Looking for a replacement for VDI in a Box? Unidesk + XenDesktop VDI Edition might be your answer

I spoke to Unidesk recently about their new Hyper-V product, and through the course of the discussion we hit on a very interesting use case that they've been running into: VDI in a Box replacement.

I spoke to Unidesk recently about their new Hyper-V product, and through the course of the discussion we hit on a very interesting use case that they’ve been running into: VDI in a Box replacement. Though we’ve known for a few months now that Citrix is ending sales of VDI in a Box, they’ve yet to talk about it publicly (beyond a mention on a Q4 earnings call) or suggest an alternative. 

Odds are it will be XenDesktop VDI Edition, but that’s not really a replacement product as much as it is a gap-filler. It’s low-hanging fruit, and it gives Citrix the ability to say “Oh yeah, we took VIAB away, but we’ll be happy to migrate your licenses over to this other platform.” The problem is that customers that bought VDI in a Box were specifically not buying into XenDesktop. They wanted the ease of use, both in terms of installation and management of VIAB. If they wanted XenDesktop, they would have bought XenDesktop.

Sure, you could argue that there aren’t enough customers to support maintaining VIAB. That’s true, because if Citrix was selling it like gangbusters we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d be talking about how Citrix is doing a great job of maintaining two separate VDI platforms, or about how the integration of the VDI in a Box architecture with XenDesktop was awesome (something we all hoped for at the time of the acquisition). In truth, there just aren’t enough customers to support maintaining two platforms. End of story (and product).

As blunt as that may be, it doesn’t mean the use case went away. Customers that loved VIAB will probably switch to XenDesktop to keep doing business with Citrix and leverage the clients and protocols they’ve grown used to. The challenge for them will be in the form of management. They’ll need to learn about all the components that come together to make a XenDesktop solution, and that’s where Unidesk comes in.

They’ve seen interest from customers that want to soften the blow of migrating from VIAB to XenDesktop. Rather than learn PVS or MCS and the intricacies of image management on that platform, companies can install XenDesktop along with Unidesk and use the Unidesk software to manage the whole thing. You’d have a solid VDI platform with a single interface for personalization, layering, provisioning, and image management that. 

Unidesk doesn’t yet have XenServer support, but you can use it to manage virtual desktops that run on top of either vSphere or Hyper-V. If you run VIAB on XenServer and need to migrate hypervisors as part of the transition, Unidesk helps to hide the dirty work there, too.

Of course, anything that’s not VDI in a Box will require retraining, but if you’re a shop that went with VIAB so you didn’t have to get into the inner workings of XenDesktop, using XenDesktop VDI Edition plus Unidesk might be the best combination of technology to ease you off of a dying platform.

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I never used VIAB, however XD VDI Edition is ultra simple.  You do have to add in Netscaler for remote access which there are tons of consultants out there to handle this for you.  From what I understand, XIAB had some type of remote access built in.  I would imagine that the learning curve would be small however it would be nice for Citrix to compose a How to Migrate article for those that are left standing.  I definitely wouldn't rec'd PVS to VIAB customers, that's a big learning jump, but MCS is nothing so much for the fact that you don't even need to know what it is unless you're around that 300 desktop mark.  And if you are, I'm sure you already know a hell of a lot of VDI in some form or fashion to be managing that large of an environment with some type of profile solution and or layering solution.  I'm a current XD VDI Edition customer.  I'm hoping Citrix will kill it off soon and automatically upgrade me to platinum edition so I can get Xenapp and Server workloads for free!  I know it's a long shot, but I can dream.  


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