Citrix moving forward with Citrix Cloud and Essentials package

By | March 6, 2017

There is alot of interest around Citrix these days with the upcoming releases with XenDesktop Essentials and XenApp Essentials, and also with all the investments in the latest release with 7.13 as well. The purpose of this blog is to summurize the differences between the different offers that Citrix has now moving forward and of course touch upon the strenghts and weaknesses of each deployment model.

Regular XenDesktop deployment
Traditionally XenDesktop & XenDesktop on-premises have been the logical deployment option, and in that case we from an infrastructure point of view, need to maintain the management of the entire stack

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So that means we need to build up delivery controllers, use a provisioing engine which can use PVS or MCS against a set of different hypervisors and cloud providers, for instance that cloud provider might be Azure or AWS.. In that case we have a connection to a cloud provider which will be used to provision VDI or Session hosts, nothing else. We also need to maintain Storefront and Netscaler which is the access point for the external end-users. Now with this approach we maintain all the control, we can still have desktop or app resources being provisioned in Azure or AWS so we can still deliver cloud resources, and we also maintain control of updates coming. So Citrix now ships about 4 releases a year, which means we would need to upgrade the infrastructure components ourselves.

Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop Service
Now with a Citrix Cloud deployment the responsibility on some of the different features above are moved to Citrix. Now the different desktops are apps can still continue to be hosted on-premises or in Azure or AWS. We can still leverage the different provisioing engines as we could in a regular on-premises deployment of XenDesktop.

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Howver with Citrix Cloud, Citrix will host the management plane and will take care of the Delivery Controllers, Site Databse hosting, Monitoring with Director for instance. You still use your existing Active Directory hosting. And when it comes to Storefront and NetScaler you can still use your existing Storefront and NetScaler or you can use a Cloud hosted Storefront which Citrix will manage and you can utilize NetScaler Gateway as a Service (Which I have a post about here –> http://msandbu.org/using-citrix-cloud-with-remote-access-to-azure-using-netscaler-gateway-services/
Now the advantages with this approach is that licensing is handled automatically, management and infrastucture components are handled by Citrix you still get the same benefits as regular on-prem XenDesktop, but you also get continuous upgrades when Citrix do update on Cloud which is about one every two weeks.

The different Cloud subscriptions that Citrix has also includes Smart Tools where especially Smart Scale is quite useful for cloud based deployments since it help shutdown unused resources (Post about here –> http://msandbu.org/citrix-smartscale-and-microsoft-azure/)

Important to note that all Citrix Cloud deployments including Essentials editions will require a cloud connector which integrates with the IaaS provider and Citrix Cloud

XenDesktop Essentials
Citrix has been working closely with Microsoft do create a VDI offering on Azure, and this is where XenDesktop Essentials comes in which will the first of its kind to deliver Windows 10 VDI on Microsoft Azure. Now this service has alot of similarities with Citrix Cloud, and this is possible only if the customer has Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business in per user mode.

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Now we still have the different options when it comes to Storefront and NetScaler with the choose between as a Service delivered from Citrix or we can host it ourselves in Azure where the resources will be as regular virtual machines. We will also get access to Citrix Studio which is a bit limited compared to full Citrix Cloud. And when it comes to provisioning part we are now limited to MCS against one resource connection which is Azure, and it will be Desktops only. Citrix will still have the full management of the infrastructure pieces like with Citrix Cloud, we only handle the Windows 10 VDI instances and optionally the NetScaler and Storefront.

The pricing info on XenDestkop essentials can be found here –> https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/03/01/xendesktop-essentials-1-faq-pricing-info/

XenApp Essentials
XenApp Essentials is aimed to be the replacement for Azure remote App is also aiming to provide the simple UI of Azure RemoteApp when it comes to provisioing resources. Now unlike XenDesktop Essentials and Citrix Cloud it does not provide us with Studio capabilities, it has its own builtin simple management UI

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This also has a built-in provisioning engine locked into Azure to do Session based application delivery. So we can use it elsewhere. It also provides with a simple monitoring option which resembles Director. Since it also wants to resemble Azure RemoteApp with its simplicity is also comes with NetScaler Gateway as a service which means that we don’t need to configure and set up NetScalers, it also comes with Cloud hosted Storefront. The only thing we actually need to think about is having a Azure Subscription and have an identity solution in place which is either a virtual machine running Active Directory or maybe even Azure Active Directory Domain Services.

So hopefully this blog post clears some confusion about the different Citrix offerings and the new products they are releasing now within a couple of months.

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