Citrix XenDesktop

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Understanding Citrix VDI: XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-Box
Contributor(s): Jack Madden

Citrix XenDesktop is a suite of desktop virtualization products from software provider Citrix Systems.

Through its bundled components, XenDesktop can deliver several different types of virtual desktops. Citrix calls this ability to deliver desktops by a variety of methods FlexCast; disk images must be modified for each delivery method.

Hosted shared desktops (XenApp) - multiple users can access a single, shared Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktop.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) desktops - each user has their own virtual machine that runs on a server and is accessed and controlled using a remote display protocol.

Streaming disk images - desktop images are created on a Citrix Provisioning Server and streamed to the client device as needed. Processing takes place on the client device.

Local virtual machine - a virtual machine is stored and runs locally on a client device, utilizing a client hypervisor called XenClient. The image can be synced with a master image on a server as needed.

On-Demand Apps - delivers Windows applications from the data center. Does not provide end users with a virtual desktop but does allow software applications to be delivered online or offline.

XenDesktop's capability to deliver on-demand apps is sometimes confused with another Citrix product called XenApp. The difference is with XenDesktop each client receives a full virtual machine; each client receives its own instance of Windows and desktop instances are not shared between users. XenApp, on the other hand, provides access to hosted resources for multiple users from a Windows server and users share the server's CPU, RAM and other physical resources.

XenDesktop is able to provision application or desktop workloads to a private or public cloud infrastructure alongside a traditional virtual infrastructure deployment. To keep up with an increasingly mobile workforce, XenDesktop has rolled out more features for desktop and app access on mobile devices, including protocol enhancements to improve scrolling, gesturing, WAN efficiency and support for native mobile functions.

This was last updated in August 2014

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