XenDesktop vs. VDI-in-a-Box
We’ve been writing a lot lately about the Citrix VDI-in-a-Box (ViaB) product. The logical question,
then, is: if ViaB is simpler to install and manage than XenDesktop, and less expensive than
XenDesktop, when would it be appropriate to buy XenDesktop rather than ViaB?
In our opinion, there are several scenarios where XenDesktop licenses might make more sense. For
You want to deploy XenApp, and your
concurrency ratio is 2-to-1 or lower.
XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum include
XenApp Enterprise and Platinum, respectively, but the
user / device license is roughly half the price of XenApp. Therefore, if your ratio of total users
to concurrent users is less than 2-to-1, it will be less expensive to purchase XenDesktop licenses
for your XenApp deployment.
You already have a virtualized server
infrastructure with shared storage.
One of the benefits of ViaB is that you do not need a SAN. As you add ViaB hosts to scale up your
environment, they are automatically incorporated into the ViaB “grid,” and all of your settings and
master images are automatically replicated among the hosts.
Another benefit is that you don't need the supporting server infrastructure. XenDesktop requires a
Citrix license server, a SQL database, a Desktop Delivery Controller server, Desktop Director server,
etc. Yes, you can consolidate some of these roles, but the point is that you need some control
servers that are separate and distinct from the virtualization hosts that are supporting the virtual
desktops themselves. ViaB has all the necessary functions in one box.
But if you already have a SAN, and you already have a server virtualization infrastructure, then,
assuming that you have adequate SAN capacity and sufficient resources on your virtualization hosts,
it isn’t quite as bothersome to go ahead and stand up the server components that you need.
You need the FlexCast flexibility that
comes with XenDesktop Enterprise or Platinum.
Both XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum give you a range of options for providing virtual desktops
and applications to your users. You can provision desktop images not only to virtualization hosts,
but also to desktop PCs and blade PCs. You get access to XenClient. You can use XenApp to either
stream packaged applications to your provisioned desktops, or you can choose to bake the Citrix
client into your desktop images and execute some, or all, of your applications on XenApp servers.
And you can deliver shared, hosted desktops from XenApp servers to users who don’t need a dedicated
PC desktop operating system.
You want access to the Platinum feature
XenDesktop Platinum Edition includes Branch Repeater client licenses. It also gives you access to
all of the XenApp Platinum features, such as the EdgeSight monitoring tool, and ICA session
You need high-performance 3D graphics.
XenDesktop gives you access to the HDX 3D Pro feature set, which allows you to assign a
high-performance graphics card (installed in the virtualization host) to a specific virtual desktop
to deliver 3D graphics apps to a remote user.
You already have a XenApp infrastructure.
If you already have XenApp, and now want to expand into VDI, the most cost-effective path is
probably the Citrix trade-up program, which lets you trade up your XenApp licenses for XenDesktop
licenses. If you trade up all of your XenApp licenses, you can receive two XenDesktop user/device
licenses for each XenApp license.