Citrix XenDesktop: Centralization Alone Is Not the Answer

Citrix XenDesktop is the desktop virtualization solution by Citrix. In this article, Ruben Spruijt discusses the advantages and disadvantages of desktop virtualization and the role that Citrix XenDesktop plays therein.

Citrix XenDesktop is the desktop virtualization solution by Citrix. In this article, Ruben Spruijt discusses the advantages and disadvantages of desktop virtualization and the role that Citrix XenDesktop plays therein. What is the function of the Citrix Provisioning Server in virtualizing desktops?
Desktop virtualization is developing into a serious, interesting and effective desktop delivery platform. According to Ruben Citrix is at the forefront when it comes to the development and acceptance of this form of virtualization. “War of the Virtual Worlds Part II” has begun! Ruben gives us his vision of the virtual workstation 2010.


Application and Desktop Delivery

Application and desktop delivery is a process whose objective is to be able to offer applications independent of location and workstation so that the user can always work everywhere: onsite, offsite and offline.  Citrix XenDesktop is a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution. This solution ensures remote access to Windows XP or Vista desktops that are centrally implemented on virtual machines in the data center. Server virtualization solutions such as Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and VMware ESX Server form the infrastructure basis for the virtual (Xen)Desktops.


Xen Xen Xen

After the take-over of XenSource by Citrix it is “Xen, Xen, Xen” that makes the clock beat at Citrix. In the Citrix dictionary Xen is equal to “virtualization.” XenServer virtualizes hardware, thanks to which desktops and servers are designed to be hardware-independent. XenDesktop virtualizes and provides desktops.
Citrix XenApp virtualizes applications in two possible ways. Option one is called “server-side application virtualization.” A nice name for the known and proven server based computing concept. The other type of application virtualization is “client-side application virtualization.” In this form, applications are quickly and very easily provided on a desktop, laptop or terminal server, whereby the application is implemented on the respective platform in an isolated environment.


What are the pros and cons of Citrix XenDesktop?

There are various advantages of XenDesktop (XD). I describe several of them here below:
User experience: Multimedia and graphically heavier applications must be provided by means of the ICA protocol with an acceptable user experience. By applying various SpeedScreen technologies, applications can even be used over a network connection with a low bandwidth and higher latency.
Safe access to applications: Users have safe and consistent access to applications with every type of connection, every device at every location, both within and outside of corporate networks. All information remains at the data center; only screen information is sent over the network.
Fast provision of desktops: With XenDesktop personal desktops can be distributed, retrieved, supported and maintained much more quickly than local desktops. The XD desktop is available within several seconds.
Several operating systems in one XenDesktop environment: Personal desktops can be provided with a Windows XP or Vista operating system. A determination as to which desktop is intended for which user is made depending on the set rules.
Application compatibility: Each Windows XP or Vista desktop is a complete stand-alone virtual workstation. There are two great advantages of providing applications via XenDesktop compared to Microsoft Terminal Services: Researching compatibility with Microsoft Terminal Services applications is not necessary and the number of applications that can be made centrally available via XenDesktop is higher compared to Microsoft Terminal Services.
User freedom: A XenDesktop solution offers the user Windows XP or Windows Vista. End-users can install applications and easily change configuration settings within their own workstation environment.
Real-time load-balancing: The virtual infrastructure platform monitors the use of system resources and assigns available sources to a number of desktops based on the rules that were set in advance by the ICT department. If the resources are limited, extra capacity is freed up through migration of active desktops to another physical server. In combination with live migration the desktops are load-balanced in real time.
High availability (HA): HA provides high availability for each desktop, no matter the operating system or the underlying hardware configuration. The technical interpretation of HA can differ per hardware virtualization infrastructure.


The complete article can be downloaded here for the dutch readers here

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Everything you listed as advantages (except ICA) was provided by VMware before Citrix even had XenDesktop so how is Citrix leading?  Even if it was all about protocol Citrix has had that forever so what's so impressive about that.  Desktop Virtualization is a big deal but Citrix has been coming from behind from the beginning because they dont want to give up the premium customers pay for multiple published apps.  And what on earth with the 'Xen Xen Xen?' 99% of Xendesktop customers have not an ounce of Xen in their envrionment because they are using VMware to get a reasonable density of desktops on a proven platform.  I would succumb to the statement that Citrix shows leadership in marketing desktop virtualization but that doesnt count for much in my book.


snip "....VMware before Citrix even had XenDesktop''

Xen desktop is really just a modification/repackaging of XenApp (aka Presentation Server/Metaframe/Winframe/Windd) so this is only true as for the product named XenDesktop.

You also neglected to mention PVS (formerly developed for years as Ardence).  View may prove to be comparable, but until it proves itself, I still give the current lead to Citrix.

As for the near future...

My crystal ball is broken so I do know that who will be in the lead.  Their history gives Citrix the best possible position to meet the challenges of desktop virtualization.  That said, it is time to break through the remaining barriers because if they do not, others will.


You cannot say that VMware had this stuff before Citrix In terms of VDI. Thats total garbage. VMware has a great hypervisor. It changed the computing industry. I totally agree with that. But in terms of a VDI solution, VMware has been trying to keep up with Citrix. People are drunk on the VMware koolaid. Companies are willing to roll out 1.0 vmware products that are totally thrown together and havent been in the market place for even a month.

So when we look at vmware view and its cloning technology. Why was this thrown together? To go up against Citrix Provisioning server. Provisioning server has been on the market for 8 years! talk about a proven tech!

Lets also look at user density on a pure Citrix VDI solution. All the application work load is shifted back to XenApp servers so you can get more Virtual Desktops on your hypervisor.

Vmware really has a flakey VDI solution at this point. Lest we forget... its using RDP!

Now, im sure someone is going to speak up and say " didnt Vmware just license WYSE TCX? Yes they did, but again, THIS IS NEW TECH PEOPLE!

The first posters comments are so far off from the truth you have to work for vmware. Keep drinking that koolaid. All VMware has been doing for the past year has been trying to provide the same features that Citrix has.


>Multimedia and graphically heavier applications must be provided by means of the ICA protocol

This is glossed over as this is the single biggest cons that users will see with XenDesktop. Sure, speedscreen is often good enough but jerky flash animation, powerpoint and video will not be receivied with open arms.

Cheers, Rob.


I didn't see any cons listed.  One giant con is that you really need to look at 3rd party products to manage profiles when using standard images on PVS (RES, AppSence, etc).  Unless your in a completely locked down, call-center sorta desktop environment, PVS is a PITA and desktops are better served thru TS.