VDI doesn't make financial sense except in enterprises that deliver hundreds of virtual desktops. But many SMBs want the benefits of server-hosted virtual desktops, nonetheless.
Some could get what they want from VDI-in-a-Box software Citrix acquired from Kaviza last May, which was refreshed and rebranded this week and includes additional Citrix product integration. The software runs on hardware platforms from vendors such as Dell and Wyse Technologies.
The Kaviza software, now called Citrix VDI-in-a-Box 5, is just that -- an all-in-one virtual desktop suite that's hypervisor agnostic and much simpler to install than a VDI suite, such as Citrix's own XenDesktop.
One IT director who has used Kaviza's software long before the Citrix acquisition said his experience with the product has been good. He is, however, concerned that Citrix may focus its development energy on its main VDI product and that VDI-in-a-Box 5 may get short shrift.
"Its potential will be limited … to the extent that it won't cannibalize other Citrix products," said Ovidiu Mot, director of IT for the Credit Counseling Society in New Westminster, British Columbia. "It could have been so much more, but I'm expecting that any truly revolutionary ideas would be incorporated into Citrix's main VDI offering rather than into the SMB product."
Still, the VDI-in-a-Box software works well for the Credit Counseling Society. Mot virtualizes almost all of the company's 50 desktops. He said he plans to increase that number to 65 by end of year as new hires come on board.
This VDI software is ideal for SMBs, such as the Credit Counseling Society, because it has many features that work without customization and it eliminates a large percentage of VDI infrastructure costs, including management servers and SANs, by creating a grid of off-the-shelf servers with direct-attached storage.
Citrix VDI-in-a-Box 5 features, cost
Citrix VDI-in-a-Box 5 installs on a single server and includes everything Windows administrators need to deliver virtual desktops to end users on any device. VDI-in-a-Box delivers Citrix HDX to high definition desktops. It also works with the Citrix Receiver software client and includes the security and high availability features of VDI.
This release adds wizards that simplify virtual desktop management for Windows administrators and support for the three major hypervisors: Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and VMware vSphere, ESX and ESXi.
Citrix also combined Citrix VDI-in-a-Box with the Citrix GoToManage cloud-based support offering to let IT remotely monitor and support virtual desktops at multiple locations.
A technology preview version is available on the Citrix VDI-in-a-Box page. The software is priced at $160 per desktop. Add to that the cost of a Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access license (for non-Software Assurance customers), the hypervisor and the server cost and the total cost per desktop ranges from $260 to $425, according to Citrix's website.
By comparison, XenDesktop 5.5 Enterprise Edition costs $225 per user and the Platinum Edition costs $350 per user -- not counting the server, networking, storage and Microsoft licensing costs.