Please, go away and never spam us again.
Guest wrote RE: WTS I-MATE JASJAR ........ $250
on Sun, Sep 17 2006 6:44 AM Link To This Comment
 
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Guest wrote RE: Re: Re: good job
on Mon, Sep 18 2006 9:54 AM Link To This Comment
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Alex RM wrote VERY POOR COMPARISON
on Fri, Mar 23 2007 3:32 PM Link To This Comment
Don't believe what was written in the article above.
 
Unfortunately this comparison is very poor and does not take into the great feature set that Citrix has comapared to Terminal Services. Obviously someone hasn't been keeping up with Citrix and you shouldn't write articles when you are a having a bad day.
 
See this PDF to get the real picture.
 
http://www.citrix.com/site/resources/dynamic/salesdocs/Citrix_Value_add_to_Windows_Terminal_Services_2003(FEB07).pdf 
 
 
 
Brian Madden wrote RE: VERY POOR COMPARISON
on Mon, Mar 26 2007 6:39 AM Link To This Comment
"Obviously someone hasn't been keeping up with Citrix." Seriously? You are providing a vendor's marketing paper as "proof"? Come on!
Guest wrote Re: VERY POOR COMPARISON
on Fri, May 18 2007 6:32 AM Link To This Comment
Yeah, and when you have been in the business long enough you'll hopefully learn to make up your own mind because paper is patient, especially when it spews out of a vendor's offices.
Guest wrote Re: VERY POOR COMPARISON
on Sun, May 27 2007 2:09 AM Link To This Comment
That's too funny!
Guest wrote Re: VERY POOR COMPARISON
on Mon, Jun 4 2007 11:12 AM Link To This Comment

Just because more features are available doesn't mean the product is worth the investment - the features have to work reliably in "common" customer environments.  Too many times I have had "bad days" because Citrix documentation was incorrect, or I failed to have the perfect combination of Java and .NET during an install, or my printing environment was not the same as in the Citrix labs.

In my opinion Presentation Server improved in reliability from 1.8 to 3.0, but then 4.0 was like Windows ME for me - too many issues to be considered a great product, although once the "bugs" were worked out it was fine.  Hopefully PS 4.5 will turn out to be better, so far it is very stable.

I find the analysis above very accurate.  For the majority of SMB customers out there, I will bet once Windows Server 2008 is released they will cancel subscription advantage.  Obviously Citrix anticipates this, that is why the have diversified so much in the past few years.

Guest wrote Re: VERY POOR COMPARISON
on Tue, Jul 3 2007 8:48 AM Link To This Comment

Hi Alex RM,

Could you provide any other documentation apart from the one on Citrix website to support your argument ?

Guest wrote curious
on Wed, Jul 4 2007 5:52 PM Link To This Comment
So how about open source, do they have anything to compete with?
Guest wrote Some other questions
on Tue, Jul 10 2007 1:24 PM Link To This Comment

Brian,

 

I know you probably would tell me ask a consultant yet I have two additional questions:

1 considering server farms, do you think there is any difference between cirtix and windows 2003 ts if application load balancing is no issue? I get a little bit nervous when someone tells me i need a network loadbancer like microsoft suggest.

2 when considering server farms, is there any difference when different hardware is added overtime? We have these people who want to start out with let's say 1000 users and eventually they want to service 4000 users. So the server farm will grow like 4 times at least.

Guest wrote Citrix is expensive, try Propalms for added control of RDP
on Tue, Jul 17 2007 2:49 AM Link To This Comment
  • Application Publishing
  • Seamless Windows
  • Intelligent Load Balancing
  • SSL Gateway / Proxy
  • Intelligent Web Interface
  • These are all included at GBP40 per user/concurrent.

    Simon Ellis wrote How does Citrix compare with Windows Server 2008?
    on Fri, Sep 7 2007 11:04 AM Link To This Comment
    I would be interested in seeing this article revised taking into account the features available in Windows Server 2008. Some of the differences above seem to have been mitigated with the new version of server, but have Citrix taken a quantum leap forward? As always, it's horses for courses, terminal services will satisfy more users, but Citrix will always have more functionality.
    Guest wrote Re: VERY POOR COMPARISON
    on Sat, Sep 8 2007 2:50 AM Link To This Comment
    Actually from my past experiences i have learn a thing that never get the comparison of products from the rivals site, they will degrade one anothers product.
    Guest wrote Add Citrix or wait for Windows Server 2008?
    on Wed, Sep 12 2007 12:50 AM Link To This Comment
    We installed 3 Windows 2003 terminal servers and a CoyotePoint load balancer at HQ. We also install Thinprint to compress print jobs. We're also going to move from a VPN connected by DSL and Comcast cable Internet to a MPLS as some sites have pretty bad links (we installed a PacketShaper at HQ and the site with the bad ADSL link for traffic shaping and compression as a "band aid" and for future benefits). Anyway, I'm debating whether or not to purchase Citrix (would have to be in stages, due to the cost) or just stick it out with our current setup and wait for Windows Server 2008 to see what features are available. To me, the main concern is latency and end-user experience. I'd rather that end-users have a smooth full desktop experience rather instead of application launching, etc. I still hear that Citrix outperforms RDP when it comes to speed/latency. But I also her otherwise. What do all of you think re. these couple of issues: Wait for Windows 2008 Server or purchase Citrix, Citrix speed/latency compared to latest RDP ? 
    Guest wrote Re: How does Citrix compare with Windows Server 2008?
    on Thu, Sep 20 2007 5:51 PM Link To This Comment
    Agreed, I will be upgrading my Windows 2003 servers to Windows 2008 anyway.  How much better is the 2008 Terminal Services than 2003?
    Guest wrote ICA vs MS RDP 5.0 TS
    on Fri, Sep 21 2007 9:42 PM Link To This Comment

    Well, there is someone who can say for sure if ICA consume much less bandwith than MS TS per connection? Any reliability article comparing  bandwith usage to show to my IT boss?

    Thank you in advance

    Guest wrote brian ur a master ""
    on Wed, Sep 26 2007 12:44 PM Link To This Comment

    I have been searching to know about citrix and ur website is a maste piece hats of to u and ur team

     

     

    Guest wrote Great
    on Sun, Sep 30 2007 7:58 AM Link To This Comment
    Thanks Brian, for the article. The conclusion is that the gap between TS and Citrix is contuniously narrowing while the TOC of both implementations increases... Too bad the comparaison was not extended to third party applications that did not require TS client licenses. BNE@barryllc.com
    Guest wrote citrix of r av and grphics
    on Tue, Oct 9 2007 5:47 AM Link To This Comment
    or example, in school with about 300 concurrent users and about 60 doing graphics and AV type work

    has any one any experience of this - does it work Ok ?
    Guest wrote Time to take another look at this topic?
    on Fri, Nov 2 2007 11:10 AM Link To This Comment
    This article is definitely good. I just think it might be the right time for another look at the same topic again. ...or at least maybe after the release of Windows Server 2008 and PS 5.0. Not certain if it's time yet, but the game is about to change yet again.
    Guest wrote a question ..
    on Thu, Dec 6 2007 7:00 AM Link To This Comment

    How does Citrix Workspace compare to Sun Global Desktop Server they appear to me to off pretty musch the same functionality !!

    david. 

    Guest wrote Re: Great
    on Mon, Dec 10 2007 12:03 AM Link To This Comment

    Not require a TS license¿ It doesn't matter what technology you use. The Windows Server licensing states that you need a TS cal for any "Windows Session", with a ”Windows Session” being a session during which Server Software hosts a graphical user interface on a device (whether via the TS component of the Server Software or via other technology).

     Sorry, but you are buying TS Client Access Licenses no matter what!

    Guest wrote Re: Re: How does Citrix compare with Windows Server 2008?
    on Thu, Dec 20 2007 10:44 AM Link To This Comment

    I've been thinking the same thing myself.  I found this from Microsoft's website - it looks like TS is quickly catching up on a lot of the advantages that most people turn to for Citrix and Citrix-like applications.

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/terminal-services/default.mspx

    To address another persons comments on ICP vs RDP performance and why some reports still say ICP is better: If you are working with an application the only updates one section of the window (like the display on a calculator), RDP sends full-screen updates (the desktop, the background(if enabled), the image of the calculator, and the current display on the calculator).  ICP on the other hand, will just update the portion of the screen that contains the display of the calculator (since nothing else on the screen has changed).  At least in theory, ICP should perform better because there is much less data to send in one small section of the screen as opposed to the full screen. 

    In reality, however, many applications are so shoddily written that if anything changes on any portion of the app, it re-draws the entire application screen, essentially wiping out any performance/bandwidth gains that ICP offers over RDP.

    Guest wrote Please update the comparison of RDP vs Citrix ICA as of Jan 08
    on Fri, Dec 28 2007 11:28 AM Link To This Comment
    Thanks for the great objective summary and intro to the technologies.  Please update the comparison of RDP vs Citrix ICA as of Jan 08
    Guest wrote Raster Datasets RDP versus ICA
    on Wed, Jan 9 2008 7:15 AM Link To This Comment
    Hello,   We are considering moving to a centralized architecture for our Corporate GIS and are currently testing Windows Terminal Server.   We have network bandwidths to remote sites ranging from 448 Kbps to 2 Mbps, with network utilization averaging around 30-50% on the lower bandwidth sites.   We are experiencing extremely slow redraw times in ArcMap and ArcGIS Server when dealing with raster imagery, up to 45 seconds when panning.  This is only happening on lower bandwidth sites.  The raster is a tiff, which has pyramids already built.  Maps with vector data perform well on all sites.   My question is would Citrix help?  From this discussion it doesn't appear so as the performance gap between RDP and ICA has closed.   Any help would be appreciated.   Thanks,
    Guest wrote dfdf
    on Tue, Jan 15 2008 5:26 AM Link To This Comment
    1. lklk;l
    2. l;l;l';

    lk;lk;lk;l

    Guest wrote Does RDP have priority tagging like ICA?
    on Tue, Jan 22 2008 4:19 PM Link To This Comment

    This is a very nice article. However, I could not find any information on whether or not RDP has priority tagging similar to what ICA provide - see http://www.citrixxperience.com/guides/ICA_Priority_Packet_Tagging.pdf

    Does RDP provide something similar? 

    Thanks ,
    - deepak 

    Guest wrote Propalms and RDP
    on Tue, Feb 5 2008 11:07 AM Link To This Comment
    With Windows Server 2008 soon to be launched, is there still a need for Citrix-like programs such as Propalms?  Are there any advantages to Propalms since it utilizes RDP? Is there any 3rd-party comparisons of Citrix and Propalms that really details the advantages/disadvantages of both products?
    Dan Shappir wrote Re: Propalms and RDP
    on Tue, Feb 5 2008 12:23 PM Link To This Comment

    I cannot comment on Propalms specifically as I’m not sufficiently familiar with that product. But I have posted two articles on my blog which may help you determine if Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services are good enough for you or if you need an add-on product such as Citrix, Ericom, etc. You can find them here:

    http://ericomguy.blogspot.com/2007/10/are-windows-server-2008-terminal.html

    and here:

    http://ericomguy.blogspot.com/2007/12/are-windows-server-2008-terminal.html

    Guest wrote Re: Does RDP have priority tagging like ICA?
    on Mon, Feb 25 2008 5:15 AM Link To This Comment

    I see the artical was initially published in 2005, so I guess I should cut you some slack.  

    If you want people to take your work seriously, its important that you put up all the facts.  I may have missed something however all I see a comparison of the "claimed" features of 2 products.(at the time)  I see no raw data showing the protocol level comparisons between the 2 products, nor do I see your testing methodology documented anywhere.

     

     

    Guest wrote Re: citrix of r av and grphics
    on Mon, May 5 2008 10:15 AM Link To This Comment

    Seriously? 60 users doing graphics and AV work on a Terminal Server? Who's brilliant idea was that?

     

    Guest wrote But you know citrix?
    on Mon, Oct 27 2008 8:55 AM Link To This Comment

     the load balancing for ts is inexistent...Be honest!!!!!!!!

     

    This article lacks of one of very very very important point....

    PRINTERS PRINTERS PRINTERS PRINTERS PRINTERS PRINTERS PRINTERS PRINTERS.....

    And also centralized policies for device,local disk,and CITRIX UNIVERSAL PRINTER DRIVERS?Is not an important feature?with a single policy i can connect a local printer of any brand without problem with performances 4 time fater than ts?You remember (I YES!!!A sathurday of terror!!!)problems with remote printing?a server crashed for a large remote printing--->spooler not restart and be corrupted--->server bsod......With citrix i can set the bandwith for my printers...(maximum-minimum etc...)And this is only

    i can set the printer server, the  default printer for my Organization,offices etc....If you set printer mapping on ts client your local printer is the preferred, whatever settings you change, at logon  your default printer is the same...

    and other incredible thing.....you have tried the scroolling of a large graphical document with citrix or ts or a videoclip?The difference on performances is incredible.....

    You work for MICROSOFT? no i think... i partecipate on presentation of windows 2008 ts (not the shitting 2003 TS but the great formidable 2008 ts!!!)....The speaker say itself the gap with citrix is still great......The ts 2003 is not comparable with any version of citrix......

    In real life  (not on lab....) all the people and the technicians say the differences....Microsoft with 2008 have copied citrix....but not very well. the publication of applications is not friendly, session broker balances the session not watch for server load (cpu,memory etc..),have to be on other hardware not on the same of ts servers (for a base configuration you need 2 ts servers + 1 session brokers for load balancing) the web gateway for external connection have to be on a domain (Great security!!!!) the printers management is not very friendly....But yes the 2008 ts is a low cost solutio...The 2003 not!

    BE HONEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PlexusSage wrote re: Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?
    on Thu, Jul 16 2009 9:50 PM Link To This Comment

    All I know is I had a client who was paying for Citrix licenses plus the consultant to manage the Citrix server which required constant reboots for three employees at a remote office to work.  Server needed a security update that was not compatible with current Citrix version, so that was another thousand dollars for conulting and license fees justy to apply MS updates.

    Using a new server runnig TS in Application Server mode, the remote users now all work seamlessly by running Office 2007 and their production app with no worries and no added costs.

    My company placed in a Microsoft Partner solutions contest with this scenario.

    I know Citrix has value, but sometimes TS is the way to go.

    BoBo wrote re: Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?
    on Sat, Jul 25 2009 9:35 AM Link To This Comment

    Hi, can sb tell me about the performance with WDS and Outlook? Does that work or should I take an external Outlook search tool? any suggestion would be very appreciated. greets B.

    BoBo wrote re: Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?
    on Tue, Jul 28 2009 3:43 AM Link To This Comment

    hi, bobo, check this search-tool http://www.lookeen.net

    we made bad experiences with WDS & Outlook on a Terminal Server because of the constaninous indexing. But Lookeen works great, has more search-features and is much faster.

    greets Bill

    Chicago IT Consulting wrote re: Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?
    on Wed, May 5 2010 3:24 PM Link To This Comment

    This is a great article! Thank you. Using Citrix's web interface is worth the extra cost vs. trying to duplicate the same setup with a SharePoint overlay.

    billyman555 wrote re: Do you need Citrix or is Terminal Server enough?
    on Fri, Apr 8 2011 4:16 PM Link To This Comment

    Brian, do you have an updated view of Citrix vs TS with the R2 release?  We tried it and still found it lacking.  I find it hard to believe Microsoft will ever try to compete seriously, since you have to buy TS cals either way.

    Great article,by the way.

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    It’ s very important to not buy or install any new network system before identifying existing delays.

    Citrix vs. Terminal Server - Webigration wrote Citrix vs. Terminal Server - Webigration
    on Mon, May 25 2009 5:47 PM

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