So as a consultant who holds both certifications with VMware and Citrix and working for a company which specializes in Virtualization I often find myself being asked, so which is better XenDesktop or View for VDI. The answer of course seems to depend on the time and date you are being asked. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI seems to be the hot new buzzword on every one’s lips. VMWare and Citrix seemed to be locked in a metaphorical arms race for VDI where each is in a constant state of adding to their offering.
The newest offering from Citrix is their XenDesktop version 5. Having implemented version 4 let me first talk about where I felt the deficiencies there and then I will go over which of them has been fixed.
1) The install takes way to long and is way to complex
2) Overly complex architecture with too many moving pieces, particularly with Provisioning server
3) Standard images do not leverage built in virtualization snapshot technologies like View does for ease of use
4) Updating standard images takes too long and usually represents down time for users
5) Difficult to manage, not enough tools to quickly diagnose and resolve issues
So that’s the bad, now here is the good thing, XenDesktop 5 addresses all of these issues.
1) Simplified install, including express option for POC’s and smaller implementations
2) Machine Creation Services now as part of the DDC, eliminating the need for Provisioning Server in smaller or simplified cases.
3) Machine Creation services leverages snapshot technologies for easy deployment of standard images
4) Updating standard images can completed with three clicks and has minimal impact on users
5) Desktop Director is a great new tool for managing the environment and quickly diagnosing and resolving issues.
Conclusion: Citrix did some great work with XenDesktop 5. XenDesktop was already a powerful and flexible product but by adding simplicity and manageability they have greatly improved their offering to the VDI space.